What Are The Lost Books of the Bible? Is This Important?

There are some books that were claimed to have been lost and not in the Bible.  Are they important enough to know about or to have been included in the Bible?

The Sufficiency of Scripture

Second Timothy 3:14-17 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

When Paul wrote to Timothy about being equipped for teaching the church he stated that he had already “learned and firmly believed…the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation [for] All Scripture is breathed out by God.”  When Paul wrote “all Scripture,” in effect he was saying that all Scripture has been already been provided and that Timothy had already “learned it…from childhood [being] acquainted with the sacred writings” which are the Scriptures.  Paul, nor does any other writer in the New Testament indicate that there are other Scriptures that we need to learn from and as Jude wrote, this was “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  The phrase “once delivered” is language that indicated that the message of the faith has already been delivered once and we could add “for all.”

Canonized Scriptures

There are literally dozens of other books that were written about the church and some that contain writings about the Old Testament period but they were never canonized into the Bible because, even though they were inspiring, the church fathers did not see them as inspired by the Holy Spirit.  If a book is not the inspired words of God then they should not be in the Bible as we know it today.  We can say with authority that the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament were universally accepted by the church but many other books such as 1 Maccabees, the Wisdom of Solomon and other such books are what we call the Apocrypha and were never placed into the Bible as we know it today.  Although these extra-biblical books may have some accurate historical accounts, God, in His sovereignty, did not cause them to be accepted as His inspired words and so they were not included in the Bible.

Extra-Biblical Books

The Catholic Bible contains additional books that are not in the 66 books of the Bible and even though they may contain historical accounts of Israel, they do not belong in the Bible.  This would be like including Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews” in the Bible of today because although it is historically accurate, it was not written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Josephus certainly has some accurate historical writings and as inspiring as they are, we know that his writings were not inspired by God and that is the litmus test of Holy Scriptures; they must be the inspired Word of God to be included in the Word of God, the Bible.  Unless we can be certain that they were written under divine, God-breathed inspiration, they do not belong there.  These extra-biblical books belong in the church history section of a church library but not in the Bible.

Are the Lost Books of the Bible Inspired by God?

There are many books that claim to be written by Christians who some believe were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit but they fail the test of accuracy.  The Epistle of Barnabas for example was not even written by the Barnabas that we know of in the Bible; therefore it is an imposter and does not belong in the Bible.  The lost gospel of Judas was discovered in 1970 is Gnostic in nature.  Gnosticism was an apostate belief that we could enter the kingdom of heaven by secret knowledge that is revealed only to a select few.  In the “gospel” of Judas, Judas claimed that he was instructed by Christ to betray Him because it was the Master’s last wish before He was crucified.  This “gospel” also had Jesus’ marrying Mary Magdalene but there is no such historical or biblical evidence to support such a story.

There are also other fake gospels from Thomas, which was exposed to be a forgery, and the gospel of Mary that also contains significant doctrinal errors.  Other such alleged gospels or books were written by Philipp, Peter (the Apocalypse of Peter), and even extend into Old Testament with writings such as Psalms of Solomon 4, the Secrets of Enoch, the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, and many other such heretical books.  These books that were supposedly lost should have stayed lost.  These are forgeries and are clearly not inspired books of the Bible and have no place in the Bible today.  The Gospel of Mary is another example of a book that is not inspired by God and contains a plethora of heretical teachings.

Conclusion

All we need is all that we already have contained in the Bible’s 66 books. There is no need of further revelation from God outside of the inspired Word of God.  The sufficiency of the Scriptures is enough for us to know that the fall of man necessitated the need for a Redeemer and that was Jesus Christ Who came and lived a sinless life to die for the sins of those who would repent and trust in Him.  Jesus came to close the gap of the separation that our sins had created and made possible our having a relationship with God and to have eternal life by Jesus’ death.  If you have repented and trusted in Christ, you already have had that separation from God ended but if you haven’t been born again, then you presently have the wrath of God still abiding on you (John 3:36) and stand condemned as you read this (John 3:18).  Why not trust in Christ today so that you too can finally have peace with God through Jesus Christ’s atonement (Rom 5:10)?

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon

  • Powerglide

    Paul’s reference to scripture could not be referring to NT gospels, because they HADN’T BEEN WRITTEN YET!

