What is the Apocrypha? And why do some groups or “churches” add it to their copies of the Bible?

First, read this important note.

Definition

Some groups of Christians add some human writings to the Old Testament part of their copies of the Bible, although God clearly warns us against adding anything to His Word:

“Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
Do not add to His words
Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.”

(Proverbs 30:5-6)

These human writings are called Apocrypha, a Greek word (απόκρυφα) which means “Hidden”. This word was introduced by the 4th century Christian teacher Jerome to indicate non-inspired books with either a secret origin or secret authority. The Roman Catholics call them deuterocanonical books (deuteros meaning “second”). They view them as a second inspired canon, coming after the first Canon (the Books of the Bible.) The Apocrypha consists of a set of books written between approximately the 3rd century B.C. and the time of Christ. It first appeared after the Old Testament was translated to Greek about 200-100 BC. This translation was called Septuagint. Although not all the groups that add them add the same set of books, but let’s mention the whole set of the Apocrypha: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the addition to Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (also titled Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The additions to Daniel, The Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees.

Now, why do those groups add these books to their copies of the Bible? For the simple reason that they don’t obey the Word of God that says that we should not add any human teaching to the Word of God. These groups do not really believe Jesus and His Apostles who clearly tell us what the Scripture is, and they prefer to believe human “authorities” concerning what the Scripture should be. Let’s see how.

The Lord Jesus and His Apostles clearly told us what the Canon of the Old Testament is.

The Lord and His Apostles NEVER quoted the Apocrypha, although their quotations from the Old Testament were numerous. Besides this, they clearly told us what the Old Testament Scripture is.

A. The Lord Jesus

The Lord Jesus is the Word of God incarnate. He has authority to tell us what His Word is. And in fact the Lord Jesus clearly told us what the Canon of the Old Testament is:

1. Jesus clearly told us what the parts of the Old Testament are. I quote one of those places where He clearly tells us about the parts of the Old Testament:

“Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.””

(Luke 24:44)

The Old Testament of the Jews in the days of Jesus was divided to those three parts that Jesus mentioned: “The Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms.” The last part called “Psalms” by Jesus is the part that was also called “Writings”. The “Writings” were also called “Psalms” by the name of their first Book. So Jesus was clearly telling us that the Old Testament begins with the first Book of the Law of Moses called Genesis (Hebrew: Bereshit,) and ends with the Book of 2 Chronicles which is the last Book of the “Writings” (Hebrew: Ketuvim) or “Psalms” part. And those human writings were clearly not part of those Books. To get a better idea about this, please see the parts of the Jewish Bible, and find out which are the first and the last Books of the “Writings” here.

2. Besides telling us what the general parts of the Old Testament are, Jesus also told us clearly what the first Book and the last Book of the Old Testament are:

“so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.”

(Luke 11:50-51)

Now, we all know that the first man who was killed in the history of this world is Abel. But the problem is that Zechariah was not the last man who became a martyr before Jesus came. We can at least mention the Maccabees’ martyrs (mentioned in the Apocrypha) and other martyrs who were killed after Zechariah. Besides, why would the blood of Abel and all those martyrs be charged against that generation of the days of Jesus? Did they kill Abel? Did they kill all those prophets? So why did Jesus mention Abel, and why did He mention Zechariah and not another one as the last martyr? For the simple reason that Jesus meant all the martyrs mentioned in the Old Testament. In the context of this passage, Jesus tells the Pharisees:

“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them.
“So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs.”

(Luke 11:47-48)

So Jesus was blaming them of being the murderers of all the prophets as they are witnesses and approve the deeds of their fathers by being ready to kill Him, just as He makes it clear in the following passages:

“But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.
“You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”

(John 8:40-41)

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

(John 8:44)

This is how those Jews were responsible of the murder of all those prophets who lived long before those Jews were born, and this is how anyone of us will be responsible of that murder if we don’t pass from being the children of the devil to be the children of God by faith.

And it is exactly after that passage of Luke 11:47-48 (quoted above) that Jesus continues and says:

For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute,
so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.”

(Luke 11:49-51)

“For this reason” and what comes after it explain why the blood of all those prophets would be charged against that generation. Imagine how the murder was big! Their fathers killed the prophets, and they would kill the Lord of all those prophets. They rejected the Stone that is the chief corner stone! Read the parable of the Vineyard Owner in Mark 12:1-12 to see more deeply how Jesus told them that they would kill the “beloved son” saying “This is the heir”!!

Abel was the first martyr mentioned in the Book of Genesis which is the FIRST Book of the Jewish Bible, and Zechariah was the last martyr mentioned in the Book of 2 Chronicles which is the LAST Book of the Jewish Bible, and those human writings called Apocrypha are clearly AFTER 2 Chronicles and are NOT part of the Jewish Bible. So Jesus clearly told us what the first Book and the last Book of the Old Testament are: The first Book is Genesis, and the last Book is 2 Chronicles (according to the Jewish Bible.) And this includes all the parts of the Old Testament that we have today, WITHOUT the Apocrypha.

