What’s the fish?

Tuesday 30 July 2019, 10:20am

Early Christians used a secret symbol of a fish to show each other they were Christian without being caught by the people who were persecuting them (treating them badly) because of their faith.

The secret symbol of a fish – Wikimedia Commons

Where does the fish come from?

In a lot of stories about Jesus’ life and teaching, there are a lot of fish involved. For example, Peter and the disciples are fishing in lake Galilee when Jesus asks them to become ‘fishers of men’. It’s thought this is one of the reasons the fish was chosen as a secret symbol for Christianity.

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Mark 1:16-18

Why a secret symbol?

During the time of the early Christian church, Christians were persecuted for their faith, and so they used a secret symbol to show each other that they were Christians. If someone was going to a Christian meeting, one person would draw a single arc in the sand, and then the other person, knowing the arc to be part of the fish, would draw the second arc to make the fish. If either person wasn’t a Christian, a single arc wouldn’t give anything away.

Where might I see the fish?

A lot of people still use the fish to share their Christian faith. You might see it shining from the back of people’s cars, or on documents printed by a church. Of course, you’ll also find the fish in our Beach Club booklets this year – we’ve hidden one on every page!