ICHTHUS or Sign of the Fish

Why the Fish?

This symbol was used primarily among Christians in early church history (1st and 2nd century A.D.) This symbol was later used as a means of identifying a fellow believer in Christ without the need for any verbal communication being exchanged. During the reign of Emperor Nero (54 A.D.- 68 A.D.), and throughout the reign of the Roman Emperors, Christians were commonly persecuted, tortured, and put to death because of their Christian faith.

Emperor Nero targeted Christianity and ordered Christians to be thrown to dogs, while others were crucified and burned.

Many times Christians were harassed or even tortured in order for them to recant their beliefs and conform to the Roman religion. Many times, death was the result of those that did not recant their belief.

During this time of persecution, Christians would often draw an ichthus (sign of the fish) on the ground so that others would know they were in the presence of other Christians. The ichthus indicted that the marked location was a safe place to meet and talk about your beliefs.

We don’t worry about such things today. We can actually talk about our faith openly. However, in a culture where Christianity isn’t always cool, we sometimes don’t say anything out of fear of being disliked.

I think today that Christian Logo’s on t-shirts have sort of taken the place of the sign of the fish but the ICHTHUS still has some Traditional, Historical Value for us as Christians.


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