The Apostles' Creed

circa 300 A.D.

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 to the dead.
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.



History reveals to us that it was called the "Apostles' Creed" because there were myths proliferating in the early Church that the apostles wrote it on the tenth day after Christ's ascension. However, the true origins of the creed is not precisely known. It is dated circa 300 a.d., and quickly grew in stature and has become the most popular creed used by Western Christians. This was because of its testimony in the simplicity of the essential beliefs, which the early Christian Church could readily identify with. Yet with all its uncomplicated structure, it wonderfully promoted the substantive nature and essence of the gospel. And by its liberal use of the words "I Believe," it set forth the standards by which Christians measure themselves, and encouraged faith in all those who pledged it.

It is interesting to note that the word "believe" is from the Old English word [beliven] which means, by-life. Thus, it is illustrating that Christians should live by this faith. Every time the words "I believe" are read, they are proclaiming the truth by which Christians live. I believe in God, the Father almighty, I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. I believe in the Holy Spirit. This is at the very core of the scriptures, and is what the early Church vowed to live by. God, and everything established by God.

The word Creed itself is from the Latin [credo] meaning I believe, thus the apostles creed was a statement of Christian beliefs, or things which they trusted true. In some circles this creed is also known as "The Roman Symbol," because it was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the Roman churches.

Unfortunately some today have the mistaken idea that the word 'catholic' belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, and are puzzled as to why the Apostles' Creed would refer to the Holy 'Catholic' Church. Particularly, as it is truly an ecumenical symbol of faith. But it is important to understand that the term 'Catholic' simply referred to the "universal" Church of believers, and in no way implied what is today Roman Catholicism. That Rome claims to be the one catholic Church doesn't make it law. The word Catholic is simply a form of the Greek word [katholikos] which means, "of the whole." It is taken from two root words [kata], meaning pertaining to or about, and the word [holos], meaning the whole. i.e., it means the whole or Universal Church.

Before those grounded in sound Biblical Theology broke away from the dominant Church of Rome in protest (thus they were called, Protestants) of their slipping into idolatry, indulgences, and unscriptural practices, they were of the one whole (universal) Church. They still are. Rome can claim ownership of the word, but that is mere semantics. They have long ago left being Christ's Church under authority of God.

The name catholic in our day has digressed to denote a denomination rather than its true meaning. But in the early Church, it was the title denoting the Church's universal nature, and had nothing to do with a denomination in Rome. Denominations are an invention of man. There is only one universal Church. It's not a Roman Church, nor is it Baptist nor Presbyterian, but the one holy universal Church, which is beyond the bounds of denominationalism.

In the big picture, nothing has really changed today. The true Church of God is the Universal (Catholic, in Greek) Church, no matter what label man puts upon it by his denominational edict. The one Holy Universal Church because it is fulfilling its commission to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel. It exists all over the world and has gone by many denominational names.

The truth is, since we don't speak Greek, we could just as easily translate it:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Holy Universal Church,
The communion of saints..

Every educated scholar of course knows this. But because Reformed Churches are steeped in tradition, and has a high regard for their creeds (nothing inherently wrong with that) it is still rendered (usually) the Holy Catholic Church. And really, there is no good reason to change it. Why should we? No denomination can usurp a word as exclusively their own. Just so long as we all understand that the word simply means universal.

To summarize, it is not called "The Apostles' Creed," because it was written or authored by any of the Apostles, it is called this because it is actually an excellent brief synopsis of what the Apostles taught. Moreover, it sets forth the Christian gospel of the trinity, God, and salvation, in a concise, though pertinent fashion, in simplicity, yet with proper reverential and liturgical high regard. The early declaration of belief and confession of faith.


Copyright 2000 Tony Warren
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Created 8/15/00 / Last Modified 12/23/00
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