“A friend of mine said that Jesus quoted from an apocryphal book (Sirach 37:2). How do I answer his insistence that this means the apocrypha belongs in the Bible?”
In your letter you don’t mention where the Lord is supposed to have quoted this verse, but it doesn’t matter. Even if He did, that wouldn’t prove that God wanted that book included in the canon of Scripture. The Bible mentions a lot of books that aren’t included in God’s Word.
For instance, in the Old Testament it mentions “the book of the wars of the Lord” (Num. 21:14). In the New Testament, Paul talked about an epistle that he wrote before the Book of 1 Corinthians (5:9). And there are many other examples of this (Josh. 10:13; 2 Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 1 Kings 11:41; Col. 4:16; Jude 1:14; etc.).
The bottom line is, if God wanted those books included in His Book, they’d be in His Book. The fact that they are not indicates that they may have contained trustworthy and quotable information, but they were not “given by inspiration of God” as “all Scripture” is (2 Tim. 3:16).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.