The Creed

The Only One

“And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord.”

The Apostle’s Creed is an ancient and reliable summary of basic Christian beliefs. It begins with God the Father: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” In the second paragraph, it speaks of Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son.

It’s possible that someone would object: “The creed never says that Jesus is God. It only says that He is ‘His only Son, our Lord.’” Yet if we understand what it means to say that Jesus is “His only Son” and what it means that He is “our Lord,” then we understand that Jesus is God.

First, notice that the creed says that Jesus Christ is “His only Son.” Of course, the “His” is God the Father – Jesus Christ is the “only Son” of God the Father. In this, the creed clearly refers to passages like John 3:16, where Jesus is called the only begotten Son of God the Father. We are reminded that Jesus’ position as the Son of God is different from the way that we are called children of God. Jesus’ status as a Son is completely unique; in this sense He is the only Son of God, a Son by essential nature. We may be children of God; but we are adopted sons and daughters of God, made children by a legal decree of God. Jesus is a Son of God because He shares the essential nature and being of God the Father, making Him as much God as the Father is. My sons and I are different; but in our essential nature and being we are both completely human. It’s the same way in the relation between God the Son and God the Father.

Second, the creed says that Jesus Christ is our Lord. Here, the creed looks back to majestic passages of Scripture like Philippians 2:9-11, which describe Jesus Christ as Lord. Click here for a closer look at this passage. This also clearly states that Jesus is God by simply calling Him Lord. In the Bible the earliest Christians used – which was the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint – the word used to translate the holy name of God was kurios. When the Bible says that Jesus Christ is Lord, it uses the same word. It couldn’t say it any more clearly or powerfully: “You read about this ‘Lord’ in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ is this ‘Lord.’”

We also should not miss the significance that at a later time in the Roman Empire, nearly all residents of the Empire were required to swear an oath of allegiance to the Emperor, declaring that Caesar is Lord, and they had to burn a pinch of incense to an image of the emperor. Though the Roman government saw this only as a display of political allegiance, Christians rightly understood it as idolatry – and they refused to participate, often paying with their lives. For them, there was only one Lord. Is it the same way for you? Can you say that you believe in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord?