Apostles' Creed

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The Apostles' Creed (Latin: Symbolum Apostolorum), sometimes titled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, a creed or "symbol."

It is widely used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheranism, the Anglican Communion, and Western Orthodoxy. It is also used by evangelical Protestant denominations such as Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and many Baptists.

This creed seems to have been made as an argument against Gnosticism. Gnosticism was a heresy in the early days of the Church. This can be seen in almost every phrase. For example, the creed states that Christ was born and suffered and died on the cross. This seems to be a statement directly against the heretical teaching, which states that Christ only appeared to become man, and that he did not truly suffer and die, but only appeared as if he did. The Apostles' Creed, as well as other creeds, was made to be like an example of the apostles' teachings, and to defend the Gospel of Christ.

The creed is named Apostles' Creed because it is made of twelve articles. People believed every apostle inspired the Holy Ghost after Pentecost wrote one article. Because of its early origin, it does not address some issues defined in the later Nicene and other Christian Creeds. This makes it acceptable to many Arians and Unitarians.

Origin of the Creed[change | change source]

Many hypotheses exist concerning the date and nature of the origin of the Apostles' Creed. Many suppose it comes from "the Old Roman Symbol" of the 1st or 2nd century and was influenced later by the Nicene Creed (325/381).[1][2]

For more information on the origin of the Apostles' Creed, see the detailed discussion in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Text of the Creed[change | change source]

Latin text[change | change source]

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae. Et in Iesum Christum, Filium Eius unicum, Dominum nostrum, qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus, descendit ad ínferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis, ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis, inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos. Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitam aeternam. Amen.

Greek text[change | change source]

Πιστεύω εἰς θεòν πατέρα παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς. Καὶ εἰς Ἰησοῦν Χριστòν, υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τòν μονογενῆ, τòν κύριον ἡμῶν, τòν συλληφθέντα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου, γεννηθέντα ἐκ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου, παθόντα ὑπὸ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, σταυρωθέντα, θανόντα, καὶ ταφέντα, κατελθόντα εἰς τὰ κατώτατα, τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστάντα ἀπò τῶν νεκρῶν, ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, καθεζόμενον ἐν δεξιᾷ θεοῦ πατρὸς παντοδυνάμου, ἐκεῖθεν ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς. Πιστεύω εἰς τò πνεῦμα τò ἅγιον, ἁγίαν καθολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν, ἁγίων κοινωνίαν, ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, σαρκὸς ἀνάστασιν, ζωὴν αἰώνιον. Αμήν. (Triglot Concordia, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 12)

English translations[change | change source]

The Roman Catholic Church[change | change source]

The English version in the Catechism of the Catholic Church[3] maintains the traditional division of the Creed into twelve articles, presenting it as follows:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

The Church of England[change | change source]

In the Church of England there are currently two authorized forms of the creed: that of the Book of Common Prayer (1662) and that of Common Worship (2000).

Book of Common Prayer

I believe in God the Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried,
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead,
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholick Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting.
Amen.

Common Worship

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

The United Methodist Church[change | change source]

The United Methodists commonly incorporate the Apostles' Creed into their worship services.[4] It is special because it does not have the line "he descended into hell", but is otherwise very similar to the Book of Common Prayer version. The 1989 Hymnal has both the traditional version and the ecumenical version, which includes "he descended to the dead."

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The United Methodist Hymnal also contains (at #882) what it terms the "Ecumenical Version" of this creed—a version which is identical to that found in the Episcopal Church's current Book of Common Prayer. This form of the Apostles' Creed can be found incorporated into the Eucharistic and Baptismal Liturgies in the Hymnal and in The United Methodist Book of Worship, and hence it is growing in popularity and use.

Ecumenical version of the English Language Liturgical Consultation[change | change source]

The English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) is an international ecumenical group whose primary purpose is to provide ecumenically accepted texts for those who use English in their liturgy. In 1988 it produced a translation of the Apostles' Creed, distinguished among other things by its avoidance of the word "his" in relation to God. The text is as follows:[3]

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Related pages[change | change source]

Notes and References[change | change source]

  1. "Hypotheses on the origin of the Nicene Creed". http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm.
  2. Some historians think it comes from Gaul in the 5th century. The earliest known concrete historical evidence of the creed's existence as it is currently titled (Symbolum Apostolicum) is a letter of the Council of Milan (390) to Pope Siricius (here in English):
    "If you credit not the teachings of the priests . . . let credit at least be given to the Symbol of the Apostles which the Roman Church always preserves and maintains inviolate."
    The earliest appearance of the present Latin text was in the De singulis libris canonicis scarapsus ("Concerning the Single Canonical Book Scarapsus") of St. Priminius (Migne, Patrologia Latina 89, 1029 ff.), written between 710-724 (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, Longmans, Green & Co, 1972, pp. 398-434).
  3. "Comparison of the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed". Vatican. http://www.va/archive/catechism/p1s1c3a2.htm#credo.
  4. The version which is most often used is located at #881 in the United Methodist Hymnal, one of their most popular hymnals and one with a heritage to John Wesley, founder of Methodism[1][2].
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Other websites[change | change source]