Did Jesus or the apostles ever quote the Apocrypha?

If you take a trip to your local (c)hristian book store, you’ll of course see plenty of Bibles on the shelves. There will be many different Protestant Bibles (including a few very dubious translations) side-by-side with Catholic Bibles. Have you ever wondered what the differences are between Protestant and Catholic Bibles?

Today, I was listening to the 05/19/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator, Mike Denz, and priest-host, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listening audience.

Towards the end of the show, Denz took a question regarding the Bible:

Mike Denz: We’re going to go to Athena, who emailed us this question: “I am currently converting (to Catholicism) and I just received my Catholic Bible in the mail. I’m wondering if you have advice on how I should approach reading it? I grew up reading the King James Bible and just by skimming through the Douay-Rheims Holy Bible, I notice some pretty major differences already. Should I start by reading straight through first or should I just jump between chapters with focus on certain chapters?”

Denz then immediately commented that the King James Version is not a translation approved by the Catholic church. The church used to be forbid its members from reading the KJV or any other Protestant Bible upon pain of “mortal” sin, although the “unchangeable” church seems to have taken a less-militant stand in recent years (see the comments section). Denz also mentioned that Catholic Bibles contain seven Old Testament books that Protestant Bibles do not, as well as four additions to other OT books. This debated material is called the Apocrypha, which was all written in the 400-year period after the last OT book, Malachi, and before the time of Christ. Denz went on to blame Martin Luther for removing the Apocrypha from the Bible but the Jews in 1st-century Palestine didn’t consider this material to be Scriptural. Ancient historians, Philo and Josephus, rejected the Apocrypha. The rabbinical writers of the Talmud from 200 AD to 500 AD excluded the Apocrypha. Jesus and the apostles never quoted the Apocrypha. Even Jerome, the translator of the Septuagint, rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture.

However, Denz claimed the apocryphal books “were quoted in the New Testament,” followed by priest Baker chiming in, “…by Jesus Himself!” I had never before come across a claim from a Catholic source that Jesus or the apostles had ever quoted from the Apocrypha. I did a little digging and found that objective Catholic sources admit that direct quotes of the Apocrypha cannot be found in the New Testament “and that the (religious) themes (alluded to in the NT as quotes from the Apocrypha by overzealous Catholics like Denz and Baker) are so prevalent in Judaism that our Lord may not have intended these works (i.e., the Apocrypha) specifically.” See here. Thanks for your objectivity, priest John Echert.

For an excellent analysis of the Apocrypha from an evangelical perspective, see the article below:

Is the Apocrypha Scripture?
http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2012/is-the-apocrypha-scripture/

If you’ve never read the apocryphal material I would advise you not to waste your time. But the Apocrypha is important to Catholic doctrine because in one of the books, II Maccabees 12:38-46, Jews are exhorted to pray for the souls of fallen soldiers who had worn idolatrous amulets under their tunics. Catholics cite this passage as support for the doctrine of purgatory and praying for the dead. But how could that be? These soldiers were blatant idolaters. In Catholic dogma, idolatry is a “mortal sin,” so these fallen soldiers with their idolatrous good luck charms would have been in hell, not in a spurious purgatory.

Catholic priest: The Bible is full of errors!

Roman Catholicism has an interesting relationship with the Bible. While the church officially recognizes the Bible is God’s Word, it places its non-biblical traditions and teaching authority (Magisterium) on equal par with Scripture. Catholicism did not encourage the laity to read the Bible because it contains so many teachings that contradicted Catholic dogma. I attended Catholic schools for twelve years and although we were told stories from the Bible, we never read it. Not once.

This past Saturday I was driving down the road with my radio tuned to the local Catholic station. A priest (name unknown) was talking about the Bible and said many parts can’t be taken literally, but that one must sift through the myth and error to mine the overarching moral or spiritual message.

As an example, the priest pointed to Mark 2:23-28, where Jesus says David and his men ate the bread of Presence during the time of Abiathar the High Priest. Yet, 1 Samuel 21:1-6, the passage Jesus was referring to, records that the High Priest at the time was Ahimelech. The priest stated that either Jesus was wrong or Mark was wrong but either way the Bible was in error. But he said this technical error wasn’t actually a big deal because the overarching message of the passage, that love conquers doctrinal scrupulosity, was the point. Famous atheist, Bart Ehrman, cites the alleged Ahimelech/Abiathar contradiction as the initial seed of his personal doubt regarding the Bible and Christianity.

