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Difference Between the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed

The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds are both ancient with roots tracing back to the very beginning of the church. The church has selected, in her wisdom, the two creeds to be recited on different occasions. The decision on which creed to recite is wholly dependent on the ordained church leaders.

There exist several differences between the two creeds, however. Regardless of the two serving almost similar purposes during some religious occasions, they vary in some aspects ranging from the history to the source, as well as the wording.

If you are interested in a deeper analysis of the two, the journey should have started now. It is a detailed topic that without enough resources, it might be hard to go through. This post, however, tries to go deeper to get the variances between them.


What is ‘The Apostle’s Creed’?

The Apostle’s Creed dates back to about 400 AD. It was traditionally ascribed to Jesus Christ’s apostles even though there exists no truth that it was written by them. A deeper history of the Creed’s coming into being might shed more light on this.

The Apostle’s Creed has a widespread acceptance in the Christian church. Also called the Apostolicum, it is a statement of faith that is nowadays used by the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and many Protestant churches.

History of the Apostles’ Creed

The present text and context of the creed have similarities to the baptismal creed that was used in the church around the 3rd and 4th centuries in Rome. In the late 6th and 7th centuries, it reached its final form in the Southwest region of France.

The creed gradually replaced the existing baptismal creeds and got an acknowledgment as an official statement of faith by the entire Catholic church in the West. As of today, many Protestant churches widely accept the creed. The churches use it in worship although some, for example, the United Methodist Church deletes the line indicating that Jesus Christ, upon His death, descended to the dead.


What is ‘The Nicene Creed’?

The Nicene Creed is a widely used statement of belief, commonly associated with Christian liturgy. The term ‘Nicene’ was adopted as the creed was originally adopted in the city called Nicaea in Turkey. It is the present day Iznik.

History of the Nicene Creed

The creed was adopted mainly to resolve what is known as the Arian controversy. The controversy, led by one clergyman of Alexandria, Arius, objected Alexander’s, the bishop of the time, apparent carelessness to blur the distinction existing between the nature of God the Father and the Son.

When the controversy arose, Alexander accused Arius of openly denying the divinity of God the Son. He also accused him of being too “Greek” and “Jewish” in his thoughts. It was after this that Alexander and his supporters went ahead to craft the Nicene Creed to bring out clarity in the key tenets of the Christian faith. This was in response to the widespread adoption of Arian’s doctrines. The doctrines were henceforth marked as heresy.

Forms of the Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed takes different forms with the variances based on the wording.

The Assyrian and Oriental Orthodox churches use the profession of faith with a variation in the pronoun and verbs in the plural. That is, “we believe”. The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, on the other hand, convert the noun and verb to singularity and use “I believe” instead. Also, the Anglican church and many other Protestant denominations use the singular form and sometimes the plural.


Similarities Between the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds

The two creeds have some similarities:

  • They are both statements of a belief.
  • Both are crafted with the Latin word “creed” which means “I Believe”.
  • Both creeds are used to pray as well as connect with God.


Differences Between the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed

  1. Origin

The Apostles’ Creed is referred to as so as it is rightly regarded as a faithful summary of the Apostles’ faith. It is also regarded as the ancient baptismal symbol, and thus, its great authority arises from that fact. On the other hand, the Nicene Creed draws its authority from the reason that it stemmed from the first two ecumenical councils.

  1. History

The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest of the two as it was drawn up and adopted by the early church before the middle of the 2nd century. The Nicene Creed was created in 325 by the Council of Nicaea.

  1. Purpose

The Apostles’ Creed has been in use during Baptism while the Nicene Creed is mostly associated with the death of Jesus Christ. As such, it is recited during Lent and Easter times.

  1. Wording

The wording in both creeds differs too.

  1. The Apostle’s Creed begins with “I Believe” while the Nicene Creed uses “We Believe”.
  2. The wording “descended into hell” is recited in the Apostles’ Creed but is absent in the Nicene Creed.
  1. Language

The Apostles’ Creed has an origins in the Greek language although the earliest manuscripts are in Latin while the Nicene Creed was produced in Greek.

Apostles’ Creed Vs. Nicene Creed: Comparison Table


Summary of Apostles’ Creed Vs. Nicene Creed

Even though the two creeds have variances, they roughly serve the same purposes. They are widely accepted as statements professing a belief by Christians. The main purpose as to why they were both developed was to address different problems which brings about the different wording.


Sarah Brown

Sarah Phylis Brown
Origin: Houston, Texas
Education: Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) | University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also has Certificate in Statistical Applications. She has written numerous Articles,Blog Posts, Articles, Product Descriptions, Product Reviews, Ghost, Fiction, and Scripts.
She has led a team of experts in establishing the impacts of subsidized sewerage connections in rural slums in Kenya (under the umbrella of the World Bank).

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  1. Very detailed and deep rooted piece of work, I’m now more enlightened.

  2. Honestly I didn’t the differences till today

  3. Thank you for the clarification, More learnings will bring us to God.

  4. Very educative. But I want the full text of the two creeds delivered to my in box please.

  5. Marvelous call to The Way ‘from within’,
    to among.

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References :

[0]Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed#/media/File:Nicaea_icon.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Apostles%27_Creed_in_a_Chinese_Book_of_Common_Prayer.jpg

[2]Wilburn, Rev. "Difference Between The Apostles’ And Nicene Creeds | Lakeland Community". Lakelandcommunity.Org, 2018, http://www.lakelandcommunity.org/2016/04/ryan-fouts-on-the-difference-between-the-apostles-and-nicene-creeds/. Accessed 14 Nov 2018.

[3]Kosloski, Philip. "What’S The Difference Between The Apostles’ Creed And Nicene Creed?". Aleteia — Catholic Spirituality, Lifestyle, World News, And Culture, 2018, https://aleteia.org/2018/02/01/whats-the-difference-between-the-apostles-creed-and-nicene-creed/. Accessed 14 Nov 2018.

[4]Nicene Creed & Apostles' Creed Compare. 2018, https://sbcgjg15.weebly.com/nicene-creed--apostles-creed-compare.html. Accessed 14 Nov 2018.

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