Make your own free website on Tripod.com
The Creed
Introduction 
Technically stated, the Nicene Creed is the "Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed" because it was put together at the two cities of Nicea and Constantinople.  However, the Constantinople part is much shorter than the main, Nicene part of the Creed, so it is usually referred to simply as the Nicene Creed.
The Creed has its origins in the First Ecumenical Council of 325 A.D., which was convened in the city of Nicea by Emperor Constantine the Great, who legalized Christianity.  He convened the Council to settle a great theological controversy which was ravaging the Church.  The heresy of Arianism -- named after its chief advocate, a priest named Arius -- was gaining in popularity.  Arius postulated that Jesus was not divine by nature and was the first created thing, but that Jesus was created superior to all other created things.
The Nicene Creed, not really a new and creative document of doctrine, was actually based on other, preexistent baptismal creeds in use at the time.
The first part of the Creed discusses God the Father.  This sets the context for the discussion of Jesus in the second part of the Creed.
The Father 
I believe in one God,
Deut. 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.
the Father almighty,
3 Maccabees 5:7 Because in their bonds they were forcibly confined on every side. But with tears and a voice hard to silence they all called upon the Almighty Lord and Ruler of all power, their merciful God and Father, praying.
2 Corinthians 11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed for ever...
Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself."
Jesus Christ 
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
John 20:28-29 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Philippians 2:11 Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages.
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Psalm 2:7 I will tell of the decree of the LORD (YHWH): He said to me, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You."
John 1:1-2,18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God... No one has seen God at any time. The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Light from Light;
John 1:7-9 [John the Baptist] came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light the true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
true God from true God;
John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
begotten, not made;
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
of one essence with the Father;
?!
The term "of one essence" (in Greek, homoousion [omoousion]), does not occur in the Bible.  At the Council of Nicea, Osius of Cordova, Spain who was also Emperor Constantine's theological advisor, first suggested it.  There were great objections to the phrase being included in the Creed because, unlike all the other descriptions, this was not taken directly from Scripture.  Many Orthodox-minded Christians agreed with the theology and recognizing that it simply restated what had been said in the preceeding clauses.  However, because of the inclusion of this one non-scriptural word, they were initially reluctant to accept the Creed.  However, they came to accept it in order to safely affirm that Jesus was truly divine, convinced that it was necessary in the face of Arius' assult.
Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt, pointed out that if Jesus were not divine, even by taking on our human nature He could not redeem us from our sinful human condition.  Jesus would not have been able to unite us to God unless He Himself were united to God by His own nature.  Simply put, a creature cannot offer to a fellow creature, communion with God ; only the Divine can offer communion with His saving divinity.
Also, the exact same phrase, "of one essence," is used in the ancient Orthodox Liturgies immediately before the recitation of the Creed: Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence and undivided.
through whom (Greek: di hou [di ou]) all things were made;
John 1:2-3 He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
Also, in Genesis' creation account, God spoke (His Word), and creation happened, "and God said, …and it was so…"
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
who for us men (Greek: anthrõpous [anqtwpouj]) and for our salvation came down from heaven,
Isaiah 55:10-11 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not to that place but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
John 3:17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
John 8:23 [Jesus] said to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world."
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.
and became man.
Luke 24:39-40 "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."  When [Jesus] had said this, He showed them His hands and feet.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
1 John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.
And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
Mark 15:15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
and suffered,
Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed.
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.
and was buried.
Matthew 27:59-60 And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed.
And the third day He rose again,
Acts 10:40 But God raised Him on the third day and made Him manifest.
according to the Scriptures,
"Scriptures" here refers to the Old Testament, not the New.
Psalm 16:10 For You will not leave my soul in Hades [the realm of death], or let Your holy one see [undergo] corruption.
Hosea 6:2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
Hosea 13:14 O Death, where is your sting?  O Hell, where is your victory?
Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.
and ascended into heaven,
The words for "heaven" and "sky" are one-in-the-same word in Greek (ouranos [ouranoj]) and in Hebrew (shamayim [~ymV]).  There is no distinction.
Acts 1:9-11 And when [Jesus] had said this, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?"
and sits at the right  hand of the Father;
In Biblical usage, the right hand is the proverbial and symbolic hand of action, power, and victory.  To be at someone's right hand is to be in their of confidence, protection, and authority.  (E.g. Exodus 15:6,12; Psalm 110:1.)
Mark 16:19 So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 8:1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, One who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.
and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead;
Acts 1:11 And [the two men in white robes] said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven."
1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first;  then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.  
Matthew 25:31-33 When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then he will sit on His glorious throne.  Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at His right hand, but the goats at the left.
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom…
whose Kingdom shall have no end.
Luke 1:30-31,33 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.…  And He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there will be no end.
2 Peter 1:11 So there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Part Two 
The Council of Constantinople was convened in 381 A.D. by Emperor Theodosius I to unite the Church under the theology of the Nicene Creed after the turmoil caused by the Arians.  150 true-believing bishops, and 36 bishops who rejected the divinity of the Holy Spirit, attended the Council.  The latter 36, referred to as "warriors against the Spirit," left the Council early.  
No bishops or legates from Rome or the West attended, yet the Council proved so important that the whole Church considered it valid and universally applicable, thus affirming it as the Second Ecumenical Council.  
This Council amended the Nicene Creed with a discussion on the Holy Spirit, the Church, Baptism, and the End.
The Holy Spirit 
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,
Matthew 1:20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."
1 Corinthians 6:11 But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
the Giver of Life,
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
Romans 8:10-11 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
2 Corinthians 3:6 ...Not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
who proceeds from the Father;
John 15:26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness to Me.
(On the insertion of the clause, "and the son" (Latin: filioque), see below.)
