In an online discussion with a Roman Catholic, he made the argument that since the Apocrypha is referenced in the New Testament, it is clearly part of the canon. He then presented 18 “examples” of alleged references to the Apocrypha in the New Testament which had apparently been copied from a Roman Catholic apologetic website which contained many more so-called examples. In order to give my Roman Catholic friend the benefit of the doubt, I read each presented passage from the New Testament, and each presented passage from the Apocrypha, in the context of the surrounding passages.
Here is that list, as presented by my Roman Catholic friend, with my comments following each passage:
1. “Matt. 2:16 - Herod's decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents.”
The Wisdom passage refers to the enemies of Israel killing their own children. This is not a prophesy of Herod killing the children in Israel.
2. “Matt. 6:19-20 - Jesus' statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 - lay up your treasure.”
The Sirach passage refers to being generous with your money, and using it to help the poor. There is no real comparison to Jesus' teaching in the Matthew passage.
3. “Matt.. 7:12 - Jesus' golden rule "do unto others" is the converse of Tobit 4:15 - what you hate, do not do to others.”
The Golden Rule, also known as the Law of Reciprocity, is found in almost every religious belief system. If you are going to link Matt. 7:12 to Tobit 4:15, then you also have to link it to just about every other religious belief system.
4. “Matt. 7:16,20 - Jesus' statement "you will know them by their fruits" follows Sirach 27:6 - the fruit discloses the cultivation.”
Again, this is a universal truism recognized by many different religious belief systems; and is not necessarily a connection between Jesus and apocrypha.
5. “Matt. 9:36 - the people were "like sheep without a shepherd" is same as Judith 11:19 - sheep without a shepherd.”
The context of these two verses shows they are not the same thing. In Matthew, Jesus is referring to those who are spiritually lost; while the Judith passage refers to a military attack against the Israelites.
6. “Matt. 11:25 - Jesus' description "Lord of heaven and earth" is the same as Tobit 7:18 - Lord of heaven and earth.”
The phrase “Lord of Heaven” is used numerous times in numerous texts, both biblical and non-biblical. For instance, it appears in Deuteronomy 10:14, which was written approximately 700 years before Tobit, therefore, there is more of a connection between Jesus' words in Matthew 11:25 and Deuteronomy 10:14, then there is between Matthew 11:25 and Tobit 7:18.
7. “Matt. 12:42 - Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.”
The context of this passage clearly indicates Jesus was referring to the wisdom possessed by King Solomon, and not the apocryphal book “Wisdom of Solomon.”
8. “Matt. 16:18 - Jesus' reference to the "power of death" and "gates of Hades" references Wisdom 16:13.”
These two verses have nothing whatsoever in common. Matthew 16:18 states: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” and Wisdom 16:13 states: “You have power over life and death; you can bring a person to the brink of death and back again.” Clearly, the Matthew passage says nothing about the power of death, and Wisdom passage says nothing about the gates of Hades. While the Wisdom passage is referring to the Israelites wanderings in the wilderness, the Matthew passage is referring to the permanence of the Church. They are totally unrelated.
9. “Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 - Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.”
While the two stories are similar, Tobit presents the story as a factual event; whereas in the gospels, the context indicates the Pharisees are presenting a hypothetical situation in an attempt to trap Jesus. If the Pharisees were presenting Jesus with an historical event, they more than likely would have used the actual names “Sarah” and “Raguel.” There is little doubt the Pharisees were acquainted with the Book of Tobit, but their use of a similar story indicates they did not take it as Scripture. Therefore, the Gospel writers were not referring to the canonicity of Tobit.
10. “Matt. 24:15 - the "desolating sacrilege" Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.”
The passages in 1 & 2 Maccabees refer to an historical event that had already taken place. The Matthew passage, however, refers to a future event that had not yet taken place, as the context clearly shows. They do not refer to the same event, and therefore Jesus is not quoting the Maccabees passages.
11. “Matt. 24:16 - let those "flee to the mountains" is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.”
Again, the Maccabees passage is referring to an historical event that had already taken place, while the Matthew passage refers to a future event that has yet to occur. Two different events separated by thousands of years. Therefore, the Matthew passage is not taken from the Maccabees passage.
12. “Matt. 27:43 - if He is God's Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.”
These are two completely different events that have nothing in common, including the language. The Wisdom 2:18 passage refers to unrighteous people (plural) planning to attack the righteous people (plural), and the unrighteous say, “If the righteous really are God's children, God will save them from their enemies.” The Matthew passage refers to the crucifixion of Jesus (a solitary individual), and the Chief Priests, Scribes and elders say “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Clearly, these two very different passages have nothing in common.
13. “Mark 4:5,16-17 - Jesus' description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.”
