who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

(This is part four of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

First we looked at God the Father; then we started talking about God the Son; now we’ll look a little bit at how God the Spirit has participated in our redemption with the third line of the Apostles’ Creed:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit…”

This line is fairly simple, so I don’t think we need to break it into segments, but there are at least a few things stand out about this line to me….

First, this line reveals that the Apostles’ Creed is Trinitarian. The first line is about the Father, the second line mentions the Son, and the third line mentions the Spirit. This is not an accident. During the first few centuries of Christianity, the Roman Empire heavily persecuted followers of Jesus. This made it very difficult to iron out any systematic theology, let alone publish and widely circulate Christian doctrine. The Apostles’ Creed was created almost immediately after Roman persecution of Christians ended and was made to affirm doctrinal beliefs in a largely illiterate culture. It’s a condensed version of Christian doctrine that is meant to be easily memorized and passed on and served two purposes. First, it allowed Christians to share their beliefs with non-Christians around them. Second, it helped to prevent the spread of heretical doctrine. One of the most important Christian tenants is Trinitarian Doctrine.

Second, this line is talking about both Jesus and the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit helped Jesus during his ministry. First and foremost, as this line indicates, the Holy Spirit conceives Jesus (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35). The Spirit signals to John the Baptist that Jesus is the Messiah (John 1:32-34). God the Father and God the Spirit endorse Jesus after His baptism (Matthew 3:16, 17; Mark 1:10,11; Luke 3:21-22) and the Spirit descends on Jesus before He goes into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1). We find that the Holy Spirit partners with Jesus during his earthly ministry.

Third, if the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus and partners with Him in his earthly ministry, won’t He also conceive us as new creations when we are born again? Won’t He also partner with us during our time here on earth? Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit; this power is also available to us. Ephesians 3:20 states that God is able to do more than we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us. That power is the Holy Spirit. We’ll look more closely at the Holy Spirit in another entry soon…