The Nicene Creed – What is it?

The Nicene Creed is a profession or statement of faith adopted by Christian leaders at the Council of Nicaea in 325. This took place under the leadership of Emperor Constantine. The Nicene Creed is accepted by the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Anglican Church, and many Protestant church groups. The English translation reads:

"We 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, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

"And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

In 381, the filioque clause was added to include the phrase "and son," indicating that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father "and Son."

Overall, the Nicene Creed expresses a clear statement of faith regarding key Christian beliefs. However, it is important to clarify that the phrase "one holy catholic and apostolic Church" did not at that time refer to the Roman Catholic Church and leadership by apostolic succession under a Pope. Instead, it referred to the universal church connected to the teachings of the apostles of Jesus Christ. "Catholic" is another word for "universal."

In addition, the phrase "one baptism for the remission of sins" has often been misunderstood. Baptism is not a means of salvation, but a public profession of one's salvation. Read more in our article Is baptism required for salvation?

The Nicene Creed served as an important part of the Council of Nicaea and existed as the first of the seven ecumenical councils generally accepted by both the Catholic Church and Protestant churches. The Orthodox Church generally accepts only the first two creeds, the Nicene Creed and First Council of Constantinople.

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