What Was the Original Apostles' Creed? What is the Nicene Creed?

By COGwriter

Most of those who consider themselves to be Roman or Eastern Orthodox Catholics consider that their beliefs and practices are the same as the original apostles. One of their "proofs" is a statement that some consider to be the creed of the original Apostles. Is that so? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches original?

This article will attempt to answer those questions.

But first, I should mention that the reason certain creeds were later formally adopted by the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches was apparently in order to separate those who believed in what the creeds taught from those that did not.

Essentially, the initial "creed" of the Council of Nicea in the early fourth century was intended to separate the Arians from those who held semi-Arian and/or trinitarian views of the Godhead. The later revised Nicene Creed was intended to place the stamp of "orthodoxy" on the trinitarian formula that had been adopted by the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.

Before going further, notice that various Protestants believe in it to. Paul E. Gramit is pastor of Evangelical Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton wrote:

“And (I believe) in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who etc.,” the “His,” of course, referencing God the Father, and you’ve got the Second Article of the ancient Baptismal Creed, better known now as the Apostles’ Creed. (Grammit PE. Keep the Faith: Christ’s Humiliation and Exaltation. February 29, 2020)

How ancient is that creed?

Here is a link to a related video: The Original Apostle's Creed?

For more on original beliefs, check out the free online book: Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church: Could a remnant group have continuing apostolic succession?

The Nicene Creed of the Eastern Orthodox

Sometime in July 2011, an Eastern Orthodox woman challenged something related to early church history at the COGwriter.com website. Yet, her proof for the challenge was something from the 4th or 5th century, so I told her that that was not part of the original faith.

Then in response, on July 15, 2011, I received the following in an email (which is what triggered me to write this article) from that same woman claiming her church had the original Christian faith:

I am Greek Orthodox, and this is what we believe :

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one substance with the Father,
through Whom all things came into existence,
Who because of us men and because of our salvation came down from the heavens,
and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became man,
and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered and was buried,
and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures
and ascended to heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father,
and will come again with glory to judge living and dead,
of Whose kingdom there will be no end;
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life-giver,
Who proceeds from the Father,
Who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified,
Who spoke through the prophets;
in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.
We confess one baptism to the remission of sins;
we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.


Is that original enough?

My answer to her was no, it is not original enough, as it is not an apostolic document.

What that Greek Orthodox supporter (as well as several others within a week of this) sent is also known as the Nicene Creed. And while many of its statements are correct, much of it is certainly not original.

That creed was declared a required belief in 380 by Emperor Theodosius:

Theodosius ... Out of political as well as religious motives, he energetically undertook to bring about unity of faith within the empire. His position was improved by the fact that during 379 the followers of the Nicene Creed gained ground, whereupon Theodosius on February 28, 380, without consulting the ecclesiastical authorities, issued an edict prescribing a creed that was to be binding on all subjects. (Lippold A. Theodosius I Roman emperor. Encyclopedia Brittanica, accessed online 09/16/19)

A year later, the Nicene creed was formally adopted at the Council of Constantinople that Theodosius called.

Before going further, consider that Demophilus was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 370-380 (List of Patriarchs of Constantinople. Patriarchate of Constantinople, http://patriarchateofconstantinople.com/list-of-patriarchs.html accessed 07/21/21).

The current Nicene creed, that was adopted at the 381 Council of Constantinople met resistance before acceptance. Theodosius removed Demophilus from being the Patriarch of Constantinople because he would NOT accept the Emperor’s trinitarian Nicene Creed:

Immediately therefore he intimated his desire to Demophilus, who presided over the Arian party, and inquired whether he was willing to assent to the Nicene creed, and thus reunite the people, and establish concord. Upon Demophilus's declining to accede to this proposal, the emperor said to him, “Since you reject peace and unanimity, I order you to quit the churches." (Socrates Scholasticus. THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF SOCRATES. London, 1853, p. 266)

Therefore, it should be understood that: 1) trinitarianism was not the position of the patriarchy of Constantinople, 2) Arian meant Semi-Arian above, 2) that political considerations, not theological, looks to have been the reason to push trinitarianism, and that creed did not come from the apostles.