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you “Powerglide.” I appreciate your comment sir. I do understand that the New Testament was not written yet but the letters of Paul were considered Scripture already (see 2 Pet 3:14-16) and the author of Acts (Luke) has Paul quoting Jesus once: “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), but if this quote is of Jesus (let alone if the author is correct in giving it to Paul), then it isn’t recorded elsewhere – it isn’t in the gospels? I could not find Jesus ever saying this precisely.

      Another similar quote appears in 2 Cor 12:8-9 where Paul quotes something that we don’t have another record of Jesus saying: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” – in this case a phrase which sounds unlike the Jesus presented in the gospels.

      Then there are two teachings of Jesus that Paul seems to be aware of: Jesus’s prohibition on divorce, which appears in Mark 10:2-10 (and its parallels in Matt 19:3-12 and in abbreviated form in Luke 16:18). Paul seems to reference this in 1 Cor 7:10-11 where he says “I give this command (not I, but the Lord)…”. But even then he goes on to contradict Jesus, by saying that if an unbeliever leaves a believer, the believer isn’t bound to them any longer.

      The second teaching is more vague. Paul suggests that it is okay for someone to be paid for their ministry. For example, in 1 Cor 9:14 (“The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from it.”). Which may or may not reflect Jesus’s teaching in Luke 10:7 “The worker deserves his wages” (talking about the disciples’ evangelical efforts) and its possible parallel in Matt 10:10.

      • cken

        Almost all, no actually all of what Paul knew about Jesus was from word of mouth which he was taught before he started his evangelism circuit. Paul was an Icon in those days not unlike Billy Graham and the advise in his letters was taken seriously by the various churches. Besides his letters don’t mean much to Christianity today because we pick which parts to venerate and which parts to ignore. The same could be said for many other parts of the Bible, Leviticus comes to mind as a prime example.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      I appreciate this comment and believe that Pastor Wellman’s reply to it is inadequate. As you point out, 2 Tim. 3:14-17 can’t be authority for a canon closed at “66 books” since some of those books didn’t exist yet. The same problem arises with attempting to cite Rev. 22:18-19 as though the phrase “this book” refers to the Protestant canonized Bible and not to the Book of Revelation itself. Pastor Wellman in his reply to your comment refers to 2 Pet. 3:14-16 as indicating that Paul’s epistles were already considered “scripture.” Quite so. What that means is that when Paul wrote to Timothy that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God,” Paul was referring not only to the scriptures in Timothy’s library but to those still being written.

      Pastor Wellman notes that in a few instances Paul seems to refer to remarks by Jesus that aren’t found in that form in the four gospels. That’s fine, but the point of that escapes me. Maybe the idea is that if Paul is uniquely quoting Jesus, that gives Paul’s words a special scriptural authority. If so, I don’t disagree, although I think that Paul’s authority came from (and comes from) his calling as an apostle. Ephesians 4:11-14 shows us that the callings of apostles and prophets are ongoing in the church, by the way.

      The scribes and the Pharisees at the time of Christ surely believed that THEY had “all scripture” at that time, since they had the Torah and all of the prophetic teachings which interpreted the law. What need had they for further scriptures, they asked? The answer, of course, is that God knew what they needed better than they did. I think that it is ungodly arrogance to suggest that our Father in Heaven, who communicated with His children regularly through the prophets of ancient times and the apostles of the 1st Century can keep quiet now, because we have all we need, thank you. I’m not sure that there ever was a time when God’s children needed His guidance any more than they do right now. There is no Biblical authority for the idea that once the Bible was canonized in about the 4th Century by councils of the church at that time, we could stop looking to God for any additional revelation or doctrine. And Paul never said otherwise to Timothy or anyone else.

  • matthew malach

    Two Points: How are mortals able to judge what is God given? And Jesus as a Rabbi would almost certainly have been married.

    • RocksCryOut

      Jesus upheld the entire Old Testament and called it the Word of God, so that’s an easy one.

      In reference to the New Testament, early acceptance in the first and second century church is the key. NT writings would have to agree with known teaching of Jesus (who, according to the majority of those who call themselves Christians, IS God), and the known teachings of the apostles who were taught by Jesus. Doesn’t agree– doesn’t get included. Simple.

