Meaning of IXOYE and the Jesus Fish


For Christians, the fish is one of their earliest symbols—used to profess their faith and to avoid persecution. Christians chose the fish because of its prominence in Jesus' teachings and because of a famous acrostic (the letters of a word forming the initial letters of a phrase). The Greek word fish—IXOYE—forms the acrostic "Iesous, Christos, Theou, Yios, Soter" or "Jesus, Christ, God's, Son, Savior." Besides serving as a brief profession of faith, the fish also helped Christians distinguish between friend and foe. When traveling, if a Christian met another person, the Christian would draw half the fish (half a crescent) in the sand. If the other person completed the fish, he or she was a Christian. Gal. 6:17 is a reference to St. Paul's letter to the Galatians. Paul writes, "From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand marks of Jesus."