What is the Apostle’s Creed and why do we say the Apostle’s Creed in the church today?

Why Do We Say the Apostle's Creed?

The History of the Apostle’s Creed

The Apostle’s Creed is a statement of faith. In many mainline churches it is spoken in worship on a regular basis. The Apostle’s Creed is not in the Bible and was not written by the Apostles. The author of the creed is unknown.

The Apostle’s Creed is the oldest known statement of faith and is a summary of the Apostle’s teaching that was used in the early church.

There are three main creeds used in the Christian church today, including the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. It is believed the Apostle’s Creed was written around 150 A.D. and used across the earliest church in gatherings all along the Mediterranean Sea, such as Jerusalem, Alexandria (North Africa), Rome, and even Spain.

 

What is the Apostle’s Creed?

The Apostle's Creed

This is the Apostle’s 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 Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God
the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Christian Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

What Does This Mean?

Martin Luther wrote the Catechism as a way to teach preachers (and heads of households) about the Bible and the basic teachings of the church. He wrote a simple explanation of each article of the creed, which is as follows:

The First Article
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean?
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them; that He richly and daily provides me with food and clothing, home and family, property and goods, and all that I need to support this body and life; that He protects me from all danger, guards and keeps me from all evil; and all this purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I am in duty bound to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

The Second Article
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; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
What does this mean?
I believe that Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary; and that He is my Lord, Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His inno­cent suffering and death; in order that I might be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness; even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

The Third Article
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. What does this mean?
What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; just as He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives me and all believers all our sins; and at the last day He will raise up me and all the dead, and will grant me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.

Martin Luther, Small Catechism

 

Why Do We Say the Apostle’s Creed?

Memorizing the Apostle’s creed is not necessary but it is a helpful practice. If someone asks you what you believe, you have a clear and ready statement of your faith.

The creeds are not prayers, although they are helpful to include in your daily devotions as a reminder of your beliefs. The creeds are a statement you make to other people, both Christians and non-Christians.

In my church growing up, before we said the Apostle’s Creed, the pastor would say, “Christian, what do you believe?” and then the congregation would respond with the creed. I always loved this because it was a weekly reminder to me that I was not just saying the words, but boldly declaring to the world that this is what I hold in my heart to be true.

Many churches have moved away from saying the creeds because it’s felt that speaking the words again and again becomes void of meaning. I disagree. The more we say it, the more deeply the words become an important part of our lives. The creeds are also a connection we have to the church across the centuries.

 

Getting to Know Jesus Online Bible Study

Join our study through the book Getting to Know Jesus by Pastor Paul Schult.  Sign up for the email series. In the study, we study the Apostle’s Creed in more depth.

Much of our discussion will take place in our Getting to Know Jesus Facebook group. Come and join us there for new discussion weekly. (Bonus: The author is part of the group too!)

While you are welcome to join in the discussion no matter what, I encourage you to purchase the book and read along for maximum benefit. You can purchase the book Getting to Know Jesus here in print or Kindle version.

Getting to Know Jesus: Using the Six Core Teachings of the Bible to Grow in a Deeper Relationship with JesusGetting to Know Jesus: Using the Six Core Teachings of the Bible to Grow in a Deeper Relationship with JesusLuther's Small Catechism with Explanation - 2017 EditionLuther’s Small Catechism with Explanation – 2017 Edition

Does your church recite the Apostle’s Creed on a regular basis?

 

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