Apostolic Creed

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The twelve apostles, each with the section of the Apostolicum ascribed to him in the Middle Ages ( Göttingen Barefoot Altar , 1424)

The apostolic creed , also known as the apostolic , is a form of the Christian creed , a further developed variant of the ancient Roman creed . Its origins lie either in an early formulation of the Regula fidei or in a further development of baptismal questions .


A creed such as the apostolic creed names the most important beliefs for the purpose of liturgical (worship) prayer and confession. The Apostolic Creed is widely recognized by the Western churches . In the Roman Catholic and Old Catholic Churches it is spoken or sung on Sundays and public holidays in Holy Mass , in the Protestant churches in services - unless the Nicano -Constantinopolitanum is preferred or a Credo song is sung. In Reformed congregations the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism is sometimes spoken as a creed. In addition, in the Catholic mass there is the confession of baptism (in question and answer form, also during the renewal of baptism) and the beginning of the rosary prayer . In the Church of England it has a preeminent meaning as it is to be recited morning and evening. In some Reformed churches , the creed is only spoken in church services with baptism or confirmation . It is also part of the general creed in the New Apostolic Church , but is not used in the liturgy. It is generally unknown in the Eastern churches ; there the Nicano-Constantinopolitanum is used instead.

In terms of content, the creed consists of three articles that clarify the trinity (trinity) of God. In each article a person of the Trinity is considered: in the first article God the Father , the Creator, then Jesus Christ , the Son and Judge of the World, then the Holy Spirit , who works particularly in community in the Church.


Detail from the Apostle's Creed of the Frauenkirche in Memmingen , medieval pictorial assignment of the twelve apostles to the articles of the creed

The Creed in its present form probably originated in Gaul in the fifth century. The original confession "Jesus is Lord " and the tripartite confessions of the Father , the Son and the Holy Spirit, which can already be proven in the New Testament , baptismal confessions (e.g. the baptismal confession in the apostolic tradition of Hippolytus of Rome ), rules of faith, and the Roman .

It was claimed early on that the twelve apostles themselves had formulated the confession themselves, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in community work - for the first time in 390 in a letter from the Milan synod to Pope Siricius and also in the fourth century with Rufin and Ambrosius . However, as early as the 15th century, Laurentius Valla proved that this tradition was not historically tenable. At the Council of Ferrara-Florence 1438–1445, the Orthodox side explicitly questioned the direct apostolic origin. Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI. ) Formulates a broad, non-denominational consensus when he describes the story of the apostolic origin as a legend that emerged in the fourth century - regardless of the apostolic content of the creed. The apostle's credo  - the representation of the twelve apostles, each of whom is assigned one of the twelve sentences of the creed - was part of church art until the baroque era.

In the 20th century its importance grew as a result of both the ecumenical movement and the liturgical reform . For this purpose, a form adapted to today's linguistic usage was created in 1971, which is cited alongside the Latin version.


Latin German (ecumenical version)

Credo in Deum,
Patrem omnipotentem,
Creatorem caeli et terrae.

Et in Iesum Christum,
Filium eius unicum, Dominum nostrum:
qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto,
natus ex Maria Virgine,
passus sub Pontio Pilato,
crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus,
descendit ad inferos:
tertia die resurrexit a mortuis;
ascendit ad caelos;
sedet ad dexteram Dei
Patris omnipotentis:
inde venturus est
iudicare vivos et mortuos.

Credo in Spiritum Sanctum,
sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam,
Sanctorum communionem,
remissionem peccatorum,
carnis resurrectionem,
vitam aeternam.

Text version from the Missale Romanum from 1970.

I believe in God ,
the Father Almighty ,
the Creator of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ ,
his only begotten Son , our Lord,
conceived by the Holy Spirit ,
born of the Virgin Mary ,
suffered under Pontius Pilate ,
crucified , died and buried ,
descended into the kingdom of death , rose from the dead
on the third day , ascended to heaven ; he sits at the right hand of God the Almighty Father; from there he will come , to judge the living and the dead . I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic (Christian / General) Church , communion of saints , forgiveness of sins , resurrection of the dead and eternal life . Amen . Translation published on 15./16. December 1970 was adopted by the working group for liturgical texts of the churches of the German-speaking area.


In the passage "the holy catholic church", the term "catholic" (from Greek catholicos "general", "global" or "universal"), which has meanwhile become a denomination, is avoided in Protestant churches in the German-speaking area. (especially in Lutheran churches), “general church” or “general Christian church” (especially in United and Reformed churches). The Protestant pastor Herbert Goltzen formulated in 1972 that the line “the holy Catholic Church” should also be used in the Protestant churches in accordance with the original meaning.

In 1974 the Theological Commission of the Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches on the reformulation of the ecumenical version stated that it was “not free from translation errors that change the meaning”, with the articles “descended into the realm of death” and “resurrection of the dead” in particular being disputed. On the other hand, a statement from 2004 stated that these articles were properly translated. The advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives are listed for the formulations “descended into hell / descended into the realm of death” or “resurrection of the flesh / the dead”. Heinrich Kraft published a more harsh criticism of ecumenical translation and how it came about in 1989.

