Creed of Athanasius with Subtitles

A few days ago I mentioned in a post that I often read the Creed of Athanasius to my 2 year old before I put him down for a nap. I had occasion to type it up for something else, and I decided to add subtitles. So I'm posting the Creed below with my subtitles. If you have better suggestions, I would love to hear them. I think what I have reflects the movement of thought in the Creed, but there might be better places to divide it up, and there might be better titles for the sections. I welcome your suggestions.

It is important to note that the word “Catholick” here does not mean “Roman Catholic” but “Universal.” That is, this is what all Christians believe. And the truth is that those who believe these truths, as well as other biblical doctrines such as justification by faith alone, are more catholic than the Roman Catholics.

One other note before the Creed. I thought about dropping the line about Jesus descending into hell, since I don't think the Bible teaches that Jesus descended into hell. I decided to leave it and make a point about the nature of Creeds. We use these great statements of faith to summarize what the Bible says and the church believes. But these Creeds are not inspired and they are not authoritative in the way Scripture is. Thus, I think that whereas Christians are bound to believe everything Scripture teaches, Christians must evaluate everything that is not Scripture by Scripture. So I think I'm being perfectly consistent to believe everything the Creed says except the part I think is unbiblical (see Wayne Grudem's essay, "He Did Not Descend Into Hell: A Plea For Following Scripture Instead Of The Apostles' Creed," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34.1 (1991): 103-113.).

So without further ado, here's the Creed of Athanasius plus my subtitles:


Introductory Preface

Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholick Faith.
Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

Trinity in Unity
And the Catholick Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.

Uncreated, Incomprehensible, Eternal, and Almighty
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.

Three Persons, One God, and One Lord
So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.
And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.
And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
So are we forbidden by the Catholick Religion: to say there be three Gods, or three Lords.

Of None, Begotten, Proceeding
The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.

Equality of Essence and Worth
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other: none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together: and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

Necessary Christian Belief
He therefore that will be saved: must thus think of the Trinity.

The Two Natures of Jesus
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right Faith is that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world;
Perfect God, and Perfect Man: Of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting;
Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood.
Who although he be God and Man: yet he is not two, but one Christ;
One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the Manhood into God;
One altogether, not by confusion of Substance: but by unity of Person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ.
Who suffered for our salvation: descended into hell, rose again on the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty: from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

The Second Coming
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies: and shall give account for their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting: and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

Closing Significance
This is the Catholick Faith: which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

Join the Conversation


  1. Dr. Hamilton,

    Thanks for your insite. My only question is this:

    Why did you not put the subtitle for “The Second Coming” before the phrase “from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead,”?

    Curious to hear your thoughts.

    ben arbour

  2. I put it where I did because of the way the text is punctuated. I didn’t want to break up the sentence, and the “whence he shall come” phrase is part of the statement on him ascending to the right hand of the Father. . .


  3. Thanks for clearing that up. That’s what I guessed…

    I just finished listening to the radio show in which you participated. Thanks for your labor and contribution to evangelicalism as a scholar.

    ben arbour

  4. Jim,
    I’ve tried to use this creed in worship, but the phrase “And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting: and they that have done evil into everlasting fire” prompts outcry. Even when I tell them it’s from John 5 they still feel uncomfortable with it. Go figure hey!

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