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CONFESSIONES ECCLESIÆ APOSTOLICÆ.
The Bible is the Word of God to man; the Creed is man's answer to God. The Bible reveals the truth in the popular form of life and fact; the Creed states the truth in the logical form of doctrine. The Bible is to be believed and obeyed; the Creed is to be professed and taught. Hence we find few traces of creeds in the Bible.
In the Old Testament the fundamental doctrine of Monotheism is placed as a command at the head of the Decalogue, Exod. xx. 2, 3, and put in the form of a dogma, Deut. vi. 4:
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד
Ilear, () Israel :
one [The Lord our God, the
These words form the beginning of what is termed Shama (Hear), and are repeated in the daily morning and evening services of the Jews. They are the Creed of the Jews, in distinction from the Gentiles or idolaters.
The sentence does not mean, “Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone' (and no other God), but it means either • Jehovah, our God, Jehovah is one,'' or, 'Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah.'' In either case it is an affirmation of the unity of God, and this is made the basis of the fundamental moral precept which follows (ver. 5): “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.' Hence our Lord, Mark iv. 29, quotes these two passages together as the first of all the commandments.'
Similar assertions of the unity of God are found in Deut. iv. 35, 39 (“Jehovah is the God; there is none else beside him'); 2 Sam. vii. 22 ; xxii. 32; 1 Kings viji. 60; 1 Chron. xvii. 20; Psa. xviii. 31 (“Who is God save Jehovah ? or who is a rock save our God ?"); Psa. Ixxxri. 10 (“Thou art God alone'); Isa. xliii. 10–12 ; xliv. 6, 8; xlv. 22; Joel ii. 27; Zech. xir. 9.
The New Testament confirms this doctrine repeatedly: Mark xii. 29 ; John xvii. 3 ("Thee, the only true God'); 1 Cor. viii. 4 (“There is none other God but one'); Gal. iii. 20; 1 Tim. ii. 5.
But while the New Testament presupposes the unity of the Godhead, it makes the Divinity and Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth the centre of the Christian religion in its distinctive fundamental creed. The following are the passages which furnished the nucleus for the ancient rules of faith and baptismal creeds.
So Oehler (Theologie des A. Test. Vol. I. p. 159), and others : 'Our Elohim’ is in apposition to the first Jehovah, and one is predicate to the second Jehovah.
* So our English Version, Keil, and others, who take ‘Jehovah, our Elohim' as the subject, and 'one Jehovah' as the predicate, of the sentence. The Mohammedans hare borrowed their monotheistic watchword from the Jews, with a heretical addition—There is no God but Allah; and Mohammed is his prophet.'
The Confession of Nathanael (Bartholomew).
Jous i. 50 (49). 'Απεκρίθη Ναθαναήλ και λέγει αυτό: Nathanael answered and saith into
him, Ραββί, συ ει ο υιός του θεού, Rabbi, THOU ART THE SON OF GOD, συ ει ο βασιλεύς του
THE KING OF Ισραήλ.
Note. —'King of Israel' is a designation of the Messiah, and an anticipation of the Confession of Peter. Nathanael reasons from the divine character of Christ as revealed in his supernatural knowledge of the heart, to his Messiahship, and returns the commendation, • Behold an Israelite indeed without guile,' by the acknowledgment, 'Thou art the King of Israel,' and hence my King. The term 'Son of God' was also a designation of the Messiah in his divine nature, derived from Psa. ii. 5, 12 (comp. Isa. ix. 6), and is so used by Peter, Matt. xvi. 16; by the disciples in the ship, Matt. xiv. 33; by Martha, John xi. 27; and by the high-priest, Matt. xxvi. 63. The Apostles, before the pentecostal illumination, had no clear insight into the full meaning of the expression; but their faith, based upon the Old Testament and the personal knowledge of our Lord, contained the living germ of the full knowledge.
The Confession of Peter.
MATT. xvi. 16.
'Arrompibeis di Siuwv létpos cinev' And Simon Peter, answering, said, Συ εί ο Χριστός, ο υιός του Tμου ART THE CRIST [THE MESθεού τού ζώντος.
SIAN], THE SON OF THE LIVING
Note. - This is the fundamental Christian Confession, and the rock on which the Church is built. See Schaff's Annotations to Lange on Matthew, pp. 293–295.
Johs vi. 68.
