Catholic Bible Verses: I Believe in ‘One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’

The famous Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D. professes belief in ‘One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.’  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

“This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.

Only faith can recognize that the Church possesses these properties from her divine source. But their historical manifestations are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First Vatican Council noted, the “Church herself, with her marvelous propagation, eminent holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in everything good, her catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable witness of her divine mission.” (CCC, par. 811-12)

Many protestants/evangelicals reject the idea (either intellectually or in practice) that it was and is Christ’s intention for there to be one true universal Church that is fully united in faith and worship.  Instead, many claim that the true Church is a spiritual reality that does not necessitate a visibly united communion of persons (hence the thousand of protestant denominations can truly be called Christ’s one true universal Church, despite the fact that they teach conflicting doctrines).  Without denying that the spiritual realities of Christ’s Church can extend in ways that are not physically evident, Catholics acknowledge that Christ gathered a visibly united communion of persons to be the Church (‘people of God’).  The Holy Spirit frequently reiterates the necessity of maintaining this unity in sacred scripture.


Bible Verses About the ‘One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’

…The Church is One

  • John 10:16: Jesus prophesies that “there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”
  • John 17:17-23: Jesus prays that his followers “may be one as we are one,” and “may be brought to perfection as one.”
  • Ephesians 4:4-6: “ There is one body, one Spirit… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all…”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you… that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
  • Romans 16:17: “take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties”
  • Philippians 2:2: be “…of same the mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
  • Romans 12:5: “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ…”
  • 1 Corinthians 12:13: “…by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”
  • Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.”

…The Church is Holy

  • 1 Timothy 3:15: “…know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”
  • Colossians 1:18: “And he [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church…”
  • 1 Peter 2:9-10:  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God… Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…”
  • Ephesians 2:19-22:  “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

…The Church is Catholic (‘universal’ & ‘of the fullness’)

  • Matthew 28:18-20: “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
  • Mark 16:15-16: “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.'”
  • John 14:26:  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
  • John 16:12-13:  “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

…The Church is Apostolic

  • Ephesians 2:19-20: “… but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,”
  • Matthew 16:18-10:  “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
  • Luke 22:28-30: “You [the apostles] are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
  • John 15:16: “You [the apostles] did not choose me, but I [Jesus] chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…”
  • Matthew 28:16,18-20:  “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee… And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
  • John 20:21-23: “Jesus said to them [the apostles] again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

>>Link to the Early Church’s testimony about one visible, identifiable Church

>> Early Church Use of the Term ‘Catholic’

>>  See What the Catholic Catechism Teaches About the ‘Four Marks’ of Christ’s Church (CCC, par. 811-870)

<< Back to Catholic Bible Verses & Early Church Writings


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