The Canon: Why These Sixty-Six Books - Part 3

Selected Scriptures

Tom Pennington  •  February 22, 2004
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Well, we've been talking about the canon of Scripture, and tonight we want to come to the issue of the Apocrypha. When I was in seminary, there was often a joke. One of the seminary professors would get up, (usually in the class that had first-year students in it) and occasionally they would throw out a reference that didn't exist in the Scripture just to see how many guys started searching their Bibles for it. And the most common one was, "Okay, students, let's all turn to 1 Hezekiah." And, you know, all of the second/third year students, or those who grew up in the church, are sitting there and kind of like "Yeah right.…" And there would always be a couple of guys who were thumbing desperately to find (somewhere between Zechariah and Malachi) the book of 1 Hezekiah.

Well there are books that are in some Bibles that are not in ours, and tonight we want to talk about why that is and why they're not in ours. But before we do that, let me just very briefly review what we've been talking about in the canon of Scripture. The issues we're talking about is what the concept of canon means. How did the church officially recognize the books that are in our Bible, the biblical criteria for choosing what books would be in the Bible. And then next week, Lord-willing, we'll look at the closing of the canon. Next week, my hope is that we will look at how the New Testament was formed, the canon of the New Testament, and then we'll look at why we believe there are no more books to be added, ever.

Just to remind you: the meaning of "canon," it comes to us through the Latin from the Greek. It's used to refer to a straight rod or rule, a rule or standard, and then a series or a list. So, when we talk of the canon of Scripture, we're talking about 2 things: the list of books acknowledged to be inspired, and the rule or standard, then, that those books become of what we believe and what we practice. Tonight, we want to go to the issue of the Apocrypha. We're talking about the biblical criteria for the canon. We've examined the Old Testament criteria, we did that in detail last week, but now (before we get to the New Testament) I think it's important for us to deal with this issue because it's one that's not going away. In fact, there is a renewed interest and a push toward accepting the books that are commonly called "the Apocrypha."

When I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I'd be talking about this, one of the men in our church explained to me that, through Christian acquaintances, he was hearing about this sort of increasing fascination with the Apocrypha. And a leading evangelical publisher is soon going to issue a commentary on the Apocrypha, and there's a Christian folk group that sings songs taken from, quote, "Scripture and the Apocrypha." In addition, there are a couple of Bibles that are now being offered, that are now being published, with the Apocrypha included, from evangelical publishers. So clearly there's a renewed interest about these books among evangelicals. Why is that true?

Someone asked me that at lunch today and, you know, I can only conjecture, but I conjecture that there are two reasons that the Apocrypha's has this sort of renewed fascination among evangelicals. And I think one of it is a lack of knowledge that most Christians have about how the canon was formed. As they do a little rudimentary reading, it seems to them that the Apocrypha's always been attached to the Bible so, maybe that means we should embrace it too.

And then I think a second reason that there's this interest in it is, frankly, a strange preoccupation (as I mentioned this morning) among evangelicals with all things Catholic. But the question is, why do we accept the Hebrew Old Testament and yet not accept these 14 books that appear in Roman Catholic Bibles? That's the issue we want to discuss tonight.

Let's begin by talking about what it is. Just sort of define our terms. The Greek word means "things that are hidden" – that's the name "Apocrypha" comes from and, frankly, I've read a lot on it, and no one knows why it has that name. There's some conjecture that, because they were originally hidden from view etcetera, etcetera, though we're not sure exactly why they're called this, but it means "things that are hidden." Jewish authors basically continued to write after the last prophet Malachi. Remember Malachi was the last Old Testament prophet. He wrote approximately 400 years before Christ.

But Jewish authors continued to write after him, and what they wrote, (much of it Jewish history between the Testaments, such as in the book of Maccabees, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and even the other Apocryphal third and fourth books of Maccabees.) is very interesting reading. If you haven't had the opportunity to read it, you ought to do that. That's some of what's considered in this body of information. In addition, when you think about books that are not included in our canon (you have the canon, that is those books, those 66 books that are in our Old and New Testaments) you have the Apocrypha, these 14 books we're going to talk about primarily tonight. And then in addition you have other books that were written by Christian authors that claimed to be authoritative.

Typically, these authors borrowed the identity of other authors, so these books are called "Pseudepigrapha," from the Greek meaning "falsely inscribed," literally "pseudo" meaning "false," "epi" meaning "upon," and "graphe" meaning "to write": "written upon falsely." In other words, here's someone who takes up the pen and says, "I'm Abraham Lincoln, and I'm writing this book to you." That's similar to the way these books were written.

Now, when we use the word "Apocrypha," though, we're not talking about that. We're not talking about the Pseudepigrapha, those books that were written under someone else's name. We're talking about the books that are in the Septuagint (you remember the Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament). They're in the Septuagint, but they're not in the Hebrew Old Testament. If you take the Greek Septuagint, and you subtract the Hebrew Old Test- or, the Hebrew Old Testament, what you're left with is the books we call "the Apocrypha." They were written between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. Somewhere in that window all the books that fall into the Apocrypha were written: 200 B.C. to 100 A.D.

Here are the books that are included, and I'm not going to take time to explain each of them to you. If you want a good summary of each of these, you can get a good Old Testament introduction that has a section on the Apocrypha, and it will explain each of these books to you. But this is a list of the books that are included. You can see that there are a couple of pieces of books that are added. For example, there's a portion, a large portion added to Esther in the Apocrypha. You can also see the Psalm of the 3 Holy Children. That refers to Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, as their Jewish names were – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as we know their Babylonian names. You also have (as part of Baruch) the prayer in some cases of Jeremiah, etcetera. So there're these documents that were composed between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D., and this is a list of those that are included.

Now, the bulk of the Apocrypha was originally written in Greek, and it existed first in that language alone. A few of them were written in Hebrew or in Aramaic, but for the most part they were written in Greek. So, we know they don't date back and are not technically part of the Hebrew Old canon. What's fascinating about some of these books is, after they were written in Greek (because people wanted them to be accepted in the Jewish canon), they translated them into Hebrew. And so, there're actually copies of these books floating around that were translated from Greek into Hebrew so that they'd be endorsed by the Jews.

Now, let me ask a question. Why is it that some people think these books should be included in the canon of Scripture? Basically 2 reasons are presented. The first is that the early versions of Scripture include them. Well, that is partially true, but really the truth is only one ancient version of the Bible included these 14 books and that was the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, that was translated between 100 and 200 B.C.

Now, the other reason that's offered is this: that the church fathers quote from them as authoritative. That is, the church fathers are those people who lived from after the death of John the apostle through, usually it's about 500/600 A.D. So, from about 90 A.D. through 500 A.D., those are considered the church fathers, and many people have argued that because those men (who were the closest to the apostles, some of them actually studied under the apostles), quote these books authoritatively, that must mean that we should accept them as authoritative as well. Those are the 2 primary arguments set forth.

Now, let's take the opposing side, and let's look at why we should not accept them. Here are the reasons that we should not accept the Apocrypha, these 14 books, as part of our Scripture. First of all (and this is interesting to me), the Apocrypha's own statements, its own assertions about its relationship to the Law and the Prophets, or the canonical Old Testament. Listen to these two quotes. This one is from 1 Maccabees 4, and Maccabees was written about 100 B.C. Listen to the quote: "So they tore down the altar and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill, until there should come a prophet to tell them what to do with them," end quote.

You see, when Maccabees was written, they knew that no one could speak as a prophet with the authority of God. Even within the Apocrypha there is this recognition that these writings do not come from a prophet, and in fact, they're anticipating and hoping that a prophet will come. Listen to 1 Maccabees 9. In the time of Maccabees, there had been no prophet for a long time so, speaking of a great distress, a time of great distress, the author says this: quote, "Such has had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them." In other words, he's saying there're no prophets now, and there'd been, there'd been no prophets for a long time. And so there was an acknowledgement that, within the books themselves, that they were not from a prophet and that, in fact, there had not been prophets for some time.

There's a second reason, and that is the Jews never accepted them as canonical. The Jews never accepted the Apocryphal books as a part of the canon of the Old Testament. Josephus, whom I quoted to you last time who was born about 37/38 A.D., he used the Septuagint. Now, think about this. Josephus used the Septuagint. What is the one ancient version that had the Apocrypha attached? The Septuagint. But listen to what he says against Atheon he writes this: quote, "We have not tens of thousands of books, discordant and conflicting, but only 22" and remember, that's the same content as our Old Testament, just divided differently, "only 22 containing the record of all time which had been justly believed to be divine," end quote. So, he has the Septuagint in his hand, and he says, "But realize that we don't accept those Apocryphal books, those 14 additional books, as being a part of the divine canon of Scripture. We only have 22 that contain the record that have been believed to be divine."

