You see the symbol of the fish all the time on cars, lapel pins, jewelry, etc. What does the fish represent?
Because of the intense persecution early believers faced, when two complete strangers met they would be hesitant to reveal their faith. After a few minutes of conversation, one of them would take his foot and draw an arc on the ground. If the other person were a Christian, he would take his foot or finger and draw another arc, completing the symbol of the fish. Then they would take turns putting the five Greek letters IXOUS (ΙΧΘΥΣ) inside the fish. This word is pronounced "ichthus," and is the normal word used in the Gospels for "fish" (Matthew 7:10, 14:17, etc.).
Why a fish? The early Christians gave the Greek word for "fish" a hidden meaning, because its letters form an acrostic proclaiming many of the great truths of Christianity.
Ι represents Iesous (Ιησους), which is the Greek word for "Jesus." An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him that his fiancée Mary "shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The Hebrew form of His name is Jehoshua, meaning "Jehovah saves."
Χ stands for Xristos (Χριστος), or "Christ," meaning "anointed." Jesus is God's "Anointed One." When Jesus was born, the angels announced Him to the shepherds as "Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). Peter declared, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). The Hebrew form of "Christ" is "Messiah."
Θ stands for Theos (Θεου) which is translated "God." Jesus the Messiah is none other than the eternal God revealed in human flesh (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9). In Paul's letter to Titus, he proclaims the divinity of Jesus Christ: "the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Υ represents Uios (Υιος) which means "Son." Jesus is "the only begotten Son" of God (John 3:16). "God … hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Σ stands for Soter (Σωτηρ), meaning "Saviour." "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). He is the promised "Saviour of the world" (John 4:42). The idea is deliverance, a saving from disaster, rescue from a hopeless situation, and breaking the chains of bondage. Indeed, the Bible tells us, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).
The next time you see the sign of the fish, remember that Jesus is the Christ, the very Son of God, who gave His life as a sacrifice in order to be our Saviour. Have you put your trust in Him to save you for all eternity?
—Wil Pounds, adapted