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The Apostles' Creed & The Nicene Creed

Hell.  Ancient documents such as the Apostles Creed can be easily misunderstood in how they used words.  We do not commonly use the word "hell" to refer to the grave, but the biblical writers used this expression about Jesus several times.  Thus, early Christians used the same expression.  Notice this prophecy about Jesus.  "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Ps. 16:10).  Peter quotes these prophetic words when speaking of Christ.  "[T]hou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. . . .  He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption" (Ac. 2:27, 31).  In the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, Paul also referenced this prophecy speaking of Christ.  "Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Ac. 13:35).  When John recorded the revelation of Christ, John likewise spoke of "hell" as being the grave.  "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them" (Rev. 20:13).  In the follow verse, John distinguishes "hell" from the "lake of fire."  "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death" (Rev. 20:14).

Catholic.  The word "catholic" is another word frequently misunderstood as referring to the Roman Catholic church. Originally, the word meant "universal" which can be verified at  The expression from The Apostles' Creed comes from the concept that Paul taught in Ephesians.  "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23).  "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Eph 3:14-15).  "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Eph. 4:4).

Baptism.  The biblical writers spoke of baptism in connection with "the remission of sins." Therefore, the early church fathers continued in that pattern in The Nicene Creed.  Here are three verse that demonstrate such a use of language in the Bible.

Mk 1:4
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Ac 2:38
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. . . .

Ac 22:16
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Jesus said about the cup during His last supper before His death, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Mt. 26:28).  Peter explained to Cornelius that to Christ "give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins" (Ac. 10:43).  So, what do we make of such a mixed usage of the expression "remission of sins"? 

We are saved by the work of Christ.  What work?  Jesus' shedding of sinless blood alone has the power to save.  Because the righteousness of Jesus Christ is "imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Ro. 4:24), we conclude that salvation is "by grace . . . through faith . . . :  Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).

But, again, why would the biblical writers speak of baptism in connection with "the remission of sins"?  Confessing the Lord Jesus with the mouth was (generally speaking) immediately and loyally followed by baptism.  Therefore, baptism was tied to the remission that resulted from faith in Christ's blood.  "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the , and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Ro. 10:9).

I've in no way done the difficulty of this subject justice by so few words.  Certainly, my remarks do not explain all the verses that one might raise.  Ultimately, we must extend to the patristic fathers the liberty of using language as the apostolic fathers used the same language.

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