He adds this: quote, "From Artaxerxes to our times, a 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." In other words, revelation ended. The Old Testament ended in the time of Artaxerxes. When was that? The time of Malachi. Revelation ended in the time of Malachi because there has been no succession of prophets. There's been nobody to speak for God. These other writings are fine, they're helpful, but they're not inspired. Now think about what Josephus said. The greatest Jewish historian of the first century knew about the books of the Apocrypha, and yet he said he and his contemporaries did not consider them to be equal to or to bear the same authority as the Old Testament. Josephus goes on to add that, quote, "no words of God," end quote, had been added to the Old Testament Scriptures since about 435 B.C.

But not just Josephus. In the Babylonian Talmud, the Rabbi said that the Holy Spirit had departed from Israel in terms of giving prophecy to them. Listen to this quote: "After the latter prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi had died, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel," end quote. So even the Babylonian Talmud, the Rabbis who wrote the Babylonian Talmud, argued that there was no further prophecy from the Holy Spirit after the prophet Malachi. Wayne Grudem writes, "After 435 B.C., writings were not accepted by the Jewish people generally as having equal authority with the rest of the Old Testament." So, the Apocrypha itself seems to imply there's no prophet there to write, there's no prophet even to tell them what to do with the stones that were used in the altar that they broke down, and the Jews never accepted them as canonical.

Thirdly, the New Testament writers, neither Jesus, the apostles, nor any of the New Testament writers ever cite these books, they never cite the 14 books that are part of the Apocrypha. By Roger Nicole's count (now Roger Nicole is a famous Greek scholar), by his count Jesus and the New Testament authors quote portions of the Old Testament as divinely inspired over 295 times. Think about that for a moment, let that sink in. Jesus and the New Testament writers referred to the Old Testament and identified it as the divinely-inspired Word of God over 295 times in the New Testament. Not once do they quote any other writing as authoritative. When you come to the New Testament, there are three places where extra-biblical writings are referred to, but they are not cited as authoritative. One of those is in Jude 14 and 15, turn there for a moment. Jude 14 and 15:

"It was also about these men that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against them – against Him.'"

That is a quote from 1 Enoch 60:8 and 1 Enoch 1:9. But that is not in the Apocrypha. Paul – by the way, notice that Jude does not quote it as if it were Scripture; he simply makes and allusion to it as Paul does to the Greek poets. You see Paul quote two pagan poets, one in Acts 17:28 and the other in Titus 1:12, but he does so only for the purpose of illustration. He never refers to them as "thus says the Lord." He never refers to them in any way that implies they have any authority any more than any secular writing. But all three of those, those citations in the New Testament that are from outs- from writings outside the Scripture, all three of them are not in the Apocrypha.

And in fact, not once in the New Testament do its authors cite a single statement from the books of the Apocrypha. There is not one clear allusion or quote to the Apocrypha in the entire New Testament. Now what makes that remarkable is this: you remember the Bible that Josephus had, the Septuagint? Guess what Bible the New Testament authors quote from more than any other Bible? The Septuagint. So the Bibles that they quote from are Bibles that have the Apocrypha attached, and yet they quote from the Old Testament 295 times as "thus says the Lord," but not one time do they ever mention, allude, or give as authoritative a writing from the Apocrypha. It's very clear where the authors of the New Testament sit.

Finally, (or not finally) finally on this particular slide, Jesus affirmed the Jewish canon. Jesus affirmed the Jewish canon. And I won't take time to go there in detail because we did that a few weeks ago, but just to remind you, turn to Luke 24. Luke 24:44: "… [And] 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….'" remember that threefold structure of the Old Testament?

This is what Christ is referring to here: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings – Psalms was shorthand for the Writings, "must be fulfilled." He was referring to the Hebrew Old Testament. The exact content of our Old Testament, and He said "That's the Scripture." He affirmed the Jewish canon, and in so doing He rejected the Apocrypha. There are other arguments against. Let's not go there yet. Let me give you one more that I don't have up there on a PowerPoint slide. Romans 3, Romans 3, let me show you what Paul does. Verse 1. Remember that he's convicted the pagan Gentiles for their sin, and now he's moving into convicting the religious (particularly the Jews, and he's in the middle of that argument that began in verse 17 of chapter 2), of convincing the Jews of their guilt before God, getting the Jewish people lost so he could give them the good news of justification. And he says this in verse 1 of chapter 3: "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?" In other words, what does it matter that you're a Jew? Your advantages are great, he says, in every respect.

