The Apostles' Creed (Circa 2nd Century AD)

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.


And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead and buried.
He descended to the dead,
On the third day, He rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven,
And sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy universal church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting.
Amen.

An Explanation of the Apostles' Creed

From as early as the second century, Christians used statements of faith, like the Apostles’ Creed, to publicly declare their faith in Christ. Usually these statements were made prior to their public declaration of the faith at baptism.  The Apostles' Creed was one of those statements based on the Apostles' teaching and summarized the essential doctrines of our faith.  However, creeds have no authority or power in themselves, but instead point us to God and his Word who alone have authority and power.

Some versions of the Apostles' Creed include two phrases that sometimes need more explanation than others.  The first is that Jesus "descended into hell."  Unfortunately, several English translations of the Bible are inconsistent in their translation of the Hebrew word Sheol and the Greek word Hades.  They are sometimes translated as "hell" when they both mean "the place of the dead."  Sheol and Hades are a temporary place where souls are kept till they await the final judgment.  The Bible says that Jesus descended to these lower regions of the earth and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.  However, he did not go to hell as we would know it as the Lake of Fire.  That is the permanent place of punishment for Satan, his angels, and all those who reject the free gift of salvation offered to us in Christ.  Therefore, it's helpful to say "He descended to the dead" so as not to be confused and confuse others.  

Secondly, early versions said we believe in "the holy catholic church."  This does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church as we know it today since the "c" of catholic is lower cased.  The word catholic means “universal.” The true "catholic" church is all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.  So, it might be easier and better understood to use a word like universal in place of catholic.