I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell. (sheol*)
On the third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
*The English word “hell” here is misleading, for “hell” has changed its sense since the English form of the Creed was fixed. Originally, “hell” meant the place of the departed as such, corresponding to the Greek Hades and the Hebrew Sheol. That is what it means here, where the Creed echoes Peter’s statement that Psalm 16:10, “thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades” (so RSV: AV has “hell”), was a prophecy fulfilled when Jesus rose (see Acts 2:27–31). But since the seventeenth century, “hell” has been used to signify only the state of final retribution for the godless, for which the New Testament name is Gehenna.- J. I. Packer, from Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.
The Second Article of the Creed teaches us about our salvation by faith in Jesus. His conception and birth as well as His suffering and death for our redemption were clearly spoken of through the Old Testament prophet Isaiah:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and -shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 (ESV)
We affirm the eyewitness testimony of the apostles, who saw, walked and ate with Jesus after He was raised from the dead.
In Luke 24 we learn that Peter came to Jesus’ tomb only to realize He wasn’t there. Jesus, by dying on the Cross and descending into the world of the dead, defeated death. Jesus rose again and was seen by many witnesses- walking, talking, eating, just as He had done before His crucifixion. On the road to Emmaus, the risen Jesus was revealed to the disciples in the breaking of the bread. Again Jesus was revealed to the disciples in the Upper Room as He ate with them. Then, after He blessed the disciples, Jesus ascended into heaven.
As much as we may find the eschaton (i.e., the final event in the divine plan; the end of the world, as defined by the New Oxford Living Dictionary) to be a frightening concept, we believe that Jesus is returning to restore and remake heaven and earth. We are included in that new creation. Those who have faith in Jesus have nothing to fear, because He has promised we belong to Him and will be with Him in this new creation forever.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV)
Martin Luther explains the Second Article of the Creed and what it reveals to us about Jesus in the Small Catechism:
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.
What does this mean?–Answer.
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be [wholly] His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.