During the Roman Empire, the Romans believed that there were many gods and that their emperor was among them. Worshipping these gods was a public event and expectation. However, for Christians, this went against everything they believed in and stood for and they refused to sacrifice to the gods of Rome.
In 64 AD Rome was utterly destroyed in a massive fire and a rumor started that Emperor Nero had started the fire. In order for Emperor Nero to deflect blame, Nero blamed the Christians. The Christians were an easy target. They were outsiders in Roman society, due to odd customs and beliefs. What followed was that anyone accused of being Christian could have their property seized, they could be used in the coliseum and be fed to animals, crucified or even be stoned to death. If a Christian was found out it could mean a lot of trouble for them and their family. Typically, their only hope of survival was to seek out other Christians who could help or hide them. This is when the symbolism of the fish really took hold in Christianity.
In order to help out fellow Christians a secret sign was put into use, the fish symbol. The idea of the fish as nourishment and the fisherman as a part of the Christian lore was already well documented. Fish had a strong standing in Christianity, many have heard that Jesus called his disciples “Fishers of men” or the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with only 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. What made the fish symbol perfect for the cause was that it was not suspicious. The fish symbol had been used by pagans, Greeks, and Romans for a variety of other reasons in the past. Therefore, for those outside of the know, it was not distinctively Christian. Christians could use the fish symbol as a sign of safety and a way to mark places of gather and worship.
Interestingly, this symbol saved lives but it was not just a simple little drawing. The symbol was also derived from a play on words that gave it particular relevance. When the first letter of the words Jesus Christ of God Son Savior were taken separately and made into an acronym they actually spelled the Greek word IXOYE which is Greek for fish.
The symbol has a powerful place in Christian and Jewish culture. To commemorate its importance, Holyland Crafts offers a religious handmade, fish pendant necklace that can be found right here on SandySaltwater.com. Be sure to check it out as a great religious gift for any special occasion.
Have a great day!