First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. They were entrusted with the oracles. That word "oracles" is a Greek word that means "the inspired writings," "the writings of Deity." When Paul says that the Jews have, as recipients, that they have been given as a treasure to hold and to guard the oracles of God, he's saying that the Jews have the inspired writings. What is he doing by implication? He is excluding the Apocrypha because the Jews never recognized the Apocrypha. They never embraced it as canonical. So, when he says the Jews have been given these oracles, these divine, inspired writings from God, he's endorsing the Old Testament as we know it, and he's excluding the Apocrypha.

Now, you saw this, another argument is church history argues against. This one may surprise you (because most people, and I want to take some time to go through this), because most people think that church history argues for the Apocrypha when in reality it does not. Let me just wade through this. I think this is important, and this tonight is a little more like a history lecture, I suppose, than it is a careful study, but I think it's important for you to understand this, because this is coming. Let me promise you that there is going to be a renewed call in coming years for us to embrace the writings of the Apocrypha.

But let me show you that church history argues against this. First of all, the earliest Christian list of Old Testament books comes from the Bishop of Sardis, whose name was Melito. He was writing about 170 A.D. He includes in his list all of our Old Testament except for one book, and that's the book of Esther. It was a book that was one of the, (remember that Greek word I taught you last time,) "antilegomena"; that is, "a book spoken against". That was a book that there was always a question mark about, and you know the reason if you know anything about Esther. What never appears in the book of Esther? The name of God. And so there was some question about whether that should appear in the canon. It was not in his list at that time, but it had been accepted long before as a part of the canon, again, which we discovered last week, because it came from the pen of a prophet and was accepted at that time.

Now, he includes all of our Old Testament except Esther. But listen, he doesn't include a single book of the Apocrypha. That's the earliest Christian list of the Old Testament that we have. Eusebius, writing at about 325 A.D., quotes Origen, who lived much earlier, as including most of the books of our Old Testament, including Esther, but Origen doesn't mention a single book of the Apocrypha.

Athanasius, in 397 A.D. Athanasius was Bishop of Alexandria. He included all the books of our Old Testament and New Testament except Esther, and he also mentioned several books of the Apocrypha, but this is what he said. He did mention several books in the Apocrypha, but listen to what he said about them: quote, "These are not indeed included in the canon, but appointed by the fathers to be read by those who newly join us and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness," end quote. So in other words, they're helpful. They're not in the canon. They're not to be considered a part of Scripture, but they're helpful.

There was one voice, in all fairness I need to tell you, there was one voice among the early church fathers who spoke of the Apocrypha authoritatively, who said that it was, in fact, authoritative, and that was Augustine. So, Augustine, and any council he influenced, argued for the Apocrypha. In his list of canonical books, he includes most of those 14 books that are included in the Roman Catholic Bible. But what's funny about Augustine is, he couldn't make up his mind. His other writings show that he distinguished between the kind of canonicity of the Old Testament, and the sort of secondary canonicity of the Apocrypha. Listen to what he wrote: quote (speaking of the Apocrypha) quote, "They are not found in the canon which the people of God received because it is one thing to be able to write as men with the diligence of historians, and another as prophets with divine inspiration. The former pertain to the increase of knowledge, the latter to authority in religion, in which authority the canon is kept," end quote.

So, even though he puts them in his list of canonical books, he seems to assign them, in fact he does clearly assign them, to some sort of a secondary status that doesn't equal the rest of the Old Testament. But the one that usually comes up is Jerome. Jerome completed the Latin Vulgate, which was the Bible used by the church for 1000 years, in 404 A.D. It's interesting (because Jerome included the Apocrypha in the Latin Vulgate), and it's because he included it that the Roman Catholic Church eventually accepted it as part of the canon. But Jerome, listen to this, Jerome did not believe that those 14 books were part of the canon. In his famous prologue to the books of Samuel and Kings in the Latin Vulgate, he lists exactly the same content as our Old Testament books, and then he finishes with this quote: quote, "Whatever is not included in these is to be placed among the Apocrypha." In his preface to the books of Solomon, which is one of the Apocryphal books, he writes this: quote, "Just as the church reads Judith and Tobias and Maccabees," (those are part of the Apocryphal books), "Just as the church reads those in public worship but does not receive them in the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two books also for the edification of the people, not for the establishing of the authority of the doctrines of the church."