How can something that was NOT agreed to as proper by the Patriarch of Constantinople be original?

Obviously, because it was not.

Notice what an Orthodox priest wrote about that creed:

The Nicene Creed, which was formulated at the Councils of Nicaea in 325 and of Constantinople in 381, has been recognized since then as the authoritative expression of the fundamental beliefs of the Orthodox Church. The Creed is often referred to as the “Symbol of Faith.” (Fitzgerald T. Teachings of the Orthodox Church. Copyright @2006 Saint Mary Romanian Orthodox Church. http://www.stmaryro.org/en/default.asp?contentid=704)

Despite priests and scholars being aware of the truth, it is sad that many of the Orthodox believe that they have not changed doctrine and that their 4th century creed was original–but it is not. It is my understanding that some of them erroneously believe that their version is original is because about one thousand years ago, the Church of Rome added "and the Son" after the expression "proceeds from the Father." This has been called "the filioque clause."

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

Dogmatic meaning of filioque The dogma of the double Procession of the Holy Ghost from Father and Son as one Principle is directly opposed to the error that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, not from the Son. Neither dogma nor error created much difficulty during the course of the first four centuries...

At the beginning of ninth century, John, a Greek monk of the monastery of St. Sabas, charged the monks of Mt. Olivet with heresy, they had inserted the Filioque into the Creed. In the second half the same century, Photius, the successor of the unjustly deposed Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople (858), denied the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son, and opposed the insertion of the Filioque into the Constantinopolitan creed. The same position was maintained towards the end of the tenth century by the Patriarchs Sisinnius and Sergius, and about the middle of the eleventh century by the Patriarch Michael Caerularius, who renewed and completed the Greek schism. The rejection of the Filioque, or the double Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and Son, and the denial of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff constitute even today the principal errors of the Greek church. ...

As to the Sacred scripture, the inspired writers call the holy Ghost the Spirit of the Son (Gal., iv, 6), the spirit of Christ (Rom., viii, 9), the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil., i, 19), just as they call Him the Spirit of the Father (Matt., x, 20) and the Spirit of God (I Cor., ii, ll). Hence they attribute to the Holy Ghost the same relation to the Son as to the Father. Again, according to Sacred Scripture, the Son sends the Holy Ghost (Luke, xxiv, 49; John, xv, 26; xvi, 7; xx, 22; Acts, ii, 33,; Tit., iii.6)...as the Father sends the Holy Ghost (John, xiv, 26) (Maas, A. (1909). Filioque. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 21, 2011 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06073a.htm).

The Orthodox tend to primarily blame the "filioque clause" for what they tend to call "the Great Schism" from Rome in 1054 A.D. And while the Orthodox are correct that the "filioque clause" was added to the creed and accepted by the Church of Rome, that still does not in any way make the creed that they use original.

Perhaps I should mention that the Church of Rome also has a few other statements that were in the version adopted at the 16th century Council of Trent that were not in the Nicene Creed.

The Creeds of the Church of Rome

The Roman Catholics have their own versions of the ‘Apostles’ Creed.’ The ones they use are not original either. Here is it translated into English from Latin (a language that the Apostles did not write in):

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator 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, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come 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 life everlasting. Amen. http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=220 accessed 01/31/18

The descent statement is not in all the Roman creeds and is not in the Nicene one either. But it is believed to be part of an uncoming movie (see Passion of the Christ sequel, descent, and the Apostles’ Creed?)--and because it is in a creed it has been improperly claimed to be an original teaching.

Now, the following is from the Vatican's website and is the version of the creed I recall reciting as a child:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen. (Ratzinger J., Cardinal. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH PROFESSION OF FAITH. 9 January 1989. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_1998_professio-fidei_en.html accessed 01/02/19)

The above includes the filioque clause.

Now the Vatican has something else at its website, right after the above creed, that it expects its people to accept:

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act. (Ratzinger J., Cardinal. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH PROFESSION OF FAITH. 9 January 1989. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_1998_professio-fidei_en.html accessed 01/02/19)

This essentially means that non-biblical traditions, etc. are expected to be fully believed by Roman Catholics (see also Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings). But none of that was part of the earliest known creeds.

Legends, Etc.

Here are some legends and other information about the creed:

Throughout the Middle Ages it was generally believed that the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, while still under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, composed our present Creed between them, each of the Apostles contributing one of the twelve articles. This legend dates back to the sixth century (see Pseudo-Augustine in Migne, P.L., XXXIX, 2189, and Pirminius, ibid., LXXXIX, 1034) (Thurston, Herbert. "Apostles' Creed." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 21 Jul. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm>)

The legend was that the creed took shape at the dictation of the Twelve Apostles, each of whom contributed a special article. Thus, Peter, it was alleged, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, commenced, “I believe in God the Father Almighty”; Andrew (or according to others, John) continued, “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord”; James the elder went on, “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,” etc. This legend is not older than the 5th or 6th centuries, and is absurd on the face of it. (Orr J. The Apostle's Creed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol. 1. Original by 1923. Kindle Version viewed 07/21/11)

Whether or not the twelve apostle's stated each sentence can be debated as there is no actual proof.

The fact is that there is no first century document with the creed. And that Day of Pentecost was c. 31 A.D.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says the claim of apostolic origin was a fourth (via Rufinus or pseudo-Augustine) or sixth century development.

There was a supposed creed that Gregory Thaumaturgus (see Gregory the Wonder Worker) claimed to get in a vision he falsely thought was from the Apostle John in the third century, but it differs in many ways from the creeds in this article--also it does not seem to have been widely adopted as a creed:


There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is His subsistent Wisdom and Power and Eternal Image: perfect Begetter of the perfect Begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son.

There is one Lord, Only of the Only, God of God, Image and Likeness of Deity, Efficient Word, Wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and Power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal and Eternal of Eternal.

And there is One Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, and being made manifest by the Son, to wit to men: Image of the Son, Perfect Image of the Perfect; Life, the Cause of the living; Holy Fount; Sanctity, the Supplier, or Leader, of Sanctification; in whom is manifested God the Father, who is above all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all.

There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abideth ever. (St. Gregory of Pontus, the Wonder-Worker: A DECLARATION OF FAITH. translated by S. Salmond, 1871. http://www.voskrese.info/spl/thaumcreed.html last accessed 02/29/20).

Notice that it mentions "a Perfect Trinity" even though the 'trinity' did not get placed into a formally-accepted creed before 380 A.D.

The Oldest Known "Apostles' Creed" is Often Called the Old Roman Form

Gregory's creed was not considered to be accepted widespread and generally is not considered to be the original creed:

The oldest extant version comes from Bishop Marcellus of Ancyra (ca. A.D. 337), and it does not contain the clause about descending into hell. Scholars call this version “The Old Roman Form”—the earliest creed of the Roman church.

Apparently the clause first appeared in the East with Sirmium’s fourth formula in 359—also called the “Dated Creed”— though the Eastern church rejected it as tinged with Arianism. The first mention of the descent in the West occurs in the writings of Rufinus of Aquileia, who included it in his baptismal creed around 400. Over time, the Latin church appropriated it as well, officially integrating it into the Creed in 750. https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/was-phrase-he-descended-into-hell-always-part-of-apostles.html

Notice some information about what may be the earliest known creed:

The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest creed, and lies at the basis of most others. Though not, as the long-current legend of its origin affirmed, the direct work of the Apostles, it has its roots in apostolic times, and embodies, with much fidelity, apostolic teaching...

The creed exists in two forms — a shorter and a longer; the former, known as the Old Roman Form, going back certainly as early as the middle of the 2nd century (about 140 AD), the latter, the enlarged form, in its present shape, of much later date...

We have it in both its Greek and Latin forms (the Greek being probably the original). The Latin form is given by Rufinus about 390 AD...The Greek form is preserved by Marcellus, of Ancyra,in the 4th century. The old shorter form of the creed long maintained itself. We find it in England, e.g. up to nearly the time of the Norman Conquest (in 8th or 9th century manuscripts in British Museum)...

We have accounts given us of its contents (besides the Old Roman Form) in Irenaeus, Tertullian, Novatian, Origen, etc.; and they show substantial unity with a certain freedom of form in expression. But the form in the Roman church came gradually to be the recognized type.

