The earliest known formulation of anything like what eventually came to be known around 390AD as the "Apostles' Creed" is the following:
(1) I believe in God the Father Almighty;
(2) And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;
(3) Who was born of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary;
(4) Crucified under Pontius Pilate and buried;
(5) The third day He rose again from the dead,
(6) He ascended into Heaven,
(7) Sitteth at the right hand of the Father,
(8) Whence He shall [future to 390AD] come to judge the living and the dead.
(9) And in the Holy Ghost,
(10) The Holy Church,
(11) The forgiveness of sins;
(12) The resurrection of the body.
This is a beautiful expression of faith. From the time of around 390AD, legend (Rufinus) would attribute it to Christ's Apostles. But the New Testament and Ante-Nicene church "fathers" are surprising silent about any such account attributing any creed to the Apostles save what they teach in the Holy Writ of the New Testament itself. Tertullian is the first to mention a kind of regula doctrinoe, ("Rule of Doctrine"), from around 200AD that shared some points, but point (8) was not one of them. (Tertullian then went on to embrace Montanism). What follows is what some consider to be among the earliest versions of this creed:
"Stop your ears, therefore, when anyone speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified and [truly died], in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from Whom we do not possess the true life." ~Ignatius of Antioch, around 107AD, Epistle to the Trallians, ix.
As with the aforementioned regula doctrinoe that Tertullian recommended, there is a notable lack from this 107AD statement by Ignatius anything resembling point (8) of the "Apostles' Creed." This suggests that point (8) of the "Apostles' Creed" was a later embellishment. Further, it is worthwhile to note that Ignatius mentions nothing here regarding the Lord's Return from Heaven. He is appears aloof from the alarm regarding Christ's Return that is found in the Apostles' writings throughout the New Testament. It should be acknowledged that Ignatius says nothing here that does not fit the 70-1070AD Millennium and the 70-1070AD Millennium teaches nothing contrary to this statement of faith of Ignatius. Ignatius' own writings show him very eager to complete his journey to martyrdom by reason of his belief in the prompt resurrection-glorification of martyrs to join the blessed & holy martyrs that already preceeded him to glory. This affirms the already commonly held belief that the Millennium of Revelation 20:4 began with the passing of the Apostles' generation, such belief the mainstream view throughout the 70-1070AD period, (the Middle Age).
Scriptures are easily found to provide basis for each of the 12 points listed in the "Apostle's Creed" printed previously above. This is logical since the creed consciously attempts to adopt the Scriptures' pre-70AD outlook as it paraphrases certain points of its message. Curiously unlike the New Testament of Christ's Apostles, however, is the notable lack of urgency regarding the Lord's Return within the "Apostles' Creed." The Gospel message of Jesus & His Apostles was consciously driven by the alarming anticipation of Jesus' Return. That alarm is curiously lacking from the "Apostles' Creed." Where is there here anything like Mat 24:34 & Mat 16:28 & Mark 13:30 & Luke 21:32, and a host of other alarms, LINK ?
(Why does post-70AD Christianity distance itself from the urgent alarm the New Testament associates with the Lord Jesus' Return as though, following the disappearance of the Apostles around 70AD, such alarm is an earmark of error associated with the wayward: from the ancient Montanists, Chiliasts, et al, to the modern Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, 7th Day Adventists and controversial Charismatics, et al?)
But if, indeed, "the Apostles' Creed" was composed by Christ's Apostles, as legend would have it, why does it fail to appear as part of the Bible, the Word of God? Why did not Christ's Apostles make sure to work it into their epistles? Why does the book of Acts neglect to record any collaborated effort by the 12 Apostles of the Lamb to formulate this creed? Why leave its appearance and explanation to legends arising centuries later?
And why have subsequent groups of churchmen felt so free to adapt, alter or embellish this creed, if indeed they thought it was from Christ's Apostles? They have never dared to do such with the Holy Writ. But history records notable variation and evolution of this creed over time amongst various Christian groups. And not one Church Council at any time has confirmed it, nor any other creed for that matter, to be a part of the Word of God, not once. Actions speak louder than legends, Christian actions louder than Christian legends: at no time have Christians regarded "The Apostles' Creed" as "The Word of God." The Bible alone has that deserved honor.