      Of course if one is not a Christ-follower, or if one holds a revisionist view of history and its documentation, none of the above has any validity. However, other than the witness of the Holy Spirit to individual believers, the above is a synopsis of why Christ-followers call the Bible “the Word of God” and hold to it.

      Whether or not Jesus was married is irrelevant. Marriage is honorable and the marriage bed un-defiled, as noted by Hebrews 13:4.

      • frjohnmorris

        If Christ were a mere man whether or not He was married would be irrelevant. But Christians believe that He was God in the flesh. Therefore, any child He fathered would share in His divinity, the way that my children share in my DNA. That is why Christ was never married, because there is only one Only Begotten Son of God not a Grandson of God.

        Fr. John W. Morris.

        • RocksCryOut

          Well now the question of whether or not Jesus fathered children is a completely different one than the question that was asked, isn’t it, Father John?

          Skeptics LOVE to throw the meme of Jesus’ “marriage” in the faces of believers, assuming that it is some kind of a deal breaker. I’m simply pointing out that it is not.

        • Anonymous

          “any child He fathered would share in His divinity”

          You don’t know that.

          • frjohnmorris

            The human and divine natures of Christ were never separated but were always united. Everything that the human nature of Christ experienced, the divine nature also experienced. On the other hand the human nature of Christ was deified by its union with the divine nature. That is called the Communication of Attributes and is an essential element of proper Christology as defined by the Ecumenical Councils.

            Fr. John W. Morris.

          • Guest

            There is no way to know if his offspring would inherit divinity beyond mere speculation, a pointless endeavor.

  • Adam Frey

    “We can say with authority that the 39 books of the Old Testament and the
    27 books of the New Testament were universally accepted by the church
    but many other books such as 1 Maccabees, the Wisdom of Solomon and
    other such books are what we call the Apocrypha and were never placed
    into the Bible as we know it today.”

    Speaking as a Roman Catholic, we do see 1 & 2 Maccabees and the other 5 books (Wisdom, Baruch, Judith, Tobit, and Sirach, and also we use a longer version of Esther and Daniel) as part of the Biblical canon. Do you lose a whole lot by not reading these books? Well, in terms of the basic story of human salvation from Genesis to the Gospels, no…but then, you don’t miss out on much by not reading books like Nahum or Ecclesiastes either. Regardless, we see all of these–the “apocyrpha” or “deuterocanon” as we call them–as also being sacred and inspired by the Holy Spirit and equally as part of the canon.

    I objectively appreciate that the author has a view of what “the Bible” is. Pragmatically speaking, the world at large disagrees on the content of “the Bible” or even its translation. Jews see the Bible as simply the OT, and even then, the branches of Judaism disagree as to whether the Torah is on equal footing with the other books or not. Protestants use the 39 book Bible, and some disagree as to whether James should be in the NT. Roman Catholics have the additional seven. Orthodox Catholics have even more books on top of that (including 2 more Maccabees and a few others I haven’t read). Out all of of those, you also have disagreements over translations, of which I see dozens and dozens every time I look up an individual verse on BibleHub. For some verses, the difference in translation is inconsequential. In others, the meaning of the verse is completely flipped depending on how you translate a single word. (For fun, check out the debate over the proper translation of Luke 17:21.)

    Anyway, I’d ask the readers only two things: 1) read up on why Catholics and non-Catholic Christians disagree over which books are in the canon. It’s an ancient debate that goes back much earlier than when printed Bibles first came out. 2) Actually read some of the books. There’s nothing bad or sinful about them per se, and in fact, the two books of the Maccabees bridge some of the 400-year gap between Nehemiah and the Gospels. What the heck, here’s a link to an article I wrote last year on the importance of Maccabees to the Gospels: http://bellarmineforum.org/2013/11/28/hanukah-prequel-to-the-gospels/.

    I realize that there are deeper issues at stake over what the Bible is and who has the authority to define and interpret it, but do understand–even if you don’t agree–that not everyone reads the same Bible or even translation. On the fundamentals–that God exists, that Jesus is God made man, and that he died for us so that man could repent and return to God the father–I should hope that we do agree.

    • Jack Wellman

      Well said Mr. Frey. I have a Catholic Bible at home and I do see the great value in these. I do agree on the essentials, most certainly sir. I feel that the Catholics have done a much better job on fighting for the life of the unborn and that, among many other things, I have high regard and respect for those who will enter the Kingdom in the Catholic Faith and I fully expect to see these precious believers in Christ there, no doubt.

