Zechariah Introduction – His name means “Yahweh remembers.” He was both a prophet and a priest, and was probably born in Babylonian captivity and returned to Palestine in 536 B.C. Jesus referred to his murderous death in Matthew 23:35. His ministry began in 520 B.C. but scholars are not sure how long it lasted. He dealt with the Jews after they were returned to Palestine from the Babylonian captivity. Haggai’s and Zechariah’s ministries followed those of Ezekiel and Daniel, who ministered during that captivity. The Book’s main purpose was to restore hope by inspiring the Jews to rebuild the Temple and rededicate themselves to God who brought them out of Egypt years ago. While encouraging the Jews of his day, he would sometimes prophesy about the End-Times which makes for an interesting mix. In fact, the Book of Revelation refers to the Book of Zechariah more frequently than to any other Old Testament book except Ezekiel.

Zechariah 1 – The Lord speaks to Zechariah and gives him a vision. He warns the people to not be like their fathers who never repented and returned to God. The vision showed him in a symbolic manner that God would prevent enemy nations from bothering the Hebrews during their restoration and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. God was also angry with those nations because they prolonged assaults against God’s people (v15). It seems that each time God shows a vision to a human, there is lots of symbolism and need for an accurate interpretation. Sometimes one is given and sometimes not. Here, it was given.

Zechariah 2 – This describes God’s favor to Zion (the Jewish center of their community). It seems to refer to both the physical Temple about to be rebuilt and the eternal Temple of Heaven (v11). God refers to His people as “the apple of His eye.” I’ve always liked that. There is definitely the sound of encouragement and hope here.

Application for Today: If you are the apple of God’s eye, and if He is the apple of your eye, and you thus act accordingly, then ALL IS WELL WITH YOUR SOUL.

Zechariah 3 – The prophet is shown a vision of the contemporary high priest named Joshua (not to be confused with the famous Joshua who helped bring the Hebrews into the Promised Land many years earlier) standing before the Lord and Satan was also there ready to accuse Joshua of whatever. The Lord immediately rebuked Satan and told him it was His choice to choose these people. Though Joshua had his sins like any other and perhaps also carried on him the sins of Israel being the High Priest, God cleansed him in this vision. Then Joshua was told that if he walks in God’s ways, he would govern God’s house (the Temple) and would be granted free access into the Holy of Holies where God and some angels would be. But there was more to this. God then revealed that Joshua would be a symbol of the Messiah (Branch, or Sprout – both are Messianic terms in Scripture) and through this plan, God would “remove iniquity in one day.” To me, this sounds like Resurrection Day when Death was defeated as Jesus successfully atoned for sin. Verse 9 mentions “one stone” which probably also refers to Jesus just like in Daniel 2:34-35,45 and Isaiah 28:16. The “seven eyes” on the stone may represent the complete divine intelligence of God. Again, God is doing something in the natural realm in OT times which was to prepare revelation of His real Plan in the spiritual realm under the New Covenant where no other human priest would be necessary since Jesus would become our High Priest forever (Hebrews 7:15-28), and this gives us all access into the “Holy of Holies” (God’s presence). No one knows what the inscription was on that stone in verse 9. Some theologians believe they represented Jesus’ wounds from the cross. It is extremely exciting to me to be able to comprehend the fulfillment of these visions. Think about it, we have more revelation than the prophets themselves! God said this would happen in Daniel 12:4. It doesn’t mean we are more deserving, but it reflects a great privilege. The intensity of our rejoicing can far surpass what OT people had. My hope is that you have that degree of rejoicing in your heart.

Zechariah 4 – An Angel shows him a lamp stand with two olive trees next to it and it’s symbolic meaning to governor Zerubbabel was “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.” Though they were few in number and there would be obstacles, God would make it successful. Apparently God wanted him to know that success with the Temple rebuilding would come by God’s grace only, and even though this seems like one temple is a small thing, it is not. God would achieve much through it over the years to come. Again there is strong reference to End-Time prophecy. The Temple itself can represent Christ and possibly His people as well. Those two olive trees are mentioned in Revelation 11:4. They seem to be anointed ones that would do great exploits for God many years later. Or, as some scholars believe, the two represent the Old and New Testaments rather than literal people. In other words, the Word of God is the two witnesses and lamp stands in Revelation that prophesy (speak God’s Word to people) for 1,260 days (probably years). This is the length of time that the Roman Catholic Church was banning the Bible, but an underground church kept the Word alive through to the Reformation when the Bible became available to the public. God repeatedly has used “small things” to accomplish big things so that people would know He exists and is good. Examples include: Israel, Issac, Moses, baby Jesus (the tiny “mustard seed”), Gideon’s army, many others.

