We’ve been reciting the Nicene Creed in our worship services on Sunday mornings. The final form of the creed was written at the Council of Constantinople in 381. It is a confession of faith, which was the fruit of three centuries of the church’s worship of the Triune God revealed in Scripture. Some of the words and phrases sound strange to us. Why do we confess that the Son is “eternally begotten” or that he is “true God from true God”? Why do we confess that the church is “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic”? What do the words “catholic” and “apostolic” mean?
In order to better understand what we’re confessing week after week, I’m starting a new series of notes on the Nicene Creed. I want to consider the meaning and significance of key words and phrases in the creed, but I also want to consider why we have creeds and recite them in our worship.
For now, I encourage you to memorize the creed:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten from the Father, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of the same substance as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.