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The Apostles Creed

By the middle of the second century there were current in the Church brief
confessions of faith which had already been in use from a time in the
remoter past as summaries of the apostolic faith. They were naturally
attributed to the Apostles themselves, although they seem to have varied
in many details. They were used principally in baptism, and were long kept
secret from the catechumen until just before that rite was administered.
They are preserved only in paraphrase, and can be reconstructed only by a
careful comparison of many texts.

Additional source material: See Hahn, Bibliothek der Symbole und
Glaubensregeln der allen Kirche, third ed., Breslau, 1897; cf.
Mirbt, n. 16, 16 a.

(a) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., 1, 10. (MSG, 7:549 f.)

For Irenaeus, v. supra, 3, a.

The Church, though dispersed through the whole world to the ends of the
earth, has received from the Apostles and their disciples the faith: In
one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven and the earth and the
seas, and all that in them is; And in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God,
who was incarnate for our salvation; And in the Holy Ghost, who through
the prophets preached the dispensations and the advents, and the birth
from the Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and
the bodily assumption into the heavens of the beloved Christ Jesus our
Lord, and His appearing from the heavens in the glory of the Father, in
order to sum up all things under one head [cf. Ephes. 1:10], and to
raise up all flesh of all mankind, that to Christ Jesus, our Lord and God
and Saviour and King, every knee of those that are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth should bow [cf. Phil. 2:11], according to the good
pleasure of the Father invisible, and that every tongue should confess
Him, and that He may execute righteous judgment on all; sending into
eternal fire the spiritual powers of wickedness and the angels who
transgressed and apostatized, and the godless and unrighteous and lawless
and blasphemous among men, but granting life and immortality and eternal
glory to the righteous and holy, who have both kept the commandments and
continued in His love, some from the beginning, some from their

(b) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., III, 4. (MSG, 7:855.)

The following form of the creed more closely resembles the
traditional Apostles' Creed. With it compare the paraphrase in
Irenaeus. op. cit., IV, 33:7.

If the Apostles had not left us the Scriptures, would it not be necessary
to follow the order of tradition which they handed down to those to whom
they committed the churches? To this order many nations of the barbarians
gave assent, of those who believe in Christ, having salvation written in
their hearts by the Spirit without paper and ink, and guarding diligently
the ancient tradition: Believing in one God, Maker of heaven and earth,
and all that is in them; through Jesus Christ, the Son of God; who,
because of His astounding love toward His creatures, sustained the birth
of the Virgin, Himself uniting man to God, and suffered under Pontius
Pilate, and rising again was received in brightness, and shall come again
in glory as the Saviour of those who are saved and the judge of those who
are judged, and sending into eternal fire the perverters of the truth and
despisers of His Father and His coming.

(c) Tertullian, De Virginibus Velandis, 1. (MSL, 2:937).

Tertullian gives various paraphrases of the creed. The three most
important are the following and d, e. The date of the work De
Virginibus Velandis is about 211, and belongs to his Montanist

The Rule of Faith is altogether one, sole, immovable, and
irreformable--namely, of believing in one God the Almighty, the Maker of
the world; and His Son, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified
under Pontius Pilate, on the third day raised again from the dead,
received in the heavens, sitting now at the right hand of the Father,
coming to judge the quick and the dead, also through the resurrection of
the flesh.(53)

(d) Tertullian, Adv. Praxean, 2. (MSL, 2:156.)

The work of Tertullian against Praxeas is one of his latest works,
and is especially important as developing the doctrine of the
Trinity as opposed to the Patripassianism of Praxeas. To this
theory of Praxeas, Tertullian refers in the opening sentence of
the following extract, quoting the position of Praxeas. See below,
40, b.

"Therefore after a time the Father was born, and the Father suffered, He
himself God, the omnipotent Lord, Jesus Christ was preached." But as for
us always, and now more, as better instructed by the Paraclete, the Leader
into all truth: We believe one God; but under this dispensation which we
call the economy there is the Son of the only God, his Word [Sermo] who
proceeded from Him, through whom all things were made, and without whom
nothing was made. This One was sent by the Father into the Virgin, and was
born of her, Man and God, the Son of Man and the Son of God, and called
Jesus Christ; He suffered, He died and was buried, according to the
Scriptures; and raised again by the Father, and taken up into the heavens,
and He sits at the right hand of the Father; He shall come again to judge
the quick and the dead: and He thence did send, according to His promise,
from the Father, the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, the Sanctifier of the
faith of those who believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.
That this rule has come down from the beginning, even before any of the
earlier heresies, much more before Praxeas, who is of yesterday, the
lateness of date of all heresies proves, as also the novelties of Praxeas,
a pretender of yesterday.

(e) Tertullian, De Praescriptione, 13. (MSL, 2:30.)

The Rule of Faith is namely, that by which it is believed: That there is
only one God, and no other besides the Maker of the world, who produced
the universe out of nothing, through His Word [Verbum], sent forth first
of all; that this Word, called His Son, was seen in the name of God in
various ways by the patriarchs, and always heard in the prophets, at last
was sent down from the Spirit and power of God the Father, into the Virgin
Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and born of her, lived as Jesus Christ;
that thereupon He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom
of the heavens; wrought miracles; was fastened to the cross; rose again
the third day; was caught up into the heavens; and sat down at the right
hand of the Father; He sent in His place the power of the Holy Ghost, to
lead the believers; He will come again with glory to take the saints into
the enjoyment of eternal life and the celestial promises, and to judge the
wicked with perpetual fire, with the restoration of the flesh.

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