Christian fish symbol explained
What is its meaning and origin?
And what about the Darwin fish and the dead Darwin fish icons?
have used the fish symbol — also known as the
ichthys (ixthus, icthus) symbol — since the first
The meaning of the word and symbol is very clever. The word
ichthys means fish in Greek, but the letters are also the
initials of five Greek words that mean “Jesus Christ, Son of
God, Savior” (Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter).
Jesus Christ told His
disciples in Matthew 4:19: “Follow me, and I will make you
fishers of men.” As the early Christians followed Christ's
command to follow Him and lead others to the Lord, the fish symbol
became a natural extension of Christ's command and also a way to
recognize and identify others who knew the symbol's meaning.
Above: Ancient Christian ichthys carved
into marble in the ruins of Ephesus, Turkey.
Even in English today we have words derived from this Greek word
for fish — such as ichthyology, the study of fishes;
ichthyoomy, the anatomy of fishes; ichthyofauna, the fish of a
certain region; ichthyography, a written work about fishes.
Similar to Greek letter alpha
The fish symbol is also similar in shape to the first letter of
the Greek alphabet, alpha. In Revelation 22:13 Christ
says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the
first and the last.”
Christians using the fish symbol were acknowledging that Christ
was Alpha, the first. He was around at the beginning of creation
(John 1:1 — “In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God”).
In the early days of Christianity, and at other times throughout
history, Christians were persecuted or put to death for following
their faith and Jesus Christ as their Savior. If they worshipped in
secret places, a fish symbol outside the door was a way for other
believers to know where they could worship and meet with other
Today, the fish symbol is used by Christians in business on
their advertisements or signs. This simply identifies them to other
Christians who usually feel comfortable dealing with other
The fish symbol also identifies the believer with baptism in
water. And baptism by total immersion pictures Christ's death,
burial and resurrection. The word ichthys is pronounced
Some Christians will not use the fish symbol because they say it
has pagan origins. But, like the cross, Christians adapted the
symbols to mean something completely different. Christians who
criticize other Christians for using a cross or fish symbol to
identify their faith are being extremely insensitive to other
Most Christians have no idea about the origin of the fish and
cross symbols, and to question their faith based on a totally
different meaning and intent shows lack of understanding, perhaps
even heartlessness, that surely can't be pleasing to God.
The Darwin fish
evolutionists have made a parody of the Christian fish symbol,
ichthys, by drawing it to face in the opposite direction, and
putting legs on it to represent the evolutionary belief that
legless fish evolved into land creatures with legs.
But creationists and
some Intelligent Design adherents have come back with a parody on
the Darwin fish logo. They have flipped the logo to create a
“dead Darwin fish” symbol (right) — showing their
belief that Darwinism, like Charles Darwin, is dead.
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