Creeds of the Kehillah ~ Part 5

The Apostles’ Creed ~ Part 4

This post will continue our closer look at the Apostles’ Creed to learn more about what we affirm that we believe.

AND IN JESUS CHRIST, GOD’S ONLY SON, OUR LORD:

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

AND IN JESUS CHRIST, GOD’S ONLY SON, OUR LORD

We tend to think of creeds as cold moralistic summaries of doctrine. But the real centerpiece of the Apostles’ Creed is not a doctrine but a name.

Even before the ancient baptismal confession had taken shape, perhaps the earliest Messianic confession consisted of just three words: Yeshua Is Adonai (Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3). That early statement remains the spiritual heartbeat of the baptismal creed. Everything else in the creed radiates like the spokes of a wheel from that hub: personal attachment to Yeshua; total allegiance to him.

At the center of the Messianic faith is not an idea or a theory or even a vision of life but the name of a person, Yeshua HaMashiach. Our faith centers on personal attachment to Him.

Attachment to Yeshua is personal, but that is not to say that it is a private matter. Sha’ul reminds the Philippians that one day all worldly powers and authorities will speak the name of Yeshua and will confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai (Lord) (Phil 2:9–11). To confess Yeshua as Adonai means to acknowledge him as the one who shares the identity of Israel’s God. In the Tanakh, God is named YHWH, transliterated as Adonai (Lord); and in the Brit Hadashah, Yeshua is revealed as the one who bears that name. So, to confess Yeshua as Adonai is to set Him above all other loyalties. It is to make a universal claim. If Yeshua truly shares the identity of YHWH, then He is the hidden truth of creation, history, and every human life (Col 1:15–17).

I confess Him as my Adonai only because I recognize him as the Adonai.

Such a universal claim might sound insensitive or even oppressive to modern pluralistic ears. And Messianics have indeed at times used the universality of the gospel to justify oppression and injustice. Rightly understood, however, the message of Yeshua’s lordship is a word of comfort and hope for all people.

In the ancient church, the confession of Yeshua’s lordship began to change the way Messianics thought about slavery. Societies were rigidly stratified and hierarchical. There were marked distinctions between men and women, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free. But the Messianic community did not accept that those social distinctions defined people. All came to the same baptismal waters and confessed the same Adonai. When they entered naked into the waters of baptism, no one could tell the difference between rich and poor, slave and free. So even when the Messianic movement had barely begun, we find Sha’ul urging a believer to regard his Messianic slave as no longer a slave … but a dear brother (Philemon 16).

Because Yeshua is the universal Adonai, all worldly power is limited and provisional. Because He is Adonai, social distinctions are relativized and will ultimately be set aside altogether. All people owe their allegiance, not to any other person but Yeshua. Before Him, they can recognize one another as sisters and brothers. And so, the logic of universal lordship gives rise to a classless society.

The ancient institution of slavery did not vanish all at once. But when slaves and free persons stood side by side and confessed that Yeshua is Adonai, the days of slavery were numbered. When early believers entered the waters and took the name of Yeshua on their lips, the tectonic plates shifted. The slow revolution had begun. [1]

In my next post, we will continue to unpack this second article of faith that Yeshua is Adonai in the Apostle’s Creed.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism.

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