The Big Comma

Posted by Scott Foster on

Here’s the traditional Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy *catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.  (*catholic in lower case means “universal.”)

How often have we said it in church? How many hundreds of times in your life? Do we even hear it anymore? And what are we saying?

We say it a lot in church as our “Affirmation of Faith” where we—corporately, together— stand up and recite it. We use it so often (and a number of other creeds and statements of belief that are in our Book of Confessions) that I asked Charles Courtney to do some research on them all, including the Apostles’ Creed. Here’s what he shares:

The later disproved legend was that the Apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this creed on the tenth day after the Ascension. It originated in Rome ca. 100 and became the common creed of Western Christendom when it took its present form ca. 700. Often used at baptism, the three articles were put to the candidate in the form of a question: “Do you believe?” After each affirmative answer, the candidate was immersed. Note that this bare-bones creed does not mention the ministry or teachings of Jesus. It’s just the “facts.”

So, I wake up this morning and read the devotional from Franciscan Priest and Spiritual Guru Richard Rohr and he’s all about it. Go see what I mean.


The Apostles’ Creed give us a lot to believe in and Charles even points out the omission. It's a lot to live into as is, but I never thought much about this until now. Father Richard demands that we pull out the microscope and look closely at this:

“...born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate…”

How many times do you think we’ve seen it/said it? How many times?

Look closely at the comma and where it falls. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you may notice that comma basically “yadda-yadda’s” Jesus entire life and ministry. Right? Think about it.

Jesus’ entire life is packed into that comma! Every teaching, preaching, parable, healing, miracle, and yes, his commas, too. Wow!

Mind blown!

Hello, disciples! That is a huge wake-up call.

Trying to live this life, live into this Way, just trying to get through the day. That’s you and me. We spend our entire lives unpacking and living into that comma.

Right? What that looks like is up to you and me. Individually, walking the walk.

And, that’s a BIG comma.

Grace and Peace,




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