Three times Jesus absolutely promised: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, by My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35 and Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).
Did Jesus keep this three- fold promise? Has the complete Bible been preserved for us today? Or has Jesus failed? Peter was inspired to declare: “the word of the Lord endures forever” (I Peter 1:25).
Here are divine, unbreakable promises! The God who cannot fail has promised that His Word should not perish. But how do we know which books compose His Word?
Who constitutes the final authority for determining which books are the inspired Word of God and for preserving these books? Has God left it to each individual to determine for himself which books he thinks are the “Inspired Word of God”? Or has He left it to some one church denomination?
Roman Catholics claim in their literature that the Bible is a “Catholic book.” They insist that they alone have authority to determine which books belong in both the Old and New Testament that they alone have been used in preserving it.
They openly acknowledge that it is solely by their authority that the Apocrypha seven additional books and portions of two others-- has been added to the Old Testament in Catholic Bibles and have appeared in some Protestant editions.
Is the Roman Catholic Church Jesus’ instrument for determining which books are inspired and which are not? Did God give them the authority to make this binding decision on the Christian world? And are these additional books really inspired? Did Jesus and the apostles ever recognize them, quote from them? Did they ever approve them?
In Catholic Bibles, and in the Smith-Goodspeed translation, you will find these seven books entitled: “Tobit,” “Judith,” “Wisdom of Solomon,” “Ecclesiasticus,” “Baruch,” “I Maccabees” and “II Maccabees.” Besides these seven books, 107 additional verses are placed at the end of the book of Esther. Inserted in the middle of the third chapter of the book of Daniel is a “Song of the Three Holy Children,” and at the end of the book of Daniel is a 13th chapter called “Susana and the Elders” and the 14th chapter called “Bel and the Dragon!”
In early editions of the Catholic Bible even other apocryphal books make their appearance. Is the Bible incomplete without these additions? Or are these unjustified human additions placed there by men who have no divine authority?
Why are these additional books called “Apocryphal”? What does the word apocrypha mean? It comes from a Greek word meaning “hidden”, “secret in origin.” These books, in other words, had a hidden beginning, a secret origin, not openly given to the community at first. They were mystery books.
But these seven additional books and chapters are actually only a few out of many hundreds of fabulous books which are commonly called “apocryphal writings.” There were dozens of ancient, spurious apocryphal or spurious “gospels,” “acts,” “epistles,” “apocalypses.” They include such titles as “Gospel according to the Egyptians” - “Gospel of the birth of Mary” “The Acts of Peter” “The Apocalypse of the Virgin”!
Between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. numerous apocryphal works appeared also among the Essene Jews, such as “The Assumption of Moses” “The Ascension of Isaiah” “Third and Fourth Ezra” “The Testament of Abraham” and two deliberate frauds, “The Book of Enoch” and “The Book of Jasher.”
Many of these works are so fanatic so plainly a fraud that they have never been accepted by Jews, Catholics, or Protestants. Most are spurious, purposely written in the names of famous men in order to foist some mysterious, secret doctrine on the church. Notice that the seven additional books found in Catholic versions and in some Protestant versions are attributed to Solomon, Baruch, and Jeremiah and additional chapters are attributed to Esther and Daniel, to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Were these additions really composed by these individuals? Or are they frauds, spurious?
Paul warned the Thessalonians: “be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us. Let no man deceive you by any means” (II Thess. 2:2-3). Notice it! Within months after Paul had visited Thessalonia false teachers were attempting to deceive the Christians by writing spurious letters in the name of the Apostle Paul! Is it any wonder that the whole world at that time became flooded with spurious, apocryphal, pseudo-biblical works?
Now turn to Jeremiah 23 and see what was also prophesied to happen in the Old Testament times. Begin with verse 32: “Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and who tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, said the Lord.”
And notice verses 25-26:”I have heard what the prophets said, that prophecy lies in my name, saying I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophecy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart.”
Understand it! There were prophesied to be torrents of false visions and dreams, and false prophecy to deceive the people! Though these spurious writings came “in the name of the Lord” they were not from the lord. Most have passed away, have become lost. But a few still remain.
Amid this torrent of false, fraudulent writing, to whom had God given His authority to decide for all time which were the inspired books of the Bible and to preserve them? Was it left up to the individual? Or, to one church denomination?
Notice Paul’s inspired answer from Romans 3:1-2, “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: Chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
To whom had the oracles God’s inspired Word the Bible been committed in the Old Testament times? Was it to the Roman Catholic Church? Or was it left up to individuals? No! It was committed to the Jews. It was trusted to their care!
