The Apostles’ Creed is a statement of faith that is used in both Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. Although it is not found in the Bible, and none of Jesus’ disciples had any involvement in composing it, the Creed is so-called because it was considered to be a record of what the apostles taught—an accurate statement of the beliefs of the apostles.
While many Christian scholars believe that this document was written after the close of the New Testament (probably 150 years after the apostles had all died), the Creed held an important place in the early Church, and for centuries, it has been appealed to by all branches of the Church as a test of authentic faith. In fact, it’s been regarded as a good summary of Christian doctrine.
As one Bible commentator points out, “The structure of the creed matches the three-fold questions the early Church asked at baptisms, so it’s likely that this is part of an early baptismal liturgy. In any case, it’s as clear a statement of the basics of Christian faith as you’ll find.”
Here is the language of the Apostles’ Creed as found in the 1662 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 Spirit,
- Born of the Virgin Mary,
- Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
- Was crucified, dead, and buried,
- He descended into hell,
- 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 (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.
It’s important to note here two primary concerns with the Apostles’ Creed:
- The first is in regards to the phrase “He descended into hell.” This has been a controversial issue among Christians of all denominations—whether Jesus actually descended into hell after His death and burial, and before His resurrection. We shall address this issue in an article at some eventual time in the future.
- The second is in regards to “the holy catholic Church.” Unfortunately, many believe this to be the Roman Catholic Church. But as we know it today, this does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church. The word catholic means “universal,” and the true “catholic” Church is all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
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