Once again, these are two very different scenarios and lessons that have nothing in common whatsoever. The Sirach passage, properly taken in context (verses 12-17) refers to the temporariness of gain achieved through dishonest, wicked or ungodly methods; and the permanence of that which is achieved through loyalty, honesty, kindness and charity. It is dealing with human interactions with one another. The Mark passage, however, refers to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and the eternal salvation of those who accept Christ compared to the temporary spirituality of those who reject Him.
14. “Mark 9:48 - description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.”
Actually, the Mark passage, and also the Judith passage (written in the late 2nd century or early 1st century B.C.) as well, references Isaiah 66:24 (which was written approximately 600 years before Judith, and approximately 100 years before Jesus quoted it).
15. “Luke 1:42 - Elizabeth's declaration of Mary's blessedness above all women follows Uzziah's declaration in Judith 13:18.”
Elizabeth, in the Luke passage tells Mary, “Blessed are you among women.” She did not say that Mary was blessed “above all women,” just blessed “among” women. This is quite different from Uzziah stating that Judith was blessed “more than any other woman on earth.” The difference, in case you did not catch it, is, Mary is simply blessed among women, while Judith is blessed “more” than “any other woman on earth.” Apparently Judith received a far greater blessing than Mary did if one were to accept the apocryphal book of Judith as canonical as the Roman Catholics do.
16. “Luke 1:52 - Mary's magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14.”
The context of these two passages reveal different meanings entirely. While in Luke 1:52 Mary is praising the Lord and reciting His magnificent works including overthrowing mighty rulers and exalting the lowly and humble; the Sirach passage refers to pride and how it leads to destruction, including causing the Lord to remove prideful rulers and replacing them with humble rulers. In fact, the Sirach passage is expounding on Proverbs 16:18, which was written 700 years before Sirach.
17. “Luke 2:29 - Simeon's declaration that he is ready to die after seeing the Child Jesus follows Tobit 11:9.”
Considering that Joseph was a type of Christ, a shadow of the real Christ, it is more logical to say that Simeon's declaration, as well as Anna's statement in Tobit 11:9, follow Jacob's two declarations in Genesis 45:28 and Genesis 46:30, regarding his meeting Joseph after 22 long years during which Jacob believed Joseph was dead where Jacob said he was then ready to die.
18. “Luke 13:29 - the Lord's description of men coming from east and west to rejoice in God follows Baruch 4:37.”
Again, these two passages refer to two very different events. The Baruch passage refers to the Jew's who have been dispersed throughout the world returning to Jerusalem; and the Luke passage refers to those who have come to Christ for salvation around the world, all coming together, from all points in the world, in heaven where they will live forever.
While many of these passages could, if all hermeneutical principles are abandoned, seem similar; to say they are closely related is akin to saying Bible and the Tripitaka, The sacred book of Buddhism, are closely related because they both contain references to earthquakes.
The Roman Catholic church claims the apocrypha was not “added” to the Bible in 1546, that it has always been considered Scripture, albeit “unofficially;” and that the early church both taught and believed the Apocrypha was, or should be, part of the inspired canon. But is their claim true? Well, somewhat, but not exactly. In 1546 the Roman Catholic church was using Jerome's Latin Vulgate, and had been for some time; and the Vulgate did include the Apocrypha. However, it should be understood that Jerome did not believe the Apocrypha was inspired, and he objected to its inclusion. A debate ensued with the church, and he was overruled. The Apocrypha was included in the Vulgate, but only with Jerome's strong objections.
As it turns out, Jerome was not the only early theologian who firmly believed the Apocrypha was of doubtful origin and anything but inspired. In fact, the Church itself did not accept the Apocrypha as Scripture, as evidenced by the Fourth General Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., and the earlier Council of Laodicea in 367 A.D. Both councils gave lists of the recognized books of the Bible, and neither one included the Apocrypha.
Certainly there were some early church fathers who accepted either part of all of the Apocryphal books, but they were just as certainly in the minority, as their writings clearly show:
From Julius Africanus (160-240) we read:
"In your sacred discussion with Agnomon you referred to that prophecy of Daniel which is related of his youth. This at that time, as was meet, I accepted as genuine. Now, however, I cannot understand how it escaped you that this part of the book is spurious. For, in sooth, this section, although apart from this it is elegantly written, is plainly a more modern forgery. There are many proofs of this . . . But a more fatal objection is, that this section, along with the other two at the end of it, is not contained in the Daniel received among the Jews." (Julius Africanus, A Letter to Origen from Africanus About the History of Susanna)
Origen (AD 200), stated:
“It should be observed that the collective books, as handed down by the Hebrews, are twenty-two, according to the number of letters in their alphabet. These twenty-two books, according to the Hebrews, are as follows (he then lists the books as we know them from the Hebrew Bible.)” Origen goes on to write, “Separate from these are the Maccabees.” [Bibliotheca Sacra, p. 296]
And from Athanasius (300?-375) we read:
“But since we have made mention of heretics as dead, but of ourselves as possessing the Divine Scriptures for salvation; and since I fear lest, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, some few of the simple should be beguiled from their simplicity and purity, by the subtility of certain men, and should henceforth read other books--those called apocryphal--led astray by the similarity of their names with the true books; I beseech you to bear patiently, if I also write, by way of remembrance, of matters with which you are acquainted, influenced by the need and advantage of the Church . . . 3. In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: 'Forasmuch as some have taken in hand,' to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine; to the end that any one who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led him astray; and that he who has continued stedfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance . . . 4 There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second(4a) are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament. 5 Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament.. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.” (Festal Letter 39:4-5)
Jerome (347-420) wrote:
"As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church."--(Jerome, Prefaces to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs).