Now consider Acts 7:37-38, “This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; he shall you hear. This is he (Moses) that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel (or messenger the Lord Jesus Christ) which spake to him (Moses) in Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” The Old Testament oracles were given to the Church in the wilderness, the Old Testament Church. It was not left up to the individual.
Though it was committed to the Church in Old Testament times, it was to be given preserved for us-- their descendants! Peter was inspired to write: “To the prophets it was revealed, but not to themselves, but unto us that did minister the things, which are not reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you” (I Peter 1:12). God inspired His prophets to bear His message to the Old Testament Church. God placed His government in that church. That Church became responsible, divinely appointed to preserve His word for all time!
Here is Jesus’ own testimony as to who was in authority in that Church: “Then spake Jesus unto the multitude, and to His disciples, saying, the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matt. 23:1-3). God instituted His government in His Church, the Old Testament Church, through Moses. In Jesus’ day the Scribes and Pharisees were sitting in Moses’ seat, possessing his authority.
And what was the duty of the Scribes? To preserve the Word of God, to transcribe it and reproduce it from generation to generation. The Pharisees were responsible for the constant oral reading of the Scriptures in the synagogues.
The hearts of these leaders may not have been right, many were hypocrites, but Jesus said they were in authority. They were used of God, despite themselves, to preserve His Word which condemned them!
Jesus again absolutely recognized their authority when He said in Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” He restated it in Luke 16:17, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” The Jews preserved every letter of God’s Word. Not one was missing, said Jesus. And if not a single letter was missing, then certainly not a single book was missing!
But where was the center of authority in the Jewish world? Were the Jewish scribes in Egypt, or Babylon, or Rome the final authority? Where was headquarters to whom the Old Testament Church looked?
Every church has its headquarters. In the Old Testament Church God authorized His government to be carried out from headquarters: “If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment being matters of controversy within thy gates (this could include controversy over which books were the inspired books of the Bible) then shalt thou arise, and get thee up unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests, the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire, and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: and thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shall observe to do all that they inform thee” (Deut. 17:8-10).
Headquarters was the place that God chose. Where was it? Turn to Psalm 78:67-68: “Moreover he (the Lord) refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim: but chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which he loved.”
Though God gave His revelation to the entire Old Testament Church to all the tribes of Israel, yet He chose out of all those tribes the one tribe of Judah, the Jews! That is why Paul said in Romans 3 that it was to the Jews the House of Judah-- not to the other tribes of the House of Israel that the revelation of God had been committed.
But where was headquarters for the tribe of Judah? Verse 68 of Psalm 78 declares: “Mount Zion” where Jerusalem is. At the time the nation Israel split off from the tribe of Judah we read in I Kings 11:13, “Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdoms; but will give one tribe to thy son (Solomon’s son) for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”
We now have the right Church the Old Testament Church-- the right tribe, Judah, the Jews, the right place Jerusalem-- the right leaders the Scribes and Pharisees. Here is where we must look for the authority which determines what books belong to the “Old Testament.” Here was the only place on earth where God governed the preservation of His Word, the Old Testament. Were the Apocrypha among the Scriptures preserved by those scribes at Jerusalem?
Jesus recognized the authority of the Scribes and Pharisees. In fact, Jesus, before He came to earth, had chosen the Scribes and Pharisees to sit in Moses’ seat and to act as the preservers of His Word. Jesus is the “Lord” of the Old Testament whose government the Scribes and Pharisees were commanded to carry out. Notice now which Scriptures Jesus recognized as having the official approval of His Church.
“And He (Jesus) said unto them (the disciples), these are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you that all things must be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45).
The Scriptures, according to this testimony of Jesus were properly divided by the Jews into “the law, the prophets, and the psalms.” These three-fold divisions the Jews have preserved, unaltered, to this very day. The “law” is composed of the first five books of the Bible, Genesis to Deuteronomy. The “prophets” are composed of Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings (the former prophets); and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the 12 Minor Prophets (the latter prophets). The third major division of the Hebrew Old Testament is called “Psalms.” The book of Psalms compose the first part of this division, it consists of the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, then the five small books Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther followed by Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and as a final summary to all the Old Testament I and II Chronicles!
Notice that three books preserved by the Jews are exactly the same as you can find in the King James Version and other versions today (the change in order of books of the Old Testament of the Latin Vulgate on English translators). The Apocrypha were never a part of the inspired books of the Bible which compose our Old Testament!