B. The Apostles of Jesus

The Apostles of our Lord clearly called the whole Old Testament “Scripture”:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”

(2 Timothy 3:16)

There are many similar passages in the New Testament where the Apostles call the Old Testament “Scripture”. Now, imagine yourself in the days of those Apostles, hearing them say this, and imagine you didn’t have any Canon of the Old Testament, i.e. that you didn’t know which are the Books of the Old Testament!! You would very simply ask them: “Which books do you mean when you say ‘Scripture’??”

And no one after the days of the Apostles could add any part to the Bible, because no one after the last Apostle (John) died received any new revelation; the Canon was closed.

Now, what we have seen in the previous paragraphs is enough to make it clear for any true believer which are the Books of the Old Testament and what is the problem with the Apocrypha. But there are people who prefer to believe humans instead of believing the Word of God. Humans tell them that the Canon of the Old Testament was not clear in the days of Jesus and of His Apostles, and they simply believe them and make the Bible liar!! They believe the human lie about a council of Jamnia in which they suppose that the Jews made up their mind concerning the Canon of the Old Testament. First, humans have no authority to decide which Books must be part of the Bible, as we will see later. Secondly, the hypothetical council of Jamnia is said to have happened after 70 A.D., i.e. after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem!! Imagine that they assume that the Jews didn’t have a clear Canon of their Book and didn’t have a clear religion all that time, and that it was only after their religion was devastated in 70 A.D. that they finally decided to know what their Book is!! This clearly contradicts the fact that Jesus and His Apostles mentioned the Old Testament very clearly, as we have seen above. So were Jesus and His Apostles only mentioning an imaginary Canon when they talked about the “Scripture” or about “the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms”?! They didn’t even care to explain what that “Scripture” is, because the Canon was clearly known, and Jesus is the only authority to decide what that Canon is, because He is God, the Author of the Bible.

To have a better idea about this “council” of Jamnia, I quote the following:

The Council of Jamnia or Council of Yavne is a hypothetical 1st century council at which it is postulated the canon of the Hebrew Bible was defined.

Some time before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai relocated to the city of Yavne/Jamnia, where he received permission from the Romans to found a school of Halakha (Jewish law). His school became a major source for the later Mishna, which records the Tannaim, and a wellspring of Rabbinic Judaism.

In 1871 Heinrich Graetz, drawing on Mishnaic and Talmudic sources, concluded that there must have been a late 1st century Council of Jamnia which had decided the Jewish canon. This became the prevailing scholarly consensus for much of the 20th century, but from the 1960s onwards it came increasingly into question. In particular, later scholars noted that none of Graetz’s sources actually mentioned books that had been withdrawn from a canon, and questioned the whole premise that the discussions of the rabbis were about canonicity at all. (source)

This source from which I quoted (wikipedia) does not believe in the authority of Jesus and His Apostles as to the decision of the Canon, so it later says that today there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Jewish Canon was set. But we know from the Bible that the Canon was already clear in the days of Jesus, and Jesus and His Apostles clearly mentioned it, as we have seen above.

Did the Fathers of the Church consider the Apocrypha as part of the Bible?

The clear answer to this question is “no”. Many of the Fathers of the Church clearly considered the Apocrypha as non-canonical, and the other Fathers who accepted them only gave them a secondary status, as we will see. Besides this, we should not forget that the Fathers of the Church are just Christians who studied the Bible like we do, and they were NOT part of the people of God who originally heard the message, so they have no part in the rules of the Canon, as we will see in the coming paragraphs.

Now, let’s pass to see the standards according to which the Church accepts and rejects books as canonical, and let’s see if the Apocrypha books meet those standards.

What are the standards according to which the Holy Church accepts and rejects books as canonical?

Answering this simple question will help us see how those human writings are NOT canonical.

“Canon” comes from Greek and Hebrew words meaning “measuring rod”, so it is a standard that all scriptural books must meet.

N.B.: It is not the Church who DECIDES which book is Scripture, but God decides! The Church just accepts those Books as Scripture according to that standard. And that standard comes from the Word of God, as we will see… The Church concludes the questions to ask from those Books that God has already confirmed as Scripture! And that helps the Church to avoid receiving false books.

