The Longer Catechism: Part I (66-149)

The Longer Catechism
of The Orthodox Church

also known as the Catechism of
St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow



On the Creed generally, and on its Origin

66. What is the Creed?

The Creed is an exposition, in few but precise words, of that doctrine which all Christians are bound to believe.

67. What are the words, of this exposition?

They are as follows:

1. I believe in one God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;

2. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made;

3. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit, and of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;

4. And was crucified for us, under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried;

5. And rose again the third day according to the Scripture;

6. And ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;

7. And He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

8. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the Prophets.

9. I believe one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

10. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.

11. I look for the resurrection of the dead;

12. And the life of the world to come. Amen.

68. From whom have we this exposition of the faith?

From the Fathers of the first and second œcumenical Councils.

69. What is an œcumenical Council?

An assembly of the Pastors and Doctors of the Catholic Church of Christ, as far as possible, from the whole world, for the confirmation of true doctrine and holy discipline among Christians.

70. How many œcumenical Councils have there been?

Seven: 1, Of Nicæa; 2, Of Constantinople; 3, Of Ephesus; 4, Of Chalcedon; 5, The second of Constantinople; 6, The third of Constantinople; 7, The second of Nicæa.

71. Whence is the rule for assembling Councils?

From the example of the Apostles, who held a Council in Jerusalem. Acts xv. This is grounded also upon the words of Jesus Christ Himself, which give to the decisions of the Church such weight that whosoever disobeys them is left deprived of grace as a heathen. But the mean, by which the œcumenical Church utters her decisions, is an œcumenical Council.

Tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. (Matt. xviii. 17.)

72. What were the particular occasions for assembling the first and second œcumenical Councils, at which the Creed was defined?

The first was held for the confirmation of the true doctrine respecting the Son of God, against the error of Arius, who thought unworthily of the Son of God; the second, for the confirmation of the true doctrine respecting the Holy Spirit, against Macedonius, who thought unworthily of the Holy Spirit.

73. Is it long ago that these Councils were held?

The first was held in the year 325 from the birth of Christ; the second in 381.

On the Articles of the Creed.

74. What method shall we follow in order the better to understand the œcumenical Creed?

We must notice its division into twelve articles or parts, and consider each article separately.

75. What is spoken of in each several article of the Creed?

The first article of the Creed speaks of God as the prime origin, more particularly of the first Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, and of God as the Creator of the world;

The second article, of the second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

The third article, of the incarnation of the Son of God;

The fourth article, of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ;

The fifth article, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ;

The sixth article, of the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven;

The seventh article, of the second coming of Jesus Christ upon earth;

The eighth article, of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit;

The ninth article, of the Church;

The tenth article, of Baptism, under which are implied the other Sacraments also;

The eleventh article, of the future resurrection of the dead;

The twelfth article, of the life everlasting.

On the First Article.

76. What is it to believe in God?

To believe in God is to have a lively belief of His being, His attributes, and works; and to receive with all the heart His revealed Word respecting the salvation of men.

77. Can you show from holy Scripture that faith in God must consist in this?

The Apostle Paul writes: Without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them, that diligently seek Him. (Heb. xi. 6.)

The same Apostle expresses the effect of faith on Christians in the following prayer for them to God: That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. (Eph. iii. 16, 17.)

78. What must be the immediate and constant effect of a hearty faith in God?

The confession of this same faith.

79. What is the confession of the faith?

It is openly to avow that we hold the orthodox faith, and this with such sincerity and firmness that neither seductions, nor threats, nor tortures, nor death itself may be able to make us deny our faith in the true God and in our Lord Jesus Christ.

80. For what is the confession of the faith necessary?

The Apostle Paul witnesses that it is necessary for salvation. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom. x. 10.)

81. Why is it necessary to salvation not only to believe, but also to confess the orthodox faith?

Because if any one, to preserve his temporal life or earthly goods, shrink from confessing the orthodox faith, he shows thereby that he has not a true faith in God the Saviour, and the life of happiness to come.

82. Why is it not said in the Creed simply, I believe in God, rather than with the addition, in one God?

In order to contradict the error of the heathen, who, taking the creature for God, thought there were many gods.

83. What does holy Scripture teach us of the unity of God?

The very words of the Creed on this point are taken from the following passage of the Apostle Paul: There is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as there be gods many, and lords many, but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him. (1 Cor. viii. 4, 5, 6.)

84. Can we know the very essence of God?

No. It is above all knowledge, not of men only, but of angels.

