The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God
from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things
were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from
the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On
the third day he rose again in accordance with 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 worshiped 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. We look for the resurrection of the
dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
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The Nicene Creed
As approved in amplified form at the Council of Constantinople (381),
it is the profession of the Christian Faith common to the Catholic Church, to all the Eastern Churches separated from Rome,
and to most of the Protestant denominations. Soon after the
Council of Nicaea new formulas of faith were composed, most of them
variations of the Nicene Symbol, to meet new phases of Arianism.
There were at least four before the Council of Sardica in 341, and in that council a new form was presented and inserted in
the Acts, though not accepted by the council. The Nicene Symbol, however, continued to be the only one in use among the
defenders of the Faith.
Gradually it came to be recognized as the proper profession of faith for candidates for baptism. Its alteration into the
Nicene-Constantinopolitan formula, the one now in use, in usually ascribed to the Council of Constantinople, since the
Council of Chalcedon (451), which designated this symbol as "The Creed of the Council of Constantinople of 381" had it twice
read and inserted in its Acts.
The historians Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret do not mention
this, although they do record that the bishops who remained at the council after the departure of the Macedonians confirmed
the Nicene faith. Hefele (II,9) admits the possibility of our present creed being a condensation of the "Tome" ( Gr.
tomos), i.e. the exposition of the doctrines concerning the Trinity made by the Council of Constantinople; but he
prefers the opinion of Rémi Ceillier and Tillemont tracing the new formula to the "Ancoratus" of Epiphanius written in 374.
Hort, Caspari, Harnack, and others are of the opinion that the Constantinopolitan form did not originate at the Council of
Constantinople, because it is not in the Acts of the council of 381, but was inserted there at a later date; because
Gregory Nazianzen who was at the council mentions only the Nicene
formula adverting to its incompleteness about the Holy Ghost, showing that he did not know of the Constantinopolitan form
which supplies this deficiency; and because the Latin Fathers apparently know nothing of it before the middle of the fifth
The following is a literal translation of the Greek text of the Constantinopolitan form, the brackets indicating the
words altered or added in the Western liturgical form in present use:
We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God
of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by
whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy
Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried;
and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the
Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And (I
believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with
the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic
Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
In this form the Nicene article concerning the Holy Ghost is enlarged; several words, notably the two clauses "of the
substance of the Father" and "God of God," are omitted as also are the anathemas; ten clauses are added;
and in five places the words are differently located. In general the two forms contain what is common to all the baptismal
formulas in the early Church. Vossius (1577-1649) was the first to detect the similarity between the creed set forth in the
"Ancoratus" and the baptismal formula of the Church at Jerusalem. Hort (1876) held that the symbol is a revision of the
Jerusalem formula, in which the most important Nicene statements concerning the Holy Ghost have been inserted. The author of
the revision may have been St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386, q.v.). Various hypotheses are offered to account for the
tradition that the Niceno-Constantinopolitan symbol originated with the Council of Constantinople, but none of them is
satisfactory. Whatever be its origin, the fact is that the Council of Chalcedon (451) attributed it to the Council of
Constantinople, and if it was not actually composed in that council, it was adopted and authorized by the Fathers assembled
as a true expression of the Faith. The history of the creed is completed in the article Filioque.