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 Issues | The Apocrypha | New Testament References

New Testament similarities to the Apocrypha

There are a number of places where there appears to be a similarity of thought and sometimes of the words used between New Testament passages and verses in the Apocrypha. A number of examples are given below.

It is quite possible that the New Testament writers were self-consciously drawing on the Apocryphal books but few of the instances could be said to be actual quotation.

In some instances it is clear that incidents or passages in the canonical Old Testament are behind both whilst in others it may be that the New Testament writer was familiar with common tradition which is also to be found in the Apocrypha, rather than with the Apocryphal books themselves.

What is apparent is that the New Testament writers do not cite the Apocryphal writings as if they recognised any particular authority as belonging to them. This is therefore entirely consistent with what we know, that the apocryphal books were reasonably well known in the first century, particuarly amongst Greek speaking Jews, but were ot part of the Canonical Scriptures.

The following are listed by Roger Beckwith in The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (page 426, note 199) and are given here in the New Revised Standard Version

2 Peter 2.7f and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)
Wisdom 10.6 & 19.17

Wis. 10:6 Wisdom rescued a righteous man when the ungodly were perishing;

Wis. 19:17 They were stricken also with loss of sight—just as were those at the door of the righteous man— when, surrounded by yawning darkness,

Acts 17.30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
Rom 2.4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Wisdom 11.23 But you are merciful to all, for you can do all things, and you overlook people’s sins, so that they may repent.
Rom 1.20f Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.
Wisdom 13.1,8

For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists, nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;

Yet again, not even they are to be excused;

Jas 1.19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
Ecclus (Sirach) 5.11 Be quick to hear, but deliberate in answering.
1 Cor 14.20 Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults.
Ecclus (Sirach) 19.22-24 The knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom, nor is there prudence in the counsel of sinners. There is a cleverness that is detestable, and there is a fool who merely lacks wisdom. Better are the God-fearing who lack understanding than the highly intelligent who transgress the law.
Mk 11.25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
Ecclus (Sirach) 28.1-4 The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance, for he keeps a strict account of their sins. Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. Does anyone harbor anger against another, and expect healing from the Lord? If one has no mercy toward another like himself, can he then seek pardon for his own sins?
Col 1.17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Ecclus (Sirach) 43.26 Because of him each of his messengers succeeds, and by his word all things hold together.
Heb 11.35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.
Appears to refer to events recorded also in 2 Macc 6.18-7.14

A number of other passages could be listed where there is some similarity and the following is taken from General Introduction to the Commentary on the Apocrypha edited by Henry Wace, volume 1 page lxi (1888)

Heb 1.3 Wisdom 7.26
Heb 4.12 & 13 Wisdom 7.22-24
Heb 8. 2,9,11 Wisdom 9.8
Heb 12.6-11 Wisdom 3.5
Heb 13.7 Wisdom 2.17
James 1.5 Ecclesiasticus 20.15
James 1.8 Ecclesiasticus 1.28 & 2.12
James 1.12 Ecclesiasticus 1.11, 16 & 18
James 1.23 Ecclesiasticus 15.11

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