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The Hidden Books

TruthTalks: The Hidden Books

The hidden Books

In my albeit, non-theological brain, I knew there were books of the bible that had been considered for inclusion in the bible at some stage… but I had never heard the names of books such as Sirach or Baruch.

 

In this TruthTalks audio, Dr Christopher Peppler goes down a rabbit-hole after trying to find the meaning of an old phrase, which takes him to…

… The Hidden Books.

So if you would like to hear more about these mysterious documents, click on the play button below or read about it HERE.

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The Lost Books

The Hidden Books

The Lost Books

There is a saying that comes up from time to time that I find intriguing: ‘The instruments of a man’s sin are the instruments of his punishment’. The idea is that the bad things we do tend to be done to us; a more specific version of, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). I have even heard it expressed something like, “God uses the evil a man does to punish him”.

This is an interesting idea because it explains how God, who is love, can also be the God of justice, without compromising his essential nature.

Source

Of course, I  wanted to know if this idea, and the saying that expresses it, is found in the scriptures. If it doesn’t then we cannot take it as more than just a good thought. So, I set about tracking it down and found it in the Wisdom of Solomon (Chapter 11, verse 16). “Say what now? Solomon I know, but there is no book by that name in the bible!” This is because the Wisdom of Solomon is one of the books in a collection of writings called the Apocrypha.

The Apocrypha

Approximately four hundred years before Jesus was born into the world, several Jewish wise men/philosophers/theologians wrote several books that were later grouped into a collection that became known as the Apocrypha, or Hidden Books.

In the 3rd century BC the Jewish sacred writings we know as the Old Testament were translated into Greek, the most widely used language in the parts of the world inhabited by Jewish people. This version of the scriptures, known as the Septuagint contained at least seven of the books of the Apocrypha. In 1546 the Roman Catholic Church included ten books of the Apocrypha and inserted them between the Old and New Testaments, thus accepting them as divinely inspired. The Reformation started in 1517 and the Protestant churches birthed by this movement rejected the books of the Apocrypha and did not include them in their versions of the bible.

This is all quite interesting, but what interests me more is that some of the New Testament authors cited or alluded to texts from the Apocrypha.

The Influence of the Apocrypha on the New Testament

Here are some examples of traces of the Apocrypha in the New Testament:

  • Jude 6 reflects the influence of 1 Enoch and Jude 14 mentions Enoch prophesying in a way that most likely comes from 1 Enoch 1:9.
  • 1 Peter 3:19 may have its source in 1 Enoch 14 and 15.
  • Hebrews 11:34-35 reflects a familiarity with 2 Maccabees 6:18 – 7:42.
  • 2 Timothy 3:8-9 refers to Jannes and Jambres’ opposition to Moses, which is not in the Old Testament but is in The Assumption of Moses.
  • Ephesians 6:13-17 echoes The Wisdom of Solomon 5:18-20

This is not surprising because the version of the Old Testament used by the Apostles was the Septuagint. However, those references do not mean that the writings referenced are inspired; it just means that the writers were familiar with them and thought it appropriate to include snippets from them. I am comfortable with this, but those who believe that God more or less dictated the bible word for word to his human scribes would have a real problem here. If theologians believed that the entire bible was ‘dictated’ then they would have to accept several doctrines not taught in the Protestant bible. For instance, the book of Sirach teaches that good works are an essential qualification for salvation. Baruch teaches we can pray for the dead and Maccabees advocates the intercessory role of Saints. The Wisdom of Solomon teaches that human souls exist before they relocate into humans at birth.

The New Testament gives evidence that the Jews of Jesus’ day believed these teachings. For instance, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:29 ‘Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?’ The people in that church were going beyond just praying for the dead, they were being baptised as proxies for dead family members and friends. Even the disciples were influenced by the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul because they asked Jesus concerning a man who was blind from birth, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  (John 9:1-2)

How we should regard the Apocrypha

Considering what I have written above, I think that we shouldn’t discount the Apocrypha, but we should not consider it as divinely inspired. It is useful in that it provides background material and, in some cases, helps us to understand some of the things we find in the bible.