Here then is absolute proof that Jesus recognized the authority of exactly the same number of books we have in our Old Testament today. There are only 39 inspired books which compose the Old Testament! We have the Old Testament complete today.
The seven additional books of the Apocrypha are therefore proved spurious. They were never a part of the Old Testament which the true Church of that day preserved. The Apocryphal writings most of which are frauds are absolutely uninspired. Some, such as I and II Maccabees, are relatively accurate history, though, even they contradict each other in points.
In Jesus’ day, these 39 separate books of the Old Testament were often gathered together on 22 different scrolls, as we read from Josephus: “For we (the Jews) have not an innumberable multitude of books among us, disagreeing and contradicting one another, but only 22 books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine.” (Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, Bk. I Section VIII.)
Some falsely claim that the Apostles quoted from the Apocrypha, or that they cited the Apocrypha as authority. This claim is not true! The Apocrypha were falsely added by the Roman Catholic Church to the inspired books of the Old Testament 700 years after the three divisions of the Old Testament were authoritatively completed. Think of it! They were not falsely inserted by the Roman Catholic Church until 400 years after the birth of Jesus Christ!
Here is what the Catholic pamphlet “The Bible is a Catholic Book” frankly admits on page 21: “From the day when the Catholic Church first published the official list of the inspired books of both Old and New Testament in 397 A.D., there never has been any interruption in the teaching of the Church concerning their inspired source.” The claim of the Catholic Church that it had authority to determine which books belong in the Old Testament is 700 years too late! But what of the Catholic claim that the Apostles quote from a Greek translation of the Old Testament in which the Apocrypha were?
Here is Paul’s own answer: Paul believed “Those things which the prophets and Moses did say should come” (Acts 26:22). He accepted “all things which are written in the law and the prophets” the Old Testament! (Acts 24:14). Paul did not say he believed in the law, the prophets, and the Apocrypha.
The Apocrypha were written between the time of Ezra and the inspired prophets and the time of Christ, a time during which God had ceased to send His prophets. Universal testimony admitted by all is that the last of the Old Testament prophets was Malachi who lived in Nehemiah’s day.
The Apocrypha have no divine authority behind them. They did not come from God. In numerous places they blatantly contradict the inspired Word of God. They introduce pagan fable and superstition.
The Apocrypha originated secretly among the Essene Jews who had adopted many of the customs of the pagans around them.
Let us notice in the censored Catholic Bible, published by the Douay Bible House in New York, the preface by Schumacher. This daring preface which rejects both the testimony of history and the Bible, states: “The Greek-speaking Jews in the Dispersion, especially in Egypt, recognized Books as sacred which the Jews in Palestine in the course of time suspected and, in post-Christian times rejected as not being of divine character. Protestants follow the tradition of the Palestinian Jews (the so-called Jewish Canon) and discarded a number of Books which the Hellenistic Jews in the Dispersion (in their so-called Septuagint Canon) accept as sacred. Catholics follow the tradition of the Hellenistic Jews.”
This claim of the preface of the Catholic Bible is utterly without historical foundation. Let’s understand the facts of history!
First, the Jews in the Dispersion, those living in Gentile lands and not in Palestine, had no authority to decide for themselves which books belonged in the Bible!
Second, the Jewish communities always looked to Jerusalem for any final decision on the Canon (the books which constitute the rule of standard by which we are to live Canon mean “rule.”)
Third, the Jews in the Dispersion accepted no other Canon than the books which had been accepted by the Jews in Palestine! The Jewish philosopher Philo, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, “makes no quotations from the Apocrypha, and he gives not the slightest ground for the supposition that the Jews of Alexandria of his time were disposed to accept any of the books of the apocrypha in the Canon of ‘Holy Scripture’” (from H.E. Ryle, Philo in Holy Scripture, p. xxxiii). Protestant and Catholic theologians recognize this fact, but often are not willing to admit it, because they want to justify their use of books which have no divine authority! Again, “If there were a controversy between the Diaspora and Palestine concerning the Canon, one would expect some hint of it in Philo; and there is none,” declares E. Earle Ellis, in his book Paul’s Use of the Old Testament, p. 54).