Κύριε, προς τίνα απελευσόμεθα; | Lord, to whom shall we go? Tliou
ρήματα ζωής αιωνίου έχεις και hast words of life eternal, and ημείς πεπιστεύκαμεν, και εγνώκα- we have believed and known
that Συ ει ο άγιος του θεού. THOU ART TUE IIOLY ONE OF GOD.
Note. --This is the true reading, instead of the received text: “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God' (συ ει ο Χριστός, ο υιός του θεού του ζώντος), which is conformed to Matt. xvi. 16. It is equivalent to Thou art the Messiah, and coincides with the testimony of the demoniacs (Mark i. 26), who with ghost-like intuition perceived the supernatural character of Jesus. This Confession of Peter belongs to an earlier period than the one recorded by Matthew. See Lange, Com. on John, pp. 234 sq. (Am. ed.).
The Confession of Thomas.
Johx xx. 28.
'Απεκρίθη θωμας και είπεν αυτω: Thomas anstrered and said unto
him, Ο κύριος μου και ο θεός μου. MY IORD AND MY GOD!
Note.—This is the strongest apostolic Confession of Faith in the Lordship and Divinity of Christ, an echo of the beginning of the fourth Gospel (i. 1, 'the Word was God'), and an anticipation of its close (xx. 31, 'that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in his name'). For the words are undoubtedly addressed to Christ, as is evident from the preceding to him,' and from the appellation, 'My Lord;'' and not an exclamation of astonishment addressed to God.” For in the latter case Thomas would utter a profanity unrebuked by the Lord. The words indicate a triumph of faith over doubt. Thomas was not an unbeliever—he was not a doubter from indifference to the truth (as Pontius Pilate), still less from hostility to the truth, but from love of truth. He was an honest and earnest inquirer; his heart was anxious and ready to believe, but his understanding demanded evidence, which he embraced with joy as soon as it was presented. He represents the principle, intellectus precedit fidem, which is not entirely inconsistent with the other, fides precedit intellectum. He was a rationalist in the best sense of the term, animated and controlled by a love of truth. Blessed are those that seek the truth, for they shall find it. This kind of skepticism, or spirit of inquiry rather, is a stimulating and propelling force in the Church, and is necessary to the progress of theological science and historical and philosophical research. To such skepticism the words of the poet may be applied :
There lives more faith in honest doubt,
To find a stronger faith his own.' And yet there is a higher faith, which believes without seeing (ver. 29; 1 Pet. i. 8; 2 Cor. v. 7), which holds fast to the invisible as seeing him (Heb. xi. 27), which goes to Christ as the child to his mother's breast, as heart to heart, as love to love, with undoubting, implicit, unbounded trust and confidence.
The Baptismal Formula.
Matt. xxviii. 19. Μαθητεύσατε πάντα τα έθνη, βαπτί- Disciple [make disciples of] all the ζοντες αυτούς
nations, baptizing them . είς το όνομα του πατρός INTO THE NAME OF THE FATHER, και του νέου
AND OF THE Son, και του αγίου πνεύματος, , AND OF THE IIoLY Guost;
'The Greek nominative with the article is used for the vocative, as in Matt. xi. 26, where God is addressed in prayer, ó parnp; xxvii. 29, xaipe ó Baçıltúc; in Mark xv. 34, ó gróc μου, ο θεός μου, εις τί εγκατέλιπές με; in Luke viii. 54, and in many other passages.
• Theodore of Mopsnestia : 'Quusi pro miraculo facto Deum collaudat.' He is followed by Socinians and Rationalists.
διδάσκοντες αυτούς τηρείν πάντα teaching them to observe all όσα ενετειλάμην υμίν.
things whatsoever I lare
cominanded you. NOTE.–For an explanation of the Baptismal Formula, which is the basis of the old Trinitarian creeds, and for the various renderings of ois (into, to, in, with reference to), see Schaff and Lange, Com. on Matt. pp. 556-558.
The Confession of the Eunuch.
Acts viji. 37.
Πιστεύω τον υιόν του θεού εί- I believe that JESUS CHRIST IS THE
ναι τον Ιησούν Χριστόν. SoN OF GOD. NOTE.— This confession of the Ethiopian Eunuch before his baptism by Philip the Deacon, together with the preceding words of Philip, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest' (be baptized), according to the received text (with sundry variations), is not contained in the best Uncial MSS., and is given up by critical editors (Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort), as an interpolation made to suit the baptismal service of the Church ; but it is found even in Irenæus and Cyprian, and tends to prove the apostolical origin of a baptismal confession of faith in Christ as the Son of God.
