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What does the Christian fish symbol mean (ixthus / icthus)?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The Greek word for fish is "ixthus" or "icthus." The Christian fish symbol that many Christians place on their cars is known as the "ixthus." Five Greek letters form the word "ixthus," and those le...

July 01 2013 6 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
Greek was one of my favorite subjects at Arizona Bible College and especially in seminary. Ichthus is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish.This word for "fish," ichthus, (ἰχθύς), is defined in the acrostic IXNYy that translates to:

I – Iota or Iesous (which means Jesus)

X – Chi or Christos (which means Christ)

N – Theta or Theou (which means God)

Y – Upsilon or Yidos/Huios (which means Son)

Y – Sigma or Soter (which means Savior). 

Basically, the fish represents the phrase of “Jesus Christ God’s Son [is] Savior.”

Another way of saying this would be:

The fish symbol is often accompanied by an acrostic of Greek letters—the first five letters of five Greek words: Iesous, Greek for "Jesus"; Christos, Greek for "anointed"; Theou, Greek for "God"; uios, Greek for "Son"; and sōtēr, Greek for "Savior".

One story passed down about the fish symbol states that the fish was used as a way of communicating whether someone was a Christian or whether he/she was someone looking to persecute Christians. When two people encountered each other, the Christian would draw the first half of the fish in the sand. If the other person drew the remaining half of the fish, correctly, then the Christian knew he/she was with a fellow Christian. I read somewhere that drawing in the sand was commonplace (like doodling), and that if [the arc] was drawn and the other person didn’t finish the fish, it would look as though an innocent person was just drawing in the sand.

Blair Parke & Wikipedia

Current bumper-sticker and business-card uses of the fish hearken back to this practice of giving a witness for Christ.

November 05 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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