Athanasian Creed According to Scripture

Building on a guide I recently posted to the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed I now present a guide to the Athanasian Creed.  Sadly even among Lutherans the Athanasian Creed is neglected and misunderstood.  This is a shame as the Athanasian Creed contains the most complete understanding of the Trinity we will ever attain this side of heaven.  It also clearly explicates the Person of Christ in a way unmatched in its simplicity.  It is also the most emphatic of the three Ecumenical Creeds and contains the true essence of what it means to be truly catholic and orthodox, all of which are much needed in these grey and latter days.

I have used as our starting blueprint: (many thanks to the original authors). While Redeemed South Bay is a heterodox church, the doctrine contained in the Creed is held in common among all Christians and thus the texts used to support it will be universal.  Some references were not cogent to the point being expressed by the Creed and thus were redacted in order to improve the relevancy of the supporting Scripture.  Additional Scriptural references are added in some places to clarify known difficulties with the Creed by Lutheran laity (i.e. the apparent works righteousness ending).  The references below are not exhaustive.  The text for the Athanasian Creed itself comes from the Lutheran Service Book pages 319-320, with the verses of the Creed in the parenthesis.  Unlike the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds I have broken the Creed into five main sections, assigning a hymn to each.  These hymns highlight the five main parts of the Athanasian Creed: Anathemas, Unity of the Trinity, Persons of the Trinity, Person of Jesus Christ, and Work of Jesus Christ.  You can find a PDF version at my original post at the First Lutheran Church of Boston website.


Athanasian Creed



Whoever desires to be saved must, above all, hold the catholic faith. (1)

John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Rom. 3:23-25, 10:13, Heb. 11:6

Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word (LSB 655)

Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled will without doubt perish eternally. (2)

Mark 9:43, Rom. 2:6-8, 6:23, 1 Cor. 1:18, Gal 3:10-11, 2 Thes. 1:8-9, Rev. 21:8

And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance. (3-4)

Gen. 1:26, Deut. 6:4, Is. 43:10, Matt. 3:16-17, 28:19, Mark 12:29, 12:32, John 10:30, 2 Cor. 13:14, Eph. 4:5, Jas. 2:19

Holy, Holy, Holy (LSB 507)

For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is another. (5)

Matt. 3:16-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:18, 6:44, 10:15, 14:16-17, 14:26-27, 15:26, 16:7, 16:13-15, Acts 8:29, 10:19, 13:2-4, Rom. 8:27, 1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 4:4-6

But the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit: (6-7)

Gen. 1:2, 1:26, Ex. 3:14-15, Is. 44:6, John 8:58, 16:15, Acts 5:3-4, Rom. 8:9, 1 Cor. 12:4-6, Col. 2:9, Heb. 9:14, 10:29, 1 Pet. 1:2, Rev. 5:13, 21:22-23

the Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Spirit uncreated; (8)

Gen. 1:1, Ps. 90.2, Is. 40:28, John 1:1, Eph. 3:10-11, Col. 1:17

the Father infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite; (9)

1 Kings 8:27, Ps. 113:4-6, 145:3, 147:5, Is. 40:28, Jer. 23:24, Rom. 11:33, Eph. 3:8

the Father eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet there are not three Eternals, but one Eternal, just as there are not three Uncreated or three Infinites, but one Uncreated and one Infinite. (10-12)

Is. 9:6, 48:12, Matt. 3:11, John 1:1, 1:3, Rom. 1:4, 1 Cor. 8:4, Col. 1:17, Heb. 9:14, Tit. 3:5-6, Rev. 1:8, 22:13

In the same way, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, the Holy Spirit almighty; and yet there are not three Almighties but one Almighty. (13-14)

Gen. 17:1, 18:14, Ps. 62:11, Matt. 19:26, Mark 14:36, Luke 1:35, John 5:21, 1 Cor. 8:4, 12:4, 12:11, Eph. 1:20-21, 3:20-21, Phil. 3:20-21, Col. 2:9-10, Heb. 1:3, 1 Pet. 3:22, Rev. 1:8, 4:8, 11:17, 15:3, 16:7, 16:14, 19:6

So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God. (15-16)

Gen. 1:26, Is. 9:6, Matt. 1:23, 28:19, John 1:1, 1:14, 6:27, 10:30, 20:28; Acts 5:3-4, 20:28, Rom. 9:5, 1 Cor. 2:10-11, 3:16, 6:19, 8:4, 2 Cor. 1:21-22, 3:17, Col. 1:15-17, 2:9, Tit. 2:10

