I’m starting a new four part series over the coming weeks which will be looking at the different historical creeds of the Church which have been recited, used and handed down for two millennia, beginning with the very first formal creed: the Apostles Creed. This series will be a mixture of historical background plus a commentary on the creed itself to see where each statement is based in Scripture, and why we can trust them to accurately portray the Faith.

What are creeds and why should we accept them?

The word “creed” comes from the Old English crēda, and from Latin crēdo meaning “I believe”. A creed is basically a set of beliefs which you profess; a statement of faith. Many non-creedal (or non-denominational) churches have a ‘statement of faith’ on their websites to highlight and specify where they stand on certain doctrines – which is essentially just stating their own type of creed instead of listing an ancient and historically accepted one. Even those who declare “no creed but Christ”, or “I just believe the Bible”, are ironically making a creed, albeit a short one with no solid definition.

The Church has been declaring creeds for as long as it has existed, despite the sometimes common accusation that creeds are “unbiblical” or “non-biblical”; statements which couldn’t be further from the truth! Even in the Apostles time they were making statements of faith in short creedal formats, and a few of them are preserved in the New Testament, primarily in Paul's letters. One of the longer examples can be found in the first letter to the Corinthians, and has a similar form and wording to what came to be known as the Apostle’s Creed:

1 Corinthians 15:3-8
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to Cephas,
then to the Twelve.
Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one abnormally born,
He also appeared to me.

That places this creed well within the first 20-30 years after the crucifixion and resurrection, and is thus one of the earliest examples of orthodoxy and eye-witness accounts we have, possibly pre-dating the writing of the New Testament itself. The way Paul begins this passage with the “I passed on what I received” formula shows that this was an already existing set of established beliefs which were passed onto him, and which he now passes onto the Corinthians. Paul wasn’t just making this up, or summarising what he believed – no, this was, and is, a great example of the faith of the Early Church most likely passed around as oral history, which was handed to them by the eye-witness Apostles themselves. These creeds were eventually used in the daily liturgy and worship of the Church as part of baptisms and hymns, and were also expected to be committed to memory by new converts to the faith.

Another well-known example of what could be arguably a creed of sorts, is found in Galatians 3:28 which, upon further inspection, appears to contradict and oppose the more popular expressions and "blessings" that were used by Greeks and Jews of his day.

Contrast Paul's wording to the Galatians...

"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Apostle Paul, Gal 3:28)

With that of the Greek and Jewish sayings:

“There are three blessings for which I am grateful to fortune: First, that I was born a human being and not one of the brutes; Next, that I was born a man and not a woman; Thirdly, a Greek and not a barbarian” (A quote attributed to Socrates or Thales; Diogenes Laertius, Thales 1.33).

“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has not created me a woman.” (This appears as part of a sequence of blessings found in the Talmud, which men would recite in their morning prayers)

Advertisement

There’s also other examples of early New Testament creeds, of various lengths, which can be found in: 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Romans 1:3-4; 10:9; 1 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:8; and possibly the more well known one, in Philippians 2:6-11. I encourage you to look them up and read them all, as you’ll see that short, statement based clear expressions of doctrine and belief are intertwined with the Scriptures and life of the Church since the very start. Having more formalised versions just came out of an already existing practice and often had various reasons behind them being required. We’ll look more into those reasons as we carry on through this series and examine each creed in more detail.

The creeds I’ll be covering in the coming weeks will be:

Don’t forget to subscribe using the form below so that you don’t miss any updates!


Further reading:

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 713 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 119 subscribers today!

