Is the Apostles’ Creed Biblical?

SHARE

By BibleAsk Team


The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

the Creator of heaven and earth,

and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,

whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and life everlasting.

Amen.

Is the Apostles’ Creed Biblical?

The Apostles’ Creed is one of the oldest and most widely accepted statements of Christian faith. It encapsulates the core beliefs of Christianity and is recited in various denominations as a symbol of unity in faith. However, despite the Apostles’ Creed’s widespread acceptance, there are aspects of the Creed that some believers find contentious from a biblical standpoint. This critique will focus on two key points: the assertion that Jesus descended into hell and the specific mention of the “Catholic Church.”

  1. Jesus’ Descent into Hell:

One of the lines in the Apostles’ Creed states: “He descended into hell.” This phrase has sparked considerable debate among theologians and believers alike. The controversy stems from the lack of clear biblical support for this assertion.

In the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible, the concept of Jesus descending into hell is not explicitly mentioned. However, there are passages that some err by interpreting it as alluding to this event. One such passage is found in Ephesians 4:9, which states, “Now this, ‘He ascended’—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?”

Proponents of the belief in Jesus’ descent into hell often cite this verse as evidence. They argue that the “lower parts of the earth” refer to hell or the realm of the dead. However, others contend that this interpretation is speculative and not conclusive.

Additionally, 1 Peter 3:18-20 is sometimes referenced in this context. It mentions Jesus preaching to “spirits in prison” after His death. However, this passage does not explicitly state that Jesus went to hell or the realm of the damned. Some teach that 1 Peter 3:18–20 and 4:6 back up the belief of an immortal soul and of consciousness after death, and that during the time between the crucifixion and the resurrection Christ descended into Hades, the symbolic realm of the dead (Matthew 11:23), to preach to disembodied spirits suffering there.

But the logic of this teaching demands that the “spirits” here mentioned be in purgatory at the time Christ preached to them and that the goal of His preaching was to give them a second chance to be redeemed and thus to get out from purgatory. But most Protestants who believe that Peter here teaches the consciousness of man in death would be shocked to accept the papal doctrine of purgatory and the equally unscriptural doctrine of a second chance.

Those who teach that Peter here supports their belief in the so-called natural immortality of the soul must also explain why the Savior would be partial to the “spirits” of dead sinners of Noah’s time and not give to those of other generations a similar chance. The Bible plainly teaches that a man must accept salvation in this present life and that his probation ends at death (Matthew 16:27; Luke 16:26–31; Romans 2:6; Hebrews 9:27; cf. Ezekiel 18:24; Revelation 22:12). They also plainly teach that the dead are not conscious (Psalms 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; Matthew 10:28; John 11:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7).

Accordingly, to teach that these “spirits” to be disembodied, conscious beings able to listen and accept the God’s salvation, contradicts many clear passages in the Bible. It should be noted that Peter does not say that Christ preached to disembodied spirits. To teach that the people of Noah’s day did not have a good chance to be saved is to ignore the truth that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” to his generation (2 Peter 2:5), and that they intentionally refused God’s truth given to them through Noah (1 Peter 3:20). “The longsuffering of God” would not have “waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing” (verse 20) unless those for whom the Lord waited were being given a chance to believe and to obey.

For more information on the state of the dead, check the following link: https://bibleask.org/bible-answers/112-the-intermediate-state/

  1. Reference to the Catholic Church:

Another point of contention in the Apostles’ Creed is the mention of the “holy catholic Church.” While the term “catholic” in this context simply means universal, some object to its inclusion due to its association with the Roman Catholic Church.

In the NKJV, the term “catholic” is not capitalized in the Creed, which allows for a broader interpretation. However, for many Protestants, the mention of the “catholic Church” raises concerns about the Creed’s universal applicability beyond the boundaries of a specific denomination.

Protestants often emphasize the priesthood of all believers and reject the idea of a hierarchical church structure. They argue that the true Church is not confined to any specific institution but comprises all believers who profess faith in Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:12; 12:17).

Furthermore, some Protestants take issue with the historical context of the Creed’s formulation within the early Christian church. They argue that the Creed reflects the theological perspectives of its time and may not necessarily align with contemporary understandings of faith.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, while the Apostles’ Creed serves as a significant statement of Christian faith for many believers, it is not without its critics. The lack of explicit biblical support for certain assertions, such as Jesus’ descent into hell, and the potential for misinterpretation of terms like “catholic Church” have led some to question its validity from a biblical perspective.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments