The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Comma dilemma

Of all that is, seen and unseen

Is the first sentence of the Nicene Creed, "We believe in One God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen," punctuated correctly or should the last sentence be "Of all that is seen and unseen"? To me there is a huge difference.

Punctuation of something that has been translated from the Greek, as is the case here, is almost always a matter of editorial judgment. It can, of course, be written either way. I like the comma after "is," but I also don't see the difference that you do. Both testify to the sovereignty of the Triune God who created the universe beyond what we can see or imagine.

In the Nicene Creed we confess: "We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins." What is the biblical basis for this?

After Peter preached his Pentecost sermon, the people cried out, "What should we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

Baptism joins us to Christ in such intimacy that it can be described as "putting him on," as we would put on clothing (Galatians 3:27). Romans 6:3 describes baptism as being united with Christ in his death, which also means being united with his body, the church, where forgiveness of sins is a constant gift and reality.

Confessing "one baptism" unites believers of all times and places, so we realize more fully the gifts of being in Christ, which is baptism's deepest promise.

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