When Did Catholics Add Books to the Bible?


Q. When did Catholics add books to the Bible?

A. They never did. The Jews and the Protestants removed books from the OT.
The Catholic Church simply received the Septuagint version of the Hebrew scriptures, from the Jews, at the time of Christ. This became known as the Old Testament. 70 years later, the Jews removed 7 Old Testament books from the Septuagint. The reason given for this was that they could no longer find those books in Hebrew.

Interestingly some of these books were being used to good advantage to make converts among the Jews. For example:

This passage prophesies and describes the attitude of the enemies of Jesus hundreds of years before His birth:

The Book of Wisdom
2.1a, 12-22

The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright:

Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself as a child of the Lord. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like other men’s and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him. These were their thoughts, but they erred, for their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.

Prayers for the dead and support for Purgatory (since people in Heaven don’t need prayers and people in Hell can’t be helped by prayers) are scriptural based on the following passage.

II Maccabees 12:44-45

For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.
But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

In 1529, Martin Luther removed the same 7 books from the Catholic Old Testament, that the Jews had removed1400 years earlier. Luther also removed 4 New Testament books (Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation) that did not agree with his theology, for his German translation. These books were removed from their original place in the order of the books and placed together at the end of the Bible. In later editions, he was persuaded to return the New Testament books to to their proper position in his translation of the Bible. Today Protestant Bibles don’t contain 7 Old Testament books at all.

Q. What is the Septuagint?

A. In the centuries leading up to the birth of Christ the Jews were living all over the known world. Greek was the language of commerce and scholarship. Over time it became harder and harder to maintain a wide knowledge of Hebrew among the Jews because more and more were speaking only Greek. The Jews in Alexandria set about to make a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. This translation was completed between 250-125 BC by 70 Jewish scholars. Septuagint means 70 in Latin.

Scholars are certain that Jesus and the early Christians accepted the Septuagint version of the Old Testament because etymological studies of 300 quotes from the Old Testament made by the New Testament writers can be traced back to the Septuagint version. There are also OT quotes that can be traced back to the Hebrew OT but these are far fewer in number. So, if Jesus had rejected the Septuagint the New Testament writers seemed to know nothing about it since they all used it quite freely.

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49 Responses to When Did Catholics Add Books to the Bible?

  1. Russ says:

    Every Old Testament book is quoted from or alluded to by the writers of the New Testament except the books of the Apocrypha. None of the books of the Apocrypha are quoted or alluded to from the New Testament.

    Jesus when out of His way to affirm accuracy of the stories in the Old Testament including the flood of Noah, Adam and Eve, Abraham, etc., but He never affirmed any of the stories in any of the Apocryphal books.

  2. Russ that simply is not accurate. Grab a Bible with the Deuterocanon included and take a gander….

    Deuterocanonical References
    in the New Testament
    by James Akin

    I get a lot of requests for a list of the references the New Testament makes to the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. Unfortunately, giving a list is not such a simple affair since it is not always obvious whether something is a genuine reference.

    Hebrews 11:35 is an indisputable reference to 2 Maccabees 7, but many are not so clear as there may be only a single phrase that echoes one in a deuterocanonical book (and this may not be obvious in the translation, but only the original languages).

    This is the same with New Testament references to the protocanonical books of the Old Testament. How many New Testament references there are to the Old Testament depends in large measure on what you are going to count as a reference.

    As a result, many scholarly works simply give an enormous catalogue of all proposed references and leave it to the individual interpreter to decide whether a given reference is actual or not.

    I will follow the same procedure until I have time to sit down with the following references, sort through them, and decide which I can prove to be references are to deutercanonical books. If you find any you think are indisputable, email me, as it will help with the project of producing a shorter list of indisputable references.

    The following (huge) list is taken from pp. 800-804 of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, 27th edition (Novum Testamentum: Graece et Latine, published by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft).

    New Testament Order
    Deuterocanonical Order

    Matthew
    Mark
    Luke
    John
    Acts
    Romans
    1 Corinthians
    2 Corinthians
    Galatians
    Ephesians
    Philippians
    Colossians
    1 Thessalonians
    2 Thessalonians
    1 Timothy
    2 Timothy
    Titus
    Hebrews
    James
    1 Peter
    2 Peter
    1 John
    Jude
    Revelation
    Daniel
    Baruch
    Tobit
    Judith
    Sirach
    Wisdom
    1 Maccabees
    2 Maccabees

    References in New Testament Order
    Matthew
    Matthew 4:4 Wisdom 16:26
    Matthew 4:15 1 Maccabees 5:15
    Matthew 5:18 Baruch 4:1
    Matthew 5:28 Sirach 9:8
    Matthew 5:2ss Sirach 25:7-12
    Matthew 5:4 Sirach 48:24
    Matthew 6:7 Sirach 7:14
    Matthew 6:9 Sirach 23:1, 4
    Matthew 6:10 1 Maccabees 3:60
    Matthew 6:12 Sirach 28:2
    Matthew 6:13 Sirach 33:1
    Matthew 6:20 Sirach 29:10s
    Matthew 6:23 Sirach 14:10
    Matthew 6:33 Wisdom 7:11
    Matthew 7:12 Tobit 4:15
    Matthew 7:12 Sirach 31:15
    Matthew 7:16 Sirach 27:6
    Matthew 8:11 Baruch 4:37
    Matthew 8:21 Tobit 4:3
    Matthew 9:36 Judith 11:19
    Matthew 9:38 1 Maccabees 12:17
    Matthew 10:16 Sirach 13:17
    Matthew 11:14 Sirach 48:10
    Matthew 11:22 Judith 16:17
    Matthew 11:25 Tobit 7:17
    Matthew 11:25 Sirach 51:1
    Matthew 11:28 Sirach 24:19
    Matthew 11:28 Sirach 51:23
    Matthew 11:29 Sirach 6:24s
    Matthew 11:29 Sirach 6:28s
    Matthew 11:29 Sirach 51:26s
    Matthew 12:4 2 Maccabees 10:3
    Matthew 12:5 Sirach 40:15
    Matthew 13:44 Sirach 20:30s
    Matthew 16:18 Wisdom 16:13
    Matthew 16:22 1 Maccabees 2:21
    Matthew 16:27 Sirach 35:22
    Matthew 17:11 Sirach 48:10
    Matthew 18:10 Tobit 12:15
    Matthew 20:2 Tobit 5:15
    Matthew 22:13 Wisdom 17:2
    Matthew 23:38 Tobit 14:4
    Matthew 24:15 1 Maccabees 1:54
    Matthew 24:15 2 Maccabees 8:17
    Matthew 24:16 1 Maccabees 2:28
    Matthew 25:35 Tobit 4:17
    Matthew 25:36 Sirach 7:32-35
    Matthew 26:38 Sirach 37:2
    Matthew 27:24 Daniel 13:46
    Matthew 27:43 Wisdom 2:13
    Matthew 27:43 Wisdom 2:18-20

    Mark
    Mark 1:15 Tobit 14:5
    Mark 4:5 Sirach 40:15
    Mark 4:11 Wisdom 2:22
    Mark 5:34 Judith 8:35
    Mark 6:49 Wisdom 17:15
    Mark 8:37 Sirach 26:14
    Mark 9:31 Sirach 2:18
    Mark 9:48 Judith 16:17
    Mark 10:18 Sirach 4:1
    Mark 14:34 Sirach 37:2
    Mark 15:29 Wisdom 2:17s

    Luke
    Luke 1:17 Sirach 48:10
    Luke 1:19 Tobit 12:15
    Luke 1:42 Judith 13:18
    Luke 1:52 Sirach 10:14
    Luke 2:29 Tobit 11:9
    Luke 2:37 Judith 8:6
    Luke 6:35 Wisdom 15:1
    Luke 7:22 Sirach 48:5
    Luke 9:8 Sirach 48:10
    Luke 10:17 Tobit 7:17
    Luke 10:19 Sirach 11:19
    Luke 10:21 Sirach 51:1
    Luke 12:19 Tobit 7:10
    Luke 12:20 Wisdom 15:8
    Luke 13:25 Tobit 14:4
    Luke 13:27 1 Maccabees 3:6
    Luke 13:29 Baruch 4:37
    Luke 14:13 Tobit 2:2
    Luke 15:12 1 Maccabees 10:29 [30]
    Luke 15:12 Tobit 3:17
    Luke 18:7 Sirach 35:22
    Luke 19:44 Wisdom 3:7
    Luke 21:24 Tobit 14:5
    Luke 21:24 Sirach 28:18
    Luke 21:25 Wisdom 5:22
    Luke 24:4 2 Maccabees 3:26
    Luke 24:31 2 Maccabees 3:34
    Luke 24:50 Sirach 50:20s
    Luke 24:53 Sirach 50:22

    John
    John 1:3 Wisdom 9:1
    John 3:8 Sirach 16:21
    John 3:12 Wisdom 9:16
    John 3:12 Wisdom 18:15s
    John 3:13 Baruch 3:29
    John 3:28 1 Maccabees 9:39
    John 3:32 Tobit 4:6
    John 4:9 Sirach 50:25s
    John 4:48 Wisdom 8:8
    John 5:18 Wisdom 2:16
    John 6:35 Sirach 24:21
    John 7:38 Sirach 24:40, 43[30s]
    John 8:44 Wisdom 2:24
    John 8:53 Sirach 44:19
    John 10:20 Wisdom 5:4
    John 10:22 1 Maccabees 4:59
    John 14:15 Wisdom 6:18
    John 15:9s Wisdom 3:9
    John 17:3 Wisdom 15:3
    John 20:22 Wisdom 15:11

    Acts
    Acts 1:10 2 Maccabees 3:26
    Acts 1:18 Wisdom 4:19
    Acts 2:4 Sirach 48:12
    Acts 2:11 Sirach 36:7
    Acts 2:39 Sirach 24:32
    Acts 4:24 Judith 9:12
    Acts 5:2 2 Maccabees 4:32
    Acts 5:12 1 Maccabees 12:6
    Acts 5:21 2 Maccabees 1:10
    Acts 5:39 2 Maccabees 7:19
    Acts 9:1-29 2 Maccabees 3:24-40
    Acts 9:2 1 Maccabees 15:21
    Acts 9:7 Wisdom 18:1
    Acts 10:2 Tobit 12:8
    Acts 10:22 1 Maccabees 10:25
    Acts 10:22 1 Maccabees 11:30, 33 etc.
    Acts 10:26 Wisdom 7:1
    Acts 10:30 2 Maccabees 11:8
    Acts 10:34 Sirach 35:12s
    Acts 10:36 Wisdom 6:7
    Acts 10:36 Wisdom 8:3 etc.
    Acts 11:18 Wisdom 12:19
    Acts 12:5 Judith 4:9
    Acts 12:10 Sirach 19:26
    Acts 12:23 Judith 16:17
    Acts 12:23 Sirach 48:21
    Acts 12:23 1 Maccabees 7:41
    Acts 12:23 2 Maccabees 9:9
    Acts 13:10 Sirach 1:30
    Acts 13:17 Wisdom 19:10
    Acts 14:14 Judith 14:16s
    Acts 14:15 Wisdom 7:3
    Acts 15:4 Judith 8:26
    Acts 16:14 2 Maccabees 1:4
    Acts 17:23 Wisdom 14:20
    Acts 17:23 Wisdom 15:17
    Acts 17:24, 25 Wisdom 9:1
    Acts 17:24 Tobit 7:17
    Acts 17:24 Wisdom 9:9
    Acts 17:26 Wisdom 7:18
    Acts 17:27 Wisdom 13:6
    Acts 17:29 Wisdom 13:10
    Acts 17:30 Sirach 28:7
    Acts 19:27 Wisdom 3:17
    Acts 19:28 Daniel 14:18, 41
    Acts 20:26 Daniel 13:46
    Acts 20:32 Wisdom 5:5
    Acts 20:35 Sirach 4:31
    Acts 21:26 1 Maccabees 3:49
    Acts 22.9 Wisdom 18.1
    Acts 24:2 2 Maccabees 4:6
    Acts 26:18 Wisdom 5:5
    Acts 26:25 Judith 10:13