So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord; and yet there are not three Lords, but one Lord. Just as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so also we are prohibited by the catholic religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords. (17-19)

Deut. 6:4, Matt. 11:25, Luke 2:11, Acts 10:36, 1 Cor. 6:14, 2 Cor. 3:17, Rev. 17:14

The Father is not made nor created nor begotten by anyone. The Son is neither made nor created, but begotten of the Father alone.  The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. (20-22)

Gen. 1:1, John 1:14, 1:18, 3:16, 3:18, 5:26, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, 1 Cor. 8:6, Col. 1:16-17, 1 John 5:20, Rev. 4:11

O Blessed, Holy Trinity

(LSB 876)

Thus, there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons, one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. (23)

Matt. 23:9, 1 Cor. 8:6, 12:13, Eph. 4:4-6

And in this Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another; but the whole three persons are coeternal with each other and coequal, so that in all things, as has been stated above, the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity is to be worshiped. (24-25)

Matt. 28:19, John 1:1-2, 10:30, 16:14-15, 17:5, 17:10, Acts 5:3-4, 1 Cor. 12:11, Eph. 4:4-6, Heb. 9:14

Therefore, whoever desires to be saved must think thus about the Trinity. (26)

Matt. 28:19-20, John 3:18, 3:36, 8:34-38, Rom. 3:28

But it is also necessary for everlasting salvation that one faithfully believe the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. (27)

Matt. 1:23, John 1:14, 3:18, 6:40, Acts 13:38, Gal. 4:4, Phil. 2:6-8, 1 Tim. 2:5-6, 3:16

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (LSB 621)

Therefore, it is the right faith that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is at the same time both God and man. (28)

Matt. 1:23, 3:17, 10:32-33, 17:5, Luke 2:11, John 1:14, 3:18, 6:40, 8:58, Acts 13:38, Rom. 10:9, Gal. 4:4, Phil. 2:5-11, Col. 3:17, 1 Tim. 2:5-6, 3:16, Heb. 5:5, 1 Pet. 3:15, 2 Pet. 1:17

He is God, begotten from the substance of the Father before all ages; and He is man, born from the substance of His mother in this age: perfect God and perfect man, composed of a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father with respect to His divinity, less than the Father with respect to His humanity. (29-31)

Matt. 26:38, Luke 2:52, 24:39, John 1:1-3, 1:14, 5:23, 7:29, 10:30, 11:35, 12:27, 16:15, 17:24, 19:33-34, Acts 2:27, Rom. 1:3, Gal. 4:4, Phil. 2:5-11, Col. 1:16

Although He is God and man, His not two, but one Christ: (32)

Rom. 5:15, 5:17, 1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 4:5, 1 John 2:22

one, however, not by the conversion of the divinity into flesh, but by the assumption of humanity into God; one altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.  For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ, (33-35)

Matt. 1:23, John 1:1, 1:14, Phil. 2:5-8, Heb. 2:14-17

who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead, (36)

Is. 52:13-53:12, Rom. 3:25, 4:25, 6:4, 8:11, 1 Cor. 6:14, Gal. 1:4, Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:20, 1 Thes. 4:14, 5:10, Heb. 2:17, 1 Pet. 1:3, 2:24, 3:18-19, 1 John 2:2

I Bind Unto Myself Today (LSB 604)

ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the living and the dead. (37)

Ps. 110:1, Luke 24:51, John 5:22, Acts 1:9, 1:11, 7:56, 10:42, 17:31, Rom. 8:34, 2 Cor. 5:10, Col 3:1

At His coming all people will rise again with their bodies and give an account concerning their own deeds. (38)

Job 19:26, John 5:28-29, Rom. 14:12, Rev. 20:12

And those who have done good will enter into eternal life, and those who have done evil into eternal fire. (39)

Matt. 7:17-18, 16:27, 25:31-46, John 5:28-29, 15:4-6, Rom. 8:1-11, 2 Cor. 5:10, Eph 2:8-10, Heb. 11:6, Rev. 20:12

This is the catholic faith; whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved. (40)

John 3:18, Gal. 1:8, 2 Thes. 2:15, Jude 3


About Dr. Paul Edmon

Dr. Paul Edmon is from Seattle, Washington and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has his B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2004 and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He is professional staff at Harvard University and acts as liaison between Center for Astrophysics and Research Computing. A life long Lutheran, he is formerly a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle and University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis. He now attends First Lutheran Church (FLC) of Boston where he teaches Lutheran Essentials. He sings bass in the FLC choir and Canto Armonico. He was elected to the Concordia Seminary St. Louis Board of Regents in 2016. He is single and among his manifold interests are scotch, football, anime, board games, mythology, history, philosophy, and general nerdiness. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent Harvard University or Concordia Seminary. Twitter: @pauledmon


Athanasian Creed According to Scripture — 11 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this!