It appears that the Fathers of the early church adopted this approach. Teachers such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria cited some of the apocryphal writings as scripture. Origen held that the quotation in 1 Corinthians 2:9 that ‘things which eye has not seen or ear heard’ was from the Apocalypse of Elijah. Ambrose, Jerome, Philip of Side, the venerable Bede, and Theophylactus all mention a work called the Gospel of the Twelve.

OK, now back to the saying that caused me to delve into these things.

What the Bible Reveals

The question, for me at least, is does the bible contain something like ‘The instruments of a man’s sin are the instruments of his punishment’?

  • Proverbs 22:8 states that ‘He who sows wickedness reaps trouble…’, but this does not mean quite the same thing. It simply declares that, in general terms, wicked acts result in some form of trouble.
  • Job 4:8 makes the equally general observation that, ‘those who plough evil and those who sow trouble reap it’.
  • Paul writes that ‘a man reaps what he sows’ (Galatians 6:7), but he then elaborates in a general, more than a specific, way’.
  • Hosea 8:7, however, gets us to a very similar expression to the one from the Apocrypha when it states that ‘They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind’. Like for like but to a greater and more destructive extent.
What Did Jesus Say

I have a friend who routinely challenges dodgy church practices with the question, “So where do you find that in the bible?” When it comes to doctrine, my habitual question is, “What did Jesus teach or model concerning this?” The Lord Jesus is our plumb line for finding the straight line through teachings. Therefore, as always, I turn now to what Jesus taught.

Now, I normally start with what Jesus said and did and then work out from there, but I have structured this article as a discovery, so, although I referenced him right upfront, I will conclude with what the Lord said. He said, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you”. (Mark 4:24) So, Jesus set out the principle, but his emphasis was on the degree and proportionality of a person’s acts.

I guess I will have to be satisfied that Hosea set it out, more or less, as the Wisdom of Solomon later articulated it and that the Lord Jesus confirmed it in general terms. The book in the Apocrypha does not add a new truth, but it does help us to understand more fully what Hosea and Jesus taught.

So What?

All left now for us to ponder on is what the saying means to us and how it affects our lives.

The nub of it is that what we put out in life comes back to us in one way or another and to much the same extent. Sow faith, hope, and love and reap back positive and life-giving input. Sow doubt, fear, and hopelessness and the chances are that the harvest will be of the same nature only much worse.

Something that has stuck with me from a very early age is my mother quoting her father who was fond of giving Ecclesiastes 1:1 an amusing twist when he stated “cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back to you as a ham sandwich”. Yes indeed, and I do so enjoy a ham sandwich!

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Appendix:  A Short Summary of Apocryphal Books

For those interested in knowing more, here is a brief description of what the various ‘Hidden Books’ are about (with acknowledgement to an Artificial intelligence programme I use quite often):

The books recognised by the Roman Catholic Church are:

  1. Tobit: Tobit is a narrative about a righteous Israelite named Tobit who experiences various trials but is ultimately rewarded for his faithfulness to God. It includes themes of obedience, charity, and divine providence.
  2. Judith: Judith tells the story of a courageous Jewish widow named Judith who saves her people from the Assyrian general Holofernes by using her beauty and wit to deceive him and then assassinate him.
  3. Wisdom of Solomon: This book emphasises the importance of wisdom and righteousness, contrasting them with folly and wickedness. It also discusses the immortality of the soul and the rewards of righteousness.
  4. Sirach (Ecclesiasticus): Sirach is a collection of wise sayings and teachings attributed to Jesus Ben Sirach.  It covers a wide range of topics, including wisdom, virtue, friendship, family life, and social conduct.
  5. Baruch: Attributed to Baruch, the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah. It contains prayers, confessions, and reflections on the exile of the Jewish people and their hope for restoration.
  6. Letter of Jeremiah: This short letter warns against idolatry and emphasises the powerlessness of idols, contrasting them with the one true God.
  7. Additions to Daniel: These additions include the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews, as well as the story of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew version of Daniel.
  8. Additions to Esther: These additions include prayers and reflections not found in the Hebrew version of Esther, emphasizing God’s providence in the salvation of the Jewish people.
  9. 1 Maccabees: 1 Maccabees is a historical account of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire, focusing on the leadership of Judas Maccabeus and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
  10. 2 Maccabees: 2 Maccabees provides a parallel account of the events in 1 Maccabees, highlighting the martyrdom of certain Jewish leaders and emphasizing the importance of prayer for the dead.

