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10 Classic Christian Symbols And Their Meanings

April 03, 2017 36 Comments

10 Classic Christian Symbols And Their Meanings

Christians have always used symbols to tell people about the faith. Sometimes it helps them remember a story from Jesus’ life. Other times it teaches us about who God is and what he does for us. For many contemporary Christians, the ancient symbols are a mystery. Check out our ten classic Christian symbols and their meanings.

Globus Cruciger

The Globus Cruciger , or cross and orb, comes from fifth century Christians in the Roman Empire. The orb stands for the world, and the cross is for Jesus Christ. When you put them together, you have Jesus Christ over the world. It symbolizes both Jesus’ grace to save the world and his judgment over the world as its king.

Jesus, our king, is in control of all of creation and saves all of his people. He promises that his rule on earth will be fully realized when he returns to destroy sin and death forever. This symbol reminds us of Christ’s reign.

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Chi Rho

When Christians began to copy the handwritten pages of the New Testament, they developed a set of abbreviations for the most important words like, “God” or “Lord.” Chi Rho is one of these.

Χριστος (
Christos ) is the Greek word for Christ. The Chi Rho combines the first two letters of the word into a symbol for Christ. Christians moved it from the pages of the New Testament to windows, clothes, and Christian jewelry. It reminds us that Jesus is the Father’s chosen one, anointed to save the world.
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Staurogram

The staurogram, like Chi Rho , developed from an abbreviation in the manuscripts of the New Testament. Scribes wrote the staurogram in place of the word σταυρος ( stauros ), the Greek word for Cross. It combines the letters tau (τ) and rho (ρ) to form an image that looks like a man on a cross.

You can find the staurogram on stained glass windows, religious clothing, and jewelry. Through it, we see Jesus on the cross and remember his atoning sacrifice for us.

Ichthys- Ιχθυς

This may be the symbol with which you’re most familiar. You’ve seen it on jewelry or on the trunk of the car ahead of you. It’s a symbol that marks someone as a Christian.

No one knows exactly how the fish became a symbol for Christians. Tradition has it that Christians drew the symbol on the ground to identify meeting places or individual Christians without tipping off the authorities. One such tradition describes a meeting between two christians who were strangers. One Christian would draw one side of the ichthys. If the other person finished it, he could be trusted.

The letters of the fish symbol stand for Ιησους Χριστος θεου Υιoς Σωτηρ or Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.

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Alpha and Omega

The greek letters Alpha (Α) and Omega (Ω) recall several passages from the book of Revelation where Jesus says that he is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last letter.

The Old and New Testaments use this image of the first and the last to show God’s eternity, see
Isaiah 44:6 and 48:12 . When applied to Jesus, it emphasizes that he is truly God, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is eternal, almighty, and all powerful God.

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The Lamb Triumphant

Revelation describes the struggle between Satan and God. Jesus is the lamb that was slain, but he is also victorious over Satan, sin, death, and hell. We see the holy lamb, with a military banner over his shoulder.

This image shows Jesus as a conqueror, who leads the forces of heaven against our enemy, Satan, to defeat him forever. The cross shows us that the victory does not come from military power, but by sacrifice. Jesus did not defeat Satan and death with weapons or lightning bolts from heaven. He won by dying on the cross and rising from the dead.

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Triquetra

The triquetra is latin word, meaning three cornered shape or triangle. Originally, it referred to any triangular shape, but now it is a specific design: three interlocking leaf-like shapes.

The three leaves symbolize the individual persons in the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The interlocking design reminds us that the three persons are still one God, three in one.

Neopagan groups claim that this symbol comes from Norse religion, but don’t believe them. Their claims that holidays like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas and symbols like the triquetra come from fabricated fakelore . This symbol has a long Christian history.

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The Ship

Since Noah stepped off the Ark, ships have been symbols of God’s salvation. It was how he saved Noah and his family from the flood that destroyed sinful mankind. 1st Peter applies the story of the flood to us Christians and to Christ’s promise to us.

Many Christian churches design their worship space to look like a ship. Decorative ribs run across the ceiling so it looks like the hull of an old sailing ship. It describes the church as the people where his salvation rests. It emphasizes community and unity in Christ.

Shepherd’s Staff

The shepherd is a regular image in Old and New Testaments describing the goodness of God. Everyone can quote the opening to Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Jesus calls himself the good shepherd who protects, guides, and sacrifices himself for the sheep.

Jesus protects his people like a shepherd protects his sheep. With his rod, he fights off the enemy who would steal us away from him. With his staff, he guides us away from danger and rescues us when we need it.

The Dove

The dove appears in the story of Jesus’ baptism in. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke show the dove descending on Jesus after he was baptized by John the Baptist. Immediately afterward, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to face the devil.

Christians use the dove when we celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit. Many churches use the symbol of the dove during baptisms or when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church on Pentecost. It reminds us that the same Spirit that empowered Jesus through his ministry is in us, too.

The Pelican

The pelican is an obscure symbol from the middle ages. Legend has it that Pelicans would cut themselves in times of hunger so their babies could drink their blood to stay alive. The mother would sacrifice herself to save her chicks. While the legend is false, it inspired a symbol that survives to this day.

The pelican symbolizes Christ, who shed his blood so we could live. The gospel of John shows this when he describes blood and water pouring from Jesus’ side, the fountain of life for us.

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These ten symbols are just the beginning of the many ways Christians use images to teach about the promises God gives us through Jesus Christ. We put them in stained glass window, embroider them into clothing, or etch them on to jewelry to remind us that Jesus saves us.

