As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him. (Mark 1:16 – 17)
Ichthus (prounced “ikh-thoos’) is the Greek word simply meaning “fish”
These are also the first letters of the Greek words: lesous, Christos, Theou, Uios and Soter.
They make up an acronym, standing for; “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour.”
Christians often display this fish symbol on their cars or wear it to let others know they believe in Jesus.
It would seem however, there are not many who consider how it began or the tradition behind its use.
But what is it? What does’ it mean?
In the years following Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, the Christian church grew rapidly. Christians soon found themselves persecuted. The first martyr, Stephen, died about 32 A.D., just 2 years after Jesus’ resurrection.
The Roman Empire’s first of TEN state sponsored persecutions of Christians began under Nero in 67 A.D. In many places, it became dangerous to be known as a Christian. The association between ‘fish’ and Christianity is encouraged by the fact that at least half of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen.
Thus, when two strangers met and thought that maybe they were fellow believers, one of them would draw one curve of the fish symbol… Recognising the symbol the other person would add the second curve. It is a very simple shape to draw – just two curved strokes, it could be drawn quickly and erased just as quickly if there was no sign of recognition. The symbol would also have been used to mark tombs or safe meeting places.