1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 1.3 The Apocrypha of Holy Scripture

Table of Contents

The Text

Luke 24:25-27 (CSB) He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.

The Chapter

The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon or rule of the Scripture, and, therefore, are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings.

The Confession

The Apocrypha consisting of the following:

  • 1 Esdras (Vulgate 3 Esdras)
  • 2 Esdras (Vulgate 4 Esdras)
  • Tobit
  • Judith ("Judeth" in Geneva)
  • Rest of Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4 – 16:24)
  • Wisdom
  • Ecclesiasticus (also known as Sirach)
  • Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy ("Jeremiah" in Geneva) (all part of Vulgate Baruch)
  • Song of the Three Children (Vulgate Daniel 3:24–90)
  • Story of Susanna (Vulgate Daniel 13)
  • The Idol Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14)
  • Prayer of Manasseh (Daniel)
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees

These books are not canon because they are not wholly inspired by God in their writings. Despite them being not canon, we don't reject them wholesale. They are literature of great historical importance. R.C. Sproul says it this way:

Although the Apocrypha are not part of the canon of the Scripture, these books need not be completely ignored or discarded. We do not throw away the letters of Clement, Ignatius, or other church fathers, which are of historical interest. The confession makes the point only that the books of the Apocrypha are not inspired and therefore do not belong in the canon.

R.C. Sproul. Truths We Confess. 12.

To believe that the Bible is inspired--breathed out--by God himself through the mind, education, and hand of human authors is one thing. (2 Timothy 3:16) To believe that all sixty-six books, from Genesis to Revelation, contains all that there is revealed nature of Triune God--out of the sovereign grace of the Father through the atoning sacrifice and death-killing resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the Almighty power of the Spirit--is a belief that has to be completely supernatural from God on high. Yet, we look at all of history, from the creation of Adam through various prophecies, through all of Church history, the thought that the Bible contains all that there is revealed about God is a difficult concept to comprehend. If it were easy, then heresies, sects, and cults, and false teachings wouldn't be a thing. Reformations would not be necessarily sovereignly course corrected by God himself.

Yet, time and time again, God will say one thing and mankind will take it upon themselves to add on or to take away from what God has said. If the preaching ministry of Jesus did nothing else, he came to preach the good news that belief and trust in God was not as back-breaking as man will make it out to be.

What was Christ's response to the weight of sin? It wasn't to do more, better, faster. No.

Matthew 11:28-30 (CSB) “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We don't need to seek out other good news outside the revelation of God in Christ Jesus because there is nowhere else. If you don't believe the word of God, that is one thing. And I pray that you believe and obey Christ. But don't say you are a Christian and then keep looking for something other than the simple gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Repent, for the kingdom of God is now.

Galatians 1:6-10 (CSB) I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him! For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.