This is the second in a four-column series on the Nicene Creed.The new English translation of the Nicene Creed has some important changes that deserve a clear explanation.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, Dt 6:4; 1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:5At one point in the translation process, this part of the Creed began with "And in one Lord", because the Latin only uses the word credo once, at the beginning, and uses the word et ("and") throughout the rest of the Creed. It was decided the multiple "believe" statements should be retained, but in the singular.
the Only Begotten Son of God, Ps 2:7; Jn 1:14; Heb 1:5
born of the Father before all ages. Col 1:15-17; 1 Pt 1:20; Jude 1:25
We confess that Jesus is not the “only Son” but the “only begotten Son”. We are all, by virtue of our baptism, sons and daughters of God; but Jesus is only begotten Son of God. This means that the Son was not created (which would consequently mean that He would not be eternal in existence). Because the Son was begotten, He shares the nature of the Father Who begot Him, and since the Father's nature is divine, so too the Son is divine. And because it belongs to divinity to be eternal, the Son is eternal, as is the Father.
The expression “eternally begotten” which we used to express this eternal existence of the Son has become “born ... before all ages”, reflecting the Latin. By "all ages" is meant "all time". We really cannot fathom this amazing mystery of the Trinity: the Father begat the Son eternally, so there was no time (since time did not even exist yet) before the Father begat the Son: the Father was never without the Son.
God from God, Lk 1:35; Phil 2:6-7The Nicene Creed seeks to make clear that Jesus, God the Son, is in no way inferior in divinity to God the Father. The phrases “God from God”, “Light from Light”, and “true God from true God” make that point, and are followed by a repetition of the distinction that Jesus was “begotten, not made”. The final way of explaining the equality of the Son to the Father is with the phrase “consubstantial with the Father”, which was “one in being with the Father” in the old translation. (Catechism 242)
Light from Light, Lk 2:32; Jn 1:4-9; 1 Jn 1:5; Rev 21:23
true God from true God, Ex 3:14; Jn 8:24,28,58
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; Col 1:19; Heb 1:3
through him all things were made. Jn 1:3; Col 1:15-16; Heb 1:2
The relationship between the three Persons of the Trinity is unique, and it deserves a unique word to describe it. The new translation uses an uncommon word, “consubstantial”, which comes straight from the Latin word consubstantialem, made up of two parts, con- (with, joint) and substantia (substance); it is a translation of the Greek word homoousios which is also made up of two parts, homo- (same) and ousia (essence, being). We say that the Son is of the same substance or essence as the Father: They are one in substance. Both the Son and the Father are of the same single divine substance. Jesus, God the Son, is not “one in being” with the Father as if the Son and the Father are the same being, the same Person.