You see what Jerome is saying in the Latin Vulgate? The very Bible that the Roman Catholics argue is the basis and foundation of accepting the Apocrypha, he's saying, "Look, I'm going to stick these in here, but they are not canonical. They are simply for the reading and the public worship, for general instruction, they're not to be received as authoritative in the same sense that Scripture is."

I won't even stop with the writer of the Latin Vulgate, let's go to a pope, Gregory the Great. He was a pope in approximately 600 A.D. He quotes one of the books of the Apocrypha, 1 Maccabees, and this is what he says: quote, "We address a testimony from books, though not canonical, yet published for the edification of the church," end quote. So, in 600 A.D., you have a pope saying "Maccabees is not the inspired Word of God. It's simply given for the edification of the church."

Cardinal Examinees, which is someone you've never heard of and probably will not name a son after, in his preface to his "polyglot". Now that's a word you don't hear very often either, let me explain that. A "polyglot" is a very simple concept. Basically, it is "several versions of Scripture running side-by-side". It's somewhat like a parallel version. You have a column of one kind of text of the Scripture, another column with a different translation, and so forth. That's a polyglot. In his polyglot, which he said, quote, "was dedicated to Pope Leo X and approved by him," end quote, he says that the Apocryphal books were printed in it, that they were not the canon, but they were used for edification. And by the way, Cardinal Examinees and Pope Leo X were just before the time of the Reformation.

So, you come all the way up to the time of the Reformation, and you still have the Catholic Church saying the Apocrypha is not in the canon. There're simply books to be used in the public worship for edification of the people. It would be like my coming into the pulpit on Sunday morning and, instead of reading out of the Psalms, my taking a book from a contemporary author and saying, "I think you'll find this helpful. But, don't hold it up to the same level as Scripture."

So when did this change? Right up to the time of the Reformation, you have the Catholic Church saying, "the Apocrypha's not in the canon, the Apocrypha's not in the canon." It changed at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent, which was a Roman Catholic, mid-16th century response to the Reformation. At the Council of Trent, the council ignored church history, and on April 8th, 1546, they decreed that the Apocrypha was part of the inspired canon of Scripture. April 8th, 1546, for 1500 years the Apocrypha was not to believe, was not believed, rather, to be a part of the canon, and in 1546 it becomes so. Why? It was for expediency. Let me give you several reasons the Catholic Church, at the Council of Trent, accepted the Apocrypha when it had not, for 1500 years, even popes had not.

First of all: they had used through all that period of time the Apocrypha in the public worship. To admit, as the Reformers were pointing out, that it was not part of the Scripture would seem a very serious error to people, would seem a very serious error to the people who sat in those churches and heard those books read at the same level as if they were equally authoritative with the rest of Scripture. So, to admit that after 1500 years would, would be a major faux pas, and not one the Catholic Church wanted to commit.

There's a second reason: to defend its doctrine of Purgatory, the Catholic Church needed 2 Maccabees 12:40-45, where it's reported that Judas Maccabeus prayed for the dead. You say, "Are you saying that the entire argument the Catholic Church has for Purgatory rests on those verses?" The answer is, yes. It is a very weak argument, but it's the only Scriptural support that they had. It came out of books that had been read in public worship for 1500 years in conjunction with the canon. They needed, against the Reformers, to argue for the, for the doctrine of Purgatory, and so they needed those books to be, have a heavier weight than just some guy's writings. They needed them to have the weight of inspiration.

There's a third reason: and that is that the books of the Apocrypha contain support for the teaching of justification by faith plus works, and not by faith alone. So it was very crucial. You read the writings of the Reformers, and you'll find that this is, as they, as they tried to understand why, now in 1546 after 1500 years of church history, that the church is now all of a sudden calling the Apocrypha part of the canon, these are the reasons that you'll see bantered about.

So, when you come to the Reformation and you come to the Reformers, Luther and his 1534 German version of the Bible, he included these books in a section at the end of the Old Testament, and he described them as the Apocrypha. And of these books he wrote this: quote, "These books are not to be regarded as equal in esteem with the sacred Scriptures, but yet are useful and valuable for reading," end quote. The Reformers made it very clear. Basically, they were saying the same thing Jerome was saying 1000 years before. Luther started the custom of separating out the Apocrypha. That became the common approach. And so when you get to the King James Version of 1611, you have the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament, but with the same intent as Luther, separated out as not equal in authority to the Scripture. So, when you look at the Apocrypha, how can we summarize it? Basically, with four simple statements.

IT IS NOT INSPIRED.

