The Nicene Creed (N) was promulgated in 325 by the Council of Nicea* to defend the orthodox faith against the Arian heresy and to assert the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father. This relatively short creed was probably based upon creed(s) of Syro-Palestinian origin into which the Nicene emphases were interpolated.
God the Father
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
God the Son
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
God the Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The term Nicene Creed is also used ambiguously of the creed used in the eucharistic worship of the church which is not only longer but different in many respects from N. The former is known as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (C). The hybrid title reflects the popular, although mistaken, view that at the second ecumenical council at Constantinople* (381) another creed was put forward which enlarged the Nicene formulary. A number of considerations, however, shed considerable doubt about the identity of C and its relationship to N: (1) no mention of a creed is made in the four canons of the Council of Constantinople or in the official letter to Theodosius.* The first appearance of C is, in fact, at the Council of Chalcedon* (451) where “the faith of the 150 fathers” was read out. There is, then, an absolute silence regarding a Constantinopolitan creed from 381 to 451; (2) a comparison of C with N shows that key formulae of the Nicene faith, such as the Son's participation in the “substance of the Father,” are missing. Such omissions make it difficult to accept that it is a modified version of N; (3) the Creed of Jerusalem which Epiphanius incorporates in his tract Ancoratus (c.374) is practically identical to C.
Among the many suggestions for the solution of this mystery are: that C was used at the baptism and episcopal consecration of Nectarius*; that Cyril of Jerusalem presented the revised creed of Jerusalem at the Council as testimony to his orthodoxy; that the second ecumenical council reaffirmed N; and C, a creed of Syro-Palestinian origin, was embodied as an illustrative formula in its tomos.
The famous and divisive Filioque clause was added to C at the Third Council of Toledo in Spain in 589, but the Church of Rome continued to use the creed in its original form until the start of the eleventh century.
F.J.A. Hort, Two Dissertations (1876); J. Kunze, Das nicänisch-konstantinopolitanische Symbol (1898); A.E. Burn, An Introduction to the Creeds and to the Te Deum (1899) and The Nicene Creed (1909); J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds (1950); T.H. Bindley, The Oecumenical Documents of the Faith (4th ed. rev. by F.W. Green, 1950).