Bible Question:

What is the Nicene Creed of A.D. 325?

Bible Answer:

There were three versions of the Nicene Creed: the original Nicene, the enlarged Constantinopolitan, and the Latin version.[1] The first creed was adopted in A.D. 325 by a Council held at Nicaea.[2] The council was attended by 318 eastern bishops, except for Hosius who was from Spain.[3] The creed refutes the heresy of the Arian Controversy and was designed to settle the controversy. The Arian doctrine taught that Jesus was not God. He was only a created being. Arius taught that Christ was a created being and was not of the same essence or substance (heteroousios) of the Father.

Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed of A.D. 325 reads as follows:

Nicene Creed A.D. 325

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, 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 and was made man; He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven, from there He shall come to judge both the quick and the dead; and in the Holy Spirit.[4]

In A.D. 381, the creed was modified to say that the Holy Spirit was also fully God. The three creeds did not establish these doctrines but were intended to affirm biblical truth in order to counter the false teaching attributed to Arius. The first two articles were modified and references to the Holy Spirit were inserted. Philip Schaff states,

It is usually traced to the second ecumenical Council, which was convened by Theodosius in Constantinople, A.D. 381 against the Macedonians or Pneunmatomachians (so called for denying the deity of the Holy Spirit), and consisted of 150 bishops, all from the East. There was no authentic evidence of an ecumenical recognition of this enlarged Creed till the Council of Chalcedon, 451, where it was read by Aetius (a deacon of Constantinople) as the “Creed of the 150 fathers,” and accepted as orthodox, together with the old Nicene Creed, or the “Creed” of the 318 fathers.”[5]

The Nicene Creed of A.D. 381 reads as follows. The italicized paragraph primary is the change between A.D. 325 and A.D. 381.

 

Nicene Creed A.D. 381

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, light from 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; He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; and suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at 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 in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets.  And Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins;  and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.  Amen.

This last paragraph was added to include more doctrine regarding the Holy Spirit. In addition, the filioque was added by the Council of Toledo in A.D. 589 to address the relationship of the Father, Son and the Holy. Spirit. The filioque are the words “and the Son” which follow the words “who proceedeth from the Father.”

Conclusion:

The final version of the creed is a Latin or western version adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.  The Nicene Creed of A.D. 381 is recited in many churches as a statement of faith of the Christian Church. The creed communicates the truth of John 1:1-2 and Philippians 2:5-7 that Jesus Christ was and is God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. John 1:1-2 (NASB)

 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7 (NASB)

 

References:

1. Philip Schaff. The Creeds of Christendom. Baker Books. 1996. p. 25.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Schaff. Ibid. p. 29.
5. Schaff. Ibid. p. 25.

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