Application for Today: A great motto for us as we serve Jesus is, “Not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit.” It is the opposite of this world’s values and also gives the glory to whom it is due.

Zechariah 5 – The vision of the flying scroll (which would be God’s written Word), tells of a coming judgment against those who steal and those who swear falsely by God’s name. He would also remove wickedness. This seems to be a purging by God before the holy work was to begin on His Temple. Verses 10-11 seem to be saying that wickedness and idolatrous worship would be set apart from God’s holy people. Shinar was an appropriate place for the ephah (container of wickedness) to go because that was the site for the Tower of Babel which represented man’s effort to survive apart from God. Apparently there were many thieves among the Israelis at this time. There were also many people who, when lying, would invoke the name of God to convince others they were telling the truth. This reflects no reverence for God. By the way, we should never swear by something deemed higher than us such as “by Jerusalem” or “by heaven” because our integrity should be high enough to not require something like this to prove to others what we are saying is the truth (Matthew 5:33-37).

Application for Today: I perceive there is one of two basic spirits that rule humans. One says we need God and we need to follow His ways, the other spirit says we do not need any god because we can live fine without any dependence on any god (this is humanism). I believe that the 5th Chapter of Zechariah reveals this concept in the visions shown.

Zechariah 6 – Deep revelation with different interpretations.

v1-8: Chariots and horses in Scripture represent the power of God earthward in judgment (Jer.46:9-10; Joel 2:3-11; Nah. 3:1-7). The vision, then, speaks of the LORD’s judgments upon the Gentile nations north and south in the day of the LORD. In most cases, the phrase “day of the Lord” simply refers to coming judgment, not the Second Coming of Jesus. Israel’s enemies are always from the north or south because the Mediterranean Sea is to the west and a large desert to the east. Horses may represent angels who facilitate the work of other angels, represented by the chariots. The colors of the horses may symbolize various aspects of judgment, perhaps war and bloodshed in the case of the red horses, famine and death for the black, victory and triumph for the white (cf.1:8; Rev.19:11,14), and plague and disease for the dappled (spotted; cf. Rev. 6:1-8). The chariots represented the four spirits (winds) of heaven. These are four strong angels which were going forth having been in the presence of the Lord. They were His messengers, the executors of His will (cf. Ps.104:4). All this was judgment against nations who opposed Israel.

v9-15: These verses describe an historic event loaded with futuristic meaning. The mention of “the Branch” in verse 12 tells us this is about the Messiah building God’s Temple. Jesus did not build a physical temple. He did speak about the Kingdom of God arriving at His Coming and being placed into the hearts of many. That process continues to this day. He also referred to His own body as the Temple and further revealed that His people are the Temple. Since the physical Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D., this new definition prevails.

The symbolic act of the crowning of Joshua took place in Jerusalem at the Lord’s command. It followed the overthrow of Gentile world power setting up the stage for Israel to dwell in peace. That peace, however, would obviously not last forever.

The futuristic symbolism asserts that when Gentile governments are finally overthrown by the Word of God, then the Messiah can rule forever. Jesus’ government will be the only one left standing when all is said and done. The crowning of Joshua the high priest illustrated that the Messiah would appear as a king-priest and, as dispensationalists believe, rebuild a physical Temple in the days of Israel’s future restoration. The amillennial view, however, believes God’s Temple is the world-wide Church, therefore Verse 15 would most likely refer to Christians building up the Kingdom of God on earth from the time of Pentecost to our present day. This view also maintains that the OT Temple will not be rebuilt in Jerusalem because that would mark the return of animal sacrifices. After studying the entire Book of Hebrews, I cannot fathom God allowing this. It would be a supreme insult to Him. Revelation 21:22 reveals that there is no Temple in Heaven because God and the Lamb make up that Temple in eternity.

Now, the construction of the Second Temple was authorized by Cyrus the Great and began in 538 BC, after the fall of the Babylonian Empire the year before. It was completed 23 years later, on the third day of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the Great and was dedicated by the Jewish governor Zerubbabel. So Verse 15 may also be referring to this, but it may also be revealing a deeper picture. In general, the amillennial view asserts that “Israel” is symbolic of the Church, but still concedes that Romans Chapter 11 has some kind of relevance to Jews just prior to Jesus’ Second Coming. Please realize that there is a ton of more things to say about these two views to do them both justice, but this is not the time to do so.

Application for Today: No matter which view we use to glean meaning from prophetic Scriptures, we can all be assured that God is in control and knows what He is doing, and it is all for our benefit and His glory!

Zechariah 7 – This message came to Zechariah about half-way through the reconstruction of the Temple in 518 B.C. Although the Hebrews had fasted during their captivity, God revealed that it was empty ritualism and He was therefore not pleased. God told them what good they had to do, but they ignored His Word. Apparently they had wallowed in self-pity over their physical condition rather than engaging in prayer and genuine spiritual repentance. They were guilty of the same selfishness as their ancestors who also ignored the prophets, and this is why God scattered them to other nations.

Application for Today: When we fast, be careful about the motivation. Do not allow self-pity (letting others know how tough it is to fast, for example) to rule the time of fasting. This is why Jesus tells us to put on a glad, vibrant exterior for others to see so they will not suspect that we are fasting. Then our prayers will be effective.

Zechariah 8 – God says He is very jealous concerning Zion (which probably represents faithful Jews, and possibly even all believers from OT & NT). He announces that He will return to Zion, and Jerusalem will become the “City of Truth” so that even other nations will be drawn to her. Even though the Temple was successfully rebuilt in Zechariah’s day, I cannot think of any time when non-Jewish people from other nations flocked to a literal Jerusalem seeking Truth during these historic times. In this, the dispensationalists agree, which is why they assert that it will literally (full-blooded Jews + a new Temple) take place before the Second Coming. I just see too much symbolic language used in both Old and New Testament writing concerning End-Times to take much literally. I recently heard one say that Jesus cannot return real soon because the sun and moon are still shining their lights. Of all symbolic language, the darkening of the sun and changes in the moon are consistently the most obvious examples of God’s coming judgment, especially with nations. This leads me to believe that God was referring to His NT church as the final manifestation of what He is describing here. No doubt that God has brought Jews back to Israel from other nations over the years. Many Christians get excited about Israel becoming a nation in 1948 as they flocked there just after WWII. Was God referring to this in Zechariah? Maybe, but perhaps what is more significant about the present-day Jews flourishing in Israel is the fact that this is what is also happening to God’s True Church around the world. Many people are being added to salvation numbers (coming into the Kingdom) and many are becoming stronger as well. Just like physical Israel is flourishing and strong, so is the church of God. Perhaps God designs a parallel for all who are willing to see.

Zechariah 9Messiah’s donkey ride foretold. Right in the midst of describing various judgments against many different enemies of Israel which God would use *Alexander the Great as His instrument, He suddenly interjects a breath of fresh air – something that should make His people rejoice greatly! It was a wonderful prophecy about the Messiah. Whoever the Messiah would be, He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt (v9). Yes, the first Palm Sunday was spoken about some 500 years before it happened. Verse 10 describes Christ’s eventual dominion over the earth.

*Historical Note: The famous and credible Jewish historian, Josephus, reported that Alexander had a dream and because of it decided to spare Jerusalem.

Zechariah 10 – This contains judgment against the leaders of God’s people followed by God speaking of restoration for His people. Again verses 4-12 could refer to both the Jews and the Church. One hint for the “church interpretation” is found in verse 4 when it mentions that God would provide the cornerstone. Jesus is the Cornerstone of His Church. The “tent peg” could be God sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The “bow of battle” could be the Spirit teaching Christians how to wage spiritual warfare and gain “territory” back form the devil during the Reformation and beyond. Verse 9, however, favors the literal Jewish interpretation by saying they will be scattered into far off countries but because they will remember Him, He will bring them back to their land with their children. Again, both viewpoints may contain truth. One reveals the physical history (the revival of Israel’s power under Judas Maccabeus in the second century B.C.) while the other reveals the spiritual fulfillment of God’s Word during the Church Age to and beyond the Second Coming of Christ.

