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What Is the Meaning of the Chi Rho Symbol?

 

Vivian Bricker

Similar to many topics and events, it is best to know the history surrounding this symbol. Upon first look, it can seem as though the Chi Rho would be something oriental or foreign; however, its true meaning touches our hearts in a deep way.

As Christians, we need to know that the roots of our faith date back a long time ago. It has been over 2,000 years since the resurrection of Jesus occurred. It is best to know the background and historical details of words and symbols before we are quick to make a judgment on them.

The Chi Rho symbol is unlike traditional symbols or symbols of paganism. Symbols of paganism abound in great multitudes; however, there are also many great symbols that point us back to Christ.

These symbols have been found throughout history and can still be found today. Even though we might be unfamiliar with the symbol doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. Instead, we need to treat it as something to be discovered and something to be learned.

The History of the Chi Rho
Chi Rho combines two Greek letters into a symbol to make it look like the letter X. This is placed over the bottom of the letter P, which forms the symbol ☧. The translation of the word into English means “Christ.”

It is known as the Christogram. While this topic can be extremely difficult and seem foreign, it is an important part of Christianity and its history.

The Chi Rho is semi-obscure to present-day believers, but it was extremely well-known during the time of Constantine. Constantine was a man who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire.

While Constantine did eventually change the official religion to Christianity, he wasn’t a Christian from the start.

When he would go out into battle, he would often try to pray to various gods or use symbols of foreign gods in order to have success. As one can imagine, he never has success with these other “gods.”

However, once Constantine saw these foreign gods were doing nothing to help in victory, but rather, he was losing the victory, he decided he would adapt his soldier to the symbol of Christianity, which was the Chi Rho.

Christianity was supposed to be the religion of his father; however, historians cannot be dogmatic on this claim. Nonetheless, Constantine started using the Chi Rho in all of his battles and began to gain victories against his enemies.

Constantine used this symbol as a sign of protection and safety. It would be on his horse as well as all of his soldier’s horses in battle. Through the protection, safety, and victory that the Chi Rho provided Constantine, he continued to use this symbol for the rest of his life.

While it can be difficult at times to tell if people were true believers in the past, including Constantine, only God knows for certain.

Even though Constantine utilized this symbol in battle and took great comfort in it, we cannot be dogmatic in the saying that Constantine was a Christian because we simply don’t know.

What we mainly know about Constantine’s life was recorded by historian Eusebius. The book he wrote on Constantine was titled Life of Constantine.

Eusebius included much information in his writings about the Chi Rho and Constantine’s use of it during his lifetime. From his writings, we can see how much of an impact the Chi Rho had on Constantine’s life.

Eusebius made great strides during his life for the gospel and wrote many historical accounts of what was going on during his days. He also became bishop of Caesarea in AD 313.

Eusebius was an important person during this time because, without his writings on Constantine, we might not know much about the Chi Rho to the extent we know about it today.

Archeologists have been able to discover remnants of the Chi Rho symbols that were used in battle during Constantine’s rule; however, most of the information we have about Constantine’s use of the Chi Rho symbol is because of Eusebius.

Chi Rho in the Present Day
The Chi Rho is still present in the present day. As established, it stands for “Christ.” It has become known as a symbol of Christianity across the world. In the modern day, Christians still use the Chi Rho symbol.

While some may use it in a similar way as Constantine, such as for protection, there are other Christians who have the Chi Rho on notebooks, shirts, or bracelets to remind them of Christ. If a person desired, they could even get the Chi Rho tattooed on them to remind them of Christ.

Similar to the case of non-Christians using the Chi Rho in the past, there are many non-Christians who use the Chi Rho symbol in the present day.

Just like those who are not Christians wear crosses and celebrate Christmas, there are many who wear the Chi Rho symbol for no reason connected with Christ.

If a believer wants to wear the Chi Rho symbol, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. At the end of the day, the Chi Rho is the combination of Greek words to form the name, Christ.

If you want to wear the Chi Rho symbol, then there is nothing wrong. It could actually be a great way to open up to others about the gospel. At times, it can be extremely hard to find a way to open to the Gospel, but if you are wearing the symbol of the Chi Rho, it could be an easy gateway.

If you were wearing a Chi Rho symbol on your bracelet, a friend might ask what the symbol means, or they might compliment you on it.

You could share the truth that the symbol stands for Christ, and then you could open up to others about the gospel. Having the Chi Rho symbol on a bracelet or a shirt could go a long way in bringing Jesus into a conversation.

As Christians, we might get scared at times to share the gospel, but by having something like the Chi Rho symbol on something we own, could go a long way in helping someone else know Jesus.

These subtle things can help greatly in the matter of spreading the gospel. While much symbolism is looked down upon or is not biblical, you are free to wear the Chi Rho symbol whenever you desire. It is a great reminder of Jesus and His amazing grace.

What Does This Mean?
Thus, the Chi Rho combines two Greek letters to form the symbol, and it translates to “Christ.” Constantine used this symbol in battle and obtained victories. He saw it as a symbol of protection and safety. In the same way, Christians still use this symbol today, and it connects back to Jesus.

Through this symbol, we have unlimited possibilities to share the gospel with other people in our life. The Chi Rho symbol points us back to Jesus and helps our minds to remain focused on Him throughout our day.

It can get hard at times to remember Christ, particularly when things get hard, but we can take the incentive to become better at focusing on Christ throughout our day. The Chi Rho symbol is a great way to do this. It can help you share the message of Jesus with the world.

Matthias David
Matthias David
Working in His vine, as He does even more at mine.
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