The following are included in some bible translations but are not accepted as canonical by the Roman Catholic church:

  • 1 Esdras: Also known as the Greek Ezra, 1 Esdras is an ancient text that includes stories and events parallel to those found in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Old Testament. It includes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, the dispute over the king’s decree regarding the temple construction, and the prayer of Ezra for God’s mercy.
  • 2 Esdras (4 Ezra): 2 Esdras is a Jewish apocalyptic work that deals with themes of divine justice, theodicy, and the end times. It contains visions and dialogues between the prophet Ezra and an angel, exploring questions about the suffering of the righteous, the fate of the wicked, and the nature of God’s judgment.
  • Letter of Jeremiah: The Letter of Jeremiah is a short text included as Chapter 6 of the Book of Baruch in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It is addressed to the exiled Jews in Babylon and warns against the worship of idols,  emphasising the folly of idolatry and the superiority of the one true God.
  • The Book of 1 Enoch is an ancient Jewish text attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. It is a collection of several separate works, most of which are apocalyptic in nature. The oldest part, the “Apocalypse of Weeks,” was written around the Maccabean uprising of 167 BC. The book includes various themes such as messianism, celibacy, and the fate of the soul after death, and it reflects a blend of Iranian, Greek, Chaldean, and Egyptian elements.
  •  The Assumption of Moses, also known as the Testament of Moses, is a 1st-century Jewish apocryphal work that contains prophecies Moses revealed to Joshua before passing on leadership. It is characterised as Moses’ final speech and includes a prophecy of the future relating to Israel. The text is thought to have been originally written in Hebrew or another Semitic language and later translated to Greek. However, only a 6th-century Latin translation survives, and it is incomplete.

 

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TruthTalks on www.truthistheword.com by Dr. Chris Peppler

TruthTalks: The Righteous Among the Rogues – A Reflection on Psalm 37

TruthTalks on www.truthistheword.com by Dr. Chris Peppler

The very first line in Psalm 37 is: “Do not fret because of those who are evil…”

Well I’m already feeling inadequate because I fret, stress and get horribly angry over those who are evil! In this TruthTalks podcast, Dr Christopher Peppler breaks down Psalm 37 for us in a manageable way and shows us how to use it to enhance our lives and put the wisdom written here into practice. If you would prefer to read the post this is based on, please click HERE. By the way, if you read Psalm 37, you will be pleased when you get to verse 17 and further, as it shows us how many delights WE have to look forward to and live in as children of God.

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Please press the play button below to listen now or subscribe to TruthTalks on whatever you use to listen to your podcasts. Until next time, Admin

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Righteous man

The Righteous Among the Rogues – A Reflection on Psalm 37

Righteous

 

This is a word of encouragement coming down to us through the millennia from the pen of an ageing King David. He had lived through good years and bad and experienced trials, victories, the consequences of his moral lapses, and even the rebellion and opposition of his son Absalom.

Psalm 37 is a long composition that David produced in an acrostic format with each verse starting with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Unlike so many of his psalms, he directed this one not to God, but to the reader, as a teaching on the Lord’s faithfulness in difficult times.

I am not going to produce a commentary here, but rather reflect with you on just some of the things that David said to the people of his day. We too are living in difficult times and his words are laden with meaning, comfort, and encouragement for us as well.

