Christological Creeds

In the early church there were multiple creedal formulas which corresponded to various circumstances in the Christian faith. The most common of these confessions were purely Christological in nature.^1 The two most common elements in these

1 See Oscar Cullmann, The Earliest Christian Confessions, transl. by J.K.S. Reid (London: Lutterworth, 1949), pp. 35,38. This book is one of the classic works on this subject.

From Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus – Ancient Evidence For The Life Of Christ (in print at Amazon)

creeds concerned the death and resurrection of Jesus and his resulting deity.^2 Thus we note the major interest in the life and person of Jesus Christ.

The Life of Jesus Christ

The earliest Christians were confident that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,” as proclaimed in the confession found in 1 John 4:2.^3 Seldom was belief in Jesus’ incarnation expressed more clearly than in the “pre-Pauline hymn” of Philippians 2:6ff.,^4 which speaks of both Jesus’ human and divine natures. His humble life on earth is clearly contrasted with his heavenly position “in the form of God” and his later exaltation and worship.

Another ancient creed which expresses a contrast between aspects of Jesus’ life is 2 Timothy 2:8.^5 Here Jesus’ birth in the lineage of David is contrasted with his resurrection from the dead, again showing the early Christian interest in linking Jesus to history.^6 Similarly, Romans 1:3–4 is also an ancient, pre-Pauline creed.^7 It juxtaposes the man Jesus “made of the seed of David according to the flesh” with the divine Jesus whose claims were vindicated by his rising from the dead.^8 For our present purposes, we need only note the early interest in Jesus’ earthly, physical connections, as he was born of a descendant of David’s family. As Moule relates, it was the same human Jesus who lived, died and was later vindicated.^9