Story of The Christian Fish

Origin & Meaning of This Christian Symbol

The Christian fish also known as Jesus fish has gained popularity today. You can see this Christian symbol printed on bumper stickers or window decals which many Christians placed on the bumpers, windows or windscreens of their cars.

You can also see this symbol on jewelry and other Christian gift products.

Christian fish symbol with cross hanging or sitting on the arc.Two Designs of the Fish Symbol

The Origin of the Christian Fish Symbol

Originally, the fish symbol, two interweaved crescent moons, was used by the Greeks, Romans and other pagans as a symbol of fertility usually associated with goddesses.

During the life of Jesus, fish was a stable food for the people and we see many instances where fish was mentioned in the four gospels.

For example, in the calling of the first disciples, Jesus met Simon Peter, James and John while they were mending their nets after toiling for the whole night without catching any fish. Upon obeying Jesus' words, they caught so much fish that their nets began to break.

Jesus told them, "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." Mark 1:17, Luke 5:1-11

Another example, after listening to Jesus' teaching till late in the day, the people were hungry and Jesus fed them (five thousand of them) with five loaves and two fish.

So it was not surprising that the early Christians chose the fish symbol as a password or secret symbol when they faced persecutions for their faith during the first century after Christ. And as it was widely used by Greek, Romans and other pagans during that time, it was a symbol that will not aroused much suspicion. The Christian fish symbol was then used as a marking on tombs and other secret meeting places by the early Christians.

It is said that when strangers meet, the Christian will draw an arc on the ground and wait for the other to respond.

christian fish arc

If the other is a Christian, he will respond by drawing the lower arc to form the outline of a fish.

Simple fish symbol

If the Christian did not received any response from the stranger, he will just quickly erase the drawn arc on the sand.

Other Instances When Fish was Used by Jesus in His Ministry

Matthew 12:40: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 13:47: "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.

Writings of the Early Fathers

"We, little fishes, after the image of our Ichthys, Jesus Christ, are born in the water."  ~ Tertullian (c.160 - c.225)

"...if you join the initial letters of the five Greek words which mean, 'Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour,' they will make the word, that is, fish, in which word Christ is mystically understood, because he was able to live, that is, to exist, without sin in the abyss of this mortality as in the depth of waters."  ~ St. Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)

The Meaning of the Jesus Fish Symbol

The Greek word for fish is "ichthys." By creating an acrostic: Iesous(Jesus) Christos(Christ) THeou(God) Yios(Son) Soter(Savior) meaning in English, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior."

Most of the Christian fish symbols used today is embedded with this acrostic or the word JESUS as is illustrated by the pictures below.

greek christian fish symbol
Jesus Fish

Other Variations of the Christian Fish

Fish symbol with cross hanging on top arc.Cross on Top Arc

The fish symbol with a tiny christian cross inside hanging on the top arc.

The fish symbol with a tiny christian cross inside standing on the bottom arc.

Christian Fish Symbol in Christian Gifts
and Other Products 

  • T-Shirts 
  • Jewelries
  • Bumper Stickers 
  • Window Decals 
  • Sculptures Arts 
  • Plague 
  • Tapestry 
  • Lapel Pins 
  • Magnets 
  • Greeting Cards 
  • Coffee Mugs

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