But was Jesus, Mark, or Mark’s probable source, Peter, in error regarding Mark 2:23-38? I reject any suggestion out of hand that Jesus the Word was ever in error about anything. But what about Mark? Could the Holy Spirit have allowed him to write an error, especially a glaring one that would have been immediately obvious to any devout Jew?

The article below points out a very plausible solution to the alleged contradiction from an inerrantist point of view.

Was the high priest Abiathar or Ahimelech?
http://www.evidenceunseen.com/bible-difficulties-2/nt-difficulties/matthew/mk-226-was-the-high-priest-abiathar-or-ahimelech/

It might be surprising to some ecumenically-minded evangelicals that a Catholic priest would claim on national radio that the Bible was full of errors but the Catholic clergy includes many such liberal errantists. But as I also mentioned, Catholicism often relegates Scripture to a secondary role in favor of its man-made teachings and traditions.

Why did Jesus use mud salve to heal the blind man’s eyes?

“Having said these things, he (Jesus) spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” – John 9:6-7

In reading John 9, I’ve often wondered why Jesus made a mud salve and applied it to the blind man’s eyes? Why didn’t Jesus just heal the man’s eyes outright with a verbal or non-verbal command? What was the mud salve all about?

In his single-volume Bible commentary, John MacArthur suggests that “Jesus may have used the clay to fashion a new pair of eyes.” Hmm, that’s certainly a possibility but it seems like a stretch given the text. In his Thru-the Bible commentary, J. Vernon McGee doesn’t even attempt to explain Jesus’s use of mud salve.

Yesterday, I may have stumbled across the answer. A book I’m currently reading points out that the Mishna of the Talmud prohibited Jews from applying soothing mud salves to a person’s ailing eyes on the Sabbath:

“To heal a blind man on the Sabbath…it is…prohibited to make mud with spittle and smear it on his eyes” (Shabbat 108:2).

Well, of course. That’s it. Jesus not only ignored the traditions of the Pharisees by healing the blind man on the Sabbath, but he purposly used a mud salve in the healing in direct defiance of the specific regulations of the Talmud! This would seem to be an excellent explanation of Jesus’s use of the mud salve.

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” – Matthew 15:8-9

Praise the Lord for curing my spiritual blindness and allowing me to comprehend the “Good News!” of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone! Are man-made religious traditions coming between you and salvation in Christ Jesus? Accept Jesus as your Savior by faith alone!

Moses and Hobab: Sin or obedience?

God’s Word is rich beyond measure. We are so blessed that we can feast upon God’s Wordmh daily. But sometimes I get a little lackadaisical in my approach to the Word. In my haste to complete the perfunctory three chapters per day (and five on Sunday), I can overlook some very profound truths and admonitions from the Lord. Slow down, Tom! It’s quality, not quantity. “Lord, speak to me!” But there are also times when I come across some verses that I can’t completely understand and I end up scratching my head. “Lord, what does this mean?”

Case in point: My wife and I have recently been reading through the Book of Numbers together. In chapter 9, the Lord revealed to Moses that He would lead Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land by the pillar of cloud during the day and by the pillar of fire during the night. There obviously could not be a more perfect guide than the Lord God Almighty.

Yet in chapter 10 we read that Moses entreated his brother-in-law*, Hobab, to act as a guide for the Israelites:

“And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the Lord has promised good to Israel.” But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” And he said, “Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. And if you do go with us, whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same will we do to you.” – Numbers 10:29-32

Why would Moses ask Hobab for his help as a guide when the omniscient Lord God Almighty was already leading the Israelites? Was Hobab, a Midianite, even a follower of the Lord at that point? One commentator suggests that, in His providence, the Lord sent Hobab to Moses and the Israelites because of his practical knowledge of wilderness survival, e.g. locating water wells and oases, camp protocol, etc.

