WHY IS FISH A CHRISTIAN SYMBOL?
After Christ’s death and resurrection, several of his followers went underground and dispersed. Of course, the Holy Spirit encouraged his apostles and closest followers, and they set out to preach the Gospel of Christ.
Persecution of those who profess that Jesus was Christ, that is, the Christians, happened almost immediately, and Christians needed to identify with each other by using symbols. The symbols of the fish were one of the most well known.
Archaeologists found these fish symbols in caves and catacombs, which were used as meeting places. It has been found in grave markings and even in areas of living. This was a symbol known by many true believers but not by those who haven’t been. Why the fish?
There are some fascinating hypotheses relating to the use of fish. At first, Jesus preached primarily in a fishing town called Galilee. Many of His first-elected apostles were fishermen, including Simon Peter, to whom He entrusted the church keys. Jesus, teaching in parables, told his followers that he would make them fishers of men. The New Testament contains many passages that refer to fish.
In the Greek word for fish, IXOYE comes a prevalent school of thought about fish; iota, chi, theta, upsilon, and sigma. The sounds from those letters would be ICHTHUS in English, and you might have noticed the “ichthus fish” symbol. The combination of those letters is an acronym-Iesous Christos Theou Uiou Soter-which means Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.
Catholic theology expanded on the five words of the acronym into Jesus’ prayer, which reads, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
The Christian Fish Symbol can be seen in recent years as being affixed to the back of cars or as key chains, and in other very obvious ways as Christians use it to remind the world that they are believers in the one true God.
The Origin of the Christian Fish Symbol
The source of the popular Christian fish symbol is believed to be in the early years after Jesus ascended to heaven. As the church expanded rapidly, the Romans and the Jews’ target was to persecute the church.
The symbol was used as a kind of secret code. When a Christian meets a fellow believer, they will make a drawing of the upper part of the symbol on the ground. If the other person were a Christ believer too, he would complete the fish symbol by drawing the inverted lower arch.
Another reported use in the early church for the Christian Fish symbol was a pointer to secret meetings scratched on the earth or on a rock.
‘Fish’ is the Greek word ‘ichthus’ (translated from Greek). From this letter, early Christians formed an acrostic: I= Jesus; CH = Christos (Christ); TH = Theous (God); U= UIOS (Son); SOTRE (Saviour). Therefore, the concept of fish or the vision of the symbol will bring the good news of Jesus Christ directly to the mind of the believer. In addition to the fact that he called His disciples “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17) Jesus fed large numbers of His followers with fish (Matthew 14:13-21, 15:33-39, and parallel accounts), the fish was an excellent choice for Jesus’ followers.
The need to use the early symbol
The early Christians were persecuted both by their day’s government and religious leaders. Sometimes Roman emperors considered themselves as gods and called for the people to worship them. Therefore, this Christian faith, which worshiped Jesus Christ, was a threat to their rule and empire. These Christ believers had to keep their religion secret from the government for this purpose.
The Jews also believed that these Christians adored a false god. The Jewish leader sought to suppress what they perceived to be a modern and blasphemous religion because the Christians followed Jesus. Christians thus had to conceal from the Jewish leaders that they were Christ’s followers as well.
The fish emblem was a way for Christians to communicate without being known either by the government or religious leaders. When meeting a new person, one would draw half of the fish symbol into the dirt. The other person would either complete the other half of the symbol by revealing himself as a Christian or by not understanding a believer ‘s behavior and revealing him/her not as a believer. Since the non-believer did not understand the believer’s actions, the believer’s religious views could be securely concealed.
Why Christians Use Fish As a Symbol?
Christians may have use fish as a symbol of their faith because Jesus used to fish in his ministry.Some of these references are as follows: Jesus told Peter and Andrew that he would make them Fishers of men (Mark 1:17). Jesus Christ fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish (Matthew 14:17). After his resurrection, he appeared to his disciples and led them to a miraculous catch and made them breakfast (John 21: 6-9).
Today’s Christians represent the Christian symbol of the fish in various ways, including Greek-letter ΙΧΘΥΣ, with a cross, with JESUS on the body of the fish, or only without letters.
The meaning of the fish symbol in the United States appears to be more decorative than anything else. American Christians are not afraid that they might be executed or locked up for their beliefs, at least not yet. The symbol was attached to their cars and other objects, which make them to be identified as believers in Jesus Christ.
A word of caution to those just learning about this symbol: first, you are not a Christian if you simply carry the symbol of a fish in your car. You are a Christian when you realized that you are a sinner, repented of that sin, and gave your life to Jesus Christ. A life lived by Jesus is a much better testimony than a plastic fish in the car.
Secondly, look closely at any fish symbols you have noticed in public. There are several parodies and ridicules of it. Evolutionists, Pastafarians (a parody religion that claims to love pasta), and even Trekkies (enthusiastic Star Trek fans) have shaped the Christian symbol of the fish to represent their interests. Just because you see a fish symbol in a vehicle does not mean you have met a spiritual brother or sister in Christ.
God’s service is a love logo.
Some ministry has taken the Christian fish symbol as their logo and added the word love to their ministry’s name: God is love. We also want to draw attention to love because God is love (1 John 4: 8, 16), Now we believe that the world needs the love that God commands us to give to each other.
As described in the following three examples, we believe in the power of the love of God.
1. God’s love on Calvary
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Out of love for God, and out of what He has done for us on Calvary, our sins are washed away, and we shall have eternal life in heaven.
2. God’s love in the resurrection.
In Ephesians 1: 18-20, Paul prayed that we know His incomparable power for those of us who believe. This power is like the work of his mighty power, which he exercised in Christ when he raised him from death and placed him on his right in the heavenly kingdom.
What God did for love, and therefore we can overcome the world, is the power of God’s love at work.
3. God’s love as guidelines for life
God commanded us to love one another. He said:
Love God (Mark 12: 29-31; Deuteronomy 6: 4-5)
Love your brother (1 John 4: 19-21)
Love your enemy (Matthew 5:44)
Love your neighbor (James 2: 8; Galatians 5:14; Luke 10:27)
God gave us guidelines for love when he defined love in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a. This leads us to conclude that loving is giving because you cannot live by this scripture without giving yourself.
- Love is patient
- Love is kind.
- Does not envy
- It does not brag
- It is not proud.
- It is not rude
- It is not selfish
- Doesn’t get angry easily
- Does not keep an error log
- Love does not rejoice in evil
- But it is happy about the truth.
- Always protect
- Always trust,
- Always wait
- Always hold on.
- Love never fails.
We believe that if we follow God’s command to love, as He said, we will make the world a better place to live. As Christians, we must admonish one another to love the way Christ loved us by humbling himself and died for us.
Therefore, the logo of God’s service is the Christian fish symbol and a call to Christians to love, as Christ said, twe should love and to use the power of his love to overcome the world as he did (John 16: 33).
The power of God’s love knows no limits. Paul also prayed: “May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3: 18-19).
The common symbol for fish in cars and elsewhere is a symbol of Christianity. Initially, Christians should have been able to identify with each other while preventing those who are hostile to Christianity from identifying believers. In the United States, the symbol can be viewed today without fear of state persecution.
The Christian fish symbol should be displayed to remind Christians that they are faithful followers of Jesus Christ, show other Christians that they are not alone, and encourage unbelievers to take Christianity’s claims into account.