A copy similar to the "Apostles' Creed" was available at the time of the Council of Nicea in 325AD: why did they NOT confirm it then to be the Word of God alongside the Scriptures? The Council of Nicea's refusal to include this creed in the canon resoundingly expresses their lack of confidence that it was composed by Christ's Apostles. But they did formulate their own creed, the Nicene Creed, that largely copies this creed here although it, too, lacks the sense of urgency Jesus & His Apostles attached to the Lord's eagerly anticipated Return. What happened to satisfied the urgency of Christ's Return? What silenced the alarm? (Only the calm disconcern over the Lord Return of 3 John 1:11 offers any trustworthy hint: "Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God." "So, what happened??" is the question that arises when contrasted against the previous 1 John 3:2 "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears,[a]we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.").
Notwithstanding, there is only one word in the "Apostles' Creed" that some would construe as out of harmony with the 70-1070AD Millennium, the workd "shall" in line (8), "Whence He shall [future to 390AD] come to judge the living and the dead." But the Scriptures teach from Revelation 20:4-6 that the Resurrection-Judgment of the rest of the dead was not expected until the end of the 1000 years. That event, Rev 20:5a, the Resurrection of Judgment of the Rest of the Dead, was still future when this form of the "Apostles' Creed" appeared around the late 4th century AD. Indeed, the "Apostles' Creed" was a a timely fit throughout the period of the 70-1070AD Millennium, especially since the vast, mainstream, majority of Christianity of the period believed themselves to be living during the 1000-year Millennium. That is, they were almost entirely convinced that the beginning of the 1000-year Millennium was already past to their time and the end of the 1000-year Millennium was yet future to their time, LINK. While ProphecyHistory.com affirms that Jesus Returned before His 30AD generation passed away, He could can still be seen seated at the right hand of Father and arising from there to judge the living and the dead among us as He wills, along with His glorified Saints, to which much of global, historic Christianity tacitly agrees, LINK. And 70-1070AD Millennialism also explains why the alarm associated with Jesus' Return has been satisfyingly quieted. My treatment of the Nicene Creed may be found at LINK. It must not be overlooked that virtually all the great Christian leaders and masses of the period also vigorously held to the conviction that the dead & glorified, blessed & holy Saints & Martyrs already ruled over the affairs of men since the time of their already accomplished glorifications, LINK - a clear evidence that they all believed themselves to be living within the period of the 1000 year Millennium of Revelation 20, LINK, as Augustine and his peers openly taught, LINK. Martin Luther, LINK, went on to affirm this as did John Lighfoot, LINK. It should be noted that these highly regarded Christian leaders represent vastly more than just themselves: they represent the masses of Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, who esteem their teachings.
Matthew 1:23 And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, "God with us."
Revelation 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men!"
For anyone who wishes to adopt the "Apostles' Creed" as a boundary line over who is inside or outside the Church it should be noted the following: nowhere does this creed state belief that Jesus is the Word of God; nor that one must obey the New Testament or the Apostles. Nowhere does this creed even mention the Gospel or Scriptures; nor church membership; nor love of the brethren; nor bearing the fruit of the Spirit; nor a whole host of hallmarks of a true Christian as taught by the Word of God.
Simply put, it is ridiculous to condemn someone who:
- confesses the name of Jesus before men (Matt 10:32);
- confesses that Jesus is the Word of God who came in the flesh (John 1:1);
- confesses that Jesus the Son of God (1 John 4:15);
- believes Jesus is the Christ who came in the flesh, (1 John 4:2 & 1 John 5:1);
- confesses Jesus is Lord while believing in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9);
- worships God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 2:23);
- abides in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9);
- displays the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24);
- obeys the Gospel of Paul (Rom 2:16 & Rom 16:25);
- values the Old Testament for godly instruction (2 Tim 3:15-17);
- loves all the saints & brethren, maintaining good standing & fellowship among the churches (Eph 1:15 & Col 1:4 & 1 John 3:14);
- yet understands God & Jesus to be present among us now judging the living and the dead among us, that line 8 of the "Apostles' Creed" has become a present reality, no longer relegated to Mankind's future. Wittingly or not, much of global, historic Christianity tacitly testifies to their agreement by their tenacious belief in the active power of resurrected-glorified Saints over the affairs of mortal men, LINK. In so doing, they tacitly affirm the conviction that the Millennium of Rev 20:4, with its First Resurrection, began before their own time.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
"For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.