The Ichthus You Never Knew: The Christian Wheel

The Ichthus You Never Knew: The Christian Wheel

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Most Christians know of the Fish symbol. In Greek IXOYE (Ichthus) is the word for  “fish.” For ancient Christians, though, it held deeper symbolism.

Iota is the first letter of the name Jesus in the Greek alphabet.

X, or Chi, is the first letter for “Christ.”

O, the letter Theta, is the first letter for the Greek term for God.

Y, or Upsilon, represents “Son,” and

E, or Sigma, is for Savior.

Together they form a creed-like phrase: Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior.

For many years following the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the early Christians faced severe and sustained persecution. As a way of identifying themselves to one another upon meeting in a public place, one person would draw an arc on the ground in the dust. If the other was a follower of Jesus, they would complete the drawing with another arc forming the symbol of the fish. Now that you see how the fish sign connects to the word, “Ichthus,” consider yet another layer of mystery.

A few years ago, Mike and Louise Borden, a couple from a small Oklahoma town, took a pilgrimage with their church tracing the journeys of Paul. On this trip they went to Ephesus, in Turkey, and as they walked along the marble road leading into the ancient city, they noticed a large circle carved into one of the marble paving stones.  After inquiring, they learned this symbol was known as the Christian Wheel and that some historians believe the Christian Wheel preceded the fish symbol as the secret sign to followers of Christ. The wheel contains the letters IXOYE superimposed so that the result looks like an eight-spoked wheel.

The couple’s passion is finding simple, non-threatening ways to share Jesus with people who may not yet know him and helping others to do the same. They had the idea of creating a coin inscribed with the Christian Wheel such that people could easily share the coin and along with it, the story of Jesus. On the reverse side of the coin they inscribed the Chi Rho symbol, the sign Constantine reported seeing in the sky and the words given him, “In hoc signo vinces,” which translated means, “In this sign you will conquer.” The Emperor Constantine is included on the coin because in 312 A.D. he issued the Edict of Milan, which made Christianity a legal religion in the realm, thus ending the severe persecution of the early Christians. From Greek letters to Latin inscriptions to ancient rulers to the very Son of God, the coin is laden with story telling possibilities, as well as a daily reminder of the carpenter from Galilee.

It’s fascinating and ironic that a once ancient symbol used secretly between believers is now becoming a not so secret means of sharing Christ with those who don’t know him.

If you would like to learn more or perhaps get a supply of the coins for your own efforts at sharing Christ, check out his website here. Purchase the coins or other supplies on Seedbed here.

From ancient times to the present day, the followers of Jesus have found all sorts of ways and means to share him with others. Are you aware of any of these perhaps lesser known ways this has happened throughout history or in the present day? Please share with us in the comments.

Mike and Louise Borden depicted here in the amphitheatre (holds 25,000 people) as you enter the city of Ephesus. This is the harbor walkway coming into Ephesus, and the probable site of the riot of the merchants where the apostle Paul was arrested.


18 Responses

  1. This is great to know! I have the Icthus tattooed on the inside of each of my arms, and I got them for the very purpose of sharing the gospel; I was already acquainted with it’s story, but the Christian Wheel is fascinating! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. Wow, way to go Borden’s. Thank you for your questioning, your insight, and then turning that insight into an action that can be shared with others. Carrying a coin in ones pocket, then being able to share both sides of the coin with others is a great idea for faith sharing.

  3. Very good article!

    I have been studing this geometric design for more than 20 years. I first studied it in the Win,Win Model and the I’m Okay,You’re Okay Model. I came to realize that the geometric design in these two models and the Christian Wheel are God’s Universal blueprint, templete, compass for the creation of every behavior in the Universe. The Universe (God) is a behavioral system. There is a Genetic Structure to God’s Universal Being! The Geometric Design within the Christian Wheel of Wholeness is that Genetic Structure. I refer to the geometric design in the Christian Wheel as The Wholeness Model. I’m writing a book to explain the significance of this geometric design. The book is The Model of Universal Wholeness and the 9 States of Reality — A Behavioral Model For Understanding God’s Behavior and Humanities Behavior. The Wholeness Wheel is also a teaching tool. There is much hidden meaning within this wheel. A person can be taught how to see the geometric designs, mathematical structures, physics, cosmology, psychology, chemestry, biology, and the religious (spirituality) dimensions within the Wheel of Wholeness.

