Note: The word “catholic” does NOT refer to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Christ Jesus.
The purpose of the Apostles’ Creed is to provide a sound, Biblical statement of the Christian faith.The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest creed, however, it is not the direct work of the Apostles, but does have its roots in apostolic times, and embodies, with much reliability, apostolic teaching.
“[If] thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (KJV).
The word Creed derives from the Latin Credo which means ‘I believe’. There are credal statements in the Bible (eg. Deut 6.4, Acts 8:37, Rom 1: 3-4, 1 Cor 15: 3-4, Php 2: 6-11, 1 Cor 8: 6, Matt 28:19).
A Brief Overview of The Apostle’s Creed Back-Story
The Apostles Creed is the creed most widely used in Christian worship in the western world. Throughout the Middle Ages it was generally believed that this creed was composed by the Apostles on the day of Pentecost and that each of them contributed one of the twelve sections. This appears to be a legend dating back to somewhere between the 4th and 6th Centuries. However it still has good reason to be called the Apostles Creed because its content is in agreement with apostolic teaching. The earliest evidence for its present form is St. Pirminius in the early 8th Century although it appears to be related to a shorter Roman Creed which had itself derived from other earlier and simpler texts such as the ‘rule of faith’ or the ‘tradition’ which were based on the Lord’s baptismal command in Matthew 28:19. The Creed was widely used by Charlemagne (the first Holy Roman Emperor) and was eventually accepted at Rome where the old Roman Creed or similar forms had survived for centuries.
The Creed seems to have had three uses, first as a confession of faith for those about to be baptised, secondly as a catechism (an instruction for new Christians in the essentials of the faith), and thirdly, as a ‘rule of faith’ to give continuity to orthodox Christian doctrine. In the west by the early Middle Ages it was widely employed at baptism.
The Creed is Trinitarian in form but the heart of the creed is its confession concerning Jesus Christ and the events to do with his conception, birth, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension and coming judgement.
Thank you to David Meager for the above back story. David is a staff member of Church Society.