What Is an Apostolic Church?

A Church

The word apostolic, found in the Nicene Creed, has many different meanings to different Christian churches around the world. Here is a brief overview of how the word is understood by churches that place a particularly strong emphasis on the concept.

1 Meaning of the Word Apostolic

The word apostolic, in Christian use, is an adjective meant to relate to one or more of the original 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ.

2 Apostolic in the Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed published by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD describes the Christian Church as “one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” There are profound differences, however, in how this is understood by the various Christian denominations.

3 The Meaning of Apostolic to the Roman Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI

The Roman Catholic Church understands the word apostolic to mean pertaining to the authority of the bishops, and especially the pope, as derived from an unbroken line of succession of bishops going back to the original 12 Apostles.

4 The Meaning of Apostolic to the Eastern Orthodox Churches

An Eastern Orthodox Cathedral

The Eastern Orthodox concept of apostolicity is similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church, while denying any special authority for the bishop of Rome.

5 The Apostolic Church Denomination within Pentecostal Protestantism

A Church Building

The Apostolic Church, a denomination within Pentecostalism, uses the term to refer to its conviction that its practices and beliefs reflect those of Christianity as it existed during the lives of the original 12 Apostles.

Amber D. Walker has been writing professionally since 1989. She has had essays published in "Fort Worth Weekly," "Starsong," "Paper Bag," "Living Buddhism" and more. Walker holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Texas and worked as an English teacher abroad for six years.