The Catholic assumption takes for granted that the inspired New Testament apostles quoted only from a Greek translation called the “Septuagint,” they further assume that this translation contained the Apocrypha. This Greek transition of the Old Testament began around 275 B.C. at the suggestion of Ptolemy of Egypt, who wanted the Jewish Scriptures translated into Greek for his library at Alexandria. This translation was begun by “72 scholars” hence the Greek word “Septuagint” who came from Palestine. Only the first five books of the Bible the books of Moses-- were originally translated by these scholars. “When and by whom the other books were added is quite unknown,” Says Frederic G. Kenyon in The Text of the Greek Bible. Some books are translated almost word for word; others like Job and Daniel, quite freely. In the Greek translation of Jeremiah some 2,700 words are missing and the arrangement of the material is somewhat different” (from the Text of the Old Testament by Ernst Wurthwein, p. 37).
Josephus tells us that the Hebrew text from which most of the books of the Septuagint Version were translated “have been transcribed more carelessly than they ought to have been, because they had not had hitherto royal care taken about them” (from Antiquities of the Jews, bk. XII, chapter ii).
Here again is proof that it was in Palestine that the Old Testament was properly preserved and not in Egypt. Notice what Professor Kenyon further says about the Septuagint Version and its various corruptions: “Thus in Job the Septuagint is shorter than the Hebrew text by about one-sixth, and there are large variations in Joshua, I Samuel, I Kings, Proverbs, Esther and Jeremiah, and lesser ones in other books” (page 29 of Text of the Greek Bible).
The Septuagint Version actually has no authority. Some of it may have been well translated, especially the law, but much of it was utterly corrupt. But that isn’t all! The Septuagint Translation of the whole Old Testament was already complete before most of the Apocrypha books which the Roman Catholic Churches later added-- were ever composed! (See Edersheim in The Life and Time of Jesus the Messiah, p. 26). The Catholic Bishop Cyril, of Jerusalem, born about 315 A.D., mentioned that as late as his date it was recognized that the Septuagint did not have the Apocrypha in it! He wrote: “Read the divine Scriptures, namely, the 22 books of the Old Testament which the 72 interpreters translated.” the Septuagint Version. Notice that there were no 22 plus seven added books! There were only the 22 scrolls which were translated (the 39 books of the Old Testament today remember were then often unofficially written on 22 scrolls).
Even if the Apostles had quoted from the Septuagint Version, there would therefore be no proof that the Apocrypha would be thus recognized! The addition of Apocryphal books to both the Old and New Testaments did not begin until about 80 A.D. at Rome. Numerous spurious books were gradually introduced into the inspired Canon. No two copies of the earliest Catholic Bibles agree as to which apocryphal books were to be added. It was not until 397 A.D., at the Council of Carthage, that Augustine, the Canaanite Bishop from Hippo in North Africa, led the council of Carthage to generally approve seven Apocryphal books. Even in 363 A.D. at the Council of Laodicea the Greek Church rejected the Apocryphal books as a whole. And the Roman Catholic scholar Jerome, who translated the Latin Vulgate Version, rejected the Apocrypha and made his translation from the Hebrew Old Testament directly. Any Catholic scholar will admit this fact. It was not until the Council of Trent, which was under the immediate control of the Pope, that the Apocrypha were declared equal with the other books of the Bible. At the Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, those who rejected the Apocrypha were declared to be “anathema of Christ!” Here was the authority of apostate men determining what others must believe. This was not the authority of God!
There is ample proof that in New Testament quotations the Apostles did not use the Septuagint to quote from as the standard Greek translation of the Old Testament. Two out of every three quotations from the Old Testament found in the New do not agree verbally with the reading of the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. “Paul was acquainted with other Greek texts,” states Ellis on page 15 of his book, Paul’s use of the Old Testament, p. 19 he further admits, “Paul made use of variant translations or renderings known to his readers.”
In the day of the apostles there were several different translations into Greek of the Old Testament. Though the first five books of the Septuagint were originally approved by the Jews to be read in Greek, the remaining books of the Septuagint Version became so corrupt that the Jews finally forbade their people to use any of the Septuagint. Numerous quotations from Daniel make it plain that both Christ and the apostles were using an official translation different from the Septuagint in the first century A.D. No wonder Kenyon wrote on page 32 of his book, The Text of the Greek Bible, that the apostles were “using some earlier translation of which we have otherwise no knowledge; for several (non-Septuagint) readings occur in the New Testament, notably in the quotations from Daniel, in the Apocalypse, and Hebrew. There must therefore have been some other version than the LXX (Septuagint Version) extant in the first century.