From the writings of Epiphanius (AD 360):
Epiphanius rejected all the Apocrypha. After listing the 22 books of the Hebrew Bible in his writings, he mentions the Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach by name and says of them, “These indeed are useful books and profitable, but they are not placed in the number of the canonical.” [Bibliotheca Sacra, p. 300].
Ruffinus (AD 400), the translator of Origen's writings, said:
“These are they which the Fathers concluded within the canon; of which they would have the assertions of our faith to consist. But we must know that there are other books, which are not called canonical, but ecclesiastical, by the ancients; such as the Wisdom, which is called of Solomon, and another Wisdom, which is called of the Son of Sirach; which book among the Latins is called by the general term 'Ecclesiasticus,' by which word, no the author of the book, but the quality of the writing is designated. of the same order is the little book of Tobit, also Judith and the books of Maccabees.” [Bibliotheca Sacra, p. 304-305].
It should also be pointed out that several extant early writings of both Jews and Christians mention the Old Testament repeatedly, but never mention the Apocrypha as inspired. For instance:
Philo, an Alexandrian Jewish teacher who lived from 20 B.C. to 40 A.D., quoted extensively in his writings from virtually every canonical Old Testament book, but he never once quoted the Apocrypha as inspired.
Melito of Sardis, (died c. 180) was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in early Christianity. He wrote, “I accordingly went to the East, and, coming to the very place where these things were preached and transacted, I have accurately learned the books of the Old Testament. Their names are as follows: five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Joshua Nave, Judges, Ruth. Four books of Kings [two of Samuel and two of Kings], two of Paralipomenon [Chronicles]. The Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon (which is also Wisdom), Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job. Of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; and of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras" [including also Nehemiah, and perhaps Esther]." [Bibliotheca Sacra, p. 294]. Although he was most certainly aware of the Apocrypha, he did not list the Apocryphal books as part of the Old Testament canon.
Gregory of Nazianzus, the 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople, and considered one of the great theologians of the early church, set forth the books of the Bible in a poem. He lists the standard twenty-two Old Testament books, and then writes there are other books which he states are “separate from these” and “not among the genuine.” Clearly he was well acquainted with the Apocrypha, yet did not consider it to be part of the Old Testament canon, thereby not including them with the established Hebrew canon.
While the Apocrypha is included in the Codex Sinaticus which dates to about 350 A.D., we must remember that Sinaticus is not a Bible, but rather a book which contains the Bible, as well as containing other ecclesiastical writings such as The Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas, neither of which are considered canonical. And let us not forget the oldest extant established canon, the Muratorian Canon (170 A.D.). It too does not include the Apocrypha.
Finally, I feel compelled to include a note from Flavius Josephus (37 A.D.-100 A.D.), the Jewish scholar and historian, who wrote: “From Artexerxes to our own time the complete history has been written but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets. ... We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine ...” (Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, I.8). As you can clearly see, Josephus only counts the twenty-two books of the Hebrew Old Testament as divine. He does not include the Apocrypha.
It should be obvious by now that the general consensus amongst the early church fathers was that the Apocrypha was not part of the Old Testament canon, and not considered inspired. Jesus and the New Testament writers never quoted the Apocrypha, and the Hebrew Old Testament never included the Apocrypha, and for good reason as we will soon see.
Scripture makes it very clear that God does not make mistakes. Our Lord does not have “oops moments.” Therefore, if something written is credited to Him as inspired writings, it obviously cannot contain error. The Apocrypha, while useful as history, contains numerous errors and passages that are contrary to established Scripture. This fact alone warrants exclusion from the inspired inerrant and infallible canon of Scripture. What follows are a few examples of the numerous errors, contradictions, and false teachings found in the Apocrypha.
Contradictions to Established Scripture:
1. Scripture teaches God spoke the creation into existence (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6-9; Hebrews 11:3).
The Apocrypha teaches God created the world out of “formless matter” (Wisdom of Solomon 11:17).
