Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume XIV/The Second Ecumenical Council/The Holy Creed
The Holy Creed Which the 150 Holy Fathers Set Forth, Which is Consonant with the Holy and Great Synod of Nice.
(Found in all the Collections in the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon.)
The reader should know that Tillemont (Mémoires, t. ix., art. 78 in the treatise on St. Greg. Naz.) broached the theory that the Creed adopted at Constantinople was not a new expansion of the Nicene but rather the adoption of a Creed already in use. Hefele is of the same opinion (Hist. of the Councils, II., p. 349), and the learned Professor of Divinity in the University of Jena, Dr. Lipsius, says, of St. Epiphanius: “Though not himself present at the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, a.d. 381, which ensured the triumph of the Nicene doctrine in the Oriental Churches, his shorter confession of faith, which is found at the end of his Ancoratus, and seems to have been the baptismal creed of the Church of Salamis, agrees almost word for word with the Constantinopolitan formula.” (Smith and Wace, Dict. Chr. Biog., s.v. Epiphanius). “The Ancoratus,” St. Epiphanius distinctly tells us, was written as early as a.d. 374, and toward the end of chapter cxix., he writes as follows. “The children of the Church have received from the holy fathers, that is from the holy Apostles, the faith to keep, and to hand down, and to teach their children. To these children you belong, and I beg you to receive it and pass it on. And whilst you teach your children these things and such as these from the holy Scriptures, cease not to confirm and strengthen them, and indeed all who hear you: tell them that this is the holy faith of the Holy Catholic Church, as the one holy Virgin of God received it from the holy Apostles of the Lord to keep: and thus every person who is in preparation for the holy laver of baptism must learn it: they must learn it themselves, and teach it expressly, as the one Mother of all, of you and of us, proclaims it, saying.” Then follows the Creed as on page 164.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the Right Hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead. Whose kingdom shall have no end. (I)
And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver-of-Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets. And [we believe] in one, holy, (II) Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, [and] we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
This clause had already, so far as the meaning is concerned, been added to the Nicene Creed, years before, in correction of the heresy of Marcellus of Ancyra, of whose heresy a statement will be found in the notes on Canon I. of this Council. One of the creeds of the Council of Antioch in Encæniis (a.d. 341) reads: “and he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, and he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead, and he remaineth God and King to all eternity.”
The word “Holy” is omitted in some texts of this Creed, notably in the Latin version in the collection of Isidore Mercator. Vide Labbe, Conc., II., 960. Cf. Creed in English Prayer-Book.
The Creed Found in Epiphanius’s Ancoratus (Cap. cxx.)
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible: and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, that is of the substance of the Father, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father: by whom all things were made, both in heaven and earth: who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, and was made man, was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and from thence he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father; who, with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets: in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. And those who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, and before he was begotten he was not, or that he was of things which are not, or that he is of a different hypostasis or substance, or pretend that he is effluent or changeable, these the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes.
Epiphanius thus continues:
“And this faith was delivered from the Holy Apostles and in the Church, the Holy City, from all the Holy Bishops together more than three hundred and ten in number.”
“In our generation, that is in the times of Valentinus and Valens, and the ninetieth year from the succession of Diocletian the tyrant, you and we and all the orthodox bishops of the whole Catholic Church together, make this address to those who come to baptism, in order that they may proclaim and say as follows:”
Epiphanius then gives this creed:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things, invisible and visible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, begotten of God the Father, only begotten, that is of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth, whether they be visible or invisible. Who for us men and for our salvation came down, and was incarnate, that is to say was conceived perfectly through the Holy Ghost of the holy ever-virgin Mary, and was made man, that is to say a perfect man, receiving a soul, and body, and intellect, and all that make up a man, but without sin, not from human seed, nor [that he dwelt] in a man, but taking flesh to himself into one holy entity; not as he inspired the prophets and spake and worked [in them], but was perfectly made man, for the Word was made flesh; neither did he experience any change, nor did he convert his divine nature into the nature of man, but united it to his one holy perfection and Divinity.
For there is one Lord Jesus Christ, not two, the same is God, the same is Lord, the same is King. He suffered in the flesh, and rose again, and ascended into heaven in the same body, and with glory he sat down at the right hand of the Father, and in the same body he will come in glory to judge both the quick and the dead, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
And we believe in the Holy Ghost, who spake in the Law, and preached in the Prophets, and descended at Jordan, and spake in the Apostles, and indwells the Saints. And thus we believe in him, that he is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the perfect Spirit, the Spirit the Comforter, uncreate, who proceedeth from the Father, receiving of the Son (ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ λαμβανόμενον), and believed on. (καὶ πιστευόμενον, which the Latin version gives in quem credimus; and proceeds to insert, Præterea credimus in unam, etc. It certainly looks as if it had read πιστεύομεν, and had belonged to the following phrase.)
[We believe] in one Catholic and Apostolic Church. And in one baptism of penitence, and in the resurrection of the dead, and the just judgment of souls and bodies, and in the Kingdom of heaven and in life everlasting.
And those who say that there was a time when the Son was not, or when the Holy Ghost was not, or that either was made of that which previously had no being, or that he is of a different nature or substance, and affirm that the Son of God and the Holy Spirit are subject to change and mutation; all such the Catholic and Apostolic Church, the mother both of you and of us, anathematizes. And further we anathematize such as do not confess the resurrection of the dead, as well as all heresies which are not in accord with the true faith.
Finally, you and your children thus believing and keeping the commandments of this same faith, we trust that you will always pray for us, that we may have a share and lot in that same faith and in the keeping of these same commandments. For us make your intercessions, you and all who believe thus, and keep the commandments of the Lord in our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom, glory be to the Father with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
- This is the title in the Acts of the IVth Council. Labbe, Conc., iv., 342.
- Soc., H. E., II., 10; Soz., H. E., III. 5; Athanas., De Synod., C. xxij.
- I have used Petavius’s edition, Cologne, 1682; there are some differences in the various editions about the numbering of the chapters, and this seems to be the origin of the curious mistake Hefele makes in confounding the longer with the shorter creed.
- This would be the year 374, that is to say seven years before this Second Ecumenical Council which was held at Constantinople in 381.