    Romans
    Romans 1:19-32 Wisdom 13-15
    Romans 1:21 Wisdom 13:1
    Romans 1:23 Wisdom 11:15
    Romans 1:23 Wisdom 12:24
    Romans 1:28 2 Maccabees 6:4
    Romans 2:4 Wisdom 11:23
    Romans 2:11 Sirach 35:12s
    Romans 2:15 Wisdom 17:11
    Romans 4:13 Sirach 44:21
    Romans 4:17 Sirach 44:19
    Romans 5:5 Sirach 18:11
    Romans 5:12 Wisdom 2:24
    Romans 9:4 Sirach 44:12
    Romans 9:4 2 Maccabees 6:23
    Romans 9:19 Wisdom 12:12
    Romans 9:21 Wisdom 15:7
    Romans 9:31 Sirach 27:8
    Romans 9:31 Wisdom 2:11
    Romans 10.7 Wisdom 16.13
    Romans 10:6 Baruch 3:29
    Romans 11:4 2 Maccabees 2:4
    Romans 11:15 Sirach 10:20s
    Romans 11:33 Wisdom 17:1
    Romans 12:15 Sirach 7:34
    Romans 13:1 Sirach 4:27
    Romans 13:1 Wisdom 6:3s
    Romans 13.10 Wisdom 6.18
    Romans 15:4 1 Maccabees 12:9
    Romans 15:8 Sirach 36:20

    1 Corinthians
    1 Corinthians 1:24 Wisdom 7:24s
    1 Corinthians 2:16 Wisdom 9:13
    1 Corinthians 2:9 Sirach 1:10
    1 Corinthians 4:13 Tobit 5:19
    1 Corinthians 4:14 Wisdom 11:10
    1 Corinthians 6:2 Wisdom 3:8
    1 Corinthians 6:12 Sirach 37:28
    1 Corinthians 6:13 Sirach 36:18
    1 Corinthians 6:18 Sirach 23:17
    1 Corinthians 7:19 Sirach 32:23
    1 Corinthians 9:19 Sirach 6:19
    1 Corinthians 9:25 Wisdom 4:2
    1 Corinthians 10:1 Wisdom 19:7s
    1 Corinthians 10:20 Baruch 4:7
    1 Corinthians 10:23 Sirach 37:28
    1 Corinthians 11:7 Sirach 17:3
    1 Corinthians 11:7 Wisdom 2:23
    1 Corinthians 11:24 Wisdom 16:6
    1 Corinthians 15:29 2 Maccabees 12:43s
    1 Corinthians 15:32 Wisdom 2:5s
    1 Corinthians 15:34 Wisdom 13:1

    2 Corinthians
    2 Corinthians 5:1, 4 Wisdom 9:15
    2 Corinthians 12:12 Wisdom 10:16

    Galatians
    Galatians 2:6 Sirach 35:13
    Galatians 4:4 Tobit 14:5
    Galatians 6:1 Wisdom 17:17

    Ephesians
    Ephesians 1:6 Sirach 45:1
    Ephesians 1:6 Sirach 46:13
    Ephesians 1:17 Wisdom 7:7
    Ephesians 4:14 Sirach 5:9
    Ephesians 4:24 Wisdom 9:3
    Ephesians 6:12 Wisdom 5:17
    Ephesians 6:14 Wisdom 5:18
    Ephesians 6:16 Wisdom 5:19, 21

    Philippians
    Philippians 4:5 Wisdom 2:19
    Philippians 4:13 Wisdom 7:23
    Philippians 4:18 Sirach 35:6

    Colossians
    Colossians 2:3 Sirach 1:24s

    1 Thessalonians
    1 Thessalonians 3:11 Judith 12:8
    1 Thessalonians 4:6 Sirach 5:3
    1 Thessalonians 4:13 Wisdom 3:18
    1 Thessalonians 5:1 Wisdom 8:8
    1 Thessalonians 5:2 Wisdom 18:14s
    1 Thessalonians 5:3 Wisdom 17:14
    1 Thessalonians 5:8 Wisdom 5:18

    Top

    2 Thessalonians
    2 Thessalonians 2:1 2 Maccabees 2:7

    Top

    1 Timothy
    1 Timothy 1:17 Tobit 13:7, 11
    1 Timothy 2:2 2 Maccabees 3:11
    1 Timothy 2:2 Baruch 1:11s
    1 Timothy 6:15 Sirach 46:5
    1 Timothy 6:15 2 Maccabees 12:15
    1 Timothy 6:15 2 Maccabees 13:4

    Top

    2 Timothy
    2 Timothy 2:19 Sirach 17:26
    2 Timothy 2:19 Sirach 23:10v1
    2 Timothy 2:19 Sirach 35:3
    2 Timothy 4:8 Wisdom 5:16
    2 Timothy 4:17 1 Maccabees 2:60

    Top

    Titus
    Titus 2:11 2 Maccabees 3:30
    Titus 3:4 Wisdom 1:6

    Top

    Hebrews
    Hebrews 1:3 Wisdom 7:25s
    Hebrews 2:5 Sirach 17:17
    Hebrews 4.12 Wisdom 18.15s
    Hebrews 4:12 Wisdom 7:22-30
    Hebrews 5:6 1 Maccabees 14:41
    Hebrews 7:22 Sirach 29:14ss
    Hebrews 11:5 Sirach 44:16
    Hebrews 11:5 Wisdom 4:10
    Hebrews 11:6 Wisdom 10:17
    Hebrews 11.10 Wisdom 13.1
    Hebrews 11:10 2 Maccabees 4:1
    Hebrews 11:17 1 Maccabees 2:52
    Hebrews 11:17 Sirach 44:20
    Hebrews 11:27 Sirach 2:2
    Hebrews 11:28 Wisdom 18:25
    Hebrews 11:35 2 Maccabees 6:18-7:42
    Hebrews 12:4 2 Maccabees 13:14
    Hebrews 12:9 2 Maccabees 3:24
    Hebrews 12:12 Sirach 25:23
    Hebrews 12:17 Wisdom 12:10
    Hebrews 12:21 1 Maccabees 13:2
    Hebrews 13:7 Sirach 33:19
    Hebrews 13:7 Wisdom 2:17

    Top

    James
    James 1:1 2 Maccabees 1:27
    James 1:13 Sirach 15:11-20
    James 1:19 Sirach 5:11
    James 1:2 Sirach 2:1
    James 1:2 Wisdom 3:4s
    James 1:21 Sirach 3:17
    James 2:13 Tobit 4:10
    James 2:23 Wisdom 7:27
    James 3:2 Sirach 14:1
    James 3:6 Sirach 5:13
    James 3:9 Sirach 23:1, 4
    James 3:10 Sirach 5:13
    James 3:10 Sirach 28:12
    James 3:13 Sirach 3:17
    James 4:2 1 Maccabees 8:16
    James 4:11 Wisdom 1:11
    James 5:3 Judith 16:17
    James 5:3 Sirach 29:10
    James 5:4 Tobit 4:14
    James 5:6 Wisdom 2:10
    James 5:6 Wisdom 2:12
    James 5:6 Wisdom 2:19

    Top

    1 Peter
    1 Peter 1:3 Sirach 16:12
    1 Peter 1:7 Sirach 2:5
    1 Peter 2:25 Wisdom 1:6
    1 Peter 4:19 2 Maccabees 1:24 etc.
    1 Peter 5:7 Wisdom 12:13

    Top

    2 Peter
    2 Peter 2:2 Wisdom 5:6
    2 Peter 2:7 Wisdom 10:6
    2 Peter 3:9 Sirach 35:19
    2 Peter 3:18 Sirach 18:10

    Top

    1 John
    1 John 5:21 Baruch 5:72

    Top

    Jude
    Jude 13 Wisdom 14:1

    Top

    Revelation
    Revelation 1:18 Sirach 18:1
    Revelation 2:10 2 Maccabees 13:14
    Revelation 2:12 Wisdom 18:16 [15]
    Revelation 2:17 2 Maccabees 2:4-8
    Revelation 4:11 Sirach 18:1
    Revelation 4:11 Wisdom 1:14
    Revelation 5:7 Sirach 1:8
    Revelation 7:9 2 Maccabees 10:7
    Revelation 8:1 Wisdom 18:14
    Revelation 8:2 Tobit 12:15
    Revelation 8:3 Tobit 12:12
    Revelation 8:7 Sirach 39:29
    Revelation 8:7 Wisdom 16:22
    Revelation 9:3 Wisdom 16:9
    Revelation 9:4 Sirach 44:18 etc.
    Revelation 11:19 2 Maccabees 2:4-8
    Revelation 17:14 2 Maccabees 13:4
    Revelation 18:2 Baruch 4:35
    Revelation 19:1 Tobit 13:18
    Revelation 19:11 2 Maccabees 3:25
    Revelation 19:11 2 Maccabees 11:8
    Revelation 19:16 2 Maccabees 13:4
    Revelation 20:12s Sirach 16:12
    Revelation 21:19s Tobit 13:17

    Copyright (c) 1996 by James Akin. All rights reserved.

  3. Russ says:

    “…Hebrews 11:35 is an indisputable reference to 2 Maccabees 7…”

    Heb 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
    Heb 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

    Obviously, Heb 11:25 refers to Moses.

    Do me a favor, reduce the above list to your 3 STRONGEST scriptures and I will look at them with an open mind. Deal?

  4. Russ says:

    Sorry, wrong verse.

    Heb 11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

    “Women received their dead raised to life again…” most likely refers to…

    2Ki 4:32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.
    2Ki 4:33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.
    2Ki 4:34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.

    And, “… others were tortured…” could refer to many OT passages for example…

    2Ch 16:10 Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.

    Heb 11:35 is not an, “indisputable reference to 2 Maccabees 7”.

  5. Russ says:

    I just randomly chose one verse from your list. This is the first and only verse I looked into:

    Heb 5:6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.

    You say it refers to Maccabees. Was Maccabees written before or after Psalm 110?

    Psa 110:4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

    2Co 4:2 But (we) have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

  6. Russ my counter-deal would be asking if you could offer evidence for what you feel supports your own personal hermeneutic of qualifying what you will accept as Scripture.

    Before we get into a quote-off on your terms of judging, I want to know how you feel that is the reliable way to judge the veracity of the Scriptures.

    Certainly I would be interested in learning about how you have come to judge the canon of the New Testament reliable – that itself did not come with a page of contents. Who put it together? How was it vouchsafed that all included should be and all excluded likewise should be? Some of the epistles could be questioned as being possibly just pious writing if you are using the texts of some to support the rightfulness of other texts.

  7. joeltg says:

    Russ,
    The reason the Protestant Bibles do not include the Apocrypha is because they simply where not translated with the King James Version. The Apocrypha were “disputed” writings of the OT. When St Constantine called for the General Church Council in 325 one of the items on the agenda was to canonize the Holy Scriptures. Before that they were never all together in the format we have them today. Jewish rabbis were invited to the council to help advise on which of the OT scriptures belong in the Christian scriptures. There were several requirements for books to be admitted to the canon of scripture, one of them being there had to be a copy both in Greek and in Hebrew. Baruch, Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom, I & II Maccabees and part of Daniel did not have a copy in Hebrew, only in Greek. They were almost excluded from the canon of scripture on account of not meeting all the requirements. The Jews preset strongly objected and the books “in dispute” were admitted with the disclaimer of being Apocryphal. When the King James Version of the Bible was commissioned to be translated the “disputed” books were left out, not because of anything Jesus said or because the Apostles failed to refernce them, it was because they were disputed. The only reason they were disputed was because they did not have a copy in Hebrew. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered all the books “in dispute” were present in Hebrew, thus removing any reason for dispute. Anyone missing those books of the Bible are missing out on the full canon of Holy Scripture. Have you read them? You might be quite edified if you do.

