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The Christian Fish

Dec 6, 2007
The Christian fish symbol, known as the Ichthus dates back to as early as the first and second century A.D. The symbol is not just a sticker that people put on their bumpers or a charm on a necklace, it has a much deeper meaning and is very significant to both early Christians and the Christians of today.

Ichthus, also spelled ichthys is the Greek word for fish. The spelling in Greek is IXOYE for Iota, Chi, Theta, Upsilon, and Sigma which mean Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.

At the time the Ichthus first started being used, the cross was not used as a Christian symbol. The fish became a natural religious symbol to be used by Christians as fish was a common food of the day and fish was often used by Jesus in His ministry.
Some Biblical examples of Jesus using or referring to fish:

* Matthew 12:40 "...Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

* Matthew 14:17 "And they said to Him, 'We have here only fives loaves and two fish."

* Mark 1:17 "Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."

* Luke 5:6 "And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking."

* Luke 24:42 "So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb."

* John 21:6 "And He said to them, 'Cast the Net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish."

During these early days, Christians were often put to death for practicing their faith. Because of this threat they were forced to worship in secret places. The Ichthus was often written as graffiti, and was used by Christians as a password in the times of Christian persecution by the Romans. The symbol was used as a means of identification and to designate a place for Christians to gather. A fish painted on the outside of a door on a house let other Christians know that they could be safe and would be welcomed inside.

Today, the Ichthus is making a comeback. It is often seen on stickers, t-shirts, jewelry, business logos, and more. It is even being used in emails and signatures by typing a left pointing arrow, a right pointing arrow, and then another left pointing arrow. Often, the inside, or the body of the fish is empty. Other times the word Jesus or the Greek letters ICTUS are found inside the middle of the fish.
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