May 31, 2020

Explanation of the Creed

Explanation of the Nicean-Constantinoplitan Creed of
the Eastern Orthodox Church
Prepared by the V. Rev. Timothy Baclig,
Pastor St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church

I believe in one God, Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth…
The Father is the “fountainhead” of the Trinity. All proceeds from the Father, through the Son,
and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The three modes or “persons” (hypostasis) are equal but
distinct. They share the same nature as God in essence.


…and of all things visible and invisible…

The entire visible and invisible world (cosmos) both spiritual and physical was created by God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All of creation came into existence and were given their being by
God from nothing. (“nothing” does not mean “something”)

…and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages…
Jesus is the “Lord” and “Son of God” who was eternally begotten (egenetos) of the Father
before all time. [Notice: the word “born” is not used here because His existence is eternal:
meaning that there was never a time that He did not exist.]


…Light of Light, true God of true God…

The Son of God is of the very same nature as the Father (consubstantial), just as a flame of fire
can and does exist from another flame fire.

…begotten not created, of one essence with the Father, through whom all things were made.
Again, the existence of the Son of God is pre-eternal and as a person is not a created being.
Therefore, God the Father and the Son 1 participate as the Creator of all things (visible and
invisible) with the Spirit.

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from the heavens and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.
The eternal Son of God was born in human flesh of a Holy Virgin by the Holy Spirit in time and
remained the Divine Son of God who (as already stated) was eternally begotten of the Father
before all time.

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried.
Pontius Pilate is mentioned within the Creed to pinpoint the historical fact of Christ’s human
birth. The reality of Christ’s human suffering and death is also proclaimed.

And He rose on the third day according to the scriptures.
Christ’s Resurrection of the dead on the third day is an emphatic statement as a fact of the
Faith.

And He ascended into the heavens and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
The Holy Ascension took place forty days after the Resurrection according to the Gospel [see Mark 16:19]

And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead whose Kingdom shall have no end.
The glorious and triumphant return of Christ is another statement of the Faith. His return will
begin a new era of God’s eternal Kingdom with the judgment of the living and the dead. [Up
until this point the Creed was authored by the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council which
met in the city of Nicaea in the year 325 2 AD. The remaining portion of the Creed was written at
the Second Ecumenical Council in the year 381 AD, in the city of Constantinople.]

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of Life, who proceedeth from the Father…
The Holy Spirit, or the third person or mode (hypostasis) of God is coequal with the Father and
the Son. He is also called “the Lord” and Life-giver. He is described as processing from the
Father (the Fountainhead of the Trinity). Unlike the Roman Catholic Creed, the Latin word
“filioque” [and the Son] was added to the Creed noting the Holy Spirit’s procession as coming
from the “Father and the Son.” This word was never part of the original Creed and is never used
by the Orthodox. The purpose of its addition to the Creed was to address the erroneous
teaching which had grown in popularity in the late 8th century concerning the divinity of the Son.
It was believed that if the Son is to be understood as a divine person as the Father and the Holy
Spirit, God the Holy Spirit would have to be spoken of as having proceeded from the Father and
the Son.

...Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake through the Prophets.
The Spirit is proclaimed as sharing same substance (essence) as the Father and the Son,
co-equal, co-worshipped and glorified. It is the Spirit who also empowered and inspired the
prophets of old.

And in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The Orthodox Church is united in doctrine from the Apostolic era, handed down in an unbroken
tradition through the centuries. Commentators and teachers, i.e., Church Fathers, are among
those who have preserved the dogmas through the ages. Saints, who include bishops, priests,
martyrs, confessors, ascetics (monastics), exemplify the Apostolic Faith and teaching by their
life and witness. “Catholic” means a universally accepted teaching. The church neither adds or
subtracts from what was taught by Christ and the Apostles, however, it can make explicit what is
implicit for each successive generation.

I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
The Orthodox Church believes in Trinitarian baptism (“in the Name of the Father and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit”) with three submersions. Baptism is one’s participation in Christ’s Death
and Resurrection. Baptism is therefore a “re-presentation” of our being buried and resurrected in
Christ’s Death and Resurrection. A prerequisite for Holy Baptism is a confession of Faith and a
commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord, and the practice the Christian life as taught by Christ and
the Apostles. Holy Baptism is the “Rite of Initiation.” It marks a start and new beginning with the
acknowledgement and confession of sin (repentance), resulting in forgiveness by God’s love
and mercy. For infants, a Godparent speaks and commits him/herself to nurturing a child in the
faith on behalf of the Church until such time as a child is taught with understanding to make
his/her own personal commitment to Christ and the Church.

I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. A-men.
The culmination in one’s recovery from a sinful condition in this life is fulfilled in the resurrection
of the dead. The resurrection of he dead is also the ultimate healing of the soul and body;
something that is fulfilled in the Kingdom of heaven “in the life of the world to come.” Hence
salvation is past, present and future. We are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved.

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