Christian symbols have shown vital qualities of the Christian faith since Jesus walked the earth. While the signs are simple, they symbolize profound spiritual beliefs with layers of meaning. Christian symbolism consists of any symbol that signifies parts of Christianity. Christians often used symbols that weren’t widely recognized during the first few centuries of the church to avoid persecution. After the Roman Empire decriminalized Christianity in the fourth century, Christian symbols became more recognizable. Now, Christian symbolism features original symbols, like the cross, to adopted symbols, like the rainbow. Here are some well-known Christian symbols and what they mean.
Doves are little, sophisticated birds closely related to pigeons. Doves come in numerous beautiful patterns and colors, but the solid white dove is shown in Christian symbolism because white customarily represents purity. Luke 3:21-22 and Matthew 3:16-17 describe the Holy Spirit appearing at Jesus’ baptism like a dove. Doves also symbolize peace in the Christian faith because of the story of Noah’s Ark. Noah sent a dove out to see if the flood waters receded, described in Genesis 8:8-11. In this story, Noah sent the dove to see if the waters went down, but it couldn’t find anywhere to land. So, Noah waited a week and sent the dove out again. This time, the dove came back with an olive branch.
This sign displays the t-shaped shape of the biblical cross, where Jesus gave His life for humanity’s salvation. Crosses are made of any material, but they’re typically made of wood or a durable metal. Churches often have crosses on the outside and inside of the building, and people wear crosses as jewelry or show them in their homes to announce their faith. The cross has become the main symbol of Christianity since Jesus died on the cross for our sins. John 3:16-17 tells us that God loved us so much, He sent his Son to earth to redeem us. The cross reminds us of the great gift that Jesus gave us with His crucifixion, creating a path for humans to have a relationship with Jesus.
The fish or Ichthys
Early church Christians used fish symbols called Ichthys to distinguish each other’s faith in secret because the Roman Empire was persecuting Christians at the time. Ichthys is the ancient Greek term for fish, featuring an outline of a fish with two intersecting arcs. The Bible mentions fish, a staple food for people during biblical days. When Jesus multiplied food to feed thousands of people listening to Him teach, He turned loaves of bread and a few fish into enough food to feed everyone in the crowd.
Rainbows are astonishingly beautiful. They show different colors of light and stretch throughout the sky. Seeing a rainbow can take your breath away, reminding you of God’s wonder and work in nature and our lives. Rainbows remind us of God’s grace and faithfulness in Christianity. In Genesis 9:11-16, the Bible explains that rainbows signify God’s promise to never destroy creation again with a flood, as He did in Noah’s time as a judgment for sin. The Bible mentions rainbows in numerous verses, like Ezekiel 1:28 and Revelation 4:3.
Candles have acted as symbols of spiritual enlightenment and hope since ancient times. In Christianity and other religions, light symbolizes God’s presence, which brings hope and wisdom. In John 1:5, the Bible tells us that God is light. 1 John 1:5-7 pushes us to walk in the light of our relationship with God. Christians accepted the candle as a sign of Jesus’ work giving enlightenment and hope to the world. Jesus is the ultimate light in the world, and He wants us to join Him, shining light into the darkness. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to shine our God-given lights on the earth by doing good deeds.
Christian symbols are plain signs that show significant Christian concepts. All of these Christian symbols can help us concentrate on something extraordinary about God and His inspirational work in our lives.