  8. Russ says:

    Sinner,

    First, you asserted that the apocryphal books belong in the cannon. I explained that the reason that Christians reject these books is because the writers of the NT never made any reference to them as authoritative. You then said that there are over 100 references in the NT to the apocryphal books and you provided a HUGE list of scriptures to prove your point. I asked you to select your best 3 and now you want to change the subject.

    So, are there references or not? If there are, show me your best 3 or best 10 or even ONE. No offence intended, but if you assert that there are over 100 references and then you cannot produce even one solid one, I have no choice but to conclude that you are a deceitful person.

  9. Russ says:

    Joeltg,

    “The reason the Protestant Bibles do not include the Apocrypha is because they simply where not translated with the King James Version.”

    No, that is not true. As I explained, the reason that Christians reject these books is because neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever referred to any of them. If there were only ONE indisputable reference to ANY of the Apocryphal books, they would all be included in the protestant translations.

  10. Dear Russ (I use your screen name, please use mine),

    Now I would like to understand, using your here-to-for undefended thesis that explicit reference must be made in the New Testament to the deuterocanon to satisfy your somewhat arbitrary litmus for their canonicity – to reduce them for you (and you are the one making the claim that your standard is the standard) is to be understood. How did you come to that conclusion as the litmus standard for understanding canonicity?

    When you offer “No offence intended, but if you assert that there are over 100 references and then you cannot produce even one solid one, I have no choice but to conclude that you are a deceitful person.” That is disingenuos at best. To come unto my blog, disagree with me and then claim I am deceitful for holding an opinion backed up by the weight of the teaching authority of the Church that first canonized scripture (and no one questioned the decision of the inclusino of these books after canonization in the 4th century of the entire Bible before Martin Luther did in the 1500s) and accuse me on the merits of failing to meet your arbitrary standards, that can only be meant as an offense.

    “Matt. 2:16 – Herod’s decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 – slaying the holy innocents.

    Matt. 6:19-20 – Jesus’ statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 – lay up your treasure.

    Matt.. 7:12 – Jesus’ golden rule “do unto others” is the converse of Tobit 4:15 – what you hate, do not do to others.

    Matt. 7:16,20 – Jesus’ statement “you will know them by their fruits” follows Sirach 27:6 – the fruit discloses the cultivation.

    Matt. 9:36 – the people were “like sheep without a shepherd” is same as Judith 11:19 – sheep without a shepherd.

    Matt. 11:25 – Jesus’ description “Lord of heaven and earth” is the same as Tobit 7:18 – Lord of heaven and earth.

    Matt. 12:42 – Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.

    Matt. 16:18 – Jesus’ reference to the “power of death” and “gates of Hades” references Wisdom 16:13.

    Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 – Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.

    Matt. 24:15 – the “desolating sacrilege” Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.

    Matt. 24:16 – let those “flee to the mountains” is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.

    Matt. 27:43 – if He is God’s Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.

    Mark 4:5,16-17 – Jesus’ description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.

    Mark 9:48 – description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.

    Luke 1:42 – Elizabeth’s declaration of Mary’s blessedness above all women follows Uzziah’s declaration in Judith 13:18.

    Luke 1:52 – Mary’s magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14.

    Luke 2:29 – Simeon’s declaration that he is ready to die after seeing the Child Jesus follows Tobit 11:9.

    Luke 13:29 – the Lord’s description of men coming from east and west to rejoice in God follows Baruch 4:37.

    Luke 21:24 – Jesus’ usage of “fall by the edge of the sword” follows Sirach 28:18.

    Luke 24:4 and Acts 1:10 – Luke’s description of the two men in dazzling apparel reminds us of 2 Macc. 3:26.

    John 1:3 – all things were made through Him, the Word, follows Wisdom 9:1.

    John 3:13 – who has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven references Baruch 3:29.

    John 4:48; Acts 5:12; 15:12; 2 Cor. 12:12 – Jesus’, Luke’s and Paul’s usage of “signs and wonders” follows Wisdom 8:8.

    John 5:18 – Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16.

    John 6:35-59 – Jesus’ Eucharistic discourse is foreshadowed in Sirach 24:21.

    John 10:22 – the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Macc. 4:59.

    John 10:36 – Jesus accepts the inspiration of Maccabees as He analogizes the Hanukkah consecration to His own consecration to the Father in 1 Macc. 4:36.

    John 15:6 – branches that don’t bear fruit and are cut down follows Wis. 4:5 where branches are broken off.

    Acts 1:15 – Luke’s reference to the 120 may be a reference to 1 Macc. 3:55 – leaders of tens / restoration of the twelve.

    Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6 – Peter’s and Paul’s statement that God shows no partiality references Sirach 35:12.

    Acts 17:29 – description of false gods as like gold and silver made by men follows Wisdom 13:10.

    Rom 1:18-25 – Paul’s teaching on the knowledge of the Creator and the ignorance and sin of idolatry follows Wis. 13:1-10.

    Rom. 1:20 – specifically, God’s existence being evident in nature follows Wis. 13:1.

    Rom. 1:23 – the sin of worshipping mortal man, birds, animals and reptiles follows Wis. 11:15; 12:24-27; 13:10; 14:8.

    Rom. 1:24-27 – this idolatry results in all kinds of sexual perversion which follows Wis. 14:12,24-27.

    Rom. 4:17 – Abraham is a father of many nations follows Sirach 44:19.

    Rom. 5:12 – description of death and sin entering into the world is similar to Wisdom 2:24.

    Rom. 9:21 – usage of the potter and the clay, making two kinds of vessels follows Wisdom 15:7.

    1 Cor. 2:16 – Paul’s question, “who has known the mind of the Lord?” references Wisdom 9:13.

    1 Cor. 6:12-13; 10:23-26 – warning that, while all things are good, beware of gluttony, follows Sirach 36:18 and 37:28-30.

    1 Cor. 8:5-6 – Paul acknowledging many “gods” but one Lord follows Wis. 13:3.

    1 Cor. 10:1 – Paul’s description of our fathers being under the cloud passing through the sea refers to Wisdom 19:7.

    1 Cor. 10:20 – what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7.

    1 Cor. 15:29 – if no expectation of resurrection, it would be foolish to be baptized on their behalf follows 2 Macc. 12:43-45.

    Eph. 1:17 – Paul’s prayer for a “spirit of wisdom” follows the prayer for the spirit of wisdom in Wisdom 7:7.

    Eph. 6:14 – Paul describing the breastplate of righteousness is the same as Wis. 5:18. See also Isaiah 59:17 and 1 Thess. 5:8.

    Eph. 6:13-17 – in fact, the whole discussion of armor, helmet, breastplate, sword, shield follows Wis. 5:17-20.

    1 Tim. 6:15 – Paul’s description of God as Sovereign and King of kings is from 2 Macc. 12:15; 13:4.

    2 Tim. 4:8 – Paul’s description of a crown of righteousness is similar to Wisdom 5:16.

    Heb. 4:12 – Paul’s description of God’s word as a sword is similar to Wisdom 18:15.

    Heb. 11:5 – Enoch being taken up is also referenced in Wis 4:10 and Sir 44:16. See also 2 Kings 2:1-13 & Sir 48:9 regarding Elijah.

    Heb 11:35 – Paul teaches about the martyrdom of the mother and her sons described in 2 Macc. 7:1-42.

    Heb. 12:12 – the description “drooping hands” and “weak knees” comes from Sirach 25:23.

    James 1:19 – let every man be quick to hear and slow to respond follows Sirach 5:11.

    James 2:23 – it was reckoned to him as righteousness follows 1 Macc. 2:52 – it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

    James 3:13 – James’ instruction to perform works in meekness follows Sirach 3:17.

    James 5:3 – describing silver which rusts and laying up treasure follows Sirach 29:10-11.

    James 5:6 – condemning and killing the “righteous man” follows Wisdom 2:10-20.

    1 Peter 1:6-7 – Peter teaches about testing faith by purgatorial fire as described in Wisdom 3:5-6 and Sirach 2:5.

    1 Peter 1:17 – God judging each one according to his deeds refers to Sirach 16:12 – God judges man according to his deeds.

    2 Peter 2:7 – God’s rescue of a righteous man (Lot) is also described in Wisdom 10:6.

    Rev. 1:4 – the seven spirits who are before his throne is taken from Tobit 12:15 – Raphael is one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints before the Holy One.

    Rev. 1:18; Matt. 16:18 – power of life over death and gates of Hades follows Wis. 16:13.

    Rev. 2:12 – reference to the two-edged sword is similar to the description of God’s Word in Wisdom 18:16.

    Rev. 5:7 – God is described as seated on His throne, and this is the same description used in Sirach 1:8.

    Rev. 8:3-4 – prayers of the saints presented to God by the hand of an angel follows Tobit 12:12,15.

    Rev. 8:7 – raining of hail and fire to the earth follows Wisdom 16:22 and Sirach 39:29.

    Rev. 9:3 – raining of locusts on the earth follows Wisdom 16:9.

    Rev. 11:19 – the vision of the ark of the covenant (Mary) in a cloud of glory was prophesied in 2 Macc. 2:7.

    Rev. 17:14 – description of God as King of kings follows 2 Macc. 13:4.

    Rev. 19:1 – the cry “Hallelujah” at the coming of the new Jerusalem follows Tobit 13:18.

    Rev. 19:11 – the description of the Lord on a white horse in the heavens follows 2 Macc. 3:25; 11:8.

    Rev. 19:16 – description of our Lord as King of kings is taken from 2 Macc. 13:4.

    Rev. 21:19 – the description of the new Jerusalem with precious stones is prophesied in Tobit 13:17.

    Exodus 23:7 – do not slay the innocent and righteous – Dan. 13:53 – do not put to death an innocent and righteous person.

    1 Sam. 28:7-20 – the intercessory mediation of deceased Samuel for Saul follows Sirach 46:20.

    2 Kings 2:1-13 – Elijah being taken up into heaven follows Sirach 48:9.

    2 Tim. 3:16 – the inspired Scripture that Paul was referring to included the deuterocanonical texts that the Protestants removed. The books Baruch, Tobit, Maccabees, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom and parts of Daniel and Esther were all included in the Septuagint that Jesus and the apostles used.

    Sirach and 2 Maccabees – some Protestants argue these books are not inspired because the writers express uncertainty about their abilities. But sacred writers are often humble about their divinely inspired writings. See, for example, 1 Cor. 7:40 – Paul says he “thinks” that he has the Spirit of God.

    The Protestants attempt to defend their rejection of the deuterocanonicals on the ground that the early Jews rejected them. However, the Jewish councils that rejected them (e.g., School of Javneh (also called “Jamnia” in 90 – 100 A.D.) were the same councils that rejected the entire New Testatment canon. Thus, Protestants who reject the Catholic Bible are following a Jewish council that rejected Christ and the Revelation of the New Testament. “

    from: http://scripturecatholic.com/deuterocanon.html

  11. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    Let me just take the first one on your list.

    “Matt. 2:16 – Herod’s decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 – slaying the holy innocents.

    Mat 2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
    Mat 2:18 In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

    Matthew attributes the fulfillment of this event to Jeremiah, not to the book of Wisdom.

  12. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    I am no expert on the book of wisdom, but the passage you referred to appears to be a reference to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, not a prophecy of future events.

    11:7. For instead of a fountain of an ever running river, thou gavest human blood to the unjust.