Let me know what you thought about this article below in the comments & share it with a friend or family member who would find this interesting!

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36 Responses

Michael Loiacono
Michael Loiacono

October 03, 2018

Thank You for the information it is very interesting and helpful for conversations with friends.

Arlene Gates
Arlene Gates

August 12, 2018

Thanks for the info.

Raul
Raul

December 29, 2017

Thank you so much for the cup. I love it. I showed it to my mother and she loved it too. God bless you and have a Happy New Year!!!

Luci Hershey
Luci Hershey

November 02, 2017

Thank you so much I really enjoyed reading about the symbols and now I will use some of them now that I know that they are there or I know the meaning more intense of the ones that I do did know of thank you again so much and God bless you have a blessed and god-centered day

Judi Paris
Judi Paris

October 19, 2017

Thank you so much for sharing this information, you showed me ones I was not aware of, have seen, but did not know the meaning of it. God Bless you!

Linda Seibel
Linda Seibel

October 18, 2017

I really enjoyed reading about the 10 symbols.I didn’t know about all of them and even the ones
I knew about, I learned a little more. Thanks!

Nancy Kane
Nancy Kane

September 25, 2017

Thanks for the info.

Linda Eversole
Linda Eversole

September 19, 2017

I found it very interesting.Thanks

Jerri Bostick
Jerri Bostick

July 28, 2017

I found it fascinating. I would like to see more jewelry selection. Your cups and shirts are wonderful✝️

Susan Crissman
Susan Crissman

July 21, 2017

Thank you so very much. I found it very interesting. We can never learn enough.

Jeanie
Jeanie

July 15, 2017

Enjoyed it. Thanks

Jim Minter
Jim Minter

July 03, 2017

I find these symbols very interesting. Thank you for sharing these with us. I really look forward to making more purchases and receiving data like these on a regular basis. THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

Becki Jameson
Becki Jameson

June 28, 2017

I’m a bread baker. The Triquetra intrigues me. I will begin practicing scoring that symbol into a triangular bread.

Jesus R. Brondo
Jesus R. Brondo

June 27, 2017

AMEN!!!!I I L ove the symbol. Thank god bless!!!!!

Irene
Irene

June 26, 2017

Thank you very interesting

JO Ann Williamson
JO Ann Williamson

June 26, 2017

Thank you for all of the wonderful information on the symbols I truly enjoyed reading about them.

Barbara Conklin
Barbara Conklin

June 19, 2017

Thank you so much for the information on the Christian symbols. I found it very interesting and informative. I love learning all I can about different area’s of Christianity.

Jan Lrdford
Jan Lrdford

June 08, 2017

I felt bl essed God was here with me while i was reading about the signs .it made me wamtnyo know more. I’m blessed every day. Because of him .

Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega

June 02, 2017

It seems to me I am longing to learn meaningful information daily. Information such as the meaning of these symbols fits my need.

Ed
Ed

June 02, 2017

Great information! Every Christian should be aware of what these symbols mean. Thank you for what you have done! God bless you always!

Glinda Rockel
Glinda Rockel

May 28, 2017

Thank you so much for the information. I always find any history on Christianity fascinating and love to learn all I can

Norene L Sleeman
Norene L Sleeman

May 26, 2017

Could the fish be a symbol of how Jesus told the disciples to be fishers of men?

Gary W Spalding
Gary W Spalding

May 21, 2017

Thanks for the info. I never new the exact meaning of each symbol. I love the Lord with all my being, so proud to belong to the Almighty.

Raymond White
Raymond White

May 14, 2017

Thank you I learned smothing new and always wondered ???

Luanna
Luanna

May 13, 2017

Thank you. I certainly didn’t recall a pelican.

Sarah K.Elias
Sarah K.Elias

May 11, 2017

I have often wondered what these symbols meant. They have really been educational. Thanks so much for sharing! I will share these with family and friends!

Marge sanford
Marge sanford

May 09, 2017

This is a very interesting and educational. Thank you

Daniel McKim
Daniel McKim

May 09, 2017

Very cool and interesting, I plan to evaluate more by googling Christian symbols for more information, finding images of all you mentioned and more if I find other symbols, to write a blog post to share on godisalwayswithus.com. Thank you for sharing this valuable Christian info, God bless you and family. I was ordained as a Pastor July 5 2016, please come by my blog, also if possible I would love to add your Our Lord Style in a widget on my blog, please let me know in a comment on my blog. Daniel

Patricia Wilson
Patricia Wilson

April 08, 2017

Thank you. Now I know more about the symbols I’ve seen but didn’t know about. Very interesting God bless

Karen  alves
Karen alves

April 06, 2017

Is there a book I can buy that has the Christian symbols

Ren Kauffman
Ren Kauffman

April 06, 2017

Fascinating! Thank you for the information.

Nancy
Nancy

April 06, 2017

I was stopped in my tracks when I came across this email. The heading made me stop and look and read. Iam forever grateful that I did for it has made my morning complete. Thanks for the wonderful pictures and explanations of these symbols that I have seen, but not quite understood. Now I am aware and have been educated. God Bless you!!

Gladys P Cruz
Gladys P Cruz

April 05, 2017

Beautiful and it taught me a lot about the Symbols and what it means. I really appreciate this article always learning something about my faith. Thank you.

Janice Gold
Janice Gold

April 05, 2017

Awesome keep up the good work

Fe  Guillermo
Fe Guillermo

April 05, 2017

Thank you for the info, I learned a lot. God Bless. Keep posting .

Cecilia Cain
Cecilia Cain

April 04, 2017

I learned some new things. Thanks.

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