    The Christian Wheel or Wholeness Wheel is the Grand-Unification of Everything! And it is a teaching tool for healing humanities broken behavior(s).

  4. That slab of marble you are standing on is from the Byzantine period (5th century AD), so it doesn’t demonstrate that the symbol was used by early Christians under the Roman Empire (1st, 2nd, 3rd centuries). It also looks quite a bit like Roman and Byzantine game boards that are found carved on streets all over the Roman world.

    1. Byzantium was Roman…In the 4th Century, the capital of Rome was transferred by Constantine to New Rome (formerly Byzantium). To this day, Orthodox Christians in the area are known as ‘roum’ or Roman. Also the letter is Θ not Ο.

  5. This relic also looks like the eight-point prayer wheel of the eastern religions which corresponds to the eight times a year when human sacrifices are performed (according to Schnoebellen-a former satanic priest). The same pattern is also found in St. Peter’s square in Vatican City with an Egyptian Obelisk in the center. Please be careful in using symbols and objects in following Jesus. A clean repentant heart is all you need to follow Jesus. Unknown symbols and artifacts can attract corresponding demons if they are peradventure satanic to begin with. Avoid artifacts of unclear origins from foreign lands as much as possible. This is the reason why many christian circles think that the Catholic Church is darker than it appears. May the good Lord continue to guide and protect us from the devices and guiles of the enemy. Amen.

    1. The wheel is an ancient Christian symbol. The letters ICHTUS can be found in the 8 spokes. It is Christian, not pagan.

  6. It’s the wheel in the sky, the wheel to a cart, too say a carrier of the Christ consciousness of the 8 stars that make the Big Dipper; the cup that is filled every day with living water that continually guides Ones connection of relationship with all life. The sign for eternity. Consciousness is the Spirit of the Indigenous ; First People to overstand that ones Spirit never dies. THE GREAT MYSTERY of Paul spoke of during his travels to share the good knews.

  7. I found this site while looking for connections between the 8 spoke wheel and the socalled christian fish symbolism. The 8 spoke wheel was not a surprise to see here, it has its connection to sun worship, as does a symmetrical cross within a circle used by Roman Catholic Church, which goes back to Babylon. The emperor prior to Constantine was a sun worshipper, as was Constantine, before his supposed conversion to Christianity. Would Jesus, who said not to spread the faith by the sword, which is the way the world operates according to their might, tell Constantine to conquer by sword and by this symbol? Do you not know of the horrors done by those carrying the Roman cross, which is not really a crucifix. You will find that the Sabbath was moved to Sunday during the time of Constantine, because under Roman law, Saturday worship was banned. Rome was well known to worship the sun, as was Egypt. The fish symbol does look a lot like the eye of Ra (sun god) or eye of Horus (the all seeing eye, found curiously on the US dollar bill). Who were our founders? Were they Christians, or something else entirely? I am not the least done studying these things, but one thing jumps out frequently, Christianity in so much as Roman Catholicism was and is still mingled with many occult practices and idol worship and foreign customs of pagans. So much so, that the many protestant denominations, though they came apart from Roman Catholicism in part during the Reformation, retains certain wrong beliefs and teachings and idols and symbols that were meted out in councils and edicts long ago. One of these councils was pertaining to graven images and idols. The Roman (why do they cling to the name Rome! Is it not because they are proud romans. And they are saying, Rome will rise again, in their folly) catholic church early on loved their statues, relics and symbolism, that they refuted the commands of God in favor of enshrining their own will, which they believe to have obtained through Peter. It was a severe twisting of what Jesus said to Peter. Did they have God’s Authority to change the Word of God, the commandments, and days? Why did they do it? Part, the Roman church wanted the favor of Rome and power and didnt want persecution. They got much favor and gold and architecture and power. They hated Jews, and called anyone remotely practicing like them, whether worshipping on Saturday the true 7th day, judaisers. Does this sound familiar? It should, it sounds an awful lot like the warning in Revelation, about a power known robed in red/scarlet and gold thinking of changing times and days. Its already happened some. They say, plainly, Yes the roman pope is as christ on earth, an infallible godlike man sitting on a throne with the power given Peter, with all ecclesiastical and global power to rein. That’s what they believe and say. That’s so much blasphemy. So the commandments were altered, and you can readily compare the traditional 10 commandments with the roman catholic version, which is 9 minus the 4th command about the sabbath and rewritten in their own words rather than translated appropriately so as to keep their idols and symbols and relics which are parts of dead bodies said to be remnants of apostles and prophets. In conclusion, Christians may be using occult symbols that they dont understand. Dangerous! There are many myths and traditions of men mingled in with His Church or those called by His name, and my fellow Christian needs to weed them out of their spiritual lives and homes and places of worship. I think if one were to look for the whole church kept since the Apostalic age, you will see they keep the whole Law, not the traditions of man written by the Jews nor sacrifices for sin, but the sabbath rest, and they dont have images to venerate in the church or homes or on their person, nor do they celebrate Christmas which has too many pagan traditions lumped in and even the day is associated with a pagan god said born of a virgin. Coincidence? I know it isn’t. And they may well keep the dietary laws also, knowing that a dung wallowing or muck eating environment-cleaning animal isnt actual food meant to be ingested. Your body is a temple, the temple made by God’s hand for the indwelling of his HOLY Spirit, and so its clear even to unbelieving health and wellness followers you shouldn’t eat toxic flesh that do harm the body, such as pigs or birds of prey or fish without scales. What did God say, my people perish for lack of knowledge. Indeed that is so. A people who look for signs and wonders are an adulterous people, those will be the kind of people fooled by signs and wonders in the end of the age. And as he said to the pharasees, you will only be given the sign of Jonah. Oh isnt that a fish? No, its that the Son of Man was in the tomb 3 days and rose in the resurrection to glory and judge the unrighteous who are lawless and rebel against God and go to destruction, and judge the righteous as belonging to Jesus so they receive their rewards.

