The fish was an early sign or symbol of Christian faith that endures today on yard signs and businesses as a sign of Christian faith. We often see a lawn sign with the sign of the fish on it.
The fish is thought to have been chosen by the early Christians for several reasons:
the Greek word for fish (ICHTUS), works nicely as an acrostic for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior"
the fish would not be an obvious Christian symbol to persecutors
Jesus' ministry is associated with fish: he chose several fishermen to be his disciples and declared he would make them "fishers of men."
It is said that during the persecution of the early church, a Christian meeting someone new would draw a single arc in the sand. If the other person was a Christian, he or she would complete the drawing of a fish with a second arc. If the second person was not a Christian, the ambiguity of the half-symbol would not reveal the first person as a Christian.
The another symbol is the ICHTHUS fish, with the Greek word for fish written out to emphasize the symbolic acrostic described above.
Although the word looks like IXOYE, the letters are from the Greek alphabet, so the "I" is actually an iota, the "X" is actually a chi, the "O" is actually a theta, the "Y" is an upsilon, and the "E" or "C" at the end is a sigma. Taking the first sound from each of these Greek letter names, we get the transliteration into our alphabet of ICHTHUS.
Today, when Christians (in the West) do not need to worry about persecution, the Christian fish sign symbol often has "Jesus" written inside or includes a cross symbol. And of course, there have been many spoofs and variations of the popular Christian symbol, such as the famous "Darwin fish" (with legs).
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Psalms 74:4 (EJ2000)
Thine enemies have roared in the midst of thy assemblies; they set up their own banners for signs.
Psalms 20:5 (ACV)
We will triumph in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. LORD fulfill all thy petitions.
Psalms 74:9 (EJ2000)
We no longer see our own banners; there is no longer any prophet: neither is there among us any that knows. How long shall this be?
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