THE SYMBOL OF FAITH:i The Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople
First and Second Ecumenical Councils
(Nicaea, 325 A.D., and Constantinople, 381 A.D.)


IN ONE GOD, FATHER ALMIGHTY,III Creator of Heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.iv

AND IN ONE LORD, JESUS CHRIST, The only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages: Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essencev with the Father, through Whom all things were made;vi Who for us men and for our salvationvii came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man.viii He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; and He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures.ix He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father; and He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His Kingdom shall have no end.

AND IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, the Lord, the Creator of Life, Who proceeds from the Father,x Who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who spoke through the Prophets.






The most primitive Symbol of Faith is preserved in Acts 8:37.

II We believe: “We” follows the Creed’s original Greek text. The Creed entered the life of the laity very early on through its routine pronoucement at Baptism, naturally using “I” rather than “We.” Today, most Orthodox Christians always use “I believe” when beginning the Creed. There is no difference: a corporate “I” has many biblical precedents. “I” also indicates the Creed’s personal acceptance by the individual.

III Father: see Mat 6:9; 1 Cor 8:6; almighty, from the Greek Pantokrator: See 2 Samuel 5:10; Zech 1:3; 2 Cor 6:18. The Fathers of Nicaea juxtaposed the New and Old Testament names for God to affirm the revealed truth that the God of creation and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ are one and the same, thus combating the spread of non-apostolic doctrines of teachers such as Marcion.

IV Why was Nicea interested in things “invisible”‘? The term embraces angels (see Col 1:16) and the Fathers affirm that even angels belong to material creation. The followers of Arius were denying divinity to Christ, as well as a real humanity of Jesus, by saying he is the greatest of angels, i.e. the most important creature. Therefore, the Nicene Fathers define the scope of creation in biblical terms (see Gen 1:1; Col 1:16), and state revealed truth: Christ is “not made,” he is not the most important work of creation. Rather he possesses a real divine nature; he existed before creation (“before all ages“) and has a role in the creation of “all things,” including angels (see vi below).

Of one essence: from the Greek Homoousios, which is not a biblical expression and as such, was initially controversial. The Fathers of Nicaea used non-scriptural language in service to the Faith in order to (1) express revealed truth—Christ is truly God—and (2) combat an error—Christ is a creature—and suppress terminology associated with it. With this, a precedent was set and consciously embraced: the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can express revealed truth in non-Scriptural language.

VI Through Whom all things were made: This refers not to God the Father, already described as the maker of all things, but to Jesus Christ, and describes His role in creation as the Word and Wisdom of God (see Joh 1:3, 10; Heb 1:2; Ps 102:25.)

VII For our salvation: The Creed provides no other reason for the Incarnation, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our salvation is the Trinity’s highest priority. See Mat 18:11, Luk 9:56, Joh 12:47.

VIII Became man: Note that Man in the original Greek text is not based on aner (male), but rather the inclusive anthropos (human being)—see L.N. Johnson, The Creed. Contrary to the short-sightedness of some modern commentators who allege misogyny on the part of the Apostles and the Church, Christian women were raised in stature and granted levels of security and autonomy that they could not find elsewhere in their societies, effects that remain true in today’s global religious landscape (see S. Ruden, Paul Among the People).

IX The Scriptures: see 1 Cor 15:3; The Nicene Fathers mean the Gospels primarily, while the New Testament Apostles mean the Prophets and the Psalms. The Church did not settle on the list of books and letters comprising the New Testament we know until well into the 5th century. In fact, the Eastern Church has never issued a final and universal list of canonical books, living rather with a hierarchy of books; those to be read in Church, those allowed to be read for private devotion, and those to be avoided. In every case, Scripture is not subject to individual speculation, but is always read informed by the mindset (phronema) of the church.

Who proceeds from the Father: Luk 11:13; Joh 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7; Acts 2:33; 1 Thes 4:8. The revealed truth expressed in Church teaching is that the Father is the sole cause of the Son as well as of the Spirit.

XI Catholic: St. Ignatius of Antioch (+ca. 110 A.D.), in Smyrnaeans 8, made the first recorded use of the word to describe the Church collectively. The word expresses the Church’s universality and openness to all, and that her faith is one, even as she transcends languages, cultures, and time. At the same time, catholic can be understood to express the importance of the individual believer’s faith, the “rock” upon which Christ builds his Church as in Mt. 16:18. “Eastern Orthodox” is a term of convenience of popular origin. The official name under which decrees of a Great Synod of the Orthodox Churches are issued is the “Orthodox Catholic Church.”

XII The resurrection means the world’s re-creation in its original beauty and wholeness, “in which material creation is fully permeated by spirit, and spirit is fully incarnate in God’s creation” (A. Schmemann, Celebration of Faith (Sermons, Vol. 1).