The Illusion of Unrighteous Gain

The Psalm starts with Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong.

To understand why David thinks that we might be envious of evil men we need to read verses 7, 16, 35-36 do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes … Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked …  I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil. Wicked people often appear to succeed in what they do and grow very wealthy in the process, but that is temporary and illusionary. David adds Like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants, they will soon die away … The power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous … he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. Yes, wicked people may succeed and get filthy rich, but they soon enough wither, lose their power and eventually die like all do.

David goes even further when he says: For evil men will be cut off (verse 9); A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found (Verse 10). But their words will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken (Verse 15). The power of the wicked will be broken (Verse 17).

So, do not fret because of evil people because God will deal with them and the instruments of their demise will be their own words and deeds.

Our Response to the Success of the Wicked

David immediately gives several godly responses that we should embrace.

Verse 3: Trust in the Lord and do good – dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Trust God to take care of the wicked and rather get on with the better business of doing good. The NLT translates the second half of this verse as a result of our doing good; Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Verse 4: Delight yourself in the Lord – and He will give you the desires of your heart.

The word ‘delight’ here is misleading for the modern person because the original Hebrew `anag’ means ‘to be soft or pliable’. So, this is really a continuation of the thought in the previous verse – Trust God and be yielding and pliable in his hands, and he will prosper you and fulfil your life’s desires.

Verses 5 and 6: Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: – He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Once again, this verse builds on the stated thought – Trust, be pliable, and commit what you do to God, and he will shine brightly through your life into the dark world around you and all will know that your way of life is right and godly.

Verse 7: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

This is pretty self-explanatory – Don’t be in a hurry in this process but rather wait patiently for God to fulfil his word. However, verse 34 also uses the word ‘wait’ as a translation of a different Hebrew word that has the descriptor ‘with expectation’. So, an enhanced understanding of verse 7 would be ‘…wait patiently and expectantly for him’. Expect God to respond to your requests and wait patiently for him to do so without rushing forward to take matters into your own hands.

Verses 8 and 9: Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. – For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Don’t get angry when things do not go well for you or wicked people are seeming to succeed because this will lead to wrongdoing on your behalf. Don’t worry, evil people will meet their end, but if you place your hope in God you will be the true inheritor of what is stable, productive and of worth.

God’s Promises to the Righteous

David then sets out a series of divine promises that apply to all ages: (I have been selective to avoid the repetition of ideas)

Please note that this article is not a commentary and these verses are largely self-explanatory, so I want rather to encourage you to read them devotionally and not just intellectually. Let them move from your mind to your spirit so that the Lord can speak something into your heart and particular life circumstances.

Vs 17:The Lord upholds the righteous”.

Vs 18-10:The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty”.

Vs 23-24: “The Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand”. The NLT translates this in a way that pictures holding our hand when we stumble to prevent us from falling and to steady us as we walk on with him: ‘The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand’.

Vs 25-26:I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed”. God is faithful and able to provide for us in times of need, even to the extent of caring for our children even though they may have left home.

Vs 27-28:Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.  For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever”.

Vs 32-33:The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives; but the Lord will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial”.

Vs 39-40:The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him”.

In Conclusion

My concluding thoughts as an encouragement to you are in two wonderful verses (34 & 39):  Wait for the Lord and keep his way … The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.”

 

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Maslow, where are you

TruthTalks: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a Christian Perspective

Maslow where are you

I remember when I (the admin) first heard about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – I probably nodded and thought “yes yes that makes sense” and then never REALLY went back to look at what this means to me as a Christian and someone trying to live in but not of this world.

In this TruthTalks edition, Dr Christopher Peppler brings to light a whole new perspective on Maslow’s theories, and it’s a good one! Click on the play button below to listen now, and as always, interact with us in any manner you see fit, we love hearing from you.

TruthIsTheWord.com is non-profit and we rely on YOU to help us spread the word, so please like, comment, subscribe and interact with us.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.