85. How does holy Scripture speak on this point?

The Apostle Paul says, that God dwelleth in the light, which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see. (1 Tim. vi. 16.)

86. What idea of the essence and essential attributes of God may be derived from divine revelation?

That God is a Spirit, eternal, all-good, omniscient, all-just, almighty, omnipresent, unchangeable, all-sufficing to Himself, all-blessed.

87. Show all this from holy Scripture.

Jesus Christ Himself has said that God is a Spirit. (John iv. 24.)

Of the eternity of God David says: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, Thou art from everlasting and world without end."(Psalm xc. 2.) In the Apocalypse we read the following doxology to God: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. (Apoc. iv. 8.) The Apostle Paul says that the Gospel was made manifest according to the commandment of the everlasting God. (Rom. xvi. 26.)

Of the goodness of God Jesus Christ Himself said: There is none good but one, that is God. Matt. xix. 17. The Apostle John says: God is Love. (1 John iv, 16. )David sings: The Lord is gracious and merciful, long-suffering, and of great goodness. The Lord is loving unto every man, and His mercies are over all His works. (Psalm cxlv. 8, 9.)

Of the omniscience of God the Apostle John says: God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. (1 John iii. 20.) The Apostle Paul exclaims: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out. (Rom. xi. 33.)

Of the justice of God David sings: The righteous Lord loveth righteousness, His countenance will behold the thing that is just. (Psalm xi. 8.) The Apostle Paul says that God will render to every man according to his deeds, and that there is no respect of persons with God. (Rom. ii. 6, 11.)

Of the almighty power of God the Psalmist says: He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm xxxiii. 9.) The archangel says in the Gospel: With God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke i. 37.)

The omnipresence of God David describes thus: Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I go from thy presence? If I climb up into heaven, thou art there; if I go down to hell, thou art there also. If I take the wings of the morning, and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me; then shall my night be turned to day. Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day; the darkness and light to thee are both alike. (Psalm cxxxix. 6-11.)

The Apostle James says that With the Father of lights there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James i. 17.)

The Apostle Paul writes that God receiveth not worship of men's hands as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. (Acts xvii. 25.) The same Apostle calls God The blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. (1 Tim. vi. 15.)

88. If God is a Spirit, how does holy Scripture ascribe to Him bodily parts, as heart, eyes, ears, hands?

Holy Scripture in this suits itself to the common language of men; but we are to understand such expressions in a higher and spiritual sense. For instance, the heart of God means His goodness or love; eyes and ears mean His omniscience; hands, His almighty power.

89. If God is every where, how do men say that God is in heaven, or in the church?

God is every where; but in heaven He has a special presence manifested in everlasting glory to the blessed spirits; also in churches He has, through grace and sacraments, a special presence devoutly recognized and felt by believers, and manifested sometimes by extraordinary signs.

Jesus Christ says: Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt. xviii. 20.)

90. How are we to understand these words of the Creed, I believe in one God the Father?

This is to be understood with reference to the mystery of the Holy Trinity; because God is one in substance but trine in persons--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--a Trinity consubstantial and undivided.

91. How does holy Scripture speak of the Blessed Trinity?

The chief texts on this point in the New Testament are the following: Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. xxviii. 19.) There are three that bear record in heaven--the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. (1 John v. 7.)

92. Is the Holy Trinity mentioned in the Old Testament also?

Yes; only not so clearly. For instance: By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hosts of them by the Breath of His mouth. (Psalm xxxiii. 6.) Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. (Isaiah vi. 3.

93. How is one God in three Persons?

We can not comprehend this inner mystery of the Godhead; but we believe it on the infallible testimony of the Word of God. The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. ii. 11.)

94. What difference is there between the Persons of the Holy Trinity?

God the Father is neither begotten, nor proceeds from any other Person: the Son of God is from all eternity begotten of the Father: the Holy Spirit from all eternity proceeds from the Father.

95. Are the three Hypostases or Persons of the Most Holy Trinity all of equal majesty?

Yes; all of absolutely equal divine majesty. The Father is true God, the Son equally true God, and the Holy Spirit true God; but yet so that in the three Persons there is only one Tri-personal God.

96. Why is God called the Almighty (Παντοκράτορα)?

Because He upholds all things by His power and His will.

97. What is expressed by the words of the Creed, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible?

This: that all was made by God, and that nothing can be without God.

98. Are not these words taken from holy Scripture?

They are. The book of Genesis begins thus: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

The Apostle Paul, speaking of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, says: By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him. (Coloss. i. 16.)