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
1 John 5:8 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
who spoke by the prophets.
Zechariah 7:12 Hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets.
2 Peter 1:21  No prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
The Church 
In
We believe "in" the Church -- not just have beliefs about the Church -- because the Church is the divine "Body of Christ."  So, our belief in Christ is also belief in the Church as His Body, of which He is the head.  (See what follows for specifically relevant scriptural quotes.)
one
Romans 12:5 So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you [plural] are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
Ephesians 1:22-23 And [God] has put all things under [Jesus'] feet and has made Him the head over all things for the Church, which is His Body.
holy,
Holy means "set apart from what is common; consecrated for God's use."
2 Corinthians 6:16-17 For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people [Ezekiel 37:27]." Therefore "come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you [Isaiah 52:11]."
Ephesians 2:25-27 Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
catholic,
Catholic means "full, whole, complete, in tact."  The word comes from the Greek kata (kata) [meaning "according to"] + holos (oloj) [meaning "complete"].  (It later took on the meaning of "universal," but that is neither the original, nor creedal definition.)
Ephesians 1:22-23 The Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Colossians 2:9-10 For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
and apostolic
Apostolic means "sent with a mission" to accomplish something.  The Greek word is apostolikên: apo (apo) [from] + stellõ (stellw) [send].  The Church, like the 12 Apostles themselves, has the mission to go into the world and bring Christ to those still in darkness.  (The word is not in the Creed to say that the Church was started by the Apostles and is their posterity.)
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
John 20:21-22 [The risen] Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
Church
Church means "an assembly, or congregation of people."  The Greek word is ekklesia: ek (ek) [out of, out from] + kaleõ (kalew) [to call].)  Here it is the saints, the faithful, having been called out from the world.
Matthew 16:15-18 [Jesus] said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it."
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.
Baptism 
I acknowledge one baptism
As shown in Acts 19:1-7, this "one baptism" is necessarily a baptism of Trinitarian theology.  (Also, see Apostolic era practice of Baptism in the Didache.)
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Ephesians 4:4-5 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Colossians 2:12 And you were buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
for the forgiveness of sins.
The following citations from Matthew and Luke discuss preaching the Resurrection to all nations.  Matthew links this with "baptizing" and Luke links it with "repentance and forgiveness of sins."  They establish a parallel where remission is equated to Baptism.
Matthew 28:19 [Jesus said] "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Luke 24:46-47 And [Jesus] said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."
The End 
I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.
Isaiah 26:18 Your dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and on the land of the shades you will let it fall.
John 5:28-29 [Jesus said] "The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His [i.e., the Son's] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."
Ezekiel 37:1-14 tells of the valley of dry bones that are raised by God.
The "age" to come is from the Greek word aiõnos (aiwnoj), sometimes translated as "world" which is metaphorical.  The Creed does not speak of another creation:
Genesis 8:21 The LORD said in His heart, "I will never again curse the ground… neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done."
Psalm 93:1 The world is established; it shall never be moved.
2 Peter 3:10-13 The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. …The heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to His promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
The Filioque Clause 
"The Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father" is the original and Orthodox reading.  In the Western Churches, this was changed to conclude "…who proceeds from the Father and the Son," which in Latin is filioque.  It was inserted into the Creed at a local Council in Toledo, Spain in 589 A.D. after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  
The Roman province of Spain had been conquered by the Visigoths, who subscribed to the Arian belief that Christ was not the divine Son of God and that the Holy Spirit also was not divine.  
At the Toledo council, Spain's Visigoth King, Recared, renounced Arianism and adopted the Nicene Creed with this change.  In so doing, he normalized the use of the altered version in his kingdom.  
In the following centuries, Spanish tutors became important educators of Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire's Frankish elite. They brought this altered version of the Creed with them into central Europe.
Around the year 800 the altered Creed started to be chanted during the Mass in the Holy Roman Empire. In 807 A.D. Frankish monks in Jerusalem started to use it.  The (Orthodox) monks of St. Sabas monastery in Jerusalem were scandalized and the matter was referred to Saint Leo III, Pope of Rome.  He tried to suppress the filioque (while personally accepting the theology of it).  His opposition to such an alteration of the Creed was strong enough that he had the Creed as originally written, sans filioque, engraved on two silver tablets and placed on St. Peter's tomb.  However, the altered Creed continued to be used.
In 864 A.D., Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, condemned the filioque insertion.  His formal objections have been maintained by Orthodox Christians ever since.  Nevertheless, the altered version of the Creed continued to be said at the Mass and, sometime after 1000 A.D. it was adopted in Rome, likely under Pope Sylvester II (999-1003) who had been a tutor to, and was appointed by, Emperor Otto III.
Back to top
Extensive Scripture References 
Exodus 15:6,12  Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces.... You stretched out Your right hand; The earth swallowed them.
Psalm 110:1  The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." (Back to the "right hand" discussion.)
Acts 19:1-7  1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." 4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.  7 Now the men were about twelve in all. (Back to the Baptism discussion.)
Ezekiel 37:1-14  1 The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know." 4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD." ' " 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. 9 Also He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." ' " 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. 11 Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' 12 "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 "Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 "I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.' " (Back to The End discussion.)
Back to Top
© 2002 Orthodox Christian Clergy Association and/or Orthodox Christian Synergy. All rights reserved. All textual information (aside from Scripture) is copyrighted.  Images, web gems, etc. may be exempt from the OCCA/Synergy copyright, but may be protected otherwise.  





























THE WEBMASTER HAS NO CONTOROL OVER THE ADVERTISEMENTS THAT APPEAR BELOW.