The fate of the original 12 apostles?


Photo credit: maudandoscar

In India a few years ago, we were taken to visit a church building that had twelve paintings, each portraying  the death of one of the 12 apostles. (I think it was St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, but I’ve been unable to verify that via the Internet.) Those images have never left me, in part because of their graphic representation, but more because they spoke of a faith worth dying for.

Would I willingly lay down my life in order to tell others about Jesus.

There are various different traditions as to what happened to the original twelve apostles. Here’s a compilation of several versions:

  • Andrew: Preached in modern day Georgia (Eastern Europe) and Bulgaria and was crucified in Patrae in Greece.
  • Bartholomew: Spent time in India. Crucified in Georgia.
  • James, Son of Alphaeus: was stoned and clubbed to death in Jerusalem.
  • James, Son of Zebedee: was beheaded by Herod.
  • John, Son of Zebedee: Was exiled to the Island of Patmos and died a natural death in Ephesus.
  • Matthew/Levi: Preached and was killed (with an axe) in Ethiopia.
  • Simon/Peter: Was put to death (crucified) under Nero in Rome.
  • Philip: preached and was executed in eastern Turkey.
  • Simon the Zealot: Became Bishop of Jerusalem. Crucified.
  • Thaddaeus/Judas son of James: Preached in Edessa and Mesopotamia. Was crucified.
  • Thomas: Was a missionary in India where he was killed with a spear.
  • Matthias: Judas’ replacement. Spread the Gospel into Syria and was stoned and beheaded.

(Sources: here and here).

If these traditions are true, after the book of Acts, nearly all traveled widely in order to spread the Gospel. They also, with the exception of John, died violent deaths.

What does this say to us today? Do we have a message so compelling we would risk our lives to give it to others?

3 replies on “The fate of the original 12 apostles?”

I like what Francis Chan says. That they did these things because they saw someone rise from the dead. If that’s true then they wouldn’t be going to church once a week to listen to some guy talk and then maybe put 10 percent, tops, in an offering plate. The testimony of the martyrs, which we really only know about from secular sources outside the Bible is proof to me the resurrection happened.

This Wikipedia entry confirms the location of the paintings –
And while I’m here I’d like to say to you and all your readers, may 2012 be a year full of blessing, new beginnings, fresh challenges, as well as peace and grace and joy.
And would I risk my life to share the good news with others? I think I would, up to a point. Perhaps only if I thought the risk was slight. It’s an arresting thought, isn’t it? And probably very good for us to ponder and then pray.
If pressed, would I willingly give my life? I just don’t know!

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