The evidence is overwhelming the apostles did not use the Septuagint translation as the standard Greek translation of the Old Testament. Nor did they ever approve the Apocrypha!
In was only as a result of the rise of the Roman Catholic Church that gradually, from the third century onward, to the Septuagint translation was added different Apocryphal writings. Another proof is that no two copies of the Septuagint version have the same Apocryphal books in them. This is absolute proof that the Alexandrian Jews had not settled or established canon. The addition of the Apocrypha to the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament was a matter of human tradition. So many different Apocryphal books were circulating in the Catholic world that it took a church council in 397 A.D. to decide which books the Roman Catholic Church would finally approve!
So the Apocrypha is not a part of the inspired Old Testament. It is not part of the Bible! The Bible is complete without it!
Some sects today contend that there are “missing books of the Bible” from which Jesus and the apostles quoted. But notice! In Acts 17:28 Paul incidentally quotes the heathen poets. And in Titus 1:12-13 he again quotes non-Christian Cretan religious leaders. This certainly does not mean that the apostles are giving sanction to these heathen poets! Today we often quote from accurate historical sources, just as have been done in this article, but that does not mean we recognize the volume from which these quotations have been taken as inspired of God!
In similar manner sometimes Jesus and the Apostles quote from historical source material which has been preserved by the Jews from the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. But that does not mean that the volumes from which those quotations were taken were required to be preserved by the Jews for all generations. Just those particular quotations which Jesus and the apostles thought necessary have been preserved in the New Testament.
God inspired the prophets of ancient times to bear His message not only for their generation but for all generations. Much of the material that they wrote for their generation was not intended to be preserved. God led them to choose those particular things which were needful for all generations. And what they themselves had not already preserved for us in the three divisions of the Old Testament, the law, the prophets, and the psalms, Jesus Himself and the apostles have retained for us as quotations in the New Testament. But notice that none of these New Testament quotations come from the Apocrypha.
These spurious books, which have no authority in the official Jewish community, were primarily the work of the Jewish sect called the Essenes. (See the proof in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, article “Apocrypha.”) The Essenes were an ascetic Jewish group (commonly influenced by pagan mysteries). To justify their pagan practices they secretly composed spurious books in the name of Enoch and Jasher in an attempt to justify their teachings adopted from the pagans. It is no wonder that most of their books have been preserved by that “Great Mystery” described in Rev. 17, which for nearly 1900 years had ruled the religion in the western world.
When the Jews in New Testament times refused the message of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, Jesus raised up the Apostle Paul to go to the Greek world to have His New Testament message preserved in Greek for us today.
Most people are not aware that if the New Testament is placed side by side with the Old, the Bible is complete in seven divisions: law, prophets, psalms; gospels, acts, epistles, revelation. Here is an amazing seven-fold division of the books of the Bible. Seven is God’s number for completion. With these seven divisions of the Bible, God’s Book is complete.
The authority for the preservation of the books of the New Testament rests with the Greek people and its official copyist who have been centered at Mount Athos in Greece. The Greeks were given the New Testament to preserve but God led the Apostles to make the decision as to which books the Greek world would be heir to.
Notice that Paul sanctions the gospels as inspired in I Tim. 5:18. Paul quotes as Scripture the words, “The laborer is worthy of his reward.” This quotation is found nowhere in the Old Testament. It is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 10, verse 7.
In II Peter 3:15-16 the epistles of Paul are compared with the Old Testament and are designated “Scriptures.”
A comparison of the book of Genesis with the book of Revelation would prove conclusively that the book of Revelation was intended to be the last book of the Bible. As a final warning not to add any other book, God inspired John to write (Rev. 22:18-19).
The Old Testament itself prophesied of the disciples that they would be the ones who would close the Canon, that is, complete the number of books of the Bible. Notice Isaiah 8:14 Christ was sent “for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” That is exactly what happened. The Jews rejected Him and rejected His message. As a result (v. 15), “many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” Though that would happen to the Jews, who rejected God’s message, yet Jesus’ Word was to be preserved by the Greeks. Read verse 16: “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” “To bind up” comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to complete” the testimony of Jesus Christ. The New Testament Church has “the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17). It was also through the disciples of Jesus Christ that God’s seal of approval was placed on those laws which are eternally binding on Christians.
Yes, we can know! The Bible is complete! Not one book of the Bible has been lost. Not one is missing. The books of the Bible as you find them in your KJV constitute the complete Bible! It is God’s instruction manual for mankind. Oh that men would read it and live by its every word!