Creeds of Christendom/Apostles' Creed

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For other English-language translations of this work, see Apostles' Creed.

III. I add a table, with critical notes, to show the difference between the original Roman creed, as given by Rufinus in Latin (about A.D. 390), and by Marcellus in Greek (A.D. 336–341), and the received form of the Apostles' Creed, which came into general use in the seventh or eighth century. The additions are inclosed in brackets.

The old Roman Form.

1. I believe in God the Father Almighty.[1]

2. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;

3. Who was born by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary;[2]

4. Was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried;

5. The third day he rose from the dead;



6. He ascended into heaven; and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;

7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

8. And in the Holy Ghost;

9. The Holy Church;


10. The forgiveness of sins;

11. The resurrection of the body (flesh).[3]

The Received Form.

1. I believe in God the Father Almighty [Maker of heaven and earth].[4]

2. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;

3. Who was [conceived] by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary;

4. [Suffered][5] under Pontius Pilate, was crucified [dead], and buried

[He descended into Hell (Hades)];[6]

5. The third day he rose from the dead;

6. He ascended into heaven; and sitteth on the right hand of [God] the Father [Almighty];[7]

7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

8. [I believe][8] in the Holy Ghost;

9. The Holy [Catholic][9] Church

[The communion of saints];[10]

10. The forgiveness of sins;

11. The resurrection of the body (flesh);

12. [And the life everlasting].[11]

  1. The Creed of Aquileja has, after Patrem omnipotentem, the addition: 'invisibilem et impassibilem,' in opposition to Sabellianism and Patripassianism. The Oriental creeds insert one before God. Marcellus omits Father, and reads εἰς θεὸν παντοκράτορα.
  2. 'Qui natus est de Spiritu Sancto ex (or et) Maria virgine.'
  3. The Latin reads carnis, the Greek σαρκός, flesh; the Aquilejan form HUJUS carnis, of THIS flesh (which is still more realistic, and almost materialistic), 'ut possit caro vel pudica coronari, vel impudica puniri' (Rufinus, § 43). It should be stated, however, that there are two other forms of the Aquilejan Creed given by Walch (xxxiv. and xxxv.) and by Heurtley 30–32), which differ from the one of Rufinus, and are nearer the Roman form.
  4. 'Creatorem cœli et terræ' appears in the Apostles' Creed from the close of the seventh century, but was extant long before in ante-Nicene rules of faith (Irenæus, Adv. hœr. I. c. 10, 1; Tertullian, De vel. virg. c. l, 'mundi conditorem;' De prœscr. hæret. c. 13), in the Nicene Creed (ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, κ.τ.λ.), and all other Eastern creeds, in opposition to the Gnostic schools, which made a distinction between the true God and the Maker of the world (the Demiurge).
  5. 'Passus,' perhaps from the Nicene Creed (παθόντα, which there implies the crucifixion). In some forms 'crucifixus,' in others 'mortuus' is omitted.
  6. From the Aquilejan Creed: 'Descendit ad inferna,' or, as the Athanasian Creed has it, 'ad inferos,' to the inhabitants of the spirit-world. Some Eastern (Arian) creeds: κατέβη εἰς τὸν ᾅδην (also εἰς τὰ καταχθόνια, or εἰς τὰ κατώτατα). Augustine says (Ep. 99, al. 164, § 3) that unbelievers only deny 'fuisse apud inferos Christum.' Venantius Fortunatus, A.D. 570, who had Rufinus before him, inserted the clause in his creed. Rufinus himself, however, misunderstood it by making it to mean the same as buried (§ 18: 'vis verbi eadem videtur esse in eo quod sepultus dicitur').
  7. The additions 'Dei' and 'omnipotentis,' made to conform to article first, are traced to the Spanish version of the Creed as given by Etherius Uxamensis (bishop of Osma), A.D. 785, but occur already in earlier Gallican creeds. See Heurtley, pp. 60, 67.
  8. 'Credo,' in common use from the time of Petrus Chrysologus, d. 450. But And, without the repetition of the verb, is no doubt the primitive form, as it grew immediately out of the baptismal formula, and gives clearer and closer expression to the doctrine of the Trinity.
  9. 'Catholicam' (universal), in accordance with the Nicene Creed, and older Oriental forms, was received into the Latin Creed before the close of the fourth century (comp. Augustine: De Fide et Symbolo, c. 10). The term catholic, as applied to the Church, occurs first in the Epistles of Ignatius (Ad Smyrnæos, cap. 8: ὥσπερ ὅπου ἂν ᾖ Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς, ἐκεῖ ἡ καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία and in the Martyrium Polycarpi (inscription, and cap. 8: ἁπάσης τῆς κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας, comp. c. 19, where Christ is called ποιμὴν τῆς κατὰ οἰκουμένην καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας.
  10. The article 'Commumionem sanctorum,' unknown to Augustine (Enchir. c. 64, and Serm. 213), appears first in the 115th and 118th Sermons De Tempore, falsely attributed to him. It is not found in any of the Greek or earlier Latin creeds. See the note of Pearson On the Creed, Art. IX. sub 'The Communion of Saints' (p. 525, ed. Dobson). Heurtley, p. 146, brings it down to the close of the eighth century, since it is wanting in the Creed of Etherius, 785. The oldest commentators understood it of the communion with the saints in heaven, but afterwards it assumed a wider meaning: the fellowship of all true believers, living and departed.
  11. Some North African forms (of Carthage and Hippo Regius) put the article of the Church at the close, in this way: 'vitam eternam per sanctam ecclesiam.' Others: carnis resurrectionem in vitam æternam. The Greek Creed of Marcellus, which otherwise agrees with the old Roman form, ends with ζωὴν αἰώνιον.