The Fish and The Cross

Image source:
Back then, when the Roman Empire persecuted Christians, worship gatherings were secretly held. How did the early believers identify fellow Christians?

One of ways is through the “ichthus.” As you can see in the figure, it looked like a fish, for it was actually the Greek word for “fish.” But the word “ichthus” is actually an acronym in Greek of “Jesus Christ, Son of God Savior” So, if a believer wanted to know if the person he was talking to is also a Christian, he would draw an arc on the ground with a staff or with their foot. To confirm that he is a fellow believer, the other person would then draw an intersecting arc to form the image of a fish. Another symbol that the early Christians used was the sign of the cross. They would draw the cross on the ground or trace it on their foreheads to signal that they were believers.

Image source: Priests for Life
Sadly, these symbols either became superstitious acts or pictures on bumper stickers. People tend to focus on the symbols rather than the meaning behind it. We may do away with the symbols. There is no warrant in the Bible regarding making the sign of the cross whenever one prays or feels in need of divine protection. But let us not forget the meaning behind the symbols.
A scene from The Passion of the Christ. Image source:
The apostle Paul wrote, May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14, NIV) Paul was not referring to a literal cross or even the sign of the cross. He was talking about the Gospel, that is, our Lord Jesus died on the cross for our sins. The “ichthus” or the fish sign was actually a confession of faith against the Roman emperors at that time who claimed they should be revered as “Lord” or called “Son of God.”

My take? Remember the message of the fish and the cross.


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