Why are the Apocrypha not part of the Bible? Who decided they shouldn’t count?
The Apocrypha was never actually part of the Bible. Let me explain a little bit further. Even the Jewish people did not consider the Apocrypha to be part of Scripture. They saw the Apocrypha as Jewish history.
The difference for criteria for a biblical book is that it must be inspired by God. Although the Jews considered the Apocrypha helpful for history, they did not believe it was inspired by God. The way it found its way into Scripture is that it was often included in the back of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament from around the 200s BC to 200s AD.
It was included as popular literature among the Jews, especially in the first century. We can see its popularity because Jude and a couple of other New Testament writers include examples from apocryphal books like Enoch.
If it makes it into a sermon illustration, it’s a pretty popular thing. So as long as the Septuagint, read by Jews all over the Greco-Roman world who had never come back from the exile in the Old Testament, survived and was copied, the Apocrypha survived.
It was probably continued by the early church, still being popular reading. There is nothing wrong with the Apocrypha as long as you don’t consider it inspired Scripture. Christians have carried on the tradition of the Jews in this matter. Because the Jews did not consider it inspired or Scripture, so also the Christians did not.
It has been included in most Catholic Bibles. Even today you can open up a Catholic Bible and will see the Apocrypha in it, right between the Old and New Testaments. During the Reformation, the Reformers did not include these books in their translations of the Bible. So you will be hard-pressed to find it in a Protestant Bible.
When the Canon of Scripture, the books of the Bible accepted as inspired for the church, was considered, Christians accepted the 39 books the Jews considered inspired as the Old Testament. Then by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the church finally affirmed the 27 books of the New Testament we have in our Bibles today.
They also considered the Canon closed. This means that there will never be any books added to the 66 books of the Bible. These are considered the ones inspired by the Holy Spirit. You will find them in every Bible, whether you find other books were not.
I would also like to point out for the New Testament that the 27 books the Council of Nicaea finally acknowledged have earlier been mentioned in other Canon lists, as early as the 160s AD. But Jews and Christians alike have never considered the Apocrypha part of the Bible.