  8. I find this to be highly dubious. There are numerous kinds of game boards carved into the pavements at the sides of streets throughout the cities of the Greco-Roman world and I would think this merely to be a simple game board. And one can trace out almost all of the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet on this grid were one so inclined. Another myth foisted upon tourists, I think. I’ve been on enough “Bible Lands” tours to know that they develop their own haggadic lore over the decades!

  9. why if i add af ew little arrows it gose from “Christain” to “Satnic” symbol?!?! why when io look at these symbols then olook at “the other side” they THE SAME THING?!?!

  10. Do you sell the wheel medallion? I would love to buy one, but when I looked in your store, I could not find it.

    Also, I am a retired attorney who left the practice of law to write Christian books, and one of my books, Truth in the Eight Towers, features an eight-spoked ichthys wheel splitting apart to show the individual Greek letters. I would be glad to send you an image of the book cover. My books are published by a division of LifeWay and, although retired, I am currently a student at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University.

  11. Years ago, I had a feeling to write poem below. It took me less than 5 minutes! I know it was inspired by the Holy Spirit! I learned years after I wrote it that it contains 31 rows of words, and 111 words total, that both stand for God 3 in 1!

    Bookmark through Life

    If you know God
    you are in awe!
    We may be weak
    we may be poor,
    if you know God
    is greater then before!
    We may be sick
    someday we die,
    if you know God
    you stay alive!
    We truly see
    all wonders here
    from tiny gems
    to flaming spheres!
    To healing bodies
    on this earth,
    if you know God
    is second birth!
    He gives you wisdom,
    He gives you strength,
    to go through life
    however you rank!
    I thank you Lord
    a million times,
    to know I’m Yours
    to know You’re mine!
    So trust in Him,
    He sets you free
    all we must do
    is to believe!

  12. I was just in Ephesus two weeks ago. I saw this wheel with my own eyes. Below it is inscribed the letters of the icthus. Our guide showed us how each letter is part of the spokes of the wheel. It is most definitely first century Christian. This is in the ruins of Second Ephesus. It is NOT Byzantine. It was popularized by the Apostle John and used by early Christians to identify followers of The Way, according to our guide.

  13. Today I had a dream and I found a drawing of a man and he had a white circle with lines (this symbol) I said to myself people were looking for the creator

  14. I found the seedbed, looking for a symbol that was described as the fish with scribbles inside, two rods on either sides and half arches on either sides. The meaning of the symbol, means “Saved by Grace”. Made out of wood. Has anyone ever seen or heard of this?

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