Fish Symbolism in Christianity
Religion Articles 1/30/12
By: Yona Williams
You may have seen the infamous symbol decorating the bumper of a car in sticker form or displayed on signs associated with the Christian faith, as the fish was an early symbol of Christianity for centuries. In this article, you will learn about the history, as well as encounters highlights of fish as they appear in the Bible.
The fish symbol was selected by early Christians as their symbol because they believed that it would best represent their faith. For starters, the Greek word for fish (ICHTUS) created a decent acrostic for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior." Persecutors would not readily see the fish as a noted Christian symbol. The ministry of Jesus was linked to the fish, as he chose several fishermen to be his disciples and stated that he would turn them into "fishers of men."
When the persecution of the early church took place, it is said that a Christian meeting someone new would draw a since arc in the sand. If the other person was a Christian, he or she would finish the drawing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ placing a second arc to create the image of a fish. If the second person was not a Christian, the half-symbol was not a strong enough mark that would signify they had just encountered a Christian.
The ICHTHUS fish is a form of the symbolism that includes the Greek word for fish, which is written out to highlight the symbolic acrostic. The word may look like IXOYE, the letters belong to the Greek alphabet. The 'I' is iota, while the 'X' is a chi. The 'O' represents a theta, the 'Y' is an upsilon, and the 'E' or 'C' at the end is a sigma. When you take the first sound from each of these Greek letter names, you get the transliteration into the alphabet we understand as ICHTHUS.
Nowadays, the fear of persecution is no longer a worry for today's Christians living in the western world. Today, the Christian fish symbol typically showcases the name of Jesus written inside the fish. Sometimes, the symbol of the cross is included. The fish also serves as a symbol of baptism because the fish calls water its home and when someone is baptized, water plays an important role in the ritual.
A verse in the Bible that is related to a reference to fish is found in Mark 1:16-18:
"As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.