Who wrote the Apostles Creed?


The legend was that the creed took shape at the dictation of the Twelve Apostles, each of whom contributed a special article. Thus, Peter, it was alleged, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, commenced, “I believe in God the Father Almighty”; Andrew (or according to others, John) continued, “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord”; James the elder went on, “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,” etc. This legend is not older than the 5th or 6th centuries, and is absurd on the face of it.

1. Baptismal Confession:
The real origin of the creed has now been traced with great exactness. The original germ of it is to be sought for in the baptismal confession made by converts in the reception of that rite. The primitive confession may have contained no more than “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God,” but we have evidence within the New Testament itself that it soon became enlarged. Paul speaks of the “form of teaching” delivered to converts (Romans 6:17), and reminds Timothy of “the good (beautiful) confession” he had made in sight of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12). Similar language is used of Christ’s confession before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13). We may perhaps conjecture from the epistles that Timothy’s confession contained references to God as the author of life, to Jesus 707 Christ and His descent from David, to His witness before Pontius Pilate, to His being raised from the dead, to His coming again to judge the quick and the dead (1 Timothy 6:13; 2 Timothy 2:8; 4:1). Early Christian writers, as Ignatius (110 AD), and Aristides the apologist (circa 125 AD), show traces of other clauses.

2. “Rule of Faith”:
In any case, the fact is certain that before the middle of the 2nd century the confession at baptism had crystallized into tolerably settled shape in all the greater churches. We have accounts given us of its contents (besides the Old Roman Form) in Irenaeus, Tertullian, Novatian, Origen, etc.; and they show substantial unity with a certain freedom of form in expression. But the form in the Roman church came gradually to be the recognized type. After the middle of the century, the confession rose to new importance as the result of the Gnostic controversies, and assumed more of the character of a formal creed. It came to be known as the “Rule of Truth,” or “Rule of Faith,” and was employed to check the license of interpretation of Scripture of these fantastic heretical speculators. The creed had originated independently of Scripture — in the early oral teaching and preaching of the apostles; hence its value as a witness to the common faith. But it was not used to supersede Scripture; it was held to corroborate Scripture, where men by their allegorical and other perversions sought to wrest Scripture from its real sense. It was employed as a check on those who sought to allegorize away the Christian faith.