    11:8. And whilst they were diminished for a manifest reproof of their murdering the infants, thou gavest to thine abundant water unlooked for:

    Even your own Catholic commentators agree with this:

    By what things, etc… The meaning is, that God, who wrought a miracle to punish the Egyptians by thirst, when he turned all their waters into blood, (at which time the Israelites, who were exempt from those plagues, had plenty of water,) wrought another miracle in favour of his own people in their thirst, by giving them water out of the rock.

  13. Joel says:

    Dang it! I misspoke on my last comment. I was repeating stories I did not verify first. The Apocrypha was translated with the King James Version. In fact, during the 16th Century it was common practice for all Protestant denominations to use the Apocryphal Writings. By the 17th Century the Holy Scriptures began to make a common appearnce in popular culture which did not sit well with some Protestant church leaders who began to discourage the reading of the Apocrypha both in church services and private devotion. In 1630 some of the Geneva Bibles (the common translation in use before the KJV) began to be bound without including the Apocrypha but thirty years later the Apocrypha was reinserted. It was not until the KJV began to be updated in the 19th Century that the Apocrapha has been fully excluded from the Protestant Bible. Any arguments that the Apocrypha should be excluded from the canon of Scripturre is a recent development.

  14. Russ,

    I cannot tell the source of your quote or what exactly it is referring to… And as Catholics we don’t always understand any one commentator to be presenting an “either/or” scenario – I need to see what Catholic commentators you are talking about.

    I do remain interested in seeing a better explination as to how your litmus test works for privately determining the canon of the New Testament – I was at first tempted to challenge you to show in clear and definative terms clear and unambigous references in each OT book and even each NT book in the context of the NT… But for the most part I would like to know at this time how you put your litmus test into play. It seems rather self-serving on the face of it, but things aren’t always what they seem to me, so I am open to learning more about how you came to this litmus test.

  15. Russ says:

    The subject at hand is this: Are any of apocryphal books referenced by the writers of the New Testament? You have stated that there over 100 references and I have stated that there are none. If indeed there are numerous references, it should be no problem for you to give me just one solid one.

    I am not here to debate the Roman/Eastern Orthodox Church’s role in history, both good and bad, nor its roll in ratifying that the NT text. The Christian church has for the most part widely accepted the NT cannon as is currently stands.

    However, God did not give the Church the authority to determine the OT cannon. He gave that authority to the Jews:

    Rom 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?
    Rom 3:2 Much in every way. First indeed, because the words of God were committed to them.

    Just as the Jews have no authority to determine the NT cannon because they have rejected their Messiah, neither does the Christian church have the authority to determine the OT cannon because, according to the Apostle Paul, God has given that authority to the Jews.

    I would also suggest that it was impossible for the Church to have failed in determining the NT text because the Word of God can never perish:

    1Pet 1:23 …having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever…

  16. bfhu says:

    Let me jump in here. I am in Israel and won’t be in the internet much \

    But I would like to direct you to read my post here</a

  17. Russ says:

    bfhu

    I am not here to say that the Apocrypha does not have truth in it. I am not here to say that there is no benefit in reading it. I am simply saying that it is not on par with the Word of God because:

    1. It never claims to be the word of God as far as I know (and even if it does, it is meaningless unless the Jews recognize it as authoritative).
    2. The Jews do not, and have never, recognized it as scripture.
    3. The Church does not have the authority to determine the OT cannon as I mentioned before.
    4. While there are some similarities in thought, the NT never recognizes it by quoting from it or even mentioning any of its stories or people.

    Think about it. If God gave authority to the Jews to determine the OT cannon, why would God quote it from the NT unless he first put it on the Jew’s hearts to include it in the cannon? God would be out of order to do such a thing and God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace.

  18. Billy says:

    May I join?

    Russ is correct. There are no quotations in the NT from ANY non-canonical book. There are, however, similar lines of thought. This does NOT authenticate these non-scriptural books, it only shows that those particular lines of thought happen to be true. This does NOT mean that the NT writers received their inspiration from those books. And NEVER does a NT writer give credit to any apocryphal book. The NT is FILLED with quotations from the OT and almost always proper credit is given as to which prophet or writer of the OT they are quoting. So, it would seem, if the NT writers were actually quoting the Book of Enoch or Wisdom or any such book, that they would have at least ONCE given credit where credit is due. Is this not a rational line of thought?

    Also, probably the strongest argument for a quotation would come from Jude 14 when he mentions the prophecy of Enoch about the second coming of Christ. It is similar to a line from the Book of Enoch 1:9. But this only means that both books speak of the same prophecy which came from another source (possibly Enoch himself as revealed by the Holy Spirit to probably a Jewish rabbi or scribe). In other words, they are quoting the same source, namely, ENOCH. This would obviously show that this particular verse (Book of Enoch 1:9) happens to be true, though not necessarily the entire book. Why would we not then simply accept the Book of Enoch?

    Because it is written by a person who claimed to be Enoch himself THOUSANDS of years AFTER Enoch was translated into heaven. It is an OBVIOUS “false writing” which is what these books are called–psuedepigrapha, or false writings.

    Another major reason these books are not accepted is that they contain BLATANT doctrinal errors, such as the ideas of purgatory etc.

    Another major reason why they are not accepted is that they are not written by authoritative sources or cannot be verified. The argument then is what about Hebrews??? The answer is that Hebrews is so vastly in agreement with the rest of the OT & NT that it is an exception.

    What say you?

  19. “The subject at hand is this: Are any of apocryphal books referenced by the writers of the New Testament?”

    If that is the subject at hand it is because you made it so – your litmus test is arbitrary and self-serving on that score. You continue to deflect in answering how you can have certitude that your personal litmus test is the accurate one.

    Why is that?

    What the Jews recognized at the Council of Jamnia after Christ instituted the Church does not concern the Church – they were outside of it and are now part of a post-Temple, post-Christic organization and their decisions are not binding to us at that time or since.

  20. Billy says:

    asimplesinner,

    So you do agree that the apocryphal and psuedepigraphal books are NOT bibliographically quoted by ANY New Testament author in a specific and undeniable manner?

    Admit this and I will tell you WHY this is the litmus test.

  21. Russ says:

    The fact that the NT writers were familiar with the Apocrypha but never quoted from it is further evidence that they did NOT consider it as scripture. If the Apostles were familiar with both the OT and the Apocrypha, why did they only include quotes from the OT?

    And, it is not just the fact that the Old Testament is quoted, it is the way in which it is quoted that is significant. The phrase, “It is written” is employed in 73 times in the NT. In 21 NT passages, the Old Testament documents are referred to as “scripture.”

    And there is the problem of doctrine. Prayers to saints, for example. Show me were Paul or Peter or Jesus ever instructed us to pray to saints. There were many OT saints that Paul could have encouraged us to pray to. Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Etc. In fact, can you point to any passage in the NT or the OT that EVER instructs the people of God to pray to anyone but God?

    Let me say that again. There is not one passage in the OT or NT that ever tells us to pray to anyone but God. The fact that we are instructed to pray to Jesus is evidence that He is God, not man!

    The fact is that the Roman church added the Apocryphal books because the “Apostolic Church” could not find support for their practices in the writings of the Apostles.

    Jesus said, “…in this manner, therefore, pray, “Our Father…””

    Is that too difficult to understand and do?

  22. “So you do agree that the apocryphal and psuedepigraphal books are NOT bibliographically quoted by ANY New Testament author in a specific and undeniable manner?”

    No I do not agree to that. You should be able to explicate your litmust test either way.

  23. Russ just to be clear, there is nothing difficult to understand about the Our Father – I don’t even understand why you would ask such a question. Why would you?

    When you offer “The fact is that the Roman church added the Apocryphal books because the “Apostolic Church” could not find support for their practices in the writings of the Apostles.”… Well it makes clearer your earlier statement “I am not here to debate the Roman/Eastern Orthodox Church’s role in history, both good and bad, nor its roll in ratifying that the NT text. The Christian church has for the most part widely accepted the NT cannon as is currently stands.”

    If you were prepared to even discuss the role of the Church in coming to a conclusion about the cannon, you would not be making such curious assertions as “The Roman Church added…” When are you proposing they added them? They are found in the Eastern Orthodox Cannon, The Oriental Orthodox Cannon and even in the Church of the East which was well seperate from Rome – actually all three of those bodies were – for centuries before – alone among Christians in history – Martin Luther stepped forward to challenge their cannonicity in the 1500s.

    If you don’t wish to discuss that and come to a better understanding about where the Bible came from as we have it today, we might be at an impasse.

    As to the idea of wishing to discuss purgatory and the like… Well that is interesting inasmuch as it may be somewhat telling to adding a dimensional addition to your hermeneutic of deciding the cannon. It seems you are bringing water to the well on this one and coming to examine the cannon with preconceived notions as to what you feel it should say.

    How you have come to decide that explicit and implicit citation of OT books in the NT is useful in demonstrating their veracity is something I would like to hear more about.

  24. bfhu – don’t worry, we will keep the home fires burning until you return to the states! Enjoy Israel and take a lot of photos to share!

  25. Joel says:

    Part of the Lord’s Prayer refrences the Book of Sirach…”Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
    See Sirach 28:2…”Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray your own sins will be forgiven.”

    Then in the parable of the unforgiving servant Jesus refers to Sirach…”Should you not have pity on your fellow servant as I have had pity on you?”
    See Sirach 28:4…”Should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek mercy for his own sins?”

    Again, the parable of the rich fool…”and I shall say to myself ‘Now as for you, you have many things stored up for many years, rest, eat drink, be meryy!’ But God said to him ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’”
    See Sirach 11:19…”When he says, ‘I have found rest, now will I feast on my possessions.’ He does not know how long it will be until he dies and leaves them to others.”

    You may try to say these verses do not directly refer to the the Book of Sirach because Jesus did not say, “As it was written…” but that argument does not hold water. When Jesus told the Jews, “I am the Good Shepherd.” Every single person who heard that knew without a doubt Jesus was talking about what was written in Ezekiel 34 even though Jesus never said, “As it was written by the Prophet Ezekiel…I am the Good Shepherd.”

    “In early Christianity, however, Baruch was widely quoted and cited as Sacred Scripture. Baruch 3:36-37, concerning the appearance on earth of the wisdon of God, was a particular favorite because it was given a Christological referance. Fathers of the Church often quoted it…”
    Taken from the reading guide of the New American Bible.

  26. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    “How you have come to decide that explicit and implicit citation of OT books in the NT is useful in demonstrating their veracity is something I would like to hear more about.”

    First, can we both agree that the word of God is the word of God because it was spoken by God and not because it was approved by man? Regardless of any man’s opinion, only what God Himself has spoken will last though eternity.

    It is logical to conclude that the teachings of the Apostles carry more weight then the practices of the early church. The Apostles themselves warned that errors would creep into the early church.

    For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:29)

    If, then, the early church was susceptible to error, why trust it implicitly? Why not look to the source of Christianity, the Apostles, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone?

  27. “If, then, the early church was susceptible to error, why trust it implicitly? Why not look to the source of Christianity, the Apostles, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone?”

    What Christian can’t agree with that? The problem is you presume we either don’t or that our latter pronouncements and rulings weren’t in fact reiterations of what were known teachings…

    But things just brings us full circle – what do you look to or where do you look to know that the New Testament canon IS from the source of Christianity? The New Testament did not fall out of the sky with a chapter of contents page.

    As to the savage wolves – we read about those already being present in the New Testament intself in several of Pauls epistles where admonishment is offered to errant teachings. That scripture quote seems to be rather neutral and doesn’t well support the point that post-Apostolic Christianity would succumb to error – only that it would always battle it. But you don’t need to explain that to this Catholic apologist twice!

  28. Russ says:

    Can we both agree that the word of God is the word of God because it was spoken by God and not because it was approved by man?

  29. “Can we both agree that the word of God is the word of God because it was spoken by God and not because it was approved by man?”