The translation of the statement in communionem sanctorum ("to the communion of saints") has always been understood in three ways:

  1. as a community of saints, that is, of the members of the church among themselves
  2. as neuter, "fellowship in the holy", that is, in the sacraments or even all goods of the church (Thomas Aquinas),
  3. as “fellowship with the saints”, that is, those who are already finished / dead.

See also


  • German Bishops' Conference (Ed.): Catholic Adult Catechism. First volume. The Church's Creed. Herder et al. a., Freiburg 1985. ISBN 3-7666-9388-3
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, Catechism Commission (Ed.): Evangelical Adult Catechism. Mohn, Gütersloh 1982. ISBN 3-579-04900-3
  • Wolfhart Pannenberg : The Creed - interpreted and responsible for the questions of the present. GTB Siebenstern, Gütersloh 1979. ISBN 3-579-03846-X
  • Theodor Schneider: What we believe - an interpretation of the apostolic creed. Patmos, Düsseldorf 1985. ISBN 3-491-77256-7
  • Hans Küng : Credo - The apostolic creed explained to contemporaries. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1995. ISBN 3-492-12024-5
  • JND Kelly: Early Christian Creeds . Longman, Harlow 1975 (3rd ed.). ISBN 0-582-49219-X
  • Eberhard Busch : Credo. The Apostolic Creed. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003. ISBN 3-525-01625-5
  • Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI.): Introduction to Christianity . Kösel, Munich 2006 (8th edition). ISBN 3-466-20455-0
  • Horst Georg Pöhlmann: The creed designed for people of our time . Lembeck, Frankfurt / M. 2003. ISBN 3-87476-438-9
  • Markus Vinzent: The origin of the Apostolicum in the judgment of critical research . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006. ISBN 978-3-525-55197-4 ( digitized BSB )
  • Thomas Aquinas : Catechism of St. Thomas Aquinas or Declaration of the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary and the Ten Commandments of God . Sabat publishing house, Kulmbach 2016, ISBN 978-3-943506-30-3
  • Friedrich Wiegand : The apostolic symbol in the Middle Ages: a sketch. Gießen 1904 (= lectures at the theological conference in Gießen , 21st episode)

Web links

Commons : Apostles' Creed  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Georg Plasger: Evangelical Reformed: A church introduces itself . Published by the Evangelical Reformed Church, Leer 2003, p. 19 (PDF; 1.89 MB).
  2. Jean-Louis Gindt: How did the old church creeds come about? (PDF; 25 kB) Religious Education in Europe. In: My Credo, Personal Creeds, Comments and Information. Publik-Forum, 1999, archived from the original on June 14, 2007 ; accessed on May 26, 2015 .
  3. Ralf Kaemper: Outstanding! Lord and gentlemen. Section “Kyrios in the NT scriptures”, subsection “Jesus is Lord”. From: Perspective 4/2001; on the website of the Evangelical Free Church Community Berlin, Hohenstaufenstrasse. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  4. Faith ABC Trinity - 2nd paragraph . EKD: Evangelical Church in Germany. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  5. Christoph Rall: Apostolic Creed , section “Baptism”. From: Jesus-der-Christus.info, December 5, 2015, accessed February 28, 2015.
    The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome , 21, 12-18. ( Memento of July 8, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) bombaxo.com; accessed on February 28, 2015.
  6. Jack Rogers: Presbyterian Creeds: A Guide to The Book of Confessions . Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2nd Edition, 1991, ISBN 978-0-664-25496-4 , p. 62, accessed May 7, 2018.
  7. Rufin of Aquileia: Commentary on the Apostolic Creed (Expositio Symboli) , 2.1. Church Fathers Library , accessed May 25, 2015.
  8. ^ Rudolf Stählin : Apostolicum. In: Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. Volume 1. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen and Zurich, 1956, 1961, 2nd unchanged edition, column 185.
  9. Dorothea Sattler : Apostolic Creed. I. History of dogma and theology . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 1 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1993, Sp. 878 (879) .
  10. ^ Joseph Ratzinger : Introduction to Christianity. Lectures on the Apostles' Creed. 5th edition (of the new edition 2000). Kösel, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-466-20455-0 , p. 76.
  11. For historical reasons and to avoid confusion with the Roman Catholic Church , churches of the Reformation tradition transfer “Catholic Church” with “Christian Church” or “general church”.
  12. On translation: Resolutions regarding the translation of the article “Carnis resurrectionem” of the Apostles' Creed . Holy Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , December 14, 1983, accessed February 6, 2016.
  13. Herbert Goltzen: I believe the holy Catholic Church . In: Quatember 21 (1972).
  14. On the wording of the Apostles' Creed. (pdf; 52 kB) Theological Commission of the SELK, June 9, 2004, archived from the original on November 12, 2014 ; accessed on May 22, 2020 .
  15. Heinrich Kraft: Lex Orandi - Lex Credendi. Comments on the preliminary draft of the new hymnal . In: Lutherische Contributions 12 (2006), pp. 208–220 (PDF; 88 kB).