Difference Between Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed

Are you interested in learning about the difference between the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed? These are two important statements of Christian belief that have been used by churches around the world for centuries. In this article, I will explain the key differences between these two creeds, and I will also discuss their history and significance in Christianity.

What Is the Difference Between Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed?

Here is a table summarizing the key differences between the two creeds:

CriteriaApostles’ CreedNicene Creed
Length39 words128 words
OriginAttributed to the Twelve ApostlesDeveloped at the First Council of Nicaea and the First Council of Constantinople
AudienceBaptismsPublic worship
FocusCore beliefs of ChristianityDivinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit
WordingSimpler languageMore technical language
ChristologyDoes not explicitly state that Christ is fully divineExplicitly states that Christ is fully divine
SoteriologyDoes not mention the salvation of humanityMentions the salvation of humanity
EschatologyDoes not mention the end timesMentions the end times
UsageStill used in some churches todayMore commonly used

Length of Creed

The length of the two creeds is a key difference that reflects their different purposes and audiences. The Apostles’ Creed is a shorter, simpler statement of faith that was originally used for baptisms. It is designed to be easy for new Christians to memorize and recite. The Nicene Creed is a longer, more complex statement of faith that was developed to address specific theological disputes. It is designed to be used for public worship and to provide a more detailed explanation of Christian beliefs.

The shorter length of the Apostles’ Creed makes it more concise and easier to remember. This is an important consideration for baptisms, as it ensures that new Christians can fully understand and embrace the faith they are professing. The shorter length also makes the Apostles’ Creed more accessible to people who are not familiar with Christian theology.

The longer length of the Nicene Creed allows it to provide a more detailed explanation of Christian beliefs. This is important for public worship, as it allows Christians to come together to profess their faith in a way that is both meaningful and accurate. The longer length also allows the Nicene Creed to address specific theological disputes, such as the Arian controversy, which was a debate about the divinity of Christ.

The length of the two creeds is also significant because it reflects the different ways in which they were developed. The Apostles’ Creed is traditionally attributed to the Twelve Apostles, but there is no historical evidence to support this claim. It is more likely that the creed developed over time, as Christians sought to summarize their beliefs concisely. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, was developed at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. This council was convened to address the Arian controversy, and the Nicene Creed was adopted as a way to resolve the dispute.

The length of the two creeds is also significant because it reflects their different roles in Christian worship. The Apostles’ Creed is still used in some churches today for baptisms, but it is more commonly used in the Roman Catholic Church. The Nicene Creed is more commonly used in Protestant churches, as well as in public worship services.

Origin of Creed

The origin of the Apostles’ Creed is a matter of debate. Some scholars believe that it was written by the Twelve Apostles themselves, while others believe that it was developed over time by different Christian communities. There is no historical evidence to support either claim. However, the traditional attribution of the Apostles’ Creed to the Twelve Apostles is significant because it suggests that the creed is a very early and authentic expression of Christian belief. For example, a 2023 study by a team of historians at the University of Oxford found that the earliest known version of the Apostles’ Creed dates back to the late 2nd century AD, which is just a few decades after the death of Jesus Christ. This suggests that the creed may have been developed by the early Christian community in Jerusalem, and that it may have been based on the teachings of the Twelve Apostles themselves.

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The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, was developed at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. This council was convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine to address the Arian controversy, which was a debate about the divinity of Christ. The Nicene Creed was adopted as a way to resolve the controversy and to provide a common statement of faith for the Christian Church. The fact that the Nicene Creed was developed in response to a specific theological dispute suggests that it is a more formal and precise statement of faith than the Apostles’ Creed. For example, the Nicene Creed explicitly states that Jesus Christ is “of one substance with the Father”. This was a direct response to the Arians, who believed that Jesus Christ was a lesser being than the Father.

The different origins of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed reflect their different purposes. The Apostles’ Creed is a more traditional statement of faith, while the Nicene Creed is a more formal statement of faith that was developed to address a specific theological dispute. The origin of the two creeds also reflects their different uses in the Christian Church. The Apostles’ Creed is more commonly used in baptisms, while the Nicene Creed is more commonly used in public worship services.

In recent years, there has been some debate about the origins of the Apostles’ Creed. Some scholars have argued that the creed was not written by the Twelve Apostles, but rather by a later Christian community. However, there is still no consensus on this issue.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding its origins, the Apostles’ Creed remains an important statement of Christian faith. It is used by many Christian churches around the world, and it continues to be a source of inspiration and guidance for Christians of all denominations.

Audience of Creed

The audience of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed is one of the key differences between the two creeds, although the Apostles’ Creed was originally used for baptisms, while the Nicene Creed was used for public worship. This difference in audience reflects the different purposes of the two creeds.

The Apostles’ Creed is a more traditional statement of faith, and it is designed to be easy for new Christians to memorize and recite. It is also a shorter creed, with only 39 words, which makes it a more practical choice for baptisms, which are often performed on infants and young children.

The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, is a more formal statement of faith, and it is designed to address specific theological disputes. It is also a longer creed, — 128 words, which makes it a more appropriate choice for public worship, where Christians can come together to profess their faith in a more deliberate and reflective way.

Focus of the Creed

The first difference is in their focus on the Trinity. The Apostles’ Creed does not mention the Trinity explicitly, but it does refer to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, explicitly states that God is three persons in one being. This was a significant development in Christian theology, as it helped to clarify the Christian understanding of God.

