The Nicene Creed is the ancient Christian Creed formulated by the Council of Nicaea in 325, expanded by the First Council of Constantinople in 381, and affirmed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It states the nature of the divine Trinity of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and is often regarded as the core statement of the Christian faith. Many Christian denominations use catechisms that require students to memorize the Nicene Creed. Among Protestant denominations that do not accept creeds as authoritative, it is still considered an accurate summation of Christian doctrine in this area.
The Western (Roman Catholic) and Eastern Orthodox branches of Christianity have different versions of the creed, the Western church including the much-disputed filioque clause. The Eastern version states that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father," while the Western church added at the Synod of Toledo that the Spirit proceeds "from the Father and the Son" (filioque in Latin). The filioque clause was the nominal reason for the Great Schism between the two branches of the Church in 1054, although political factors played a role as well. Protestant churches usually follow the Roman Catholic practice of including the filioque clause. However, the Episcopal Church is transitioning to dropping the filioque, and it will not appear in any future Book of Common Prayer issued by the Episcopal Church in the United States.
The Eastern Orthodox Church maintains that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father only (John 15:26) and firmly denies the teaching that He proceeds also from the Son. Orthodoxy states that the "filioque" phrase denies the unity of the Godhead by saying that the Holy Spirit has two origins, which is not found in the Scripture. Western theologians counter by pointing to Christ promising his disciples that, upon his prayer to the Father, the Holy Spirit would be sent to them (John 14:16), thereby indicating that both the Father and Son are involved as a single divine principle of origin in their unity of being and that the origin of the Holy Spirit is not at issue, but only the procession of the Spirit.
Original (First Nicea)
The original form as adopted by the First Council of Nicea:
Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν Πατέρα παντοκράτορα, πάντων ὁρατῶν τε και ἀοράτων ποιητήν.
We believe in one God the Father and Ruler of all things, maker of all things visible and invisible.
Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς μονογενῆ,
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the son of God, the only-begotten from the father
τουτέστιν ἐκ τῆς ουσίας τοῦ πατρός, θεὸν εκ θεοῦ ἀληθινου, γεννηθέντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα,
That is to say from the essence of the father, God from true God, begotten, not made
ὁμοούσιον τῳ πατρί δι' οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο, τά τε ἐν τῳ ούρανῳ καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς
of one essence with the father through whom all things were made, both in heaven and over the earth
τὸν δι' ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα καὶ σαρκωθέντα και ενανθρωπήσαντα,
who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate and made into man,
παθόντα, καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τριτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, καὶ ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς.
he suffered, and arose on the third day, and ascended into the heavens, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
Καὶ εἰς τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα.
And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit
Τοὺς δὲ λέγοντας, ὁτι ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν, καὶ πρὶν γεννηθῆναι οὐκ ἦν,
But those who say that there was once when he was not, and before he came, he did not exist,
καὶ ὅτι ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας φάσκοντας εἶναι, [ἢ κτιστόν,] τρεπτὸν ἢ ἀλλοιωτὸν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ,
and [those who say] that he comes from another substance or essence, or that the son of God is created alterable,
[τούτους] ἀναθεματίζει ἡ καθολικὴ [καὶ ἀποστολικὴ] ἐκκλησία.
Let them be anathema to the catholic [and apostolic] church.
Council of Constantinople (current Eastern Orthodox form)
I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator 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 ages.
Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not created, of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made.
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried.
And He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures.
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 dead. His kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets.
In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. Amen.
Western form (Synod of Toledo, w/ filioque)
One familiar English translation, used by the Episcopal Church reads:
- We believe in one God,
- the Father, the Almighty,
- maker of heaven and earth,
- of all that is, seen and unseen.
- We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
- the only Son of God,
- eternally begotten of the Father,
- God from God, Light from Light,
- true God from true God,
- begotten, not made,
- of one Being with the Father.
- Through him all things were made.
- For us and for our salvation
- he came down from heaven:
- by the power of the Holy Spirit
- he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
- and was made man.
- For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
- he suffered death and was buried.
- On the third day he rose again
- in accordance with the Scriptures;
- he ascended into heaven
- and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
- He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
- and his kingdom will have no end.
- We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
- who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
- With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
- He has spoken through the Prophets.
- We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
- We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
- We look for the resurrection of the dead,
- and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Roman Catholic Church used this version with several changes until 2011, when a New Translation of the Mass was put into use.
- I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
- I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages,
- God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.
- For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven [here bow], and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man [end of bow].
- For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.
- He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
- He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
- I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
- I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
- I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
- "unity of being"—circumincession. The Father in the Son and the Son in the Father undivided in unity of being as one wholly simple principle point of origin. See articles:
- Text of the Nicene Creed of the Mass (multiple sources). See External links below.
Text included in Reference Card, A Guide to the New Translation of the Mass, by Edward Sri (2011), Ascension Press, Post Office Box 1990, West Chester, PA 19380. ISBN 978-1-935940-04-3. Orders: 1-800-376-0520. www.AscensionPress.com. www.BibleStudyforCatholics.com.
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (goarch.org)
- Nicene Creed (ccel.org)
- Nicene Creed Test (quizlet.com)
- Nicene Creed (sacred-texts.com)
- The New Translation of the Holy Mass: The Creed, Part I, by Brian W. MacMichael (diocesefwsb.org)
- June 28, 2012. Proclaiming Truth, Rejecting Heresy: Reflections on the Nicene Creed. Katie Hall (biblegateway.com/blog)
- Christian History for Everyman. The Trinity: Is the Nicene Creed Heretical? (Christian-history.org)