The Origin of the Apostles Creed

The Apostles Creed is said to be the oldest expression of the Orthodox Christian/Catholic Faith. It is referred to by the Church Fathers as the "Old Roman Symbol." According to Christian/Catholic Myth, the Apostles themselves contributed to its creation. The myth says that each Apostle wrote one expression each within the Creed itself. Whether or not the Apostles each contributed to the Creed or not is not the issue. The issue is whether or not the Bible teaches the Apostles creed and do the followers adhere to that teaching. We can see from studying the Apostles Creed, that the Creed was derived from the Bible itself. Not only is the Creed derived from the Bible, this Creed gives an accurate basis for the development of all Christian Theology. Christology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology, which is the basis of all Systematic Theology that we know today. The Apostles Creed formulates the "argument" for the Christian/Catholic Faith giving a firm foundation to build your philosophy of life on.

The Apostles Creed developed into a solid statement of faith from years of Apologetics (the defending of the faith). Apologetics is a core part of the Christian/Catholic Faith. In the beginning of the Church, the Apostles spent much of their time counteracting divers views that were opposed to the Apostles original meaning. The Apostle Paul writes,

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" — Galatians 1:8 NASB.

The Apostle Paul was constantly having to explain the gospel over again because of people spreading contrary views. The Apostles Creed developed through arguments against those who do not adhere to the original Apostolic teaching. All the Saints who followed the Apostles Biblical teaching stood firm in their faith in keeping that teaching. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who was brutally murdered for the Faith in 107, said,

"I Glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by Him has given you such wisdom. For I have observed that ye are perfected in an immoveable faith, as if ye were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded, in very truth, with respect to our Lord Jesus Christ, that He was the Son of God, "the first-born of every creature, Col. i. 15. God the Word, the only-begotten Son, and was of the seed of David according to the flesh, Rom. i. 3. by the Virgin Mary; was baptized by John, that all righteousness might be fulfilled Matt. iii. 15. by Him; that He lived a life of holiness without sin, and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed [to the cross] for us in His flesh. From whom we also derive our being, Literally, "we are." from His divinely-blessed passion, that He might set up a standard for the ages, through His resurrection, to all His holy and faithful [followers], whether among Jews or Gentiles, in the one body of His Church." — Ignatius to the Smyrnæans, Early Church Fathers, Schaff, Philip (1819-1893)

The Saints and Martyrs all held a common teaching within each of their writings. The Apostle Creed affirms what is undeniably the teaching of the early Church.

Athanasius wrote to Eusebius of Caesarea,

"We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, Son Only-begotten, first-born of every creature, before all the ages, begotten from the Father, by Whom also all things were made; Who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge the quick and dead. And we believe also in One Holy Ghost:" Select Works and Letters Author. Athanasius, Schaff, Philip (1819-1893)

Eusebius of Caesarea, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome were early church apologists that affirmed the teaching found in the Apostles Creed. Augustine wrote against Pelagian heresy, Irenaeus wrote against Gnostic heresy, Athanasius and Ambrose against Arian heresy, Eusebius, Irenaeus, and Athanasius were the apologists that brought us the Biblical Canon, and Jerome gave us the "Latin Vulgate" which is the Bible in the common language of that time. All these early church apologists used Bible Scriptures as premises in the defense of the Christian/Catholic Faith. Each of these apologists writings and teaching contributed the formulation of the Nicene Creed. The elements of the Nicene Creed are very similar to the Apostles Creed. The Nicene Creed is another stepping stone from the Apostles Creed. The Early Church Fathers wrote Creeds in order to end debate on fundamental theological issues.

The essence of the Apostles Creed is in its trinitarian roots. All of the Apostles and Church Fathers are Trinitarians. The Creed focuses on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in its teaching. These teachings came directly from the Apostles and the Church Fathers. Saint Ambrose states,

"If, then, God is One, one is the name, one is the power, of the Trinity. Christ Himself, indeed, saith: ’;Go ye, baptize the nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.‘ In the name, mark you, not in the names." Exposition of the Christian Faith, Chapter 1, Paragraph 8 Ambrose, Early Church Fathers, Schaff, Philip (1819-1893)

Saint Jerome says,

"In the symbol of our faith and hope, which was delivered by the Apostles, and is not written with paper and ink, but on fleshy tables of the heart, after the confession of the Trinity and the unity of the Church, the whole symbol of Christian dogma concludes with the resurrection of the flesh.’ To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem, Paragraph 28, Jerome, Early Church Fathers, Schaff, Philip (1819-1893)

Saint Augustine says,

’Therefore God supreme and true, with His Word and Holy Spirit (which three are one), one God omnipotent, creator and maker of every soul and of everybody; by whose gift all are happy who are happy through verity and not through vanity; who made man a rational animal consisting of soul and body, who, when he sinned, neither permitted him to go unpunished, nor left him without mercy.’ Book 5, Chapter 10, City of God and Christian Doctrine, Saint Augustine, Church Fathers, Schaff, Philip (1819-1893)

It is clear that the Apostles Creed is the standard of Christian/Catholic faith where we can stand confidently firm. The Apostles Creed is what the Bible itself is teaching. In Acts 2:22-36 Apostle Peter says,

"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know — this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. "For David says of Him, `I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. `THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. `YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE. Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. "And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. "For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."’ "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."

The Apostles Creed in an indispensable part of the Christian/Catholic Church that cannot be changed or removed. The Apostles Creed is the Gospel itself. Like Saint Jerome said,

"In the symbol of our faith and hope, which was delivered by the Apostles, and is not written with paper and ink, but on fleshy tables of the heart"To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem, Paragraph 28, Jerome, Early Church Fathers, Schaff, Philip (1819-1893)

NEXT

The History of the Creeds and Confessions