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From the Confessions: The Ecumenical Creeds
The Apostles’ Creed
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 catholic Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
Pulling It Together
Our word “creed” comes from the Latin “credo,” which means “I believe.” When we say a creed, we are concisely confessing what we believe.
We confess the orthodox, ancient teachings of the Apostles using three principal creeds, the first of which is the Apostles’ Creed. (The other two creeds are the Nicene and the Athanasian creeds, each which seeks to spell out more clearly the who and how of the Trinity.) The earliest mention of this creed by name is in a letter from the late-fourth century, probably written by Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan. This indicates that the creed had already been in use for some time, at least in some form. The form of the Apostles’ Creed we use today is based on an older, shorter version called The Old Roman Creed, from a half-century earlier:
I believe in God the Father Almighty.
And in Jesus Christ his only-begotten Son our Lord,
who was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary;
crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
And in the Holy Ghost;
the holy Church;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
the life everlasting.
The Apostles’ Creed is divided in three sections comprising the name of God: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. God is what (or rather, who) we believe. Using this ancient creed, we first confess a distillation of Scripture, and what the Athanasian Creed later says of God: that he is “Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity” (line 27).
This teaching is difficult to believe by way of our limited reasoning. Therefore we confess what the Scripture teaches, and with the father of the boy with the unclean spirit, say, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Prayer: Father, may your Spirit testify with my spirit the truth of your Word, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
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