Verse 2 condemns the various practices of divination (foretelling the future apart from God) as does Deuteronomy 18:9-14. Even today, despite great advances in scientific knowledge, people seek this dark experience by having palms read or using tarot cards, tea-leaf readings, etc. The reason is that sin leaves a spiritual void in human hearts and souls and the void is constantly seeking to be filled with something. So if God is ignored or rejected, that doesn’t leave people with many alternatives to find power or meaning. So humans are vulnerable for this kind of deception. I am always amazed at the number of people in my church Foundations Class that have dabbled in the occult, or, as in my case, have had close relatives do such things. Even though purveyors of these “pathways” can often be phonies just to make a buck, dark forces can piggyback on and lead to unwanted consequences in the person’s life. There can be many curses with occult involvement. Some examples include: despair, obsessions, compulsions, suicidal tendencies, poverty, mental illnesses, and perversion. My advice to anyone who has “played with” Ouija Boards or any kind of fortune telling, including astrology, is to repent, renounce whatever, and ask God to forgive. Last, but not least, seek the counsel from a Christian leader who has experience dealing with these types of things. They can listen to all your individual experiences and be in a better position than me to give advice.

Zechariah 11 – God tells the prophet to shepherd a doomed flock (of people). These people only paid him 30 shekels of silver as payment for all his work. It was such a small amount in comparison to what had been done for them that God told him to throw it to the potter, probably as a sign of what little value those people held toward spiritual truth. This same price would be paid for a gored slave in the ancient Near East (Ex. 21:32). It was the equivalent of telling the Shepherd that they could buy a dead slave who would be as useful to them as he had been. Very insulting!

There is a strong connection with Judas’ betrayal of Jesus here. A casual read of verses 12-13 would not make any connection, but Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit indeed did. Perhaps this connection reflects how little Judas valued Jesus because he was willing to betray Him for only that amount of money. Moreover, the spiritual state of that doomed generation may have been the same state inside Judas’ heart. Whatever the case, the Scriptures state that verses 12-13 contained a prophecy of the betrayal of the future Messiah. Later in verse 19, it describes a worthless shepherd as one who leaves the flock. Of course, this is what Jesus did NOT do (John 10:11). Finally, as Zechariah shepherded a doomed group of people, Jesus also did this for those who would be doomed in 70 A.D. when Roman General Titus leveled Jerusalem and the Temple which Jesus had predicted.

It is OT Scriptures such as these that make me believe that there probably is more truth and connections with God’s Word that we do not yet know, but will know when all is completed (in heaven). That is not to say that we should not pray and seek God’s Spirit to teach us from the Scriptures now, however. I know that God has much truth for us to be revealed before we pass from the perishable to the imperishable. We also need to guard our motivation for seeking deeper truth from the Bible. If it is for self-promotion, ego, and the desire to know secrets, then our venture becomes equivalent to occult activity and we will get entrapped by the Spirit of Error.

Zechariah 12 – Note on verse 1: It says that God “stretches out the heavens.” Modern science has discovered that our universe is expanding. I’m not sure if this connects with verse 1 but it is interesting. There are several examples throughout the Bible that pre-date discoveries, and I have shared them along the way in past commentary.

The repeated use of the phrase “in that day” tells us that these verses are about days far into the future. Verse 2 may be describing today’s plight of Israel, namely, they are surrounded by nations who hate it. The “heavy stone” in verse 3 may symbolize the heavy burden carried by the Hebrews. That burden being God’s original chosen people, the keepers of the inspired Words of God, and birthing the Messiah. Those kinds of things tend to make enemies quickly from those who are of this world. When God is set to destroy the nations that come against Israel, He will pour out the Spirit of grace and supplication perhaps to open their eyes to the true Messiah. They will realize He is the One who was “pierced” (crucified) by the Jewish Pharisees in Jesus’ day. This huge revelation will cause deep repentance and mourning. It will not be a token announcement by Israel’s leader to repent. Rather, it will effect individuals deep into the very core of their souls. This all seems to be pointing toward many Jewish conversions, perhaps during Jesus’ return to earth thus fulfilling Romans Chapter 11 regarding the promise of God to the Jews.