So couldn’t the Lord, the perfect guide, have led the Israelites to the very best possible campsites? Why would they have needed Hobab? Here’s three possible interpretations of the passage that I came across:

(1) By turning to Hobab for help, Moses was doubting in the care of the Lord. Moses was trusting in the arm of flesh rather than the Lord. This passage is recorded in God’s Word to show us, once again, that even Moses had his failings and was an imperfect sinner. (2) Moses saw Hobab, a seasoned veteran of wilderness living, as a help provided by the Lord to assist the Israelites in their journey. (3) Moses was only flattering Hobab in an effort to persuade him to accompany the Israelites so that he might eventually also trust in the Lord.

Anyone have an opinion on this passage? We probably won’t resolve this one conclusively this side of eternity.

*Bible scholars are still debating whether “Hobab” refers to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, or his brother-in-law, although recent scholarship seems to favor the latter view.

“This is some really dry stuff.”

My wife and I have been having a daily devotion together for close to two years. cloudOne of us reads a Bible chapter aloud and then the other prays. It’s the highlight of our day and I wonder why we waited so long to do it. We alternate between Old and New Testament books and we recently just started in Numbers.

Reading parts of the Old Testament can be difficult. Our previous Old Testament book was Leviticus, which details the priestly sacrificial system with daunting precision. But the Old Testament sacrificial system was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of our Lord on Calvary. As I’ve mentioned before, it really helps to have some resources that illuminate Old Testament typology. Jesus is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament and if you keep that in mind you’ll “get a lot more out of it.”

Anyway, the first several chapters of Numbers are as challenging as Leviticus, with the census of the Israelite warriors, the arrangement of the Israelite camp, and the duties of the Levites. After reading chapter three, my wife turned to me and said, “This is some really dry stuff.”

So, are there actually any lessons and applications that today’s believers can take away from the “dry” preciseness of the first several chapters of Numbers? Of course! Here’s just a few that I could think of:

Every believer counts

Our God knows us. He numbered and knew every Israelite warrior who would follow behind His Ark into battle, just as He knows every believer who carries His Gospel into the world. No outsiders were allowed to fight for Israel, only those who were members, by birth, of the twelve tribes. Likewise, only those who are born again spiritually by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone are in the family of God. Our spiritual genealogy is that of adopted children of God through Christ. The Lord knows us intimately. He numbers every hair on our head, although that’s a much quicker job in my case than it was thirty years ago.

God is a God of order

The Israelite camp was ordered precisely with each tribe assigned a position around the Tabernacle. The tribe of Judah was given a position to the east of the Tabernacle, a place of honor. When the Israelites traveled to the next encampment or into battle, Judah was positioned in front. Yes, Judah’s prominence foreshadowed the supremacy of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who descended from that tribe. Jesus is the Head of the Body and we members of the Body are positioned where He would have us. God is not a the author of confusion, of the kind we see in some churches today, but He is the God of order, reason, and peace.

No work for the Lord is insignificant.

Each clan of the Levite tribe had specific duties regarding the Tabernacle. Some were more showy than others. The Kohathites carried the Ark of the Covenant and the other important altars, tables and vessels of the Tabernacle. The Gershonites and Merarites attended to the less glamorous tent coverings, curtains, frames, stakes, and cords. But every task was essential for the proper functioning of the Tabernacle. Every Christian has an important function within the Body of Christ.

Although all of us struggle through some of these challenging, “dry” passages of the Old Testament and wonder what they have to do with us, the Holy Spirit can illuminate some real gold that we can apply to our lives if we’re receptive to His teaching. My wife doesn’t like to study Bible chapters in-depth as I do, so I try to share a few of the major things I pick up.

Wow! Look what I’ve got!

The other day I was reading 2 Samuel 24 where King David ordered a census of Israel andlh Judah. In this chapter it says that God incited David to take a census because He was angered with Israel:

“Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” – 2 Samuel 24:1

The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles gives even further detail by saying it was Satan who incited David, which God allowed:

“Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.” – 1 Chronicles 21:1

So what was so bad about David taking a census? Rather than trusting in the power and might of the Lord, David was putting his trust in the number of his subjects and the manpower available to serve in his army. David was his father’s youngest of eight sons and started out as a lowly shepherd, yet God had raised him up to be a powerful king. It was ALL because of God. David should have been trusting in God completely! David also knew from Exodus 30:12 that only God could order a census and that a ransom was required to atone for the counting. However, David went ahead with the census anyway, even over the objections of his normally-unscrupulous military commander, Joab. The Lord subsequently punished David and the Israelites with a severe pestilence, which was halted at the threshing floor of Araunah, which David had bought and where he had built an altar of repentance. The location later became the site of Solomon’s Temple.

