Mary Anna (18 July 2011)
"The Sign of the Fish"

                        <><     The Sign of the Fish      <><  
                Next to the Cross, our most authentic Christian
        symbol, dating from the time of the Roman persecution is the
        fish.  It can still be found carved on the walls of the catacombs
        and over door lintels.  It was a means of secret identification
        between Christians.  The Greek letters were added in a later
        century and are pronounced ICHTHUS, meaning fish in Greek.
        It is an acronym with the letters standing for "Jesus Christ,
        God's Son, Savior", plus the dual designation of Jesus Christ
        as "Fishers of Men".  

           The Bible relates a number of accounts where fish were a significant
        aspect of Jesus' ministry. On one occasion (Matthew 14:19), Jesus served
        several thousand families with a meal of bread and fish. On another
        occasion (Matthew 4:19), Jesus called Peter and Andrew, saying, "Follow
        me and I will make you fishers of men." Many early Christians were
        persecuted and forced to worship secretly. The fish symbol served as a
        secret form of communication.  Often the persecuted Christians would
        scratch this symbol on the ground to identify themselves to fellow
        believers. Soon, Christians began to attach meaning to the word "fish"
        itself. The Greek letters for ICHTHUS (meaning"fish" pronounced
        "ICK-THOOS") became an acronym: I=Jesus;X=Christ; O=God's; Y=Son;
        E=Savior. Today, the person who displays the fish symbol has accepted
        the same New Testament teaching that these early Christians accepted:
        that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior. By a decision of faith, this
        person has entered into a personal relationship with God and knows the
        reality of God's forgiveness. "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus
        is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you
        will be saved" (Romans 10:9, NIV).