99. What is meant in the Creed by the word invisible?

The invisible or spiritual world, to which belong the angels.

100. What are the angels?

Incorporeal spirits, having intelligence, will, and power.

101. What means the name angel?

It means a messenger.

102. Why are they so called?

Because God sends them to announce His will. Thus, for instance, Gabriel was sent to announce to the Most Holy Virgin Mary the conception of the Saviour.

103. Which was created first, the visible world or the invisible?

The invisible was created before the visible, and the angels before men. (Orthod. Confess. Pt. I. Q. 18.)

104. Can we find any testimony to this in holy Scripture?

In the book of Job God Himself speaks of the earth thus: Who laid the corner-stone thereof? When the stars were CREATED, all my angels praised me with a loud voice. (Job xxxviii. 6, 7.)

105. Whence is taken the name of guardian angels?

From the following words of holy Scripture: He shall give His angels charge over thee, to guard thee in, all thy ways. (Psalm xci. 11.)

106. Has each one of us His guardian angels?

Without doubt. Of this we may be assured from the following words of Jesus Christ: Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father, which is in heaven. (Matt. xviii. 10.)

107. Are all angels good and beneficent?

No. There are also evil angels, otherwise called devils.

108. How came they to be evil?

They were created good, but they swerved from their duty of perfect obedience to God, and so fell away from Him into self-will, pride, and malice. According to the words of the Apostle Jude, they are the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation. (Jude 6.)

109. What means the name devil?

It means slanderer or deceiver.

110. Why Are the evil angels called devils that is, slanderers or deceivers?

Because they are ever laying snares for men, seeking to deceive them, and inspire them with false notions and evil wishes.

Of this Jesus Christ, speaking to the unbelieving Jews, says: Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John viii. 44.)

111. What has holy Scripture revealed to us of the creation of the world?

In the beginning God created from nothing the heaven and the earth; and the earth was without form and void. Afterwards God successively produced: on the first day of the world, light; on the second, the firmament or visible heaven; on the third, the gathering together of waters on the earth, the dry land, and what grows thereupon; on the fourth, the sun, moon, and stars; on the fifth, fishes and birds; on the sixth, four-footed creatures living on the earth, and lastly, man. With man the creation finished; and on the seventh day God rested from all His works. Hence the seventh day was called the sabbath, which in the Hebrew tongue means rest. (Gen. ii. 2.)

112. Were the visible creatures created such as we see them now?

No. At the creation every thing was very good, that is, pure, beautiful, and harmless.

113. Are we not informed of something particular in the creation of man?

God in the Holy Trinity said: Let us make man in our own image, and after our likeness. Gen. i. 26. And God made the body of the first man, Adam, from the earth; breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; brought him into Paradise; gave him for food, beside the other fruits of Paradise, the fruit of the tree of life; and lastly, having taken a rib from Adam while he slept, made from it the first woman, Eve. (Gen. ii. 22.)

114. In what consists the image of God?

It consists, as explained by the Apostle Paul, In righteousness and holiness of truth. (Eph. iv. 24.)

115. What is the breath of life?

The soul, a substance spiritual and immortal.

116. What is Paradise?

The word Paradise means a garden. It is the name given to the fair and blissful abode of the first man, described in the book of Genesis as like a garden.

117. Was the Paradise in which man first lived material or spiritual?

For the body it was material, a visible and blissful abode; but for the soul it was spiritual, a state of communion by grace with God, and spiritual contemplation of the creatures. (Greg. Theol. Serm, xxxviii. 42; J. Damasc. Theol. lib. ii. cap. 12, § 3.)

118. What was the tree of life?

A tree, by feeding on whose fruit man would have been, even in the body, free from disease and death.

119. Why was Eve made from a rib of Adam?

To the intent that all mankind might be by origin naturally disposed to love and defend one another.

120. With what design did God create man?

With this, that he should know God, love, and glorify Him, and so be happy forever.

121. Has not that will of God, by which man is designed for eternal happiness, its own proper name in theology?

It is called the predestination of God.

122. Does God's predestination of man to happiness remain unchanged, seeing that now man is not happy?

It remains unchanged; inasmuch as God, of His foreknowledge and infinite mercy, hath predestined to open for man, even after his departure from the way of happiness, a new way to happiness, through His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

He hath chosen us, in Him, before the foundation of the world, are the words of the Apostle Paul. (Eph. i. 4.)

