The word is used in AV (e.g. Deut. 32: 2) for teaching or instruction, referring to the revealed Law, in the OT. In the NT Jesus is said to rebuke the Pharisees for ‘teaching human precepts as doctrines’ (Mark 7: 7, NRSV); ‘they teach as doctrines the commandments of men’ (REB). There is a similar pejorative use of the word in Col. 2: 22 (AV).

Doctrines of the Christian Church were formulated (e.g. in the creeds) in the course of internal controversies and under external pressures from opponents.