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

| 25th May 2020 | Hell

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

I know this is quite a divisive topic, and one you may have come across before (sometimes referred to as “Annihilationism”); and have been told outright that it’s “heresy” or false, or that it’s an emotional argument people want to believe because it ‘sounds nicer’ than the doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT). Or maybe you’ve never even heard of this before and you didn’t realise there were alternative interpretations and views on hell. Any discussion on “hell” is going to cover a lot of ground, and refer to many, many places throughout Scripture; so with that said, this will be a long one, so get comfy! I will do this in two parts as it will become too lengthy for one blog post. This article will just focus on the Scriptural basis for the position of Annihilationism, as opposed to ECT, but to begin with I’ll define some terms as words like “hell” have become quite loaded with extra and unbiblical meaning over the centuries. What is hell, anyway? If you read through the Old and New Testament in older translations like the KJV, you’ll see the word “hell” a lot more often than in more recent Bible translations, which will most likely transliterate the Greek words instead. Not all the words get this treatment, and some still get presented as the word hell in English, for example, the NIV and NRSV will convert the word Gehenna into “hell”, but keep the Greek word Hades as-is (see: Matt. 5:22; 11:23). The etymology of “hell” and its origins and how it became the word we know today in English, would take more time than I have space for here, but in short, there are three main Greek words which often get translated as the word “hell”, even though they are each different words with different underlying meanings: GehennaLiterally means “valley of Hinnom”, which is a place near Jerusalem where children were once sacrificed to Baal (see Jer. 19:5–6). Due to its history, it took on a more eschatological/spiritual meaning as a place of judgement and destruction. Hades (Sheol)This is the Greek form of the Hebrew Sheol found in the Old Testament, usually (and properly) translated as “grave”, or meaning the general place of the dead (similar to the place of the same name in Greek mythology). TartarusThis only appears once in the New Testament in 2 Peter 2:4 and is used in relation to the angels who sinned and were put in chains. Interestingly, it’s another word borrowed from Greek mythology, for the prison where the Titans were sent as punishment. If you are interested in how we got the word “hell” in our English language, and more importantly, into our Bibles, I highly recommend that you read this study: The Real Hell. A Case for Conditional Immortality (aka Annihilationism) We are often taught that our souls, human souls, are inherently immortal. But where does this idea come from, because it’s never actually stated in Scripture that this is so. This is an Hellenistic philosophical assumption brought into the text (mainly from Plato’s influence) which can taint our interpretations. If we look at 1 Timothy 6:16 we can see that it is God alone who is immortal: It is he [God] alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. Any other mention of immortality or eternal life is only ever spoken of as a gift given to us by Jesus, and is often contrasted with the alternative: death, perishing and/or destruction. Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:10…but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. John 10:28; 17:2I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. […] since you have given him authority over all people, ...

That Ancient Faith is Expanding!

| 11th May 2020 | General Interest

That Ancient Faith is Expanding!

EXCITING UPDATES! Just a quick update for you about a couple of new and exciting things I am offering now! Firstly, I have now launched a new range of faith-inspired clothing, which you can see some examples of in the image banner above. If you want to proclaim Christ and your faith via what you wear (especially in these dark times where churches are closed), head on over to: https://thatancientfaith.teemill.com     The second thing to mention, as you may gather from the logo above, is that I now have a YouTube channel! I have begun it by doing a read through of my book, 40 Days with the Fathers, through Lent, so you can listen to the whole book for free. I also plan to create videos discussing the topics I write about where I can go into things in more detail or explain some of the thinking behind the various topics which I can't always fit into the blogs. So if you enjoy watching things on YouTube, come on over and subscribe to my channel.   That's right: I have a new book in the works! It draws on some of the series and articles I've written on this site to do with Old Testament prophecy and its links into the New Testament, the Incarnation (briefly) and the Second Coming and what we have to look forward to (or worry about). Stay tuned for updates, I'll post some more information soon when there's something more solid to show. If you want to get some insider previews or maybe some advanced reading or snippets etc. then come on over to my Patreon and sign up. Members will get advanced access to any news and updates before anyone else, plus other bonuses! That's all for now, leave a comment if you have any queries or thoughts! ...

What are the Seraphim, and was the devil one of them?

| 23rd April 2020 | Angels

What are the Seraphim, and was the devil one of them?

Have you ever wondered about what the devil is — or was, pre-Fall? You’ve probably been told that he used to be an angel with God, so then why is he often described as a snake, serpent or dragon? Though there isn’t a great deal given away in Scripture as to the nature of angels, or the heavenly realms in general, we get some glimpses from the visions of the prophets. But what we can also look at is the words which the Bible uses; some of which aren’t translated and so lose their original meaning in English. The Seraphim The word “seraphim” is a transliteration of a Hebrew word, rather than a translation, so in English we often will miss the meaning the original hearers and readers would have understood that word to mean. A transliteration, for those unfamiliar with the term, simply means that a foreign word has been converted into its English equivalent of letters, rather than its meaning being used. A relevant example of this would be for the word “satan”. Although it’s come to be used as a name, it’s actually a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “adversary” (שָׂטָן). You can see a few examples of the word usage here as an adversary: 1 Samuel 29:4; 1 Kings 11:14 and as a name in Job 1:6 (The Adversary if translated). So what does seraphim mean if it were translated? Basically “fiery serpents”! The Hebrew word has obscure etymological roots related to burning (literally), which may explain why translators choose to transliterate rather than translate it. There are some links with the root word to Babylonian fire-gods and also in Egypt there are eagle-lion-shaped figures referred to as seref which is where we get our English term (and concept) for the “griffin” from. There’s also the possibility that “fiery snakes” is a reference to the venom in a bite, which has allusions to the “fiery darts” of the enemy in Eph 6:16 — though this could just be more about symbolism with Roman soldiers and their weapons than anything else. The seraphim are one of, if not the highest order of angelic beings, often depicted close to the throne of God singing praises. We first see them in Isaiah 6:2–3 and then briefly again in verses 6 and 7 where one puts a coal on Isaiah’s lips. Isaiah 6:2–3Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory.” As we see from Isaiah’s description of the seraphim, they have wings, faces and feet, and in verses six and seven, they must have hands of some sort to be able to hold tongues and give coal to Isaiah. We don’t really hear from the seraphim again until we get an inference in John’s Revelation, where they are called “living creatures” in a similar scene that Isaiah saw, described very much in the same way, except with the terrifying visual addition that they are covered in eyes: Revelation 4:8And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,“Holy, holy, holy,the Lord God the Almighty,who was and is and is to come.” That Ancient Serpent How does this all relate to the devil? As you probably know, one of the recurring themes for Satan in Scripture is that of a snake, serpent or dragon. The word used in Genesis 3 for the serpent isn’t the same as the word for seraphim — it uses the word nachash [נָחָשׁ] for serpent instead. But looking through the word usage between saraph and nachash the two can get translated in similar ways, though the latter word seems to get the most used, even in conjunction with “fiery serpents” as well as being translated as “fleeing serpents”, and it also has implications towards the Leviathan mentioned in Isaiah 27. Interestingly too, the word nachash also has insta...

Lent, Lament and Lockdown

| 03rd April 2020 | Coronavirus

Lent, Lament and Lockdown

Lent is a time of self denial and of giving things up, and also a period of lament in the lead up to Easter where we remember the Passion and death of Christ before we celebrated the glorious resurrection.  Often this is a personal affair on the discipline side of things, even if it's a practice shared within your church community, but this year has been so very different. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, the whole world has slowly gone into lockdown country by country, creating a strange sort of global “Lent” where everyone is having to practice self control and self denial. This has been underpinned with a sense of lament at the way things were, the way things should be, and all of the things—and people—we've lost.  I don't think it's coincidental that the most isolating part of this pandemic happened during the Lenten season, causing us all, Christian or otherwise, to stop, step back and reflect on life. While it can feel a little gloomy of late with all the isolation and lack of social and religious meetings, we mustn't think that God has abandoned us—likewise we also shouldn't lose faith.   The Bible isn't a stranger to times of lament and distress, and we see it often in the Psalms. At times like this of limited food and resources and job loss, we can probably relate to David when he wrote things like this: Psalms 86:1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Psalms 102:1-2 Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call. And such poetic sadness from the book dedicated to lament; Lamentations 3:16-18 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the LORD.”   Hope in the face of darkness As we look forward to the end of this pandemic with hope like a light at the end of a tunnel, in the meantime we just learn to live in the darkness as the Apostles did on those gloomy days between the crucifixion and the resurrection; when their world ended but was then reborn better than ever expected! They only had to wait a couple of days to see their hope realised, whereas we have no idea how long this will last. How long will we go without seeing friends and family, meeting up at restaurants or going to church again? Only time will tell, but in the midst of this, we shouldn't worry but rather cling onto the hope of God as the Psalmist did, as the Apostles did and so many others before us.  And in the words of the author of Lamentations: “...the Lord will not reject forever … for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.” (Lamentations 3:31,33).  There is always light at the end of darkness if we put our hope in Christ.  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)...