    Russ that is so intuitive on our part to begin with – I really don’t understand what you think Catholics think otherwise. Of course we agree it is the word of God – the question is how do you know it to be so? You seem to imply that we are of the impression the Bible was magically made into the Bible because a comittee said it was… We don’t believe that. (On the flip side, one can wonder, did Saint Paul know his letters to churches would one day become scripture? What were they believing and going by before they got them? What were people going by before copies of them got to them?)

    At any rate, yes we believe it is the word of God because it is the word of God… Now how do you determine what books – given all the forgeries and authentic-looking texts that were out there – DID belong in the NT, and how are you confident you have them all and all the right ones…?

    How can you know what was approved was complete?

  30. Russ says:

    So, is there more evidence for or against the inclusion of these books into the cannon?

    For:

    1. The apocryphal books were included in the Septuagint.
    2. The early church had access to these writings.
    3. Some passages in the apocrypha are similar in thought to several NT passages.
    4. ? (Did I miss anything?)

    Against:

    1. Though the apocrypha was translated with the Septuagint, it was bundled separately at the end. (I.e. the books have never been placed in logical order with the other books of the OT. even by the church)
    2. The Jews have never accepted them as authoritative.
    3. The church does not have the authority to determine the OT cannon. This authority was given to the Jews according to Romans 3:2.
    4. The writers of the NT made clear indisputable references to every OT but there are no clear references to any of the apocryphal books.
    5. The apocrypha itself never claims to be the word of God (I.e. never does it include any statements like, “Thus says the Lord…”)
    6. The books include aberrant teachings not found anywhere else in the Bible. (I.e. prayers to saints).

    Number 6 is particularly disturbing IMO. Nowhere in the entire Bible do we find prayers to anyone but God and prayers to any other being are condemned. ALL major teachings found in the Bible are reinforced and repeated in numerous passages and books of both the Old and New testaments. Prayers to saints fly in the face of all sound Biblical teachings.

  31. Russ says:

    “How can you know what was approved was complete?”

    God alone is in control of His word. He is faithful to give His children the bread necessary for life:

    But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

    How can I live by “every word” if He has not provided it to me?

    So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
    It shall not return to Me void,
    But it shall accomplish what I please,
    And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Is 55:11)

    How can it accomplish anything if it has not gone out to all the earth?

    For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. (Psalm 138:2b)

  32. Joel says:

    Russ,
    I am not aware of any clear NT references to all th OT books. Could you point out to me the NT passages that reference Obadiah and Nahum? Also, what do you think about 1Timothy 3:15? I think Paul established the authority of the Church very clearly. Peter seems to be saying the same thing in 2 Peter 1:16-21. He unequivically established the teaching autgority of the Apostles. The Apostles taught the Church Fathers and the teachings have been past down to us through the bishops of the Church.

  33. Russ says:

    Joel,

    You may be correct concerning Obadiah and Nahum. I would need more time to look into this. Even so, these books were canonized by the Jews and themselves claim to be the word of God. Neither do they offer aberrant theology. The message of these books are in complete harmony with the rest of the OT.

    Concerning 1 Timothy 3:15 and the Church being the, “…pillar and ground of the truth.” I believe that we are talking about the truth that was, “…once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) Clearly it teaches that the Church has been entrusted with the message of the Gospel and the New Testament in particular but I do not see this as a promise of on-going revelation that continues to this day.

    I do not agree that 2 Peter 1:16-21 is speaking on the same subject at all but perhaps there are differences in translations here. How does the Catholic text read?

  34. Russ says:

    Joel,

    Also interesting about Obadiah and Nahum, both of these books fortell the destruction of non-Jewish peoples and cities. One reason for the lack of citation from the NT may be that both of these prophecies were already fulfilled at the time the NT was written.

    Any thoughts?

  35. Fr. J. says:

    1. Though the apocrypha was translated with the Septuagint, it was bundled separately at the end. (I.e. the books have never been placed in logical order with the other books of the OT. even by the church)
    2. The Jews have never accepted them as authoritative.
    3. The church does not have the authority to determine the OT cannon. This authority was given to the Jews according to Romans 3:2.
    4. The writers of the NT made clear indisputable references to every OT but there are no clear references to any of the apocryphal books.
    5. The apocrypha itself never claims to be the word of God (I.e. never does it include any statements like, “Thus says the Lord…”)
    6. The books include aberrant teachings not found anywhere else in the Bible. (I.e. prayers to saints).

    1. The deuterocanonical books were not bundled separately until Martin Luther. They are not separate in the Septuagint, nor are they in any edition of the bible prior to the 16th Century.

    2. The same Jewish council that banned these books also added to synagogue worship a curse on all Christians. One reason it banned these books is that the only references to resurrection in the OT are in these books which supported the Christian claim. The Jewish denial of an immortal soul is based on this same council. Again, we should receive this council’s opinion as authoritative? Forget it.

    3 “1Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

    You have given us the worst, most dishonest interpretation of this passage which says only that the Jews were entrusted with presumably the Word of God. It says nothing about the Church not having authority over this word. The Jews also were entrusted with the Mosaic Law, but the Church at Jerusalem removed the burden of the Mosaic Law on Christians. Entrustment has nothing to do with exclusive authority.

    4. Joel has already disproven this claim.

    5. This is a very bad argument. If canonicity were based on a book’s claim to divine inspiration, we would have the Koran, the Book of Mormon and Bakker Eddy’s junk in the bible too. Also, if you had read the DC books, you could clearly see they have all the qualities of scripture including an authoritative voice.

    6. Prayers to the saints are not aberrant teachings. If they were, then you would have to condemn the church in her earliest generations who prayed at the tombs of the martyrs.

    on the in favor side of the equation:

    1. The vast majority of NT references to OT scripture are to the Septuagint which included the DC books.

    2. The Church used these book in its worship from the earliest times–long before there was a canon.

    3. The Church that has authority over the NT canon certainly has authority over the OT canon–a canon written around a covenant that was fulfilled in the NT.

    OK, so it’s at least 3-0 in favor of the DC Books.

  36. Russ says:

    Fr. J,

    1. First you say the books belong because they were translated into Greek by the Jews. Then later you say that the Jews have no authority to determine the cannon. You can’t have it both ways Fr.

    2. Jesus argued the resurrection from the law of Moses, not from Apocrypha (Mat 22:32). Peter argued the resurrection from the writings of David (Acts 2:29-31). Why didn’t they just quote the Apocrypha? The Apocrypha does not contain the, “only references to resurrection in the OT”. You should know better Fr.

    3. I was belittled on this blog because I said, “… the word of God is the word of God because it was spoken by God, not because any institution says it is…” I was tong lashed because my statement is so “obvious”. Then you state, “It says nothing about the Church not having authority over this word…”, and, “Entrustment has nothing to do with exclusive authority” and, “The Church that has authority over the NT canon certainly has authority over the OT canon…”. Like Israel, the church has been “entrusted” with the word. This does not give the Church authority over it.

    This is the root of many of our differences, IMO. Does the Church have authority over the word or does the word have authority over the church? The answer to this is so obvious IMO. It is like asking, “Does God have authority over man or man over God”?

    The church did not, “removed the burden of the Mosaic Law on Christians.” Jesus removed the burden of the law by fulfilling the law when He provided Himself as the atonement for our sin. The Church finally recognized what Paul had been preaching for years before the counsel was ever convened. Paul did not wait for the authority of the Church before he preached (Gal 1:15 and following) and I am confident that if the counsel had the rejected Paul’s gospel (2 Tim 2:8) that he would have split from the church at Jerusalem.

    5. I never stated that claiming to be the word of God makes it the word of God. I simply said that the text itself never claims to be the word of God. Every book in the OT except Ester makes claims from within the text itself to be the word of God but NONE of the books in question ever make any such claims. That was my point.

    6. I never said that the Church, early or otherwise, is condemned because it prays to saints. Because God is gracious and overlooks all of our faults, both your and mine, does not mean that we should continue in them.

    My point is valid and you have not dealt with it. NOWHERE in the entire Bible do we EVER find any prayers to ANYONE but God except in the Apocrypha. Why didn’t David pray to Moses? Why didn’t Jesus pray to Noah? Why didn’t Peter pray Stephen?

  37. Joel says:

    Russ,
    2 Peter is saying the same thing as 1 Timothy, the Church is the pillar of all truth. 2 Peter speaks of the teaching authority of the Apostles. He starts out by making the claim that the Apostles were eyewitnesses to the things of Jesus Christ then reiterates thier authority as prophets of God, then he says, “There is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter for personal interpretation…” The Apostles taught the Church Fathers and they became local bishops. Before they passed away they trained new bishops. Every Roman Catholic bishop can trace his authority back to the Apostles who had the authority to interpret scripture. So, Bishops Robert and Salvatore, here in San Diego come to me, in my parish and speak with the authority of Saints Peter and Paul.

    My point with Obadiah and Nahum is that you are using faulty criteria for deciding what belongs in the canon of scripture. Because you recognize Ester as Holy Scripture which, by your own admission, does not establish its own authority as being the word of God, no OT book’s authority must depend on its own claim to be Holy Scripture. Just as an aside, Ruth makes no such claim either. Now that I think about it, 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles might not either, but I would have to reread them to know for certain.

    You arguments show a lack of knowledge of the practices of the orthodox forms of Christianity. It is not your fault, you have just been decieved. Catholics ask the saints for thier intercession with God. We ask the saints to pray for us. We are in no way asking St. Joseph, or St. Mary, or any other saint to effect a change in our lives or in this world. We are asking them to ask God to effect a change in our llives and in this world. How many times have you asked someone to pray for you? We believe the saints are in more of a position of be heard by God than we are because of their status in Heaven. They have been relieved of their corruptable bodies so their prayers are more effective. It is like the difference between sending a letter to your congressman and sending a lobbyist. Which one will have more effect?

  38. Russ says:

    Joel,

    Read the entire passage.

    … knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet 1:20-21)

    The subject here is the ORIGIN of the Scripture, not who is authorized to interpret scripture.

    But that is a great question. Who has the authority to interpret scripture? The Bible alone has the authority to instruct us on this matter so what does the Bible say? There are way too many scriptures I could quote here so I will just quote a few:

    But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor 3:14-16)

    And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deu 6:6-9)

    Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11)

    But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?”[fn5] But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:13-16)

    Joel, are you born again? If you have received the Holy Spirit you have the, “mind of Christ”. If you have not, you are lost and are the, “blind leading the blind”.

    “We believe the saints are in more of a position of be heard by God…”
    Can you support that with scripture? While looking, be sure to steer clear of,

    “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…” (1 Tim 2:5), and,

    “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus…” (Heb 10:19), and, “…whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son…” (John 14:13), and,

    “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:14,15), and,

    “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil…” (Heb 6:19), and, and, and…

    THE BELIEVER IN JESUS HAS ACCESS INTO GOD’S THRONE ROOM. NO PRYAERS TO SAINTS ARE NECESSARY.

    If I have a lack of understanding, it is your church’s fault. Baptized, first communion, confirmed, married, 5 years of catholic school, was a CCD teacher, LED the church choir for years… even called bingo! – All in the Catholic church.

    Enough.

  39. Joel says:

    Russ,
    The passage is discussing who has the authority to interpret scripture. That is what verses 16-20 discuss exclusively. I did not read anything you wrote that contradicts the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church or repudiates the teaching authority of the Roman bishops.

    I am born again, just like every other Catholic that ever lived. While your resume is impressive, I will stand by my statement that you do not fully understand the teachings of the Church, and I do concede it is the fault of the Roman Catholics.

    Can I ask when you left the Roman Church? You may e-mail me too. joeltg3 at yahoo. I am glad you are here, and I hope you continue to read the posts on this site! That is delightfull that you led the choir! I sing in the choir in California’s first church, the Mission San Diego! It’s fabulous!