So let’s see what are the five questions that have been asked by the Church in accepting and rejecting books as canonical:

1. Was it written by a prophet or an inspired man of God?

Why this question? Because God says that ONLY a prophet or an inspired man of God will speak the Word of God:

“‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18)

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways” (Hebrews 1:1)

“no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21)

Note: In this context, “inspired man of God” is not a nature but the fact of being led or moved by the Holy Spirit at the moment of writing Scripture (cf. 2 Peter 1:21). In other words, not all the writings of a prophet or Apostle are inspired, but he is inspired only when he writes Scripture or speaks the Word of God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13). There is not an inspired man as such, but inspired Scripture (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16). ONLY Jesus Christ is the incarnation of all what God says (cf. John 1:1, Hebrews 1:1-2), as He is the Anointed One and to Him God gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:34).

2. Was he (the prophet) confirmed by an act of God?

Why this question? Because the Word of God says:

“how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,
God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
(Hebrews 2:3-4)

This means that we should expect some miraculous confirmation of those who speak the Word of God. Moses had his rod that turned into a serpent, Jesus had principally the Resurrection, and the Apostles continued Jesus’ miracles…

3. Does it tell the truth about God?

Why this question? Because God says through the Apostle Paul:

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8).

So agreement with all earlier revelation is essential. This also helps us recognize false prophecies made in the Name of God, like the Qur’an!

And remember the following:

“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:22)

4. Does it have the power of God?

Why this question? Because God says that His Word has the Divine transforming power in the lives of its readers!

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

5. Was it accepted by the people of God who originally heard the message?

Why this question? Because:

“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

The people of God means the REAL people of God, and not simply a faction of those who call themselves people of God!!!

– The scrolls of Moses were immediately placed in the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:24-26)

– The same for Joshua (Joshua 24:26)

– The same for Samuel (1 Samuel 10:25)

– Daniel studies the Book of Jeremiah within FIFTY years after it was written! This shows that Jeremiah’s Book was accepted by the people of God as Scripture! (Daniel 9:2)

– Peter calls Paul’s writings “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:16)

– Paul’s Letters were circulated among the churches (Colossians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:27)

So these are the five questions according to which the Holy Church of God ACCEPTED those Books that God DECIDED as Scripture!

Now let’s compare those human Apocrypha writings to the previous questions of the Canon!

Those books that the human heretic teachers accept as Scripture are books written between the third century B.C. and the first century A.D. These books were NEVER ACCEPTED by the Jews as Scripture and are NOT INCLUDED in the Hebrew Bible! Jesus CLEARLY told us what the Canon of the Old Testament is, and those human writings are not part of it. And the sad thing is that those who accept them, accept them as a part of that Old Testament!!! They want to accept them, although the people of God in the Old Testament did NOT accept them!!!

Those “churches” that have accepted these writings as Bible, they accepted them in the fourth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, it means long after they were written! So the people of God who originally heard the message did NOT accept those human writings as the Word of God. Plus, Jesus Himself did not accept them as the Word of God. So those human heretics who accept them are just rebelling against God and wanting to introduce their human teachings into the Bible through those human writings.

Augustine (a Latin Church Father) accepted them in the fourth or fifth century A.D., and he didn’t even accept them as canonical, but as having a secondary status to the rest of the Old Testament! By the way, Augustine is a human, and he can make mistakes!

Other Fathers of the Church were against the canonicity of those books, like:

– Jerome: this is the Hebrew scholar who made the official Latin Vulgate version of the Old Testament, and he DIDN’T add those human writings, because he didn’t believe they are Scripture!

– Athanasius: one of the most important Fathers of the Church. He is the most known Father in the matter of the Arian controversy! He didn’t accept those human writings as the Word of God!

When was the FIRST time when those books were officially added to the Bible of a certain “Church” (and NOT the Whole Holy Church of God!) ?

It is in 1546 A.D.! It was added by the Roman Catholic heresy at the Council of Trent! And the Catholic Encyclopedia (the encyclopedia of the Roman Catholics) clearly says this here:

The Tridentine decrees from which the above list is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal.

And this is suspect! Why? Because the Council of Trent came as a reaction to the Reformation of Martin Luther (1517). Martin Luther called for some biblical support for human wrong beliefs like Salvation by works and prayer for the dead! And as the canonical Scripture does NOT contain such vanities, so the reaction of the Roman Catholic heresy was to add those human writings in support to their human teachings! And as they considered those writings as Scripture, they supposed that the Reformation must accept those human teachings, because their added books talk about them!

Oh, but if you know how those books talk about those heretical teachings!!! About prayer for the dead, 2 Maccabees 12:45-46 !!! This is an example of humans praying for PAGANS who used to worship idols, so that they may have good resurrection!!! Oh! Do you believe that we can pray for a pagan who died without believing in God, so that he may have eternal life??? Don’t you believe what the Bible says that TODAY is the Day of Salvation??? As for the Salvation by works, we read it in Tobit 12:9 (and many other passages of those wrong human writings)!

So after all that long time in which those human writings were NOT accepted by the Church of Christ as the Word of God, the Roman Catholic heresy decided to make them canonical just to oppose the Protestants, and they assumed that the whole Church must follow them in this error of introducing human writings to the Bible, or else all those who disobey will be called Protestants.

