The original Apostles were not perfect men; however they were the only men that gave us perfect doctrine. It is not clear who wrote the Apostles’ Creed and when exactly the Apostle’s Creed was written; however, it is clear that, from the beginning, 1) Christian doctrine was under attack, 2) There was a need to teach foundational doctrine, and 3) A creed or creed-like statement was written to point out the foundation of the apostolic teachings.
In 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 Paul is dealing with the foundational issue of our faith, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” (NKJV) This demonic doctrine of denying Jesus’ resurrection was taught in churches. Can you believe that?
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 we see aspects of what could be considered a creed. In verse 3 specifically Paul stated, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received…” From here all the way to verse 7, these verses indeed have creed-like characteristics.
“…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 (NKJV)
The Apostles’ Creed
(About 50 years after the completion of the New Testament)
- I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
- And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
- Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
- Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and 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 thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
- I believe in the Holy Ghost:
- I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
- The forgiveness of sins:
1l. The resurrection of the body:
- And the life everlasting. Amen.
I am sure that, for a protestant, everything on this creed looks Biblically sound, however, the mention of the “catholic church” could lead to disagreement. However, the term “Catholic” simply means “Universal”. The first person to use this term was a Bishop by the name of Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius was a direct disciple of the Apostle John and the third Bishop of Antioch. Ignatius was not referring to a denomination. At that time, one hundred or so years after Christ, there was still one church. It was indeed his desire to keep it that way. Obviously, his letters, the creeds and everything else that have happened through church history were not enough to keep us as one.
We should not be following denominations and doctrines of men; we should be following the truth. I conclude that regardless of who wrote the creed and regardless of all the details we do not know, the creed is Biblically sound; it is indeed a powerful list of our belief as Christians.