WCF 1.3 — Pastoral Comments

Posted on Nov 28, 2017 by admin

1.3 The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.1
1 Lk 24:27, 44; Rom 3:2; 2 Pet 1:21.

We mentioned previously that our Confession of Faith does not use the term Bible to describe the Holy Scripture or the Word of God. The reason is perhaps found in this paragraph. You see, at the time when the Assembly met, the King James Bible of 1611 and even editions of the earlier Geneva Bible were printed with the Apocrypha. But the Great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther had as early as 1534 declared contrary to the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church that the Apocrypha are books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read. Our Reformed Fathers and Westminster Assembly agreed with that sentiment. These books are not divinely inspired and are therefore not part of the canon of Scripture.

The Apocrypha is actually a collection of 15 Jewish books, some of dubious authorship, written between 170 B.C. to A.D. 70. It is true that some of them were included in the Septuagint (i.e., the Greek translation of the Old Testament commonly in used in the days of our Lord and His apostles). But we can be sure that these additional books are not inspired and canonical because most of them were already extant when the Lord Jesus walked in Palestine, and yet He made no mention of them. Instead, He distinctly endorsed only the 39 books of the Old Testament as the Law of Moses, prophets and the psalms (Lk 24:44). These three terms correspond to the three division of the Hebrew Old Testament, namely: (1) Torah (i.e. the Law or the Pentateuch); (2) Nebiim (i.e. the Prophets, namely Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings & all the prophetic books except Lamentations and Daniel) and (3) Kethubhim (i.e. the Writings which comprise the rest of the books, including the poetic books, and Chronicles). Not only did the Lord make no reference to the apocryphal books, but they contain theological contradictions as well as accounts that are quite clearly fictional or at least embellished versions of historical events.

Accordingly, these books are of no authority in the true Church of God. And neither should we approve of them, nor give higher regard to them than any other human writings.
Some of them can be quite interesting to read if you have the time and have finished reading through the Scripture and done your daily Bible-Reading. But it may be more profitable to read a good Christian book such as Calvins Institutes, Luthers Galatians or Augustines Confession!

Westminster Confession of Faith — With Brief Pastoral Comments
© 2017 by Pilgrim Covenant Church