Amillennialists believe these verses cover all time from when Zechariah spoke these words to the End of the World. What is said concerning Judah applies to the people of God of all times. The claims made for Jerusalem’s future find their ultimate fulfillment in the true Zion of God—His church. Those claims can be applied to Jerusalem only insofar as she for a time harbored the church of God. The whole passage speaks of God’s sovereign care and protection of the church of the Old and the New Testaments through the ages and more particularly of the church’s victory rather than the victory of Judah after the flesh. Both viewpoints can be vigorously defended at great lengths.

Zechariah 13 – The beginning of this chapter may be referring to Jerusalem at the time of Christ – idols were cut off, the prophets would cease, and an unclean spirit was removed from the land. Christ’s obedience and victory could have had this effect, but not everyone received it. The “removal of prophets” may include all of them, not just the false ones – in spite of the context being about false prophets. Since Malachi, there have been no official Hebrew Prophets with equal credibility to any OT one. Again, the Book of Hebrews, which is especially written to the Jews, reveals that their system was cancelled with the advent of the Messiah taking over rule, which Jesus did when He ascended and sat down on the right side of God (Hebrews 10:12). From that point on, time will elapse until all His enemies are conquered (Hebrews 10:13). It is this time segment where we find ourselves living on earth (the Church Age). Some theologians believe this time is also the millennium, where Christ rules from the right hand of God and then finally returns to earth at the very end. They assert that the millennium is not a literal thousand year period where Christ is visible on earth, but rather a long period of time starting when all authority had been given to Him by the Father. Since the Book of Revelation is loaded with symbolism, it most likely behooves us to interpret it consistently. Some Christians disagree with this, however.

Verse 7 is easy to discern. The NT tells us. It refers to Jesus (the Shepherd) being struck down which caused the sheep (His apostles and followers to scatter (run away and hide). This is exactly what happened when Jesus was arrested and then killed.

Verse 8 is more difficult to interpret. For me, it seems to be referring to the judgment against Israel for rejecting their Messiah (God). During the siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Romans, many Jews starved to death and were slain (perhaps the number was 2/3 of them as this verse says). Some were carried off into captivity and some left behind in the land. Perhaps this number equaled 1/3 of them. The remaining 1/3 was to be refined and tested finally leading up to where they truly become children of God. This may refer to Jews being converted to Jesus over the years during the Church Age and/or the Jews who are converted at the Second Coming (if that is an accurate interpretation of End Time prophecy).

Dr. Constable relates the dispensationalist view of verse 8:

“This remnant must be the same group of Israelites, described in 12:10—13:1, who would turn to God in repentance. Evidently two-thirds of the Jews, the unbelieving, will perish during the Tribulation and one-third will live through it and enter the Millennium. This surviving remnant then must include the 144,000 Israelite witnesses of Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5. The one-third will call on the Lord’s name in supplication for forgiveness (12:10). The Lord will respond to their cry by reaffirming His new covenant relationship with them, and they will agree to it (cf. Ezek. 20:37).”

There are two basic approaches to interpreting End-Time prophecies: 1) Historical, and 2) Futuristic. The historical view, which the early church fathers and Protestant reformers adhered to, relates literal historic events that paralleled prophecies and therefore was their fulfillment. This view contends that almost all End-Time prophecies have been already fulfilled. The tendency here is to give symbolic meaning to passages rather than a literal one. This view has been poorly studied since the early 1800s because the dispensational view began to dominate and most people do not know history well today. Today, few Christians have read about the evidence for the historical view, but the more I read about it, the more impressive it is to me.

The futuristic or dispensational view of the End-Time prophecies contends that most of the Book of Revelation has yet to be fulfilled, and that there is yet to be a new world leader that will be the Anti-Christ and he will put a literal mark (at least something physical) of 666 on people’s foreheads or right hands. Rather than seeing 144,000 and the 1,000 year millennium as a symbolic numbers, they see them as literal, including the people being literal Jews.