123. How are we to understand the predestination of God, with respect to men in general, and to each man severally?

God has predestined to give to all men, and has actually given them preparatory grace, and means sufficient for the attainment of happiness.[1]

124. What is said of this by the Word of God?

For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate. (Rom. viii. 29.)

125. How does the orthodox Church speak on this point?

In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs it is said: As He foresaw that some would use well their free will, but others ill, He accordingly predestined the former to glory, while the latter He condemned. (Art. iii.)

126. What divine energy with respect to the world, and especially to man, follows immediately upon their creation?

Divine providence.

127. What is divine providence?

Divine providence is the constant energy of the almighty power, wisdom, and goodness of God, by which He preserves the being and faculties of His creatures, directs them to good ends, and assists all that is good; but the evil that springs by departure from good He either cuts off, or corrects it, and turns it to good results.

128. How does holy Scripture speak of God's providence?

Jesus Christ Himself says: Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Matt. vi. 26. From these words is shown at once God's general providence over the creatures, and His special providence over man.

The whole of the ninety-first Psalm is a description of God's special and manifold providence over man.

On the Second Article.

129. How are we to understand the names Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

Son of God is the name of the second Person of the Holy Trinity in respect of His Godhead: This same Son of God was called Jesus, when He was conceived and born on earth as man; Christ is the name given Him by the Prophets, while they were as yet expecting His advent upon earth.

130. What means the name Jesus?


131. By whom was the name Jesus first given?

By the Angel Gabriel.

132. Why was this name given to the Son of God at His conception and birth on earth?

Because He was conceived and born to save men.

133. What means the name Christ?


134. Whence came the name Anointed?

From the anointing with holy ointment, through which are bestowed the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

135. Is it only Jesus, the Son of God, who is called Anointed?

No. Anointed was in old time a title of kings, high-priests, and prophets.

136. Why, then, is Jesus, the Son of God, called The Anointed?

Because to His manhood were imparted without measure all the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and so He possesses in the highest degree the knowledge of a prophet, the holiness of a high-priest, and the power of a king.

137. In what sense is Jesus Christ called Lord?

In this sense: that He is very God; for the name Lord is one of the names of God.

138. What says holy Scripture of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John i. 1.

139. Why is Jesus Christ called the Son of God, Only-begotten?

By this is signified that He only is the Son of God begotten of the substance of God the Father; and so is of one substance with the Father; and consequently excels, beyond comparison, all holy angels and holy men, who are called sons of God by grace. (John i. 12.)

140. Does holy Scripture call Jesus the Only-begotten?

It does. For instance, in the following places of the Evangelist John: The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John i. 14. No man hath, seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. (John i. 18.)

141. Why in the Creed is it said further of the Son of God that He is begotten of the Father?

By this is expressed that personal property by which He is distinguished from the other Persons of the Holy Trinity.

142. Why is it said that He is begotten before all worlds?

That none should think there was ever a time when He was not. In other words, by this is expressed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God from everlasting, even as God the Father is from everlasting.

143. What mean in the Creed the words Light of light?

Under the figure of the visible light they in some manner explain the incomprehensible generation of the Son of God from the Father. When we look at the sun, we see light: from this light is generated the light visible every where beneath; but both the one and the other is one light, indivisible, and of one nature. In like manner, God the Father is the everlasting Light. (1 John i. 5.) Of Him is begotten the Son of God, who also is the everlasting Light; but God the Father and God the Son are one and the same everlasting Light, indivisible, and of one divine nature.

144. What force is there in the words of the Creed, Very God of very God?

This: that the Son of God is called God in the same proper sense as God the Father.

145. Are not these words from holy Scripture?

Yes. They are taken from the following passage of John the Divine: We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us [light and] understanding, that we may know the true God, and be in Him that is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John v. 20.)

146. Why is it further added of the Son of God in the Creed that He is begotten, not made?

This was added against Arius, who impiously taught that the Son of God was made.

147. What mean the words, Of one substance with the Father?

They mean that the Son of God is of one and the same divine substance with God the Father.

148. How does holy Scripture speak of this?

Jesus Christ Himself speaks of Himself and of God the Father thus: I and the Father are one. (John x. 30.)

149. What is shown by the next words in the Creed, By whom all things were made?

This: that God the Father created all things by His Son, as by His eternal Wisdom and His eternal Word.

All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made which was made. (John i. 3.)

1 The Greek and the German translation have the following addition: 'But those who freely accept the grace given them, who make good use of the means of grace granted unto them, and who walk in the appointed path of salvation, God has properly foreordained for salvation.'