The Apostles' Creed is the oldest creed, and lies at the basis of most others. Though not, as the 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.
It had an important place in the early church, when as yet no creed but itself existed. The oldest usage of the term "Rule of Faith" (regula fidei), now commonly given to the Scriptures, has reference to this creed. It was the creed that could be appealed to as held by the church in all its great branches, and so as forming the test of catholicity.
It was as resting on this creed that the church could be called "catholic [i.e. 'universal'] and apostolic" (James Orr, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915 public domain edition).
The Apostles' Creed
- I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker 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, dead and buried*
- The third day he rose again from the dead
- He ascended into heaven, and sitteth 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 Spirit
- the holy catholic* church
- the communion of saints
- the forgiveness of sins
- the resurrection of the body
- and the life everlasting
*None of the earliest versions of the Apostles' Creed contain the controversial line "He descended into hell." (Click here for further info.)
*The word "catholic" simply means "universal." It is not to be confused with the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, all Christians—i.e., those who in repentanceLuke 24:47 and faith embrace Christ alone—can freely recite The Apostles' Creed in good conscience.