  40. Russ says:

    “I did not read anything you wrote that contradicts the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church…”

    I did not write it. Paul wrote it. And Peter wrote it. And Jesus said it. And Moses wrote it. And David wrote it. I do not blame you for not reading my thoughts but will you not hear them?

    Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell. They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.

  41. Fr. J. says:

    1. First you say the books belong because they were translated into Greek by the Jews. Then later you say that the Jews have no authority to determine the cannon. You can’t have it both ways Fr.

    The Jews can do what they want with THEIR canon, but they have no say over the Christian canon, particularly when their motivation was to irradicate mention of the resurrection.

    2. Jesus argued the resurrection from the law of Moses, not from Apocrypha (Mat 22:32). Peter argued the resurrection from the writings of David (Acts 2:29-31). Why didn’t they just quote the Apocrypha? The Apocrypha does not contain the, “only references to resurrection in the OT”. You should know better Fr.

    Please provide the citations related to resurrection in the OT not in the DC books.

    3. I was belittled on this blog because I said, “… the word of God is the word of God because it was spoken by God, not because any institution says it is…” I was tong lashed because my statement is so “obvious”. Then you state, “It says nothing about the Church not having authority over this word…”, and, “Entrustment has nothing to do with exclusive authority” and, “The Church that has authority over the NT canon certainly has authority over the OT canon…”. Like Israel, the church has been “entrusted” with the word. This does not give the Church authority over it.

    This is the root of many of our differences, IMO. Does the Church have authority over the word or does the word have authority over the church? The answer to this is so obvious IMO. It is like asking, “Does God have authority over man or man over God”?

    The church did not, “removed the burden of the Mosaic Law on Christians.” Jesus removed the burden of the law by fulfilling the law when He provided Himself as the atonement for our sin. The Church finally recognized what Paul had been preaching for years before the counsel was ever convened. Paul did not wait for the authority of the Church before he preached (Gal 1:15 and following) and I am confident that if the counsel had the rejected Paul’s gospel (2 Tim 2: 8) that he would have split from the church at Jerusalem.

    Playing the victim wont get you far here. You have been treated well. The fact is that the canon of scripture was determined by the Church. There is no way around that fact. Just as the Council of Jerusalem determined Xtians could eat pork, so the Church determined scriptural canon. What is your problem with that? It is historical fact. You can say that it was Xt who freed us from the Mosaic dietary laws, but his will was determined by a Council. This is another historical fact.

    5. I never stated that claiming to be the word of God makes it the word of God. I simply said that the text itself never claims to be the word of God. Every book in the OT except Ester makes claims from within the text itself to be the word of God but NONE of the books in question ever make any such claims. That was my point.

    For this to be an argument at all, you have to be consistent. If a statement that a book is the Word of God is required, then you have to reject Ester and accept the Koran. Otherwise, we have to depend on a judgment from outside the text. And that judgment is the determination of the Church–the Catholic Church, without which you would have no scripture and no Christian faith.

    6. I never said that the Church, early or otherwise, is condemned because it prays to saints. Because God is gracious and overlooks all of our faults, both your and mine, does not mean that we should continue in them.

    Actually, I’ll be glad to say that if the Church is wrong on these matters it should be condemned to hell for not faithfully conveying the Gospel. I do not say the same for Protestants, though, for you are not fully responsible for the false teachings you have received.

  42. Russ says:

    “Please provide the citations related to resurrection in the OT not in the DC books.”

    Sure Fr. J,

    For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God… (Job 19:25,26)

    “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:19).

    Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).

    Now, can you find one verse in the Bible that establishes the Roman Catholic Priesthood? There are hundreds of verses that establish the Priesthood of Aaron and the Roman Priesthood is as essential to the Church as the Priesthood of Aaron was to Israel (I speak as a Catholic) so you should have no problem finding just one verse, right?

  43. “Now, can you find one verse in the Bible that establishes the Roman Catholic Priesthood? There are hundreds of verses that establish the Priesthood of Aaron and the Roman Priesthood is as essential to the Church as the Priesthood of Aaron was to Israel (I speak as a Catholic) so you should have no problem finding just one verse, right?”

    I am going to let Father J do the heavy lifting on that one, but I am at a total loss to see where that challenge fits into what is being discussed so far.

    As yet, we really aren’t speaking the same language. You are bound and determined to work under Sola Scriptura, going so far as to set up a litmust test (as yet unexplained as to its origin or reliability) of verifying the OT canon using the NT canon (and thus far unwilling to explain how we know the NT canon to be reliable)…

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (of course) but can we turn around and say that anything not expressly and explicitly in the Bible in a named and concise fashion (a la the Trinity) is totally suspect? You keep approaching this from the hermeneutic that this tome feel from the sky in a final form and we can all judge for ourselves what should be obvious and anything we don’t judge to be obvious from our reading of a translation is suspect. We believe a living breathing church was established with a visible head, which in turn has authority to teach and even codify the scriptures, affirming what belongs, and casting off what does not. We don’t understand the Church to be the daughter of the Bible, but the mother of it.

  44. Ahh what the heck, I cannot sleep…

    “πρεσβύτερος” in Greek or “presbýteros” is found throughout the new testament most often translated as “elder”. No stretch in seeing presbyter in “presbýteros”

    The English word “priest” is derived from the Greek word presbuteros, which is commonly rendered into Bible English as “elder” or “presbyter.” The ministry of Catholic priests is that of the presbyters mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 15:6, 23). The Bible says little about the duties of presbyters, but it does reveal they functioned in a priestly capacity.

    They were ordained by the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 4:14, 5:22), they preached and taught the flock (1 Tim. 5:17), and they administered the sacraments (Jas. 5:13-15). These are the essential functions of the priestly office, so wherever the various forms of presbuteros appear–except, of course, in instances which pertain to the Jewish elders (Matt. 21:23, Acts 4:23)–the word may rightly be translated as “priest” instead of “elder” or “presbyter.”

    Episcopos arises from two words, epi (over) and skopeo (to see), and it means literally “an overseer”–we translate it “bishop.” The King James Version renders the office of overseer, episkopen, as “bishopric” (Acts 1:20). The role of the episkopos is not clearly defined in the New Testament, but by the beginning of the second century it had obtained a fixed meaning. There is early evidence of this refinement in ecclesiastical nomenclature in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (d. A.D. 107), who wrote at length of the authority of bishops as distinct from presbyters and deacons (Epistle to the Magnesians 6:1, 13:1-2; Epistle to the Trallians 2:1-3; Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8:1-2).

    The New Testament tendency to use episcopos and presbuteros interchangeably is similar to the contemporary Protestant use of the term “minister” to denote various offices, both ordained and unordained (senior minister, music minister, youth minister). Similarly, the term diakonos is rendered both as “deacon” and as “minister” in the Bible, yet in Protestant churches the office of deacon is clearly distinguished from and subordinate to the office of minister.

    In Acts 20_17-38 the same men are called presbyteroi (v. 17) and episcopoi (v. 28). Presbuteroi is used in a technical sense to identify their office of ordained leadership. Episcopoi is used in a non-technical sense to describe the type of ministry they exercised. This is how the Revised Standard Version renders the verses: “And from Miletus he [Paul] . . . called for the elders [presbuteroi] of the church. And when they came to him, he said to them . . . ‘Take heed to yourselves and all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians [episcopoi], to feed the church of the Lord.’”

    In other passages it’s clear that although men called presbuteroi ruled over individual congregations (parishes), the apostles ordained certain men, giving them authority over multiple congregations (dioceses), each with its own presbyters. These were endowed with the power to ordain additional presbyters as need to shepherd the flock and carry on the work of the gospel. Titus and Timothy were two of those early episcopoi and clearly were above the office of presbuteros. They had the authority to select, ordain, and govern other presbyters, as is evidenced by Paul’s instructions: “This is why I left you in Crete . . . that you might appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5; cf. 1 Tim. 5:17-22). Source

    see also:

    The Ministerial Priesthood

    “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart.” –1 Peter 2:9

    With these words, the Apostle Peter describes all Christians as a “priesthood” — and indeed, that is exactly what Christians are, as the Catholic Church teaches (for the full official teaching on this see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially paragraphs 1533-1600).

    The Common Priesthood of Believers

    When one is Baptised in the Catholic Church, one is also “christened” with oil, and so anointed as a Priest, a Prophet, and a King. Why? Because, in Baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14-17); and, in this, we share in the very same Sonship which Christ Himself enjoys with the Father. Becoming members of His Body, we must act as Christ to the world. We are anointed as a King because we share in His royalty (His Messiahship); we are anointed as a Prophet because we are to speak His words and carry His Gospel to all; and we are anointed a Priest because we are to share in Christ’s own High Priesthood. In this, we are to intercede for the world.

    And this is exactly the definition of a priest: “Someone who is an intermediary and who offers a sacrifice on behalf of another.” And, as priests, all Christians do this for the world. As Christians (redeemed by the Blood of Christ), we offer Christ’s Sacrifice for the sake of the world. As Christians, we are able to pray:

    “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” (see 1 Tim 2:1-6; 1 John 2:1-2).

    And, in the Catholic understanding, this prayer is especially appropriate and powerful just after we have received Jesus in Holy Communion (the Eucharist). More on that later.

    So, as Christians we are priests; and, as priests, we are intercessors between Christ and the world (Christ being the one Mediator between us and the Father — 1 Tim 2:5). And this is what the Catholic Church refers to as the “common priesthood of the laity.”

    However, aside from this common priesthood — a priesthood which ministers directly to the world, there is also a priesthood which ministers to the Church itself.

    Romans 15:15-16 –”But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the PRIESTLY service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

    This is the ministerial priesthood of the Catholic (and Orthodox) Church — a priesthood which does not minister directly to the world, but which ministers to those within the Church itself, which builds up the Church and aids the “little ones” through a ministry of unity, leadership, teaching authority, and the Sacraments. A ministry which succeeds to that of the Apostles themselves.

    Acts 14:23 –”They (Paul and Barnabas) appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in Whom they put their faith.”

    The Word Presbyter/Priest

    Now, the Greek word “presbyter” has an interesting position in the English language. While it’s usually translated as “elder,” the Greek meaning is actually more adjectival — being closer in meaning to “senior” — as in a “senior citizen” or a “father” of the community (i.e. a “patriarch”).

    However, what’s most interesting for the Christian usage in English is that “presbyter” already has an equivalent word — an English word which draws its root from the Christian usage of “presbyter” in the Greek language; and that English word is “priest.”

    This becomes most clear when one stops reading Scripture from the English (i.e. culturally-Protestant) perspective, and one realizes that the words “presbuteros” (in Greek) and “presbyterus” (in Latin) were used to designate the role of a Catholic (or Orthodox) priest for the first five to ten hundred years of Christianity. Indeed, if one travels to Greece today, one will notice that the Greek word for “priest” is still “presbuteros.”

    The change is only apparent in English because we (as English speakers) are viewing things from an inverted perspective. When we hear of Jewish or pagan “priests,” we assume the English word “priest” pre-dates the Christian usage, when in fact the word “priest” comes from the Christian usage of “presbuteros.”

    Here’s how it works:

    “Presbuteros” (Greek) –> “Presbyterus” (Latin) –> “Prete” (Italian) –> “Pretre” (French) –> “Proest” (Old / Middle English) –> “Priest” (Modern English).

    So, the “presbyters” we see in Scripture are the “priests” of the Catholic Church. That is, they are those who preside as “fathers” at the new Passover Meal (the Eucharist / Holy Communion). For, in the Jewish Tradition, it was always the father who presided over the Passover Feast; and this Tradition has been elevated to the status of a far greater Passover Feast (the Eucharist), where the faithful are able to partake of the ONE Sacrifice of Calvary — made present in their midst.