IT IS NOT CANONICAL – it was not given by God, instead it was the writing of human authors between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. It does not belong in the canon of Scripture, those books that are determined to be the inspired books from God.

Therefore, THEY ARE NOT AUTHORITATIVE, that is, they do not bind you to believe what they say and to practice what they teach, and they are not to be treated differently from any other human writings.

THEY'RE NOT TO BE USED IN THE CHURCH, that's why you'll never hear me read as part of our Scripture reading, nor will you hear me preach from any of the books of the Apocrypha, because of these realities. Now, now you understand why our approach to the Old Testament canon was so important. Let me remind you of last week. Why is it that the Old Testament we have was universally accepted?

First of all because Moses, it started with Moses, Moses was unmistakably and undeniably validated as God's mouthpiece. Without question, people knew that Moses spoke for God. Moses, then, predicted that there would be others like him who would continue to speak for God. He said in Deuteronomy, "You can expect God to raise up other prophets like me who will speak for Him to you just as you asked when God appeared on the Mountain of Sinai," remember? They said, "Moses, look, don't let God speak to us anymore. We're terrified of His voice. You go, you listen, and you come tell us." And Moses said, "It's a good thing you've asked, and God has agreed, that's a good thing. And so, God's going to raise up prophets who will do just that, who will be in the place of me to you. After my death, you can expect a string of prophets."

These books in the Apocrypha were not immediately received by the Jews as inspired because there were no accepted prophets after Malachi who met Moses' standards. Remember what Moses' standards were for a prophet who spoke for God? He provided two criteria by which future prophets would be judged. Deuteronomy 18:21-22 said that a true prophet's predictions will always come true. Never once will their predictions not come true.

But there's another important standard, because it might be that a false prophet's predictions might always come true. So, there's another standard, and that's found in Deuteronomy 13:1-5, and that is a true prophet's message will always be in complete doctrinal agreement with previous revelation. "Don't listen," God says, "even if his prophecy comes true, if what he says doesn't agree with what I've already told you."

Well, what a lesson that is for today, isn't it? There're so many people who claim to be prophets for God. Someone was sharing with me after the service this morning, one member of our church, that there is a nearby church who went on a youth retreat, and on the youth retreat there was a man who spoke up claiming to be a prophet, and his prophecy was something like this: "One of you is going to be so successful that someday you'll come back to your reunion in your own private jet." That was his prophecy, and he was claiming this to be this incredible prophecy from God.

Moses says, "God is going to send prophets after me, and here's how you judge them: do their predictions come true, and does what they said coincide with what you've already been told in the pages of Scripture?" And in addition, Moses seemed to indicate that God would authenticate – not always, but often He would authenticate those prophets with miracles. That's why the true prophet's word was immediately accepted. That's why the Old Testament books were accepted by the closing of the canon, by the time 400 B.C. rolled around, all of the books in our Old Testament were accepted, is because the people knew the moment they were written that they came from a prophet that met these criteria. He was a true prophet, and that's why the Apocrypha was not accepted, because the people knew there were no prophets to authenticate the message.

Next week, Lord-willing, we'll look at the New Testament canon. We'll look at why the books we receive as the New Testament should be received. We have a standard now for the Old Testament, now let's examine why the New, and then we'll also look at why there should be no more, and really those two are all one package, and we'll look at it together next week.

Let's pray.

Father, we're so grateful for what You have revealed to us in Your Word. Lord, You've given us everything we need for life and godliness. We thank You that You have made it clear, even how we are to know that these books are from You. That within the pages of these books You have laid down the principles by which other writings are to be accepted. Lord, we thank You that it was clear to Your people in the Old Testament when You spoke.

It was clear that when Moses picked up his pen and wrote, that he spoke for You and that he was writing for You, and then he placed the scroll there in the Arc of the Covenant. It was equally clear when Joshua took that scroll out and picked up where Moses left off and wrote and, so with each of the succeeding prophets. Lord, thank You that You have not given us uncertain sound, that You have given us Your Word clear and certain. Lord, we thank You that we can exclude others that claim to be from You.

Lord, help us to love the truth and to hate error, and help us also to benefit from the writings of men but to treat them only as they are, writings which are beneficial but not inspired, not from You, not to be taken as the standard for what we believe and what we practice. Lord, we thank You for Your goodness, we thank You for Your Word. Ancient words ever true, changing all of us, Lord, we're so grateful for Your goodness to us in that.

In Jesus' name, amen.