Although these approaches represent major paradigm differences, they should never cause angry rifts among believers because there are great Christians in both camps who adhere to all the essentials of the true Faith. Also, I have most likely not given great descriptions of both viewpoints because it would be too much to share for the purpose of my commentaries. So please do not get too frustrated with me. It is my hope that long as we can maintain our love for Him and each other, we will all be in fine shape.

Zechariah 14 – Two Approaches to End-Time Interpretation

This can be a controversial chapter and a difficult one to interpret. Clearly this chapter speaks of the future. The main problem is what time in the future? A literal interpretation claims nothing has occurred yet up to our time, but will happen toward and into the Millennium (believed by futurists to be a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ over the whole earth). Continuing along on this bent, verses 4-5 would describe an actual earthquake when Christ returns to earth and He will save lives at that time. Then He sets up His world reign with Jerusalem becoming physically higher than anything else with “living waters” flowing from it. People living in Jerusalem will dwell securely because there will be no more curse. God will also send horrible plagues on those nations who have been Israel’s enemies, and the description of the manner in which those people die (v12) have some speculating that nuclear weapons will be involved. In addition, those enemies will become confused and attack each other. The survivors will travel to Jerusalem once a year to worship the Lord and celebrate the Feast of Booths. Those families that do not go, no rain will fall on them. The wealth of those enemy nations will be gathered to Israel. Everything in Jerusalem will be holy.

A symbolic interpretation claims that verses 1-3 are about the siege and eventual total destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Since Rome did that, it would be brought down in time by Christ who was ruling at the right hand of God since His Ascension. He used armies and other things, but the bottom line is that He was doing it. Verses 4-5 speak of the “Abomination of Desolation” that surrounded Jerusalem just prior to 70 A.D. Jesus said in Luke 21:20-21, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains and let those who are in the midst of the city depart….” Matthew 24:15-16 says the same thing with reference to Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:27) which specifically mentions the “abomination of desolation.” Abomination = Gentiles (pagans) and desolation = Jerusalem laid waste. Literalists think this means some idol or unclean thing that will be brought into a rebuilt Temple. Historical records from Flavius Josephus verify that the Roman armies did surround the city, but left suddenly with no known reason. The Christians knew what it meant from what Jesus said so they fled and all survived. Shortly after they escaped to a town called Pella, the Roman armies returned and flattened Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 A.D. This interpretation includes no literal earthquake caused by a physically visible Messiah standing on Mt. of Olives. Nevertheless, it was He that delivered those Christians. The “living waters” in verse 8 would represent the Gospel going into the world from Jerusalem, and, over much time, Jesus will destroy enemy nations and His Kingdom be the ONLY government standing forevermore.

After reviewing the various interpretations about End-Times and what has happened in history, I favor the symbolic/historical approach because it values and respects how God has consistently used symbolic language in the Old Testament, and this should not be rejected when interpreting His Word in the New Testament. For example, when God stated that the sun would not show light and the moon would turn red in the OT, it always meant judgment was coming. Those literal orbs in space never changed, but judgment did come. Therefore, when He says the same in the Book of Revelation, we need to discern that He is saying the same thing. Why would God state symbolic phrases for centuries, then suddenly change to literal phrases without warning? Other symbolic examples include “Mountain” representing “government,” the phrase “the day of the Lord” meaning judgment, not necessarily the Second Coming of the Messiah in all cases, and “earthquake” meaning that shake-ups within governments and nations were coming. I believe that God has set a standard code by which we need to perceive in order to interpret what He is saying to us. To throw all that precedence out the window, and use current events as the plumb line to judge what God has said centuries ago will lead to an embarrassing dead end. It also results in many believers sending the wrong message to a needy world. This symbolic approach does not allow for wild random thoughts to be imposed on Scripture to make interpretations fit a preconceived ideology as dispensationalists have claimed (as if their claim that 666 will be an embedded micro chip wouldn’t fit this category of wild speculation). Rather it respects the precedence contained in God’s Holy Word.

I will end this discussion by saying that great Christians hold both views and can defend them vigorously. I have not done so here because it would warrant an entire book. These different views should never divide us because they still maintain all the central and necessary doctrines of the Christian faith.