    The Sacrifice of the Eucharist

    Ah! But, in this, some might say that the Eucharist (The Lord’s Supper) is not a Sacrifice, but just a “meal of commemoration.” Well, anyone with that very non-Traditional perspective should carefully read 1 Corinthians 10:16-22:

    “The Cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a PARTICIPATION in the Blood of Christ? The Bread that we break, is it not a PARTICIPATION in Body of Christ? …Look at Israel according to the flesh; are not those who EAT THE SACRIFICES PARTICIPANTS in the altar? So, what am I saying? That meat SACRIFICED to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything? No, I mean that what THEY (the pagans) SACRIFICE they SACRIFICE to demons, NOT TO GOD, and I do not what you to become PARTICIPANTS with demons. You cannot drink of the Cup of the Lord AND ALSO of the cup of demons. You cannot PARTAKE of the Table of the Lord AND ALSO of the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to JEALOUS anger?”

    Here Paul is clearly speaking of the Lord’s Supper as a Sacrifice, a Sacrifice in which we become participants, just as the pagans participate in their unholy sacrifices.

    And to back up the Catholic Church’s correct interpretation of this passage, we have St. Clement of Rome (around A.D. 90) — the same Clement who Paul calls his “co-worker” in Phil 4:3 — writing to this same church of Corinth only 30 years later, a church which Paul praises for its ability to “hold fast to the traditions he handed on to them” in 1 Corinth 11:2 (compare to 1 Corinth 11:23).

    And, on this same subject of the Eucharist as Christ’s Sacrifice made present, St. Clement (who, in his letter, repeatedly refers to Paul’s two previous epistles to the Corinthians, as if they were very well known by his Corinthian readers) writes:

    “Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have looked into the depths of the Divine knowledge, we ought to do in order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed times. He commanded us to celebrate Sacrifices and services (the Eucharist), and that it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly (i.e., 1 Corinth 11: 17-34), but at fixed times and hours. He has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and persons (the appointed presbyters) whom He desires for these celebrations, in order that all things may be done piously according to His good pleasure, and be acceptable to His will. So then those who offer their oblations at the appointed times are acceptable and blessed, but they follow the laws of the Master and do not sin (i.e., 1 Corinth 11: 27-30). For to the high priest (i.e., the bishop) his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests (i.e., the presbyters) the proper place has been appointed, and on the Levites (i.e., the deacons) their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity. ….Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate (local church) those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices.” (1 Clement to the Corinthians 44:4).

    And so, the Sacrifice was clearly understood. At the Lord’s Supper, the ONE Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is made present and is offered to the Father for the sake and intentions of those present. And St. Ignatius of Antioch writing just 15 to 20 years later than St. Clement echoes this same belief:

    “Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one Cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.” (Ignatius to the Church in Philadelphia c. 110 AD)

    “Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.” (Ignatius to the Church in Smyrna c. 110 AD)

    He then continues…

    “You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery (priests) as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints (a presbyter/priest). Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Ignatius to the Church of Smyrna c. 110 AD)

    All this is exactly what Catholics believe about the Mass today. And, the teaching is the same, according to Paul, Clement, and Ignatius.

    Priests as “Father”

    So, returning to our discussion of “presbuteros,” it is clear that the early Christians understood these individuals as the “fathers of the community” — those who offered the Sacrifice of the Mass; just as the “fathers of the tribe” offered sacrifices in Old Testament times before the Temple was built (e.g. Genesis 8:20, Genesis 15:10, Judges 13:19-20, etc). And this is the origin of calling a Catholic (or Orthodox) priest “father,” a custom we can see reflected in Scripture itself (see 1 Corinthians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Timothy 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:18, 2 Tim 1:2, 2 Tim 2:1, Philemon 10, 1 Peter 5:13, 3 John 4).

    And this custom is clearly rooted in the ancient Jewish practice of referring to the Old Testament Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc), and their legitimate successors, as “father,” something we can see in the New Testament as well (see Luke 1:32, Luke 1:73, Luke 16:24, Acts 7:2, Acts 22:1, Romans 9:10, Romans 15:8, Hebrews 1:1).

    Yet, doesn’t Jesus forbid us to call anyone “father” apart from God in Matthew 23:9? Apparently not, since — taken literally — this would mean that we could not even call our own biological fathers by that name. Rather, Jesus is making a point about ultimate authority coming from God (even if that authority is held by men: cf. Matt 23:1-2, 30).

    And this is backed up by Paul’s saying in Ephesians 3:14-15 — “For this reason I kneel before the Father (Pater), from whom all fatherhood (patria) in Heaven and on earth is named.”

    So, in calling someone our “father,” whether that be Abraham (Luke 16:24,30; Rom 4) or Stephen of the patriarchs and fathers present in Acts (7: 2,11,12,15,32,38,39,44,45,51,52) or Pope John Paul II, it is clearly understood that this is only because of the grace given their office(s) by the one and only Father we have in Heaven.

    Presbyters/Priests in the Bible

    Now, returning to “presbuteros,” we see another clear connection between the NT presbyters and OT patriarchs applied to the Apostles themselves in Revelation 4:4 –

    “Surrounding the Throne I saw twenty-four other thrones on which twenty-four ELDERS (PRESBYTERS) sat, dressed in white garments and with gold crowns on their heads.”

    These 24 “presbyters” are the 12 sons of Jacob (the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel) PLUS Christ’s 12 Apostles, bringing their number to 24. So here, the Apostles themselves are referred to as “presbyters.” And, indeed, Peter refers to himself in that way in 1 Peter 5:1 –

    “So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and a witness to the sufferings of Christ…”

    So Peter was both an Apostle AND a presbyter. Therefore, we can draw the conclusion that all Apostles were presbyters but not all presbyters were Apostles. Yet, did the presbyters have the same or similar teaching authority as the Apostles? Yes, they did:

    Acts 14:23 –”They (Paul and Barnabas) appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in Whom they put their faith.”

    Acts 15:2 — “Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them (some presbyters from Jerusalem), it was decided that Paul and Barnabas, and some of the others, should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question.”

    Acts 15:6 — “The Apostles and presbyters met together to see about this matter.”

    Acts 15:22 — “The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and send them to Antioch (i.e. to give authoritative teaching).

    Acts 15:23 — “This is the letter delivered by them: ‘The Apostles and presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin…” (it then proceeds to give authoritative teaching).

    Acts 21:18-25 — “The next day, Paul accompanied us on a visit to James, and all the presbyters were present. They praised God when they heard [what God accomplished among the Gentiles] but said to them, ‘Brothers, you see how many thousands of believers there are from among the Jews…So, do what we tell you…As for the Gentiles who have come to believe, we sent them our decision that they abstain from the meat of strangled animals” etc. (i.e. the authoritative letter of Acts 15).

    1 Thess 5:12 — “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, and show esteem for them with special love on account of their work.”

    Hebrews 13:17 — “Obey those who have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

    Philippians 2:29 — Speaking of a particular presbyter, Epaphroditus, Paul tells the Philippians to: “Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy and hold such people in esteem, because of the sake of the work of Christ he came close to death, risking his life to make up for those services to me that you could not perform.”

    This authority and the respect due to it (because of the office) is something very clear in the early Christian understanding:

    Acts 23:2-5 — “Then the High Priest Ananias ordered his attendants to strike his mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall. Do you indeed sit in judgment upon me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law you order me struck?’ The attendants said, ‘Would you revile God’s high priest?’ Paul answered, ‘Brothers, I did not realize he was the high priest. For, it is written: ‘You shall not curse a ruler of your people.’ ”

    Yet, while the Apostles and presbyters possessed even greater authority than the High Priest of Israel (and they knew it: Acts 4:18-20 & Acts 5:29-32), they preferred to exercise their authority within the context of Christian charity (which is why modern readers of Scripture sometimes assume this authority did not exist):

    Philemon 8 –”Therefore, although I have the full right in Christ to order you to do what is proper, I rather urge you out of love to [do so], being as I am Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus.”

    1 Peter 5:1-4 — “So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and a witness to the sufferings of Christ…Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit, but eagerly. Do not lord over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

    The Three-Fold Ministry: Bishop, Priest, Deacon

    So, the ministerial priesthood (and its authority) was clearly present in the Church from earliest times. In this, it should be noted that the ministerial priesthood actually encompasses the three-fold ministry of Bishop, Priest (Presbyter), and Deacon; and that this ministry has always been recognized in both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church.

    We have already seen how this three-fold ministry was clearly understood by the time of St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110 AD):

    “You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery (priests) as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (St. Ignatius’ Epistle to the Smyrnaeans)

    A few years before Ignatius, we see this three-fold ministry also mentioned by St. Clement of Rome (c. 90 AD), who compares it to the ministers of the Jewish Temple:

    “For to the high priest (i.e. the bishop) his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests (i.e. the presbyters) the proper place has been appointed, and on the Levites (i.e. the deacons) their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity. ….Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate (local church) those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices.” (1 Clement to the Corinthians)

    However, does this three-fold ministry appear in Scripture itself? Yes, it does; yet one must know where to look for it.

    The Very Early Church, the First 120

    First of all, let’s look at the very early Church — the group of about 120 persons gathered in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 1:15). We are told (in Acts 1:13-14) that this group consisted of the twelve Apostles (counting the newly-elected Matthias), Jesus’ Mother Mary, some other “women,” and the “brothers” of Jesus (i.e. His tribal relatives). Also, another disciple is named: Joseph Barsabbas (aka Justus), who was Matthias’ alternate in the choice for Judas’ successor. So, if we do a little math, this is how it looks:

    Apostles: 12, Mary: 1, women: 5 (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, Johanna, Suzanna), brothers: 4 (Matt 13:55 and Mark 6:3), Justus: 1

    That’s a conservative total of 23 people, and even if we were to throw in some more women and some more “brothers” of Jesus, we’re still a long way from 120 people. So, who else was present?

    Well, the answer begins to appear when we turn to Luke 10:1-12 & 17-20 keeping in mind that the author of Luke is also the author of Acts.

    Here, in Luke 10, we are told how Jesus sent out 72 disciples with power and authority to preach the Word. Now, this group of 72 obviously includes the 12 Apostles (including Judas at this time). So, if we also subtract Matthias and Joseph Barsabbas (aka Justus) — who, as we are told in Acts 1:21-22, had accompanied the Apostles from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and who were therefore clearly among the 72 — we are left with 58 other men who followed Jesus and who were there in the upper room when the Spirit descended at Pentecost.

    So, who were these other men? Well clearly, these comprised (at least in part) the body “presbyters” referred to in Acts 15 and Acts 21.

    So, when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, the leadership of the Church consisted of the 12 Apostles plus about 58 other “presbyters” — a total of about 70 men (who, with their wives and children, comprise the 120 people referred to in Acts 1:15).

    In this, many of the 58 presbyters, who were relatives of Jesus, seems to have been classified by the title “brothers of the Lord.” And this can be seen in 1 Corinthians 9:5, where these “brothers of the Lord” are distinguished from the Apostles:

    “Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the other Apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Kephas (Peter)? Or is it only myself and Barnabas who do not have the right not to work?”

    So, in the very early Church, the leadership actually consisted of the 12 Apostles and 58 of Jesus’ other disciples (presbyters) — some of whom were called “brothers of the Lord” because of their blood ties to Jesus. And, among these, was James (Gal 1:19), who was to serve as Bishop of Jerusalem (Acts 15 & Acts 21). More on the role of bishop in a moment.

    Now, to this number of presbyters, we must add Barnabas who, becoming a believer in Acts 4:36-37, was clearly serving as a presbyter by Acts 11:22, when he is sent by the Apostles to Antioch, to be their representative among the fledging Gentile community there. This same Barnabas is also called an Apostle later on (in Acts 14:4), most likely because of his (and Paul’s) Divine commission in Acts 13:2.