We’re quick to criticize David in these passages, aren’t we? What a dummy! What was he thinking? But the reality is we act just like David all the time. Churches are always checking the numbers these days. How many attended this year compared to last? Baptisms? Offerings? Today, it’s ALL about the numbers. Churches have adopted the world’s latest marketing methods to reel in the “unchurched” rather than leading lost souls to the Lord. A pastor is “successful” only if he has at least a thousand coming through the turnstiles every Sunday.

But what about me? What am I trusting in? Well, it’s certainly not my looks. But what about my health? My job? My 401K? My upcoming twenty years of happy retirement that’s due to me? All of it could be gone in the blink of an eye. As I get closer to retirement, I confess that I check my 401K balance about once every couple of weeks and it’s not doing too badly. But that rug could be pulled out from under me in an instant.

What about this illustrious WordPress blog? More than once I’ve looked back and thought to myself, Wow, I’ve done a good job for the Lord over the last 14 months with this blog. How many posts have I written? How many people have visited from how many countries? Good thing the Lord has me standing in the gap for Him here at WordPress! Argh! No, it’s pretty hard for me to point the finger at census-happy David. 2 Samuel 24 resonates strongly with me because it hits so close to home.

There’s only one sure thing in this world; only one solid foundation. Instead of trusting in our bank accounts and our abilities, we need to recognize it’s the Lord Who is sovereign and we need to put our faith in Him. Everything else is just sinking sand. Whatever we have is only because He provided it. He’s the Potter. We’re the clay. All glory and honor to Him!!!!

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit” – Jeremiah 17:7-8

Ruth: Who/what was the other kinsman?

Have you ever sat there, reading your Bible, and the Holy Spirit revealed somethingNK delightful in a passage that you had read many times previously but had never before grasped the full import? I’m sure you can relate. The Old Testament has many types and foreshadowings of Jesus Christ and when we understand their full meaning for the first time it’s a bit of a “eureka” moment.

As I mentioned in some recent posts, my wife and I are currently studying through the Book of Ruth, one of my favorite books of the Bible. I’ve read this book many, many, many times, but just like every book in the Bible, the Holy Spirit reveals something new each time I read it.

In the Book of Ruth, Boaz is a wonderful type of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s a relative by marriage to Naomi and Ruth, and Ruth claims him as her kinsman-redeemer. Boaz loves Ruth and is more than happy to oblige her claim, but first he must deal with an unnamed individual, a closer relative of Naomi and Ruth, who is first in line to act as their redeemer. In chapter four, Boaz brings the individual before Bethlehem’s magistrates, but the person ultimately declines to be the women’s redeeemer, freeing Boaz to legally assume the role and marry Ruth.

While reading about Boaz’s dealings with this other kinsman, a question popped into my mind for the first time. If Boaz is a type of Christ, who/what does this other kinsman represent? The unnamed nearer-kinsman plays a small but pivotal role in the story and I sensed he symbolized something very important, but what was it? I found a very credible answer in J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on the chapter. McGee suggests the other kinsman represents the Law. Although he came before Boaz (Christ), he (the Law) could not/would not redeem the women. A light went on in my spirit. Yes, yes, that was it! The nearer kinsman who could not/would not redeem Ruth represented the Law. I found that other commentators have drawn the same conclusion as McGee.

I remember as a Catholic struggling to find redemption through the Ten Commandments. It was impossible. The Law cannot save, for it only shows us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus Christ took on human flesh to become our Kinsman. But you must reach out to Him and accept Him as your Savior, your Kinsman-Redeemer. Oh, Lord Jesus, thank you for redeeming me from the heavy burden of sin. Thank you for loving me and saving me!

http://www.gotquestions.org/kinsman-redeemer.html

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” – Romans 8:1-8