(Orr J. The Apostle's Creed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol. 1. Original by 1923. Kindle Version viewed 07/21/11)

Notice that the above refers to the oldest creed as the old Roman Form. It should be mentioned that specific creeds are not part of Irenaeus' or the early writer's documents--but there are statements in the early creeds that may have come from them as well as a few more directly from the Bible. Whether it was “Roman” or not can be debated as its statements seem to come from either the Bible or writings of those who were NOT based in Rome such as the Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian of Carthage, Novatian the “antipope,” Marcellus of Ancyra, and Origen of Alexandria (its origins really do not seem to be from Rome). But what is clear is that the creed that most hold to was changed and did not come directly from the Apostles (and parts of it actually contradict apostolic and biblical teachings).

Many scholars consider the "Old Roman Form" the earliest known form of the creed, and that it may have came from the second century. It was put together in the fourth century by Marcellus, Bishop of Anycra (now more commonly spelled Ankara) who is considered to have been Greek or Eastern Orthodox:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty. And in Jesus Christ His only (begotten) Son our Lord, who was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary; crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father, from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost; the holy Church; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; (the life everlasting).”

The last clause is omitted in the Latin form preserved by Rufinus, 390 AD. (Orr J. The Apostle's Creed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol. 1. Original by 1923. Kindle Version viewed 07/21/11)

Notice that this is a much shorter than the version now used by the Eastern Orthodox.

Now some have added numbers to the oldest statement and thus have shown the earliest creed (essentially as understood from Marcellus) translated from the Greek as follows:

    1. I believe in God almighty
    2. And in Christ Jesus His only son our Lord
    3. Who was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary
    4. Who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried
    5. And the third day rose from the dead
    6. Who ascended into heaven
    7. And sitteth on the right hand of the Father
    8. Whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead
    9. And in the Holy Ghost
    10. The holy church
    11. The forgiveness of sins
    12. The resurrection of the body
    13. The life everlasting. [Ruf. omits] (Bettenson H, Maunder C. Documents of the Early Church. Oxford University Press, 1943, 1999, p. 26)

The article in The Catholic Encyclopedia does not mention the Orthodox Bishop Marcellus’s role, possibly because he was a Semi-Arian that reported some of the truth about the origin of the Greco-Roman doctrine of the trinity.  Many Orthodox bishops held a binitarian (often referred to as Semi-Arian) view of the Godhead. Instead, it does mention Rufinus who put his version together after Marcellus after consulting with a church in Aquileia.   His creed was almost identical to the one reported by Marcellus except it left off the 13th item.

It may be that Rufinus who preserved a version of the above in Latin form dropped the last statement to make it have twelve statements (and perhaps that is why some later started the legend that each of the Apostles stated one line each). Here is his version as shown in The Catholic Encyclopedia:

(1) I believe in God the Father Almighty;  
(2) And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;  
(3) Who was born of (de) the Holy Ghost and of (ex) the Virgin Mary;  
(4) Crucified under Pontius Pilate and buried;  
(5) The third day He rose again from the dead,  
(6) He ascended into Heaven,  
(7) Sitteth at the right hand of the Father,  
(8) Whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.  
(9) And in the Holy Ghost,  
(10) The Holy Church,  
(11) The forgiveness of sins;  
(12) The resurrection of the body.

(Thurston, Herbert. "Apostles' Creed." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 21 Jul. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm>)

Neither then Greek or Latin form originally use the expression "Catholic Church" nor did either define the personhood of the Holy Spirit. While I doubt that the original apostles collectively came up with a twelve or thirteen point creed that was not so directly listed in the Bible, none of the thirteen statements directly contradicts scripture nor particularly adds to scripture.

The same cannot be said of the Nicene Creed, which was the result of compromise and councils called by unconverted Roman emperors.

