WCF 1.2-3

The Westminster Confession of Faith

2. Under the name of holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:

Of the Old Testament

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi

Of the New Testament

The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians I, Corinthians II, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians I, Thessalonians II, Timothy I, Timothy II, Titus, Philemon The Epistle to the Hebrews, The Epistle of James, The First and Second Epistles of Peter The First, Second, and Third Epistles of John, The Epistle of Jude and The Revelation All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.

3. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are not part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore have no authority in the Church of God, nor are they to be approved in any way, or made use of, more than any other human writings. (WCF 1.2-3)

In 1.1, the confession tackled that God has indeed given enough of Himself in His creation to be known of (we call it general revelation), yet salvation can only come through His Word (what we call special revelation) and thus the confession now moves to what the church has accepted as “breathed out of God” (The Scripture) over that which was “exhaled by man” (The Apocrypha).

Now we should fully expect that God would speak to us, mainly because He said He has (2 Tim 3:16-17 c.f. 1 Pet 1:10-11, 2 Pet 1:20-21) and the people of God have understood and received that which was given by God (Rom 3:2, 2 Pet 3:15b-16), which has made our canon (a word which means ‘rule’ or ‘standard’) by which we measure orthodoxy. The Hebrews had a canon, which Jesus referenced as “the law, the prophets and the Psalms” when He explained to His disciples that God had been testifying to His people all along that He was to come, die and be raised again (Lk 24:44 c.f. Matt 5:17). So what books was He referencing exactly? Well that which the church under age (Israel) had received and collected is recorded by Jewish historian Josephus who was an eye-witness of the 2nd temple archives, and he testified that the Jewish canon are the exact books that now make up our “Old Testament” (Antiquities, Against Apion 1.8).

That is one of the reasons why the protestants rejected some other books that had crept into the church’s use. These “other books” were written after the Jews saw God “go silent” (after Malachi) and on top of that they had contradictions and historical blunders that rendered them obviously human in origin. And so because of these and some other reasons, the “other books” were literally hidden in the back of our bibles (that’s what Apocrypha means, hidden) for historical and inspiring use because they give a great insight into what happened between the testaments and show us the way in which the faithful were trying to figure out how to understand their bible without the light of Jesus, which was yet to come (Matt 5:17, 1 Cor 13:11, 2 Cor 1:20).

You see there is a massive difference between “inspired” and “inspiring” and 1.2-3 wants to make us aware of that - and it is important - as it is a matter of what binds our conscience over against what stimulates it (WCF 1.3). By all means read these interesting works of antiquity, but read them for what they are - great insights into the plight of Israel, her faithful and great stimulation to thank God that Jesus has made sense of it all.

Published: March 15, 2024

Updated: March 15, 2024