The Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest of the Christian Creeds. An early written version of the Apostles’ Creed, known as the Old Roman Symbol, is from around A. D. 150.

It was originally a baptismal creed, used as a personal confession of faith, recited by the baptismal candidate. Some traditions have the candidate reciting each article of the creed, “I believe in God, the Father almighty…” followed by a sprinkling of water and the baptizer saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father.” “I believe in Jesus Christ…” “I baptize you in the name of the Son.” “I believe in the Holy Spirit…” “I baptize you in the name of the Holy Spirit.”

The Apostles’ Creed is used liturgically, sometimes as an alternative for the Nicene Creed if a shorter creed is desired. Roman Catholic usage allows the Apostles’ Creed to be used in Masses for children.

It is used catechetically as the outline for Christian doctrine about God and his work.

The Old Roman Symbol

English Translation

I believe in God, the Father almighty.

And in Christ Jesus, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary,
who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried,
the third day he rose from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

And in the Holy Spirit,
the holy church,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the flesh,
life everlasting.

Early Latin Version

Credo in deum patrem omnipotentem;
et in Christum Iesum filium eius unicum, dominum nostrum,
qui natus est de Spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine,
qui sub Pontio Pilato crucifixus est et sepultus,
tertia die resurrexit a mortuis,
ascendit in caelos,
sedet ad dexteram patris, unde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos;
et in Spiritum sanctum,
sanctam ecclesiam,
remissionem peccatorum,
carnis resurrectionem.

Early Greek Version

Πιστεύω οὖν εἰς θεòν πατέρα παντοκράτορα·
καὶ εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν,
τὸν γεννηθέντα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου,
τὸν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου σταυρωθέντα καὶ ταφέντα
καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρα ἀναστάντα ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν,
ἀναβάντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς
καὶ καθήμενον ἐν δεξιᾳ τοῦ πατρός, ὅθεν ἔρχεται κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς·
καὶ εἰς τò ἅγιον πνεῦμα,
ἁγίαν ἐκκλησίαν,
ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν,
σαρκὸς ἀνάστασιν,
ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

Latin Original of the Apostles’ Creed

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem,
Creatorem caeli et terrae,

Et in Iesum Christum, Filium Eius unicum, Dominum nostrum,
qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto,
natus ex Maria Virgine,
passus sub Pontio Pilato,
crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus,
descendit ad inferos,
tertia die resurrexit a mortuis,
ascendit ad caelos,
sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis,
inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos.

Credo in Spiritum Sanctum,
sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam,
sanctorum communionem,
remissionem peccatorum,
carnis resurrectionem,
vitam aeternam.

Versions in Current English Use

Book of Common Prayer

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 Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost:
The holy Catholic Church;
The Communion of Saints:
The Forgiveness of sins:
The Resurrection of the body:
And the Life everlasting. Amen.


English Language Liturgical Consultation

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will 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 the life everlasting. Amen.


The notable difference between the two versions is the line, “he descended into hell” / “he descended to the dead.” The phrase in the Latin is “descendit ad inferos.” How inferos is translated seems to depend on syntax. Inferos is a masculine plural, and favors a translation, “he descended to the dead” that is, ‘he descended to the people of the lower regions.’ Infera would be the neuter plural, and would favor the translation, “he desended into hell,” more directly, “he descended to the lower regions.”

The Apostles’ Creed has its name because it is based on the writings of the apostles, drawing on the gospels and letters of Peter and Paul. The phrase in question is treated by 1 Peter 3:

Christ also suffered once for sins in our place, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in flesh but was made alive in spirit, 19 in which he also went and made an announcement to the spirits in prison. These spirits disobeyed long ago, when God’s patience was waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In this ark a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. (EHV)

The biblical reference and use of the word “prison” for the realm of the dead favors the translation “he descended into hell.

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Lutheran pastor and musician serving St. Stephen's in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

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