  • Scott Miller

    I’m glad Josephus’s writings are not scripture as that would double the size of a Bible that already too many today can’t get around to reading. 1 Maccabees may be equivalent of Josephus Jewish War, but the other books of the Apocrypha/deuterocanon/anagignoskomena are closer to something like C.S. Lewis’s Scretape Letters. They’re novels written by pious Jews of the intertestamentary period. They’re great literature that all Christians would do well to read, but I agree with the author that they don’t raise to the level of Scripture. The New Testament Pseudopigrapha such as the Gospel of Thomas etc. are a mixed bag. I would recommend Christians read the Gospel of Thomas and see that it’s obvious why it’s not scripture. Others like the Shepherd of Hermas and 1 Clement are great pious literature that Christians should read, but are closer to the books like Tobit and Judith and the Screwtape Letters, but not being apostolic are agreed to not be scripture.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Do you understand why the Protestant bible does not include the Catholic apocrypha? It has zero to do with their relative inspiration . . .http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2013/06/the-second-canon/ The wide majority of Christendom accepts them as part of the Bible.

    “The Epistle of Barnabas for example was not even written by the Barnabas
    that we know of in the Bible; therefore it is an imposter and does not
    belong in the Bible.”

    If that is the criteria by which to exclude books from the Bible, than 2nd Timothy should be excluded as well (as accepted by the wide majority of non-conservative evangelical scholars)

  • stefanstackhouse

    To be fair, there were a few close calls. The Didache was included in some early canon lists. It has a lot of good teaching and may very well have had apostolic origin. Even though it is not actual inspired scripture, it is a very valuable and important document that is well worth reading.

    The Shepherd of Hermas is also included among some early canon lists. Although it was valued very highly by many early Christians, it is a highly allegorical work, and it is pretty clear that it just doesn’t belong in scripture. Inspiring reading to some, perhaps, but not inspired.

    The two epistles of Clement and the one of Barnabas also showed up in some early canon lists. Clement didn’t say anything that Paul hadn’t already said, but they were nevertheless good teaching documents, and it is fortunate that they have been preserved. It is more fortunate, perhaps, that Barnabas didn’t make the cut as being inspired and canonical, because there are some things in there I definitely would NOT want to have to defend as inerrant.

    At the same time, it has to be admitted that a few of the books that made it in were also a close call. The Apocalypse of John (Revelation) was debated for centuries, and there was also debate about Hebrews, James, II Peter, Jude, etc.

    • frjohnmorris

      Ultimately the Church decided on the canon of the New Testament by accepting the list of canonical books written by St. Athanasius in his 39th Festal Letter in 367 by the Council of Carthage in 419 which was ratified by the Council in Trullo in 692. The 7th Ecumenical Council, Nicaea II in 787 recognized the Council in Trullo as a continuation of the 6th Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III in 680. Thus it was the conciliar decision of the Church that determined the canon of the New Testament.
      It is true that there were lots of books circulating that claimed apostolic authorship. However, the Church also had Holy Tradition, that it handed down the teaching of the Apostles. The Church compared these books with the Holy Tradition and rejected those which contained teachings that conflicted with the Holy Tradition of the Church.

      Fr. John W. Morris.

  • frjohnmorris

    The answer to the question posed by this article is very simple. The Books of the Bible are Bible because they have been recognized by the Church as Bible. The Bible derives its authority through its recognition by the Church.

    Fr. John W. Morris.

    • Guest

      I think you have that backwards. The Church derives its authority from the position given it by the Word of God, not the other way around.

      • frjohnmorris

        No I do not. The Church, which derives its authority from God the Word, was guided by the Holy Spirit to create the Bible by deciding which books made the cut to become part of the canon of Holy Scripture. The Bible did not create the Church.

        Fr. John W. Morris.

        • Guest

          That’s not what you said the first time.
          Perhaps I expect too much of you.

  • Arfon Davies

    well how can you say this at all, your relying on men whom the bible states are all sinners, men whom were commissioned by emperor constantine of the roman empire aka the vatican now. Non of these men or our current men can say whether or not these writings were inspired by god or not, if they appeared in the bible now you would say they couldn’t be removed because they were gods word, you, me, and the rest of these holy experts couldn’t say whether or not this is divinely inspired or not.


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