The Apostles’ Creed is among the oldest statements of the beliefs of Christians. It may have been used during baptisms of Christians in Rome. Through the centuries it has been clarified and translated into every known language used by Christians worldwide. It served as the basis for future creeds, such as the Nicene Creed which was approved by the council of Bishops gathered together by Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 AD and modified slightly in 381 AD.
Here is the most commonly used English translation of the 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.
The Apostles’ Creed, once attributed to the disciples of Jesus who became the first leaders of the Christian Church, provided a standardized system of beliefs against which heresies could be evaluated. From that perspective, The Apostles’ Creed describes what Christians ought to believe if they call themselves Christians. To reject parts of the creed is to separate oneself from the beliefs that are foundational to Christianity. When individuals reject a belief statement in the Creed, they are probably listening to the lies of the devil, making them susceptible to other lies that will lead them astray.
In subsequent posts, we’ll look at the specific statements of faith contained in the Apostles’ Creed, but note that earliest versions of the creed did not include the phrase “He descended into hell”, and some Protestant churches substitute the word “Christian” for “catholic” to avoid having readers think that the reference is to the Roman Catholic church. (Catholic means universal or worldwide, not a specific denomination within Christendom.)
A more modern translation that beautifully expresses each statement of belief within the creed is used by the worldwide Anglican communion:
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. Amen.