Origin of the Creed
Many hypotheses exist about when and how the Apostles' Creed was created.
Many suppose it comes from "the
Old Roman Symbol" of the 1st or 2nd century, and was influenced later by the Nicene Creed (325/381).
This creed seems to have been made as an argument against Gnosticism. Gnosticism was a heresy in the early days of the Church. Gnostics believed things that were very different than what the Catholic Church taught. The Apostles' Creed, and other creeds, were made to be like examples of Catholic teachings, and to defend Catholic beliefs.This can be seen in almost every phrase. For example, the creed states that Christ was born, suffered, and died on the cross. This seems to be an argument against Gnostic beliefs, which said that Christ only seemed to become a man, and that he did not truly suffer and die, but only seemed like he did.
Because it was written very early in history, it does not talk about some issues that later Christian creeds, like the Nicene Creed, brought up. This makes it acceptable to many Arians and Unitarians.
For more information on the origin of the Apostles' Creed, see the detailed discussion in the Catholic Encyclopedia.