The Apostle's Deaths

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History shows how the apostles died. Simon Peter was martyred some thirty years after the death of Christ. Peter wrote his last letter from Babylon (Iraq), and was never in Rome. He almost certainly died in Babylon. According to the some writers, he died about the same time as Paul (who was beheaded according to tradition during Nero’s persecution) A.D. 67. All agree that he was crucified.  

James the son of Zebedee: He was put to death by Herod Agrippa I  shortly before the day of the Passover, in the year 44 or about 11 years after the death of Christ (Acts 12:1-2). 

John: No death date given by early writers. Death date is by conjecture only and is variously assigned as being between 89 AD to 100 AD. He died in peace.

Andrew: No accurate death date given. A variety of traditions say he preached in Scythia, in Greece, in Asia Minor and Thrace. He is reported to have been crucified at Patrae in Achaia. 

Philip: Again, the Bible does not say when he died nor do we have accurate information. According to tradition he preached in Phrygia, and died at Hierapolis. 

Bartholomew: There is no information concerning his death, not even by tradition.

Matthew: He must have lived many years as an apostle, since he was the author of the Gospel of Matthew which was written at least twenty years after the death of Christ. There is reason to believe that he stayed for fifteen years at Jerusalem, after which he went as missionary to the Persians, Parthians and Medes. There is a legend that he died a martyr in Ethiopia.

Thomas: The earlier traditions, as believed in the fourth century, say he preached in Parthia or Persia, and was finally buried at Edessa. The later traditions carry him farther east.  His martyrdom whether in Persia or India, is said to have been by a lance, and is commemorated by the Latin Church on December 21 the Greek Church on October 6, and by the Indians on July 1. 

James Alpheus: We know he lived at least five years after the death of Christ because of mentions in the Bible. According to tradition, James son of Alpheus was thrown down from the temple by the scribes and Pharisees; he was then stoned, and his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club. 

Simon the Canaanite – No information either in the Bible or by tradition.

Jude (Thaddeus) according to tradition Jude taught in Armenia, Syria and Persia where he was martyred. Tradition tells us he was buried in Kara Kalisa in what is now Iran. 

Besides the apostles being put to death, there was a general persecution periods for Christians. Here now are some of those who died for their faith in God.

The first persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. He probably set fire to Rome himself (in order to make room for another imperial building), but blamed a small sect that was spoken against everywhere by everybody (Acts 28:22), the Christians (Acts 11:26). Nero was a cruel man who invented all manner of punishments for the Christians. He had some believers sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then they were chased by dogs until they perished; and others were dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to trees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general one that was throughout the whole Roman Empire; nevertheless, it increased instead of diminished the spirit of Christianity. Nero martyred Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesians, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy. 

Domitian was the next emperor of Rome to kill Christians (in 81 AD). He was first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians. He also put to death some of the Roman senators, some through malice; and others to confiscate their wealth and lands. He then commanded all the lineage of David be put to death. Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and St. John, who was boiled in oil (but survived it), but later was banished to Patmos (where he received the Revelations of Jesus Christ). Flavia, the daughter of a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus; then a law was made, “That no Christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion.”

A variety of lies were made during this time designated to destroy Christians. Whenever a famine, pestilence, or earthquakes effected any of the Roman provinces, it was said to be the Christians fault. The persecutions increased so that the accusers of the Christians could confiscate their goods. Another hardship was, that, when any Christians were brought before the magistrates, a test oath was proposed, when, if they refused to take it, death was pronounced against them; and if they confessed themselves Christians, the sentence was the same.

The following are some of the many martyrs who suffered during this persecution. Dionysius, the Areopagite, was an Athenian by birth, and educated in all the useful and ornamental literature of Greece. He then travelled to Egypt to study astronomy, and made very particular observations on the great and supernatural eclipse, which happened at the time of our Savior’s crucifixion. The sanctity of his conversation and the purity of his manners recommended him so strongly to the Christians in general, that he was appointed bishop of Athens. Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian’s persecution. Protasius and Gervasius were both martyred at Milan. Timothy was the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and furiously beat him so that he expired of the bruises two days

The following is a record of a real baptism that took place in Rome A.D. 100. The baptism was reproduced in a Time magazine that was dated December 5, 1955. This is evidence that Christians were still being converted, that is despite severe persecution by the Roman government.

“The deacon raised his hand, and Publius Decius stepped through the baptistry door. Standing waist-deep in the pool was Marcus Vasca the wood seller. He was smiling as Publius waded into the pool beside him. ‘Credis?’ he asked. ‘Credo,’ responded Publius. ‘I believe that my salvation comes from Jesus the Christ, Who was crucified under Pontius Pilate. With Him I died that with Him I may have Eternal Life.’ Then he felt strong arms supporting him as he let himself fall backward into the pool, and heard Marcus’ voice in his ear —- ‘I baptize you in the Name of the Lord Jesus’ —- as the cold water closed over him.”


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