None of those human writings claims to be inspired. Indeed, some of them even deny that they are inspired, because they are not written by a prophet of God!

“Thus there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them.” (1 Maccabees 9:27)

So these words were not written by a prophet…

And remember! The first question of the Canon was: “Was it written by a prophet of God?”…

So we see that those wrong human teachings that the heretical teachers accept as Scripture do not meet those five questions asked by the Holy Church of Christ. Let’s see each question:

1. Were they written by a prophet of God?

No, they are not written by a prophet of God, as we read in those books themselves!

“Thus there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them.” (1 Maccabees 9:27)

2. Was that prophet who wrote them confirmed by an act of God?

As we saw in 1 Maccabees 9:27 (one of those false human teachings), prophets ceased in Israel since a long time! So those books say they are not written by a prophet! So why do we have to search for miracles confirming them??!! Jesus told us that many false prophets also may do miracles, but they don’t meet the standards of real godliness.

3. Does it tell the truth about God?

As we see in Tobit 12:9, and 2 Maccabees 12:45-46, these books not only do not give us the truth of God, but they also give us many imaginary things… Just read “Bel and the Dragon” and you will see…

4. Does it have the power of God?

No! It even says that it is not sure whether it has a strong HUMAN power… Just read the following conclusion of the human author of 2 Maccabees:

“So I too will here end my story.
If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do.”

Yes, that was the best he could do… because he was not inspired.

5. Was it accepted by the people of God who originally heard the message?

No! And we saw this in the previous paragraphs. Although some of the Fathers and some of the local churches accepted them (and we saw why and how…) but many others didn’t! And the most essential in this point is that the people of God who ORIGINALLY heard the message did NOT accept those writings as the Word of God.

As those writings are supposed to belong to the era of the Old Testament, we must see if the Jews of the Old Testament accepted them as Scripture… And we see that they didn’t! And our Lord Jesus Christ didn’t even say a word to them about this!

Conclusion

So according to which canon do the heretics receive those human writings as being the Word of God? Do they accept them just because the human teachers teach them that? It is clearly so…

And it is NOT true that SOME Christians denied the canonicity of those human writings… It is NOT true that Martin Luther or any Protestant rejected those books, because they were NOT even accepted before them, as you can see in my message. The problem of the Roman Catholics and of all those who agree with them in their error is with the whole catholic orthodox Church of Christ, and not only with the Protestant denominations. There are even some so-called Protestant denominations that do not clearly take this biblical stand that we have explained in this article.

It’s a biblical fact: if we don’t deny all what is against the Will of God in our background, we will soon deny Christ practically…

This I wrote by His grace, and my only purpose is to tell everyone about that powerful Word of God that changes lives! I want His Glory, and ONLY His Glory! Let all humans keep silent and listen to what GOD says! “Listen and give heed, do not be haughty, For the LORD has spoken.” (Jeremiah 13:15)

Grace be with you all!

Jdisciple


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3 Responses to What is the Apocrypha? And why do some groups or “churches” add it to their copies of the Bible?

  1. Kristianapologist says:

    The author clearly illustrates a lack of understanding not only in the historical development of the early Christian canon, but also the Church’s clear acceptance of these works (Apocryphal) as binding upon the people and the accepted measuring rod from which God judges his people. The overall poor scholarship is overshadowed by extremes in text emoticons, general presuppositions, ad hominem and immaturity. I came to this board expecting decent apologetic scholarship. I leave disappointed.

  2. Dear Kristianapologist,

    I thank you for your comments that illustrate a lack of understanding not only in the origin of the Canon of Scripture, but also in the origin of those human writings called Apocrypha. You didn’t even realize that this article was not about the Christian canon, but about God’s Canon as found in His Word, the Bible. You also didn’t realize that this article clarifies how humans or the Church do not have the right to decide what is binding upon people, but only God decides that. It is your comment that is poor in scholarship, and could not give anything of value against the clear biblical arguments of our article. So thank you for your extremes of text emoticons, general presuppositions, ad hominem and immaturity…

    The Lord Jesus and His Apostles were clear concerning those human writings. If you prefer to listen to humans instead of God, then that’s your own problem.

    I am sorry for you that you came here expecting human scholarship like Nicodemus who didn’t even understand the Lord when He told him that he needed to be born again, although he was a teacher among the Jews… I am very happy that you leave disappointed, as this proves that we only present the Word of God. But I am sad that you refuse this Word that alone can save you.

    Grace be with you!
    Disciple of Jesus Christ

  3. SoldierofChrist777 says:

    Why do I feel Kristianapologist didn’t even read the article? He just posted his comment for the sake of posting it.

    And I wonder what text emoticons he’s talking about …

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