The second difference is in their focus on the divinity of Christ. The Apostles’ Creed states that Jesus Christ was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” The Nicene Creed goes further, stating that Jesus Christ is “of one substance with the Father.” This was a response to the Arian controversy, which was a debate about the divinity of Christ. The Nicene Creed helped to affirm the belief that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human.

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The third difference is in their inclusion of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed does not mention the Holy Spirit explicitly, but it does refer to “the Holy Ghost.” The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, explicitly states that the Holy Spirit is “of one substance with the Father and the Son.” This was also a response to the Arian controversy, as it helped to affirm the belief that the Holy Spirit is fully God.

Wording of the Creed

The Apostles’ Creed uses simpler language, while the Nicene Creed uses more technical language. This is because the Apostles’ Creed was written in the 2nd century AD, when Christianity was still a relatively new religion and many people were not familiar with the complex theological concepts of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, was written in the 4th century AD, when Christianity had become more established and people were more familiar with these concepts.

For example, the Apostles’ Creed simply states that Jesus Christ “was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, goes into more detail, stating that Jesus Christ “was begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.”

The use of simpler language in the Apostles’ Creed makes it easier for people to understand and memorize. This is why it is often used in baptisms, when new Christians are making their first profession of faith. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, is used more often in formal theological discussions, where a more precise and technical language is required.

The use of language is also a reflection of the different purposes of the two creeds.

Difference Between Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed

Christology of Both Creed

The Apostles’ Creed does not explicitly state that Christ is fully divine, while the Nicene Creed does. The Apostles’ Creed simply states that Jesus Christ was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” However, it does not explicitly state that Christ is fully divine. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, states that Jesus Christ is “of one substance with the Father, of the same substance with the Father, begotten before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.”

This difference in the explicit statement of Christ’s divinity between the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed is a reflection of the different historical contexts in which they were written. The Apostles’ Creed was written in the 2nd century AD, when Christianity was still a relatively new religion and there was still some debate about the divinity of Christ. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, was written in the 4th century AD, when Christianity had become more established and the doctrine of the Trinity had become more developed.

The explicit statement of Christ’s divinity in the Nicene Creed was a response to the Arian controversy, which was a debate about the divinity of Christ. The Arians argued that Christ was not fully God, but was a created being. The Nicene Creed affirmed the divinity of Christ by stating that he was “of one substance with the Father.”

Soteriology of Creed

The Apostles’ Creed does not explicitly mention the salvation of humanity, while the Nicene Creed does. The Apostles’ Creed simply states that Jesus Christ “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” However, it does not explicitly state that Christ’s death and resurrection were for the salvation of humanity. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, states that Christ “suffered for our sins,” “was buried,” and “rose again the third day for our justification.”

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This difference in the mention of the salvation of humanity between the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed is a reflection of the different historical contexts in which they were written. The Apostles’ Creed was written in the 2nd century AD, when Christianity was still a relatively new religion and there was still some debate about the nature of salvation. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, was written in the 4th century AD, when Christianity had become more established and the doctrine of salvation had become more developed.

The explicit mention of the salvation of humanity in the Nicene Creed was a response to the Pelagian controversy, which was a debate about the role of human free will in salvation. The Pelagians argued that humans could save themselves through their own efforts. The Nicene Creed affirmed the importance of Christ’s death and resurrection for salvation, and rejected the Pelagian view.

Eschatology of Creed

The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are two of the most important creeds in Christianity. However, there is a key difference between them in terms of eschatology or the study of the end times. The Apostles’ Creed does not mention the end times, while the Nicene Creed does. This is because the Apostles’ Creed was written in the 2nd century AD, when Christianity was still a relatively new religion and there was still some debate about the nature of the end times. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, was written in the 4th century AD, when Christianity had become more established and the doctrine of eschatology had become more developed.

The explicit mention of the end times in the Nicene Creed was a response to the Montanist controversy, which was a debate about the imminent return of Christ. The Montanists believed that the end times were near and that Christians should prepare for them by living a strict ascetic lifestyle. The Nicene Creed affirmed the belief in the second coming of Christ, but it did not specify when it would happen.

Usage of Creed

The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are two of the most important creeds in Christianity. The Apostles’ Creed is a shorter and simpler creed that is still used in some churches today, especially in Protestant denominations. The Nicene Creed is a longer and more detailed creed that is more commonly used in Catholic and Orthodox churches.

The use of both creeds has been declining in recent years, as some churches have adopted more contemporary forms of worship. However, both creeds remain important statements of Christian faith, and they are likely to continue to be used by churches around the world.

Here are some recent developments:

  • In 2022, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 35% of American Protestants said they had never heard of the Apostles’ Creed, and only 22% said they had ever recited it.
  • In 2023, the United Methodist Church voted to keep the Nicene Creed, but to add a statement of inclusion for LGBTQ people.
  • In 2023, the Church of England announced that it would be continuing to use the Nicene Creed, but that it would be reviewing its interpretation of the creed to make it more inclusive of all people.

Conclusion

The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are two of the most important creeds in Christianity. The Apostles’ Creed is a shorter and simpler creed that is still used in some churches today, especially in Protestant denominations. The Nicene Creed is a longer and more detailed creed that is more commonly used in Catholic and Orthodox churches.

The main difference between the two creeds is that the Nicene Creed is more explicit about the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed simply states that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, while the Nicene Creed states that he is “of one substance with the Father.” The Nicene Creed also includes a statement about the Holy Spirit, which is not mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed.

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