The Apocrypha in the Gospels


Are you ready for Lent? Is anyone ready for Lent? What I like about Lent, similar to what I like about Advent, is that it gives us time to prepare for its associated upcoming holiday – while being both Easter’s precursor and a season in its own right. While it’s very common for people to give something up during Lent (and some use these 40 days as a kickstart to dieting season), I was relieved when my pastor in the Quad Cities invited those of us in church to see Lent as a time of introspection, self-examination, and preparation for the resurrection of Jesus. I am continually relieved that many others in church leadership see Lent in this way and continue to observe in this manner.

This week we finish reading 4 Maccabees, thus ending our time in the Apocrypha, and begin our time in the Gospels as we begin reading the book of Matthew. It may be tempting to see the Apocrypha as completely distinct from the Gospels, and yet deSilva challenges us on this point in The Apocrypha and the Christian Church: “Given the utter neglect into which these books have fallen in many modern Christian circles, however, it should greatly surprise us to discover how much leaders like Paul, James, the author of Hebrews, and Jesus himself appear to have learned, valued, and incorporated from the texts later labeled ‘Apocrypha.'” (p. 130) He also points out, along with many other instances, “what Jesus goes on to teach in [the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew] represents rather a tightening of the Torah [instead of an opposition to it] and includes many principles and promotes many practices that Jesus had received from earlier sages like Ben Sira. Jesus was certainly an innovative teacher, but much more of his teaching has a ‘pedigree’ than is often supposed.” (p. 130)

What are the connections you have drawn between apocryphal texts and those considered canonical, and how have they affected your faith?

This week we read Part 2,  “Managing Your Time,” Chapter 12, “Time Management Step #5: REFLECT and REFINE, then REPEAT” of The Lifelong Activist, in which we reflect on and refine the time we have managed it on the Sample Time Budgeting / Tracking Form. This is a super-short chapter; don’t be afraid to dive on in!

How’s your time budget working? C’mon over to People of the Books, our online book club in which we discuss this book and whatever else is on your mind or heart!


We continue on with our Lenten practice with Compton Heights Christian Church, is doing – reading and praying through Boundless Compassion: Creating a Way of Life by Joyce Rupp. We encounter Week 1: Compassion as a Way of Life. I think this time of reading is going to be good for me, because I (too) often understand compassion as a feeling rather than act, and too often associate it with an imbalance of charity, rather than a key part of building and revealing God’s realm. As with the rest of us, I am a work in progress and am open to learning new things to help along the way.

Paul Gilbert, professor at Derby University, describes compassion as “being sensitive to the suffering of self and others with a deep commitment to try to prevent or relieve it.” This week we explore some of the basic components of doing this. I invite you to consider what compassion consists of in its most basic nature. This includes exploring the movement of compassion–awareness, attitude, action–and the four essential aspects of nonjudgment, nonviolence, forgiveness, and mindfulness.

Joyce Rupp, Boundless Compassion: Creating a Way of Life, p. 22-23

What is your understanding of compassion? Do you consider yourself a compassionate person? Why or why not?


Check out the Find Your FBCO Map to find your local faith-based community organizing affiliate and connect with the people who are working together to live out their dreams of a more just world! What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.