HOW THE EARLY APOSTLES DIED WHILE DEFENDING THE GOSPEL
May 28, 2018
HOW THE EARLY APOSTLES OF JESUS CHRIST DIED IN THE COURSE OF DEFENDING THE GOSPEL
All the early Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ followed in His step. They did not treasure their lives above the Gospel. “… they loved not their lives unto death” (rev. 12:11).
The scripture actually tells us little as to how and where they died except for Judas Iscariot who committed suicide after betraying his master (Matt. 27:5). Stephen the first martyr in the Bible was stoned to death because he refused to let go his grip on Christ (Acts 7:59-60). In acts 12:1-2, we were told of the killing of James the brother of John by Herod. As for the rest, here is probably the most glaring clue that the Bible gives us as to what exactly befell the Old Testament martyrs and the early Apostles.
‘….were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others had trial of cruel mocking and scourging, yea moreover of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and being destitute, afflicted, tormented….’ (Heb. 11:35-36). It is from here that Church history proceeds further to tell us how the early Apostles actually laboured and died.
Evidently, when Stephen was martyred and James the brother of John killed, many other faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, must have been tortured and martyred which undoubtedly led to the diaspora or dispersion of the Saints.
The first Apostle to suffer after the martyrdom of Stephen was James, the brother of John. This Apostolic martyr displayed extra ordinary courage and undauntedness that led to the conversion of his accuser, hence they were both beheaded at the same time. According to clement, “When this James was brought to the tribunal seat, he that brought him and was the cause of his trouble, seiing him to be condemned and that he should suffer death, was in such sort moved within heart and conscience that as he went to the execution he confessed himself also, of his own accord, to be a Christian. And so were they led forth together where in the way he desire James to forgive him what he had done. After james had a little pause within himself upon the matter turning to him he said, “Peace be to thee, brother”, and kissed Him. And both were beheaded together, A.D 36”.
Thomas preached to the Perthians, Persians, Carmanians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians and Magians. He was killed in Calamia. He was said to have been shot with arrows while at prayer.
Simon, brother of Jude and James the younger, who were all sons of Mary Cleophas and Alpheus, was Bishop of Jerusalem after James. He was crucified in Egypt during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan.
Simon the Apostle, called Cananeus and Zelotes, preached in Mauritania, Africa and Britain. He was also crucified.
Mark, the first Bishop of Alexandria, preached the Gospel in Egypt. He was burned and buried in a place named Bucolus during Trajan’s reign. Another record however says that Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, at the solemnity of Serap their idol, ending his life under their merciless hands. He obviously had a tragic end.
Bartholomew is said to have preached in India and translated the Gospel of Mathew into their tongue. He was beaten, crucified, and beheaded in Albinopolis, Armenia.
Andrew, Peter’s brother , preached to the Scythians, Sogdians, and the Sacae in Sebastopolis, Ethiopia, in about the year A.D 80. He was crucified by Aegeas, the governor of the Edessenes, and burned in Patrae, in Archaia. This blessed Apostle was said to have bodly confessed Jesus Christ before the wicked governor Aageas that killed him, by telling him to face that “a jufge of men should first know and worship his judge in Heaven”. When further threatened with speedy crucifixion if he did not stop to preach, he said “I wpould not have preached the honour and glory of the cross if I feared the death of the cross”. Brother Andrew was said to have been crucified on a cross the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground, hence the derivation of the term St. Andrew’s Cross.
James the less was elected the oversight of the Churches of Jerusalem. He was thrown off the temple because he refused to preach against the cross of Christ as was implored by the enemy of the Gospel. He was not killed by the fall. They decided to stone James, but a Priest said to them, “wait! What are you doing? The just man (referring to James) is praying for you!” But one of the men there – a fuller took the instrument he used to beat cloth and hit James on the head, killing him and they buried him where he fell.
The Apostle Peter was condemned to death at about A.D 64 during a persecution stirred up by Nero whose hatred for God’s people surpassed those of his predecessors and successors. Peter was crucified head down at his request, saying he was not worthy to be crucified the same way his Lord was. Nero’s rage against Christians at that time was so fierce that Eusebius records, “a man might then see cities full of men’s bodies, the old lying together with the young, and the dead bodies of women cast out naked, without reverence to the sex in the open streets”. It is also said that Emperor Nero set the city on fire and then turned around to falsely accuse the Christians of burning the city all in a bid to satisfy his murderous desire.
John the beloved, was exiled to the Island of Patmos during the second persecution which began during the reign of Domitan, the brother of Titus. But on Domitan’s death, John was allowed to return to Ephesus in the year A.D 97. He remained there until the reign of Trajan , governing the Churches in Asia and writing his Gospel until he died at about the age of hundred. Before being banished to the Island of Patmos by Domitan, it is affirmed that Brother John was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. But however escaped by miracle without injury.
Philip was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the name “disciple”. He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis in Phyrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison and afterward, crucified A.D 51.
Mathew was born at Nazareth and his occupation was that of a Tax collector. He wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, which was later translated into Greek by James the Less. The scen of his labour was Parthia and Ehiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halbered in the city of Nadabah, in about A.D 60.
Mathias of whom less is known than most of the disciples, was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.
Jude who was the brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa in about A.D 72.
Barnabas was of Cyrus, but of Jewish descent. His death is supposed to have taken place about A.D 73.
Luke the Evangelist was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name. He travelled with Paul through various countries and is supposed to have been hanged on an Olive tree by the idolatrous Priest of Greece.
One of those who suffered during the fourth persecution stirred up by Marcus Aurelius, in about A.D 161 was Polycarp, the Venerable Bishop of Smyrna. Evidently, he was an old man at that time. But his confession is most challenging when he was threatened and asked to renounce Christ. The ungodly tribunal told him, “Consider yourself and have pity on your great age. Reproach Christ and I will release you”.
Polycarp replied, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never once wronged me. How can I blaspheme my King, who saved me”. Threatened further with wild east and fire, Polycarp stood his ground and said, “What are you waiting for