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Jesus Saves

The Sign of the Fish

What does it mean?

The fish symbol is the earliest of Christian symbols and was the most common representation of Jesus Christ from the second through the fourth centuries.

Why is the fish meaningful to Christians?

The Bible relates a number of accounts where fish were a significant aspect of Jesus' ministry. On one occasion (Matthew 14:19), Jesus served several thousand families with a meal of bread and fish. On another occasion (Matthew 4:19), Jesus called Peter and Andrew, saying, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

Many early Christians were persecuted and forced to worship secretly. To escape persecution, early Christians used this as a sort of code, or password, to identify themselves only to each other. They knew what it meant, non-Christians did not. Tradition tells us that when two people met, one would draw the upper arc in the dirt or sand and the other person could identify himself as a Christian also by drawing the bottom arc, completing the figure.

Soon, Christians began to attach meaning to the word "fish" itself. The Greek letters for ichthus (meaning "fish", pronounced "ICK-THOOS") became an acronym:
Iesous (Jesus) CHristos (Christ) THeou (of God) Uiou (the Son) Soter (the Savior)

Today, the person who displays the fish symbol has accepted the same New Testament teaching that these early Christians accepted: that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior. By a decision of faith, this person has entered into a personal relationship with God and knows the reality of God's forgiveness. "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9, NIV).

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