The Apostles' Creed

The rich variety of views about Jesus presented in early Christian writings, including the Scriptures, led to many debates over what precisely it was that Christians were called upon to believe. The following creed, or statement of faith, summarizes what came to be viewed as the essentials, and is recited frequently in many Christian churches even today.

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 Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; (1) the third day he rose 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 (2) and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; (3) the holy Catholic Church; (4) the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, (6) and the life everlasting. Amen.

Translated by Philip Schaff

(1) This refers to the belief that upon his death by crucifixion, Jesus descended to the underworld to free the good Jews who had been languishing there and take them to heaven. In the Middle Ages, this was a very popular scene in religious dramas, but it has been largely forgotten today, partly because it has no Biblical basis.

(2) Living: people still alive at the Last Judgment.

(3) Archaic language for the Holy Spirit.

(4) Catholic originally meant simply universal, and eventually came to mean orthodox.

(5) Refers to the community of early Christian martyrs and leaders in Heaven.

(6) Aimed at certain early groups who argued that only the soul was resurrected and the body left behind. Paul argues that a special, perfected heavenly body is resurrected in place of the old, imperfect flesh.

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This is an excerpt from Reading About the World, Volume 1, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by Harcourt Brace Custom Publishing.

The reader was created for use in the World Civilization course at Washington State University, but material on this page may be used for educational purposes by permission of the editor-in-chief:

Paul Brians
Department of English
Washington State University
Pullman 99164-5020

Reading About the World is now out of print. You can search for used copies using the following information:Paul Brians, et al. Reading About the World, Vol. 1, 3rd edition, Harcourt Brace College Publishing: ISBN 0-15-567425-0 or Paul Brians, et al. Reading About the World, Vol. 2, 3rd edition, Harcourt Brace College Publishing: ISBN 0-15-512826-4.

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