You may wonder why we would want to do a preaching series on the Apostles’ Creed. There are many reasons, which I think will become clear as we journey through the series but let me simply state that the Apostles’ Creed offers us one of the best, basic summaries of historic, orthodox, Christian faith. Because of that that, it serves as a helpful guide for faith, life, and worship. Being compact, it is easy to remember and utilize.
Let’s get a little background on the Apostles’ Creed. Although some traditions say each phrase of this creed was written by one of the original apostles, this is not the case. The Apostles’ Creed was developed as a summary of the teaching of the apostles. Like other creeds, it was used at baptism for instruction in the faith, sometimes as a confession of belief declared as we do and other times as faith responses to questions asked before baptism.
The Apostles’ Creed as we have it today was developed from what is known as the Old Roman Creed from the 2nd century. With some slight revisions over time, it reached the form that we have it in today around 750.
As with all creeds, or statements of faith, the Apostles’ Creed developed in response to confusion about belief or false theology. It became widely used as a “rule of faith” within western Christianity in Europe around 800.
There are three main articles, or parts, of the Apostles’ Creed, which are structured around the three persons of the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The first article about the Father is succinct and to the point. The second article about Jesus the Son is longest, because when this creed was developed, the greatest debates focused on the nature and work of Jesus Christ. The third article on the Holy Spirit is short and connected to the life of the church.
Today, the Apostles’ Creed is widely used across most Christian denominations, at least in the Western Church, and is often held up as one of the three most important declarations of faith, along with the longer Nicene Creed and much-longer Athanasian Creed.