Apostles' Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Creator of heaven and earth,
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.* The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
    and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
    whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic** church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and life everlasting.

Background: The Apostles' Creed is one of the oldest creeds of Christianity, dating in an early form to at least the middle second century (c. 150) with roots in the biblical traditions of the Gospels. The importance of this creed is represented by the fact that the early Church regarded it as “symbol (or rule) of faith”—it has been used to distinguish between true believers and those who held to heretical beliefs. The Trinitarian structure was likely intended to counter the teachings of Marcion who denied that the God of the Old Testament was the same God revealed in Jesus the Christ. While it was once thought that the twelve Apostles each contributed one line of this creed prior to beginning their mission. This is a wonderful, yet entirely fictitious narrative. The twelve sections have been retained in order to aid the Christian instruction of new converts or children.

Disagreement has often surrounded the phrase "he descended into hell."  In fact, some church traditions omit this phrase from public recital of the Creed because some consider this phrase as confirming an early belief that Jesus preached to the dead during the time between his crucifixion and resurrection (cf. 1 Peter 3:19, 4:6). However, other biblical scholars and theologians do not agree that the biblical traditions truly describe Jesus preaching to the dead, and therefore understand this phrase as a metaphor for burial, i.e.,  "he descended into the realm of the dead.".

** The word "catholic" refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the sense the opposite of Catholic is not Protestant but “heretic”.