I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator 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; died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living 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.
A creed is a definite list or summary of all the things one believes. The “Apostles’ Creed” is therefore a list or collection of all the truths the Apostles believed. The “Apostles” were the twelve men that Our Lord selected to be His first bishops. We know they were bishops because they could ordain priests and consecrate other bishops. They lived with Our Lord like a little family during the three and a half years of His public life; they went with Him and learned from Him wherever He preached. Besides these He had also His disciples, i.e., followers who went with Him frequently but did not live with Him. Our Lord wished His doctrine to be taught to all the people of the world, and so He told His Apostles that they must go over the whole world and preach in every country. During the life of Our Lord and for a short time after His death they preached in only one country, viz., Palestine—now called the Holy Land—in which country the Jews, up to that time God’s chosen people, lived. Since the Apostles were to preach to all nations, the time came when they must separate, one going to one country, and another to another. In those days there were no steamboats or railroads, no post offices, telegraph offices, telephones, or newspapers. If the Apostles wished to communicate with anyone they had either to go to the place themselves or send a messenger. By walking or riding it might have taken them months or years in those days to make a journey that we can make now in a few days; and for an answer to a message which we can get now by telegraph in a few hours they might have had to wait months. The Apostles knew of all these inconveniences, and before leaving the places they were in pointed out the chief truths that all should know and believe before receiving Baptism, that Christian teachers who should come after them might neglect nothing—just as we use catechisms containing the truths of religion, for fear the teachers might forget to speak of some of them. There are “twelve articles” or parts in the Apostles’ Creed, and each part is meant to refute some false doctrine taught before the time of the Apostles or while they lived. Thus there were those—as the Romans—who said there were many gods; others said not God, but the devil created the earth; others taught that Our Lord was not the Son of God: and so on for the rest. All these false doctrines are denied and the truth professed when we say the Apostles’ Creed.