    Such clarity stands head and shoulders above the likes of Pr. Becker, who fail to note any historical context and instead relegate this to “mere error-laden formula of men” so that faithful Scriptural exposition may continue to make way for progressivism.

    Far from being clever human soteriological minutia, it is and remains a faithful exposition of God as He revealed Himself in His Word, over and above Arius and all who would take after him.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. The Athanasian Creed deserves to be confessed more often than on Trinity Sunday. It is a deep statement of what we believe. It marks us. It distinguishes us. It is a hallmark of the Truth, deeply embedded in Scripture. Thank you, Dr. Edmon.

  3. @backinthefold #2

    I believe other than Trinity Sunday, there is historical practice of having it on Ash Wednesday; but it also would seem to be very fitting on the Last Sunday of the Church Year.

  4. I’ve also seen it done that churches will confess the Athanasian Creed on 5th Sundays. Suffice it to say this Creed is indeed neglected and worthy of more recognition and study than it gets.

  5. Perhaps the Book of Common Prayer could offer some commendable guidelines for greater use in the service:

    “Upon these feasts; Christmas Day, the Epiphany, Saint Matthias, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Whitsunday (Pentecost), Saint John Baptist, Saint James, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Matthew, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Saint Andrew, and upon Trinity Sunday, shall be sung or said at Morning Prayer, instead of the Apostle’s Creed, this confession of our Christian Faith, commonly called the creed of Saint Athanasius, by the Minister and people standing.”

  6. Dr. Edmon,

    I really appreciate the chart with all the scripture references and the fact that it is downloadable in PDF. Thanks!

    Blessings in Jesus Christ,
    Ginny Valleau

  7. Last year while traveling, I attended a LCMS church in Wisconsin. Being Trinity Sunday, I was looking forward to reciting the Athanasian creed. The pastor said he did not want to bore us with the Athanasian creed and omitted it. Then the contemporary service from the 70’s began. One member apologized by saying we only do this once a month.

  8. As an LCMS pastor, my congregation used the Athanasian Creed (AC) at both services on Trinity Sunday. Yet I have a weighty question that is premised on our affirmation that our final authority in matters of faith is the Bible. With respect to statement # 33, I have long sought biblical substantiation that supports its unambiguous assertion about the incarnation of the Son, that it occurred “not by the conversion of the divinity into the flesh, but by the assumption of humanity into God.” Yet my search availed nothing except for conjectures based on finite logical reflection stemming from lectures that are grounded in historical theology. While I understand the intellectual quandary the AC’s point seeks to address, this mystery is compromised by attempts which, perhaps unwittingly, overstate what the Bible actually says. Insofar as Scripture addresses this concern at all, it is entirely consistent in its affirmation that, in harmony with Philippians 2:7, Jesus instead “emptied Himself” (in the words of J.B. Phillips) “of his rights and privileges as God” (NT in Modern English). Consequently I reject this AC assertion. None of the biblical references you cited for sec. 33-35 offer a single support for that assertion. I also apply this same assessment to your references pertaining to AC’s three warnings at its beginning, middle, and end.

  9. @Gary Jensen, Pastor #10

    I would disagree with you about Athanasian Creed 33. I would say that the John 1:14 passage certainly supports the statement that God takes humanity into Himself. The Creed is simply stating that it is God who is acting here, not the human nature. He is the one who exalts humanity by condescending to become nothing as Philippians says. Beyond that we have Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2. The Creed states clearly that it is God acting to exalt us, not us dragging God down. It is also the case that there is no third confused nature that is created but rather the Lord deigns to condescend to take on humanity and thereby exalts it high beyond all that Adam could have ever imagined.

    This is also the way the Formula of Concord talks about it as well. While I have not read Chemnitz’s masterful work on the Two Natures in Christ, I imagine he deals with the subject far better than I ever good. Thus I leave you in his care and the wisdom of our forebearers in giving us the Creed. While I do understand your worry about going to far with our reason into a mystery I do not think the Creed says too much here but says what is right and proper.

    As to the anathemas, those who do not believe in the right God are not saved. Thus those who do not believe the catholic faith are damned. Recall Christ’s words regarding who He is in John 3, and John 14. To have a faulty view of God is the essence of breaking the 1st Commandment. If that is not damnable I don’t know what is.

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