One God and One Lord.
1 Cor. viii. 6. Fίς θεός ο Πατήρ,
There is ONE GOD THE FATHER, εξ ού τα πάντα,
of whom are all things, και ημείς εις αυτόν
and we unto [for] him; και είς κύριος Ιησούς Χριστός, and ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, δι' ού τα πάντα,
by whom are all things, και ημείς δι' αυτού.
and we by him. The Mystery of Godliness.
1 ΤΙΜ. iii. 16. Ομολογουμένως μέγα εστίν το της | Confessedly great is the mystery ευσεβείας μυστήριον
of godliness : "Ος [θεός] εφανερώθη εν σαρκί, “Wlio [God] was manifested in
the flesh, εδικαιώθη εν πνεύματι,
justified in the Spirit, ώφθη αγγέλοις,
seen of angels, εκηρύχθη εν έθνεσιν,
preached among the Gentiles, επιστεύθη εν κόσμω,
believed on in the world, άνελήφθη εν δόξη.
received up in glory.'
Note.—The relative OC (ös, who) is best sustained by evidence (Xac-though Aleph has been meddled with, and B is wanting), instead of the noun OC (Jeós, God, in the text. rec.), or of the neuter gender, ö (which). See Tischendorf, ed. viii. maj. ii. p. 849, and the long notes of Alford and Wordsworth. The reading og improves the rhythm without changing the sense; for it certainly refers to Christ the God-Man, whether we connect it with uvorýprov (by transition from the mystery to the person of Him who is the sum and substance of the rerelation of God), or regard it (in accordance with the parallelism and continuity of the following clauses) as a quotation from a primitive hymn or confession. Wordsworth refers 'who' to the preceding 'living God,' but God as such can not be said to have been “received in glory.'
The Elementary Articles.
Heb, vi. 1, 2. Διό αφέντες των της αρχής του Therefore, leaving the word con
Χριστού λόγον, επί την τελειό- cerning the beginning of [the] τητα φερώμεθα μη πάλιν θεμέ- Christ, let us go unto perfecλιον καταβαλλόμενοι
tion [maturity], not laying
again a foundation μετανοίας από νεκρών έργων, , of repentance from dead works, και πίστεως επί θεόν, ,
and of faith in God, βαπτισμών διδαχής, ,
of the doctrine of baptisms
(washings], επιθέσεώς τε χειρών, ,
and of luring on of hands, αναστάσεώς τε νεκρών, ,
and of resurrection of the dead, και κρίματος αιωνίου. .
and of eternal judgment. Note.- Many commentators suppose that the sacred writer here refers to the fundam, and elementary articles of catechetical instruction in the apostolic Church ; but the articles mentioned were held by Christians in common with the Jews, and are distinguished from the fullness of Christian knowledge (TEA ELórns), or the strong meat for those who are of full age' (ver. 14). The passage has only a remote bearing on creeds. For details, see the commentaries of Bleek, Tholuck, Delitzsch, Lünemann, Alford, Moll and Kendrick.
Other Allusions to Creeds. The duty of confessing the faith is taught by our Lord, Matt. x. 32, 33, and by St. Paul, Rom. x. 9, 10.
Allusions to a creed may be found in the following passages :
Acts xvi. 31, where Paul and Silas, in answer to the question of the jailer at Philippi, say: BELIEVE ON THE LORD JEsus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.'
Rom. xii. 6: "The analogy of faith' (kard mrv åvaloyiav tñs aiotaws).
1 Cor. xv. 3: 'I delivered unto you among the first things that which I also received, that CHRIST DIED FOR our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that he wAS BURIED, and that HE ROSE AGAiN the third day, according to the Scriptures,'etc. T
2 Tim. i. 13, 14: ‘Hold fast THE FORM OF SOUND WORDS [ÚTOBúmwolv tūv vyraivóvtwv dóywv, a sketch or outline of the healing words] which thou hast heard from me, in faith and lore, in Christ Jesus. That GOOD THING WHICH WAS COMMITTED UNTO THEE [Fiv mapa