About 100 years ago, The Catholic Encyclopedia put together three versions of the creed from three different writings from Tertullian (c. 200A.D.):

De Virg. Vel., 1 Against Praxeas 2 De Praecept., 13 and 26
(1) Believing in one God Almighty, maker of the world, (1) We believe one only God, (1) I believe in one God, maker of the world,
(2) and His Son, Jesus Christ, (2) and the son of God Jesus Christ, (2) the Word, called His Son, Jesus Christ,
(3) born of the Virgin Mary, (3) born of the Virgin, (3) by the Spirit and power of God the Father made flesh in Mary's womb, and born of her
(4) crucified under Pontius Pilate, (4) Him suffered died, and buried, (4) fastened to a cross.
(5) on the third day brought to life from the dead, (5) brought back to life, (5) He rose the third day,
(6) received in heaven, (6) taken again into heaven, (6) was caught up into heaven,
(7) sitting now at the right hand of the Father, (7) sits at the right hand of the Father, (7) set at the right hand of the Father,
(8) will come to judge the living and the dead (8) will come to judge the living and the dead (8) will come with glory to take the good into life eternal, and condemn the wicked to perpetual fire,
(9) who has sent from the Father the Holy Ghost. (9) sent the vicarious power of His Holy Spirit,
(10) to govern believers (In this passage articles 9 and 10 precede 8)
(12) through resurrection of the flesh. (12) restoration of the flesh.

(Thurston, Herbert. "Apostles' Creed." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 21 Jul. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm>)

It is important to understand that the above statements are NOT writing together in a creed form but are somewhat interspersed in the referenced letters of Tertullian. Some believe that people such as Marcellus and Rufinus used Tertullian as a source for their wordings of the creeds.

Antioch 'Creeds'

The following is claimed to be the Creed of Lucian of Antioch (it surfaced a couple of decades after he was martyred—if he were alive and the writer, it may be the oldest written creed):

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty; And in the Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, who was begotten of him before all ages, the Divine Logos, through whom all things were made, both those in the heavens and those on the earth; who came down and was made flesh; and suffered; and rose again; and ascended to the heavens; and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost; and in the resurrection of the flesh; and in the life of the world to come; and in a kingdom of heaven; and in one Catholic Church of God which extends to the ends of the earth. (Schaff P. The Creeds of Christendom: The Greek and Latin creeds, with translations, Volume II. Harper and Brothers, 1877, pp. 28-29)

Note: The original Greek text, καθολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, does not separately capitalize ‘Catholic Church.’ Yet it is interesting that it refers to the catholic church of God.

Lucian of Antioch was not in communion with the Greco-Roman bishops of Antioch, and yet is considered a saint by the Greco-Romans. Although there are contradictory reports about him and his theology (like him supposedly reconciling with the area’s Greco-Roman Bishop while still reportedly maintaining his binitarianism, Sabbath-keeping, biblical literalism, etc.), he looks to probably have been a COG leader--and he was binitarian/Semi-Arian. If so, Lucian may be one who held the succession mantle from about 275 through his martyrdom in 312.

Prior to the Council of Nicea, towards the beginning of the year 325 A.D., there was a synod or council of Antioch. While it did not put forth a 'creed' per se, it did declare the following:

(8.) This faith has been set down by spiritual men; those who ought not be considered as living or reasoning according to the flesh, because they have been trained by the Spirit in the holy Scriptures found in God-breathed books.

Our faith is as follows:

To believe in one God, Father, almighty, incomprehensible, unchangeable and unalterable, administrator and governor of all, just, good, maker of heaven and earth, and all that is in them, the Lord of the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament. (9.) And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, begotten not from nothing, but from the Father; not made, but a genuine offspring. He was begotten inexpressibly and unspeakably, because only the Father who begot and the Son who was begotten know it, “for no one knows the Father except the Son, or the Son except the Father” [Matt 11:27]. (10.) He always exists and never before did he not exist, for we have been taught from the holy Scriptures that he alone is God’s image. He is not unbegotten, for he is clearly begotten of the Father. This status has not been placed upon him; in fact, it would be godless blasphemy to say so. But the scriptures say that he is the real and truly begotten Son, so we believe him to be unchangeable and unalterable. He has not been begotten or come into being merely by the Father’s will, nor has this status been placed upon him, which would make him appear to be from nothing. But he was begotten as was fitting for him, not at all according to the impermissible idea that he resembles, is of similar nature to, or is associated with any of the things that came into existence through him. (11.) But, because this transcends all thought, conception, and expression, we simply confess that he has been begotten from the unbegotten Father, God the Word, true Light, righteousness, Jesus Christ, Lord of all and Savior. He is the image not of the will or of anything else except the actual being (hypostasis*) of the Father. This one, the Son, God the Word, was also born in the flesh from Mary the Mother of God and was made flesh. After suffering and dying, he rose from the dead and was taken into heaven, and he sits at the right hand of the Majesty of the Most High. He is coming to judge the living and the dead. (12.) Just as the holy writings teach us to believe in our Savior, so also they teach us to believe in one Spirit, one catholic church, the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment which will pay back to each man according to what he has done in the flesh, whether good or evil. (13.) We anathematize those who say or think or proclaim that the Son of God is a creation (ktisma); has come into being (genētos), or was made (poiētos), or was not truly begotten; or that there was a time when he did not exist (for we believe that he was and that he is Light); still also those who think he is unchangeable only by his free will [i.e., not according to his essence], as with those who think he did not exist before he was begotten and that he is not unchanging by his nature as the Father is. He has been proclaimed as the Father’s image in every respect, especially in this respect, that he does not change.

(14.) This faith was put forth, and indeed the entire holy synod consented and confessed that this is the apostolic teaching which alone is able to save. All the fellow-ministers have the same understanding about these issues. Only Theodotus of the Laodicean church, Narcissus of the church in Neronia, and Eusebius from the church in Caesarea of Palestine have appeared together and brought forward ideas contrary to those expressed here, as if they have forgotten the holy Scriptures and the apostolic teachings (though indeed they have attempted to shiftily escape notice and hide their deceptions with false, though persuasive-sounding arguments). In fact, from what they were asked and what they asked in turn, they clearly were proven to agree completely with Arius’ party, and to hold opinions contrary to what was established by our synod. For this reason, that their hearts are so hardened, and that they have no regard for the holy synod which rejected and disapproved of their ideas in these matters, we all fellow-ministers in the synod have ruled not to practice fellowship with these men, not to consider them worthy of fellowship, since their faith is something other than that of the catholic church. (15.) So that you might know of this, we write to you, so that you too can be on guard against having fellowship with these men, and that you may not write to them or receive letters of fellowship from them. You should also know this, that on account of our great brotherly love, we of the synod have established a place for them to repent and recognize the truth: the magnificent and sacred synod to be held at Ancyra. So encourage all the like minded brothers to spread this message, so that they also will be able to know the facts about these men, how some have been removed from the church and are not in agreement with her.

Greet all the brothers who are with you and in the surrounding area. The brothers here who are with us greet you in the Lord. (Letter of the Synod of Antioch, 325 A.D. Translation from the Greek reconstruction of Schwartz by AJW. http://www.fourthcentury.com/urkunde-18/ accessed 10/21/15)

Parts of the above seem to have made it into the Nicene creed. But it should be noted that the above 'creed' was not trinitarian as most of the Greco-Roman clergy was not trinitarian at that time.

The reality is that the two contenders for the oldest 'creed' were reportedly written by people with binitarian views/ties.

Constantinople 'Creed'

What is believed to have been the first 'creed' used by a church in Constantinople was a renunciation that Nazarenes who converted to the Greco-Roman Catholic/Orthodox faith were required to state:

I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads & sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, sanctifications and propitiations and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants and observances and Synagogues, and the food and drink of the Hebrews; in one word, I renounce everything Jewish, every law, rite and custom and if afterwards I shall wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating with the Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning their vain faith, then let the trembling of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable. And may I be anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils. (Dag S. The TRUE Disciples of the Modern Age. Ministries for YHVH, 2012, pp. 11-12)

It has been claimed that this came out of the original Council of Nicea (ibid, p. 11). Of course, early faithful Christians kept the Sabbath, Days of Unleavened Bread?, and the biblical Holy Days (see Should You Keep God's Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).

The History of the Received Form of the Creed is Obscure

Here is information on the so-called "Received Creed" (essentially the later version that the Catholics and some Protestants use):

The Received Creed:

The Received Form of the creed has a much more obscure history. The additional clauses came in at different times, though in themselves some of them are very old. The addition to the first article, e.g. “Maker of heaven and earth,” first appears in this form in Gaul about 650 AD, though similar forms are found in much older creeds. Another addition, “He descended into hell,” meets us first in Rufinus as part of the creed of Aquileia, but is probably also old in that church. It is known that the creed had assumed nearly its present shape (perhaps without the above clauses, and that on the communion of saints) by the time of Faustus of Reiz, about 460 AD. Thence it spread, and had reached Ireland apparently before the end of the 7th century. In England it appears a century later, about 850 AD (from the court of Charlemagne?), and from the beginning of the 10th century it largely superseded the older from. The same applies to other countries, so that the Gallican form is now the one in common use. Two significant changes may be noted in the form given to it. In England, whose form we follow, the Reformers substituted for “the resurrection of the flesh” the words, “the resurrection of the body,” and in Germany the Lutherans change the word “catholic” to “Christian,” in “the holy catholic Church.” (Orr J. The Apostle's Creed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol. 1. Original by 1923. Kindle Version viewed 07/21/11)

Anyway, the above creed versions are also not original. The apostate Athanasius is said to have been a factor in developing the Athanasian Creed. Here is how an English translation of it begins:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence.

Not only was this not original, it is unbiblical and the above certainly was not taught by any of the original apostles.

Furthermore, while some of the Eastern Orthodox point to their creed as original, even their leaders have recognized that there really was no such thing as an original apostles creed. At the Council of Florence (1438-45), the Eastern Orthodox rejected the Roman push to use the so-called Apostles' Creed. Marcus Eugenicus (Patriarch of Ephesus) said:

We do not possess and have never seen this creed of the Apostles. If it had ever existed, the book of Acts would have spoken of it in its description in the first apostolic synod in Jerusalem, to which you appeal. (Kelly JND. Early Christian Creeds, 3, revised, reprint. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006, p. 4)

And since there is not a version of what is (or are) commonly called the Apostles' Creed in the Book of Acts or any of the rest of the New Testament, there simply is not an original Apostles' Creed that came from the apostles.

Why Care About the Creeds?

Why devote any time to the matter of a creed that was not likely from the apostles?

Well, the first purpose is to show most of those who insist that their creed is original or the work of the apostles that they are in error.

A second purpose is to help establish the fact is that the oldest known creeds are not trinitarian.

A third purpose is to help educate people in the future who might once again persecute those who do not accept a "non-original" creed as heretics and apostates.

Another reason is that a movie sequel has brought the subject up to more people (see Passion of the Christ sequel, descent, and the Apostles’ Creed?).

While creeds or other official statements of beliefs can have value, the fact is that there is no proof that any (other than statements in them that are direct quotes from scripture) were original with the apostles. The only universally-accepted writings that exist from the original apostles are those shown in the Holy Bible.

Although we in the CCOG do not have a creed per se, you can check out the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God which helps show how we understand many aspects of scripture.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Bible is to be the source of doctrine.

Consider that Polycarp of Smyrna, considered a saint by the Greco-Romans and the Church of God wrote:

For I trust that ye are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures (Polycarp, Chapter XII. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Yes, true Christian beliefs come from the Bible. A read of the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God shows that ours do.

Traditions about creeds/statements of faith/statements of belief may be possibly helpful in certain circumstances. However, if they do not square with sacred scripture, they should never be considered superior to it.

Here is a link to a related video: The Original Apostle's Creed?

Thiel B. What Was the Original Apostles' Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? www.cogwriter.com/original-apostles-creed.htm 2011/2012/2013/2014/2015/2018/2019/2020/2021 1/2022 1115

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church: Could a remnant group have continuing apostolic succession? Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs. Here is a link to that book in the Spanish language: Creencias de la iglesia Católica original.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they? A related sermon is titled Tradition and Scripture.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?
Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a verdadeira igreja do deus?
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are? Here is a link to a related sermon: Eastern Orthodox 40+ Similar Beliefs to the CCOG.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences. These sermons also cover materials not in the book. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes].
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.


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