How the 12 Apostles Died
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be
called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16 KJV)
Being an apostle wasn’t like being a famous athlete or actor in America. They were not looked about with adoration, for the most part they were hated. They taught that the way to Heaven was through a man, named Jesus, that claimed he was from God. This angered the Jewish people. The Jews once had exclusive rights to God, now they had to share their beloved God with others. After all they had suffered and gone through to make their God happy. All the sacrifices, temple building, festivals thrown and worship times. All the times that they had to rely on God solely to remain in Him, was now being thrown aside if only you believed in Jesus. The old ways of works, sacrifices, festivals and trying to prove your righteousness to God was gone. Just believe in Jesus was all that you needed. A way that seemed to slap their ancestors and their ways in the face. It was too much for them to accept this new way, and so the apostles, for the most part, were martyred.
Matthew – He was an apostle for quite sometime, because the Gospel of Matthew was written 20 years after Jesus died. Some legends say that he did not die as a martyr. Some say that he was stabbed to death by a swordsman sent by King Hertacus, in Ethiopia.
Peter – “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18 NIV). Peter was the rock that the Christianity movement was built on. His words set people’s hearts on fire for Jesus. “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.” (Acts 12:1 NIV). People who belonged to the church, were those that believed that Jesus Christ came from God and that he died for their sins. Now in the gospel of John, Jesus talked about how Peter would die: “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18 NIV). Peter was crucified upside-down on the cross in Rome, because, he felt unworthy to be crucified as Jesus was.
Andrew – the brother of Peter, went to Greece to preach the gospel. He was brought before the Roman Proconsul Aegeates. He told him to renounce his belief in Christianity. When Andrew refused to do so, that decided to torture him and crucify him, by tying him to an x shaped cross. He lived for two days on the cross and kept preaching the gospel to anyone that walked by.
John – the Beloved apostle of Jesus. “I, John, am your brother. All of us share with Christ in suffering, in the kingdom, and in patience to continue. I was on the island of Patmos because I had preached the word of God and the message about Jesus.” (Romans 1:9 NCV) The Foxe’s Book of Martyrs talks about how John was boiled alive, by Emperor Domitian then banned to the island of Patmos. While on the island, he wrote the book of Revelation and his gospel account. John is the only apostle that was not martyred. He was said to have died of old age.
James – was John the Beloved’s brother. “During that same time King Herod began to mistreat some who belonged to the church. He ordered James, the brother of John, to be killed by the sword. Herod saw that some of the people like this, so he decided to arrest Peter, too.” (Acts 12:1-3 NCV). Herod had also had John the Baptist beheaded in earlier times. He was a merciless King.
Philip – According to most historical facts, Philip’s death was very excruciating. In Turkey he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul (governor of a province). To have his revenge, he had Philip murdered by the impaling of iron hooks into his ankles, then hung upside-down to die. Philip’s tomb was found in Hieropolis Turkey in 2011.
Bartholomew – There is not a lot of information on Bartholomew in the history books. It is believed that he traveled to many distant lands, including Armenia, India, Ethiopia, and Southern Arabia. Some believe that he was beaten and then crucified, while others believe that he was skinned alive and then beheaded.
Thomas – Known as “Doubting Thomas,” he preached the gospel in Greece and East Asia (mostly India). While preaching he angered local authorities that killed him with a spear.
James “Son of Alphaeus” – “James the Less,” called this because he was only mentioned in the Bible a few times. There are a few accounts for him, as to what he did with his life, after Jesus ascended to Heaven. He is said to have been a leader of a church in Jerusalem. He lived to be 94, one of the longest living apostles, besides John the Beloved apostle. Others say that he ministered in Syria. All accounts have him dying by being stoned by persecutors and then hit on the head with a club.
Thaddeus (Jude) – All the historical sources contradict each other as to how Jude died. Some say that he went with Simon to Armenia to preach the gospel, and died with Simon. Some sources say that he was clubbed to death, while others talk about him being crucified at Edessa (Turkey or Greece) in 72 A.D.
Simon the Canaanite – known as the “Zealot,” (fanatic in their pursuit of religious ideals), also has a lot of conflicting historical accounts as to how he died. Some say that he preached in Western Africa, then went to England, where he was crucified in 74 A.D. All accounts have him being crucified, just the location and when is different.
Judas Iscariot – “Judas, the one who had given Jesus to his enemies, saw that they had decided to kill Jesus. Then he was very sorry for what he had done. So he took the thirty silver coins back to the priests and the leaders, saying, ‘I have sinned; I handed over to you an innocent man.’ The leaders answered, ‘What is that to us? That’s your problem, not ours.’ So Judas threw the money into the Temple. Then he went off and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5 NCV). “Judas bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all of his intestines.” (Acts 1:18 NLT).