Confession of Nicaea

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First Council of Nicaea (325): Emperor Constantine unrolls the text of the Nicano-Constantinopolitanum , as it was reformulated at the First Council of Constantinople (381), with the exception of the first word, changed from πιστεύομεν to πιστεύω as in the liturgy. The inscription of the icon reads: Ἡ σύνοδος τῶν ἁγ (ίων) πατέρων (the Synod of the Holy Fathers).

The Nicaea Confession was published by the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the first ecumenical council .

It is not to be confused with the better known and closely related Nicano-Constantinopolitanum , the confession of the First Council of Constantinople , which is also often referred to as the Nicene Creed or Nicene Creed . In contrast to this, the confession described here is also recognized by all ancient oriental churches . It is therefore the most widely recognized confession in Christianity , but it does not play a de facto role in the practice of confession and piety in those churches that also recognize the Nicene-Constantinopolitanum.

Historical background

Oldest copy of the Nicene Confession from the 6th century

The council convened by Emperor Constantine the Great in Nicaea , which is now İznik / Turkey, near his residence , was the first that should apply not just to a region but to the entire Church. It was supposed to settle the disputes about the doctrine of the Trinity that were triggered by the presbyter Arius , especially in the Greek-speaking part of the Church . With the confession of the essential unity of Christ and the Father, the council took a stand against Arianism . In the period that followed, however, there was a dispute over the correct interpretation of the terms, in which the church father Athanasius the Great in particular, in his letter De decretis Nicaenae synodi ('On the resolutions of the Synod of Nicaea'), in his letter De decretis Nicaenae synodi ('On the decisions of the Synod of Nicaea'), the confession in the sense of a sharp interpreted anti-Arian position. The dispute could only be settled at the following Council of Constantinople in 381.

As a result, the Nicaea Confession was often referred to as "the faith of the 318 holy fathers". This refers to the 318 bishops who are said to have attended the first council of Nicaea; their number should correspond to the number of servants with whom Abraham went out in Gen 14:14  EU .

At the Council of Ephesus in 431, the literal creed of Nicaea was expressly confirmed and declared that it should not be changed.


in Greek:

Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεόν Πατέρα παντοκράτορα, πάντων ὁρατῶν τε καὶ ἀοράτων ποιητήν.

Καὶ εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ, γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς μονογενῆ, τουτέστιν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρός, Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ, φῶς ἐκ φωτός, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί,
δι ' οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο, τά τε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ,
τὸν δι 'ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα καὶ σαρκωθέντα καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα ,
παθόντα, καὶ ἀναστάντα τριτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὒρανούς,
καὶ ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς.

Καὶ εἰς τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα.

Τοὺς δὲ λέγοντας, ὅτι ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν,
καὶ πρὶν γεννηθῆναι οὐκ ἦν,
καὶ ὅτι ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐγένετο,
ἢ ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας φάσκοντας εἶναι [ἢ κτιστόν,]
ἢ τρεπτὸν ἢ ἀλλοιωτὸν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ,
[τούτους] ἀναθεματίζει ἡ καθολικὴ [καὶ ἀποστολικὴ] ἐκκλησία.

in Latin:

Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipoténtem,
omnium visibílium et invisibílium factorem.

Et in unum Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum,
Fílium Dei,
natum ex Patre unigenitum.
hoc est de substantia Patris,
Deum ex Deo, lumen ex lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero,
natum, non factum, unius substantiae cum Patre (quod graece dicunt homousion):
per quem ómnia facta sunt, quae in caelo et in terra,
qui propter nostram salútem descéndit,
incarnátus est et homo factus est,
et passus est,
et resurréxit tértia die,
et ascéndit in cælos,
ventúrus iudicáre vivos et mórtuos,

Et in Spíritum Sanctum.

Eos autem qui dicunt "Erat quando non erat":
et "Antequam nasceretur, non erat":
et "Quod de non exstantibus factus est":
vel alia substania aut essentia dicentes
aut convertibilem aut demutabilem Deum <Filium Dei>,
hos anathematizat catholica Ecclesia

in German translation:

I believe in the one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
the Creator of everything visible and invisible.

And to the one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God,
who was begotten from the Father as the Onlyborn, that is: from the essence of the Father ,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made ,
one Being with the father (homoousion to patri) ;
through whom all that is in heaven and what is on earth became;
who came down for us and because of our salvation and became flesh, became
suffered and rose on the third day,
ascended to heaven,
will come to judge the living and the dead;

And the Holy Spirit.
But those who say “there was a time when he was not”
and “he was not before he was begotten”,
and he was made from that which did not exist ,
or who say that the Son of God came from another hypostasis or Entity,
or he was created or changeable or changeable,
that condemns the Catholic Church. [correct: the Catholic Church uses the anathema ]

Today's translations and the Latin version contain native or onlyborn , unigenitum , assuming that γενή comes from γενναω 'born' . However, older Latin manuscripts of the New Testament translate μονογενή as unicus , unique .

Comparison with older confessions

The Nicea Creed shows similarities to older Eastern creeds, but cannot be clearly traced back to a model in literary terms.

The trinitarian formulation of the creed (I believe in one God ... and in the one Lord Jesus Christ ... and in the Holy Spirit ...) can be found both in the apostolate and in many other baptismal confessions of that time. This structure of the creed was not an issue at the council.

The parts in italics above are additions made by the council that cannot be found in any previous creed. In them the church looked for formulas that expressed the christological teaching of the church in such a way that Arianism could not interpret them in an Arian way - older creeds were also accepted by the Arians because they could interpret them in their own way.

The term homoousios (dt. Consensual / essence ), which does not appear in the Bible, was disputed at the council . According to earlier opinion, it was proposed by Emperor Constantine I or his court bishop and advisor Ossius of Córdoba . Since it was precisely this expression that was unacceptable to the Arians in a creed, the council decided in favor of it despite its reservations.


Web links

Commons : Confession of Nicaea  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. In liturgical usage the 1st person plural from the original version is replaced by the 1st person singular, ie Πιστεύω, "I believe".
  2. ^ Peter Hünermann (ed.), Heinrich Denzinger: Compendium of creeds and church teaching decisions Latin (Greek) - German . No. 125f, 40th edition. Herder, Freiburg 2005, ISBN 3-451-22442-9 .