Of the three great Ecumenical Creeds of Christianity (Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed) the simplest, and at least in the Western Church, also the most widely accepted one is the Apostles’ Creed.
We can trace the Creeds' roots to Jesus himself. In their efforts to carry out the Savior's commission to “Baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28 :19,20), early Christians usually asked candidates for baptism to confess what they believed about the Holy Trinity.
The version we use for our English translations is a Latin text which appeared several hundred years after Christ. It is likely, however, that the apostles themselves composed a Greek creed which was very similar to that Latin text. Paul may have been referring to that very creed when he wrote to Timothy: "Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12).
We continue to use the Apostles' Creed with that same mindset: we are carrying out the command of Jesus to baptize and teach in the name of the Triune God, the gracious God who saves. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It is this saving name we confess in the Apostles' Creed.
More than any other Creed it speaks the simple language of the Bible and breathes the spirit of the Gospel. The Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed are commonly used in our worship services to confess our faith.
Lutherans have particular reason to hold this confession in highest esteem since Luther in his Small Catechism has given us an explanation of the Three Articles that is matchless both in form and content. Below you will find Luther’s explanation of the Three Articles of the Apostles’ Creed. Simply move your mouse over the text to read Luther's explanation of each Article of the Creed. If you are interested in a more detailed historical account of the Creed, please look here. If you have any questions or comments about this Creed or any doctrine of our church, please contact us.
I believe 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, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
What is an ecumenical creed?
In short, ecumenical means universal and a creed is a statement of beliefs. The Apostles' Creed, Nicence Creed, and Athanasian Creed confess the faith of the ecumenical (universal) Church: the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and Christ's work of redeeming the human race.
Lutherans do not accept the ecumenical creeds because they are ecumenical but because they teach what the Scriptures teach. They do not accept them because they were accepted by councils or other theologians but because they are true and useful statements of the truth.