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© by Desmond Allen

Last updated: 03/07/2016

 


Fish in Sand

“Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; . . .” (Col. 1:27-29 - WEB)


 

For the first few centuries (until well after The Edict of Milan, 313 AD, co-authored by the duel emperors and brothers-in-law, Constantine I and Lucian) local church bodies met in private homes.  As church bodies, they owned no facilities, no properties.  Sometimes they met in tombs or catacombs to avoid the relentless persecution of the Roman government. 

To signify where a meeting was taking place they would often scratch the symbol of a fish in the dirt or on a rock or wall.  Because pagans used this pictogram to symbolize the fertility of female organs, unlike other potential symbols it could largely go unnoticed by their pursuers. 

This symbol, however, had a deeper meaning to Christians.  The Greek term for fish, ichthys (ΙΧΘΥΣ, transliterated, ichthys) formed an acrostic for the phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior,” (Ίησος Χριστός, Θεο Υός, Σωτήρ, transliterated, Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter).  Thus, it was also used to identify fellow believers; one person would scratch an arch in the dirt and another would complete the symbol, thereby revealing their shared faith in the Lord.

Although the Edict of Milan decriminalized Christianity within the Roman Empire, so that now the Church could live in peace, another evil was about to besiege them.  In 380 AD, The Edict of Thessalonica (or Cunctos populos) was issued.  Signed by the co-emperors Theodosius IGratian, and Valentinian II, it demanded that all nations subject to Roman rule should profess the Christian faith of the Apostle Peter as understood by the current Roman PontiffDamasus I, and Peter II, Bishop of Alexandria.  Persecution was promised to all who did not comply. 

The result was a mass infusion of non-believers into the Church.  With them, they brought their politics (which eventually gave rise to the crusades and the dark ages), and their pagan temples (which have been a thorn in the flesh of the Church ever since).  The Edict of Thessalonica had virtually invited the enemy into our camp.

Like the early churches, each Oikia Ministries of Biblical Theology church cell meets in a member’s home; thereby free of the financial burdens and material concerns of an exclusive meeting facility.