2. Scripture teaches that our soul is formed with us at the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13-16; Zechariah 12:1)
The Apocrypha teaches the false doctrine of the reincarnation of the soul, which states the kind of body one has now is determined by the character of his or her soul in a previous life. Wisdom of Solomon 8:19-20 states, “Now I was a goodly child, and a good soul fell to my lot; Nay rather, being good, I came into a body undefiled.”
3. Scripture teaches that man dies only once, and then faces judgment (Hebrews 9:27). “The soul who sins is the one who will die. . . . The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him” (Ezekiel 18:20); and once dead, there is no remedy for sin. The one who dies in their sin will enter Hades where they will await the final judgment and being cast into the Lake of Fire (Luke 16:19-31).
The Apocrypha teaches the false doctrine that prayer may be made for the dead: “Wherefore he made the propitiation for them that had died, that they might be released from their sins” (2 Maccabees 12:43-45). This is a false teaching that is contrary to Scripture.
4. Scripture teaches we are saved by grace, through faith, and not of works (Ephesians 2:8-10); and the only way to heaven is through Jesus – publicly confessing Him and believing in ones heart that He was raised from the dead (John 14:6; Romans 10:9-10).
The Apocrypha falsely teaches that one may atone for his sins by the giving of alms: “It is better to give alms than to lay up gold: alms doth deliver from death, and it shall purge away all sin” (Tobit 12:9; 2 Maccabees 12:43-45).
5. Scripture teaches that suicide is equal to murder – self-murder. It usurps God's authority, because only God has the authority to determine how and when a person should die. “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15). Only God can give or take away life (Job 1:21) and no man or woman should presume to take God's authority upon themselves to end their life.
The Apocrypha, however, teaches that suicide can be a noble and manly act. 2 Maccabees 14:41-43 teaches that Razis chose to die “nobly” by committing the “manful” act of suicide in the middle of a crowd.
6. Scripture teaches, in both the Old and New Testaments, that all forms of witchcraft and sorcery, including the casting of magical spells, are condemned as sinful acts (Deuteronomy 18:10–16; Leviticus 19:26, 31; 20:27; Malachi 3:5; Acts 13:8–10; Revelation 18:23; 21:8; see also Revelation 22:15).
The Apocrypha, however, condones the use of magical spells, specifically the smoke from a smoldering fish heart, to drive away demons (Tobit 6:1-17)
7. Scripture teaches that the murder of the men of Shechem was an act of violence born out of anger, and it was rightly condemned (Genesis 34, cf. 49:6-7).
The Apocrypha falsely teaches the murder of the men of Shechem was to be commended, and is described as an act of God (Judith 9:2-9)
Contradictions and Errors withing the Apocrypha:
1. Scripture: Nebuchadnezzar burned Jerusalem on the tenth day, fifth month, of the nineteenth year of his reign. Soon after Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch were taken into Egypt (Jeremiah 43:6-7; 52:12-13).
Apocrypha: While Jeremiah and Baruch were taken into Egypt, Baruch was simultaneously in Babylon (Baruch 1:1-2)
Either Baruch had some mystical power that enabled him to be in two places at the same time, or there is an obvious error here.
2. Antiochus Epiphanes and his company were murdered by Nanaea's priests, being “cut to pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the treachery of Nanaea's priests” (2 Maccabees 1:13-16). Yet eight chapters later we read that Antiochus Epiphanes was “taken with a noisome sickness” and “ended his life among the mountains by a most piteous fate in a strange land” (2 Maccabees 9:19-29).
Antiochus Epiphanes was first murdered by being cut into little pieces, and then he died a second time of a strange illness.
3. Tobit was present when King Jeroboam set up the golden calves, which happened during Jeroboam's 22-year reign from 990-968 B.C. Tobit was also part of the Assyrian captivity which occurred in 722 B.C. (Tobit 1:1-6). Since he went to worship God in the Temple during the golden calf worship set up by Jeroboam, he had to have been at least 13-years old at that time. Putting this at the end of Jeroboam's reign in 968 B.C., he would have been 259 years old at the beginning of the Assyrian captivity. Except that Tobit died at 102 years of age (Tobit 14:2). An error of at least 157 years!
4. Scripture teaches that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. (Daniel, chapters 1-4).
The Apocrypha teaches that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Assyria (Judith 1:5).
5. Scripture teaches the Jews would serve in Babylon for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11).
The Apocrypha teaches the Jews would serve in Babylon for seven generations (approximately 140 years) (Baruch 6:2).
Clearly, due to the historical and doctrinal errors and contradictions within the Apocrypha; as well as the lack of substantive historical acceptance within the early church of the Apocrypha as inspired; the apocryphal books must be viewed as fallible historical and religious documents, but never as the inspired, inerrant, infallible and authoritative Word of God.