    Also, we must consider that, in Acts 2:41, 3000 people were Baptized; and in Acts 4:4, 5000 more were added to the Church. Surely, there were presbyters appointed from among these especially among the Jewish pilgrims who were converted at Pentecost (Acts 2:9-11). These would need presbyters to preside over their communities when they returned home to their own countries to spread the Gospel there. (Here it should be noted that none of the regions mentioned in Acts 2:9-11 are ever established as churches by Paul, but already have established churches when he arrives there.)

    Also, we find other presbyters named throughout the course of Acts. Examples of these are Ananias of Damascus, who Baptizes Paul (Acts 9:10-19); Agabus the Prophet (11:27); Symeon Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, who are fellow-presbyters with Paul & Barnabas in Antioch (Acts 13:1); and Judas Barsabbas and Silas (Acts 15), this same Silas becoming a fellow-Apostle with Paul in Acts 15:40.

    We return to our saying above: “All Apostles were presbyters, but not all presbyters were Apostles.” And indeed, this saying can be modified to reflect the situation in Luke 10, which it mirrors: “All Apostles were disciples (the 72), but not all disciples were Apostles.”

    And this very same thing can be said about the structure of the Church (as we will soon see): “All bishops are presbyters (priests), but not all priests are bishops.” But as I said, we will deal with the subject of bishops in a moment.

    Deacons

    Firstly, let’s tackle the issue of deacons (the third office of the ministerial priesthood). Clearly, this was an office created by the Apostles themselves in Acts 6. Yet, notice how the office was created:

    “So the Twelve (the Apostles) called together the COMMUNITY OF DISCIPLES (aka, the PRESBYTERS: the 58 disciples of Luke 10 PLUS Barnabas and any others added to their number) and said, ‘It is not right for US (the Apostles AND the disciples / presbyters) to neglect the Word of God to serve at table…”

    And the next line must be understood in context:

    “…Brothers, select from among you (i.e. from among your followers) seven reputable MEN (the Greek implies YOUNG MEN — the young disciples of these presbyters, e.g. Timothy’s relationship to Paul), filled with the Spirit and with wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, while WE (the Apostles and the presbyters) shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

    So, these seven men (Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch) were ordained as the first deacons — a ministry of service to support the fatherly, preaching ministries of the Apostles and the presbyters.

    Apostles, Bishops, and Presbyters

    Yet, what of the Apostles and presbyters? What was their relationship? Was it one of equality? Clearly not, since in Acts 6:6 itself we see that final authority always resided with the Apostles, who held the role of bishops in the early Church.

    Now, what is a “bishop”? Well, the Greek word for “bishop” is “episkopos” (i.e. “overseer”) — a term that describes a shepherd (John 21:15-17). And, indeed, the Apostles were shepherds of the early Church, even above the other Jerusalem presbyters (Acts 9:27).

    And indeed, if one knows what to look for, one can see this “episcopal” role of the Apostles referred to from the very beginning of the Church. For example, when Peter stands up in Acts 1 and quotes the Psalms in order to call for a successor of Judas, one of the Psalms he quotes is usually translated like this:

    “And: ‘May another take his office‘” (Acts 1:20).

    However, in the original New Testament Greek, this is not the word for “office” at all. Rather, the Greek uses a term which fits the original Hebrew. And, the word which the Greek text uses is: “episkope.” So Acts 1:20 should read:

    “And ‘May another take his << episkope >>.’ ” — that is, his “bishopric,” his role as a “shepherd” or “overseer,” a role that was distinct from the other 58 or so “presbyters” who were present.

    Indeed, if we recall that there was a total of about 71 disciples of Christ (i.e. “presbyters”) present in the upper room at this time (including the Apostles), it is clear — given the fact that Peter is calling for the election of an “overseer” to replace Judas from among their number — that the office of an Apostle was one which “oversaw” even the other presbyters.

    And this practice continued when Apostles (such as Paul and Barnabas) established new churches throughout the Mediterranean. For example, you will recall that, on their first missionary journey through the interior of Asia Minor, Acts 14:23 records how:

    “They (Paul and Barnabas) appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in Whom they put their faith.”

    However, just before Paul and Barnabas start out on their second missionary journey, Acts 15:36 says:

    “After some time, Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Come, let us make a return visit to see how the brothers are getting on in all the cities where we proclaimed the Word of the Lord.’ “

    Now, what is not readily apparent here is that the Greek word implies more than “visit.” Indeed, it is not the word for “visit” at all. Rather, the word is: “episkepsometha” (to oversee / inspect). Look familiar? Clearly, Paul and Barnabas were the “overseers” (i.e. “bishops”) of the churches they established throughout Asia Minor.

    And we see this term in many other places throughout Scripture: Phil 1:2, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 5:2, and even in 1 Peter 2:25, where Christ Himself is called the Episkopos (Bishop) of our souls.

    For our purposes, however, it should be mentioned (and admitted) that a problem arises with episkopos (bishop) and presbyter (priest), since — within Scripture itself — the terms are frequently interchangeable. For example, we already presented 1 Peter 5:1-4:

    “So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and a witness to the sufferings of Christ …Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing (episkope) not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit, but eagerly. Do not lord over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

    So, while Peter uses the term “presbyter” here, it is fairly clear given the context that he is actually speaking to the bishops of the various regions to which he writes (1 Peter 1:1).

    Also, Acts 20:17-28 speaks about the “presbyters” of the Church of Ephesus coming to see Paul off at Miletus. Here, Paul tells them:

    “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers (i.e. bishops), in which you tend the Church of God that He acquired with His own Blood.”

    Similarly, the Apostle John, who we know served as the Bishop of Ephesus in the late 1st century, refers to himself as “the Presbyter” in 2 John 1 and 3 John 1. This was clearly his episcopal title.

    However, the fact that each city-church possessed a single bishop (i.e. a “chief presbyter”) among its body of presbyters is also evident in Scripture.

    For example, in Acts 15 and Acts 21:18, it is clear that James headed the body of presbyters at Jerusalem, serving as the bishop (overseer) of that city ever since Peter fled Jerusalem in Acts 12:17, leaving James in authority there. (Note: Peter was merely visiting Jerusalem during the Council in Acts 15. He was not the resident bishop there, yet his ultimate authority is still recognized). Indeed, this role of James as head and bishop of the Jerusalem church is even reflected in Galatians 2:12, where Paul does not say how the Jewish Christian trouble-makers came “from the church of Jerusalem,” but rather “from James.” James was clearly in authority there. He was bishop over the body of presbyters.

    The singular role of the bishop can also be seen in 1 Timothy, which depicts Timothy as the bishop of Ephesus. In this, it must be realized that Ephesus was a leading church in the province of Asia, responsible for overseeing the surrounding cities and towns. Thus, Paul speaks of Timothy’s need to discern who is (and who is not) qualified for the office of bishop (overseer) in 1 Tim 3:1-7. Therefore, when Paul speaks of the qualifications of a “bishop” here, he may be referring to leading ministers for the surrounding towns, or he may be referring to other presbyters in Ephesus; but, in either case, it is more than clear that Timothy possesses the singular authority to choose and appoint them.

    And this is made even clearer in 1 Tim 5:17-22, where (in verse 19) Timothy is presented as a singular judge who should not “accept an accusation against a presbyter unless it is supported by two or three witnesses.” He is also told (in verse 20) to “Reprimand publicly those who do sin,” and (in verse 21) Timothy is charged by Paul not to show favoritism among the presbyters. Most strikingly (in verse 22), Timothy is told not to “lay hands too readily on anyone,” thus showing that Timothy (the Bishop of Ephesus) had the singular authority to ordain presbyters (Acts 14:23). And despite Timothy’s youth (1 Tim 4:12), it is clear that he held singular authority over the Ephesian church. In other words, he was its bishop.

    Turning to Paul’s Epistle to Titus, we find that Titus (a companion of Paul since his early days in Antioch, cf. Gal 2:3) possessed similar episcopal authority to ordain presbyters throughout the island of Crete (Titus 1:5) :

    “For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.”

    In the next verse (verse 6), we see Paul interchanging the term “presbyter” with “bishop” (episkopos: overseer), yet it is clear that Titus is the actual Cretean bishop, possessing both the authority to appoint presbyters (and city bishops), and the authority to give these men instruction (Titus 2 & 3).

    And so, the three-fold ministry outlined by Clement and Ignatius is found in Scripture as well. In all the city-churches established by the Apostles, it is clear that there was a principal overseer (a bishop), presiding over a body of presbyters (priests), and supported by deacons in service to the flock.

    Were all these Christians “priests” (1 Peter 2:9) ? Yes, they were. However, not all were “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the PRIESTLY service of the Gospel of God.” (Romans 15:15-16). This was the role of the ministerial priesthood, of which Scripture commands us to:

    “Respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, and show esteem for them with special love on account of their work.” (1 Thess 5:12)

    And…

    Obey those who have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

    Amen.

    Mark Bonocore

    MJBono@aol.com

  45. Russ says:

    Mark,

    Thanks for your reply. I have not had time to read all that you posted but let me respond to just a few points you made.

    “…I am at a total loss to see where that challenge fits into what is being discussed so far.”

    Fr J. argues that the Catholic Church has unique authority that no other church has and with this authority he argues that the apocrypha belongs in the cannon. This church being made largely of priests should be able to establish this authority in the Scriptures.

    The English word “priest” is derived from the Greek word presbuteros, which is commonly rendered into Bible English as “elder” or “presbyter.”

    This is not true. The Greek word for “Priest” is “hiereus” and is used throughout the New Testament. (Mat 8:4; 12:4,5; Luk 1:5; Jhn 1:19; Hbr 8:4)

    First, let’s define what a “priest” is: “one who offers sacrifice and has the charge of things pertaining thereto” – This definition fits the role of the Catholic Priest IMO.

    In the Bible, there are only 3 priesthoods established by God:

    1. The priesthood of Aaron – Offered sacrifices on behalf of the nation of Israel.
    2. The priesthood Melchizedek – Jesus is the High Priest of this priesthood – He offered Himself for the sins of the world. (Heb 5:6)
    3. The Priesthood of all believers – We offer praise and other sacrifices of service (Rom 12:1; Phl 2:17; 4:18; Hbr 13:15,16; 1Pe 2:5)

    The NT knows nothing of a sacerdotal class in contrast to the laity; all believers are commanded to offer the sacrifices.

    The above is simplified a bit and is taken from:

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/new_choice.pl?string=Priest&live_word=Priest&choice=NT0003949%2CVT0002209%2CET0003001&Entry.x=61&Entry.y=11

    The Greek word “presbuteros” means “overseer” or “elder” or “pastor” but it does not mean “priest”. The translators of the Catholic Bible never translate this word as “priest”.

    The NT teaches that every believer has access to God though our High Priest, Jesus Christ.

    NOW this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. (Heb 8:1,2)

    Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:19-22)

    I would encourage you to read for yourself the entire book of Hebrews – it won’t take that long – which deals extensively with this subject.

    • perfectfaith says:

      Russ, you should really have taken some time to read the whole post by asimplesinner. It would answer the aspects that you wanted clarification on. As he explained

      “Presbuteros” (Greek) –> “Presbyterus” (Latin) –> “Prete” (Italian) –> “Pretre” (French) –> “Proest” (Old / Middle English) –> “Priest” (Modern English).

      It was not a direct translation of the text but an evolution of a word. The role and purpose of the office of the Priest are all in the scripture as has been pointed out above.

      Again, take some time and read, it will be for your own greater understanding.

  46. What makes you think that have not read the entire book of Hebrews – perhaps several times over each? Because we do not share in your hermeneutic?

  47. Russ says:

    My sincere apologies Mark. I never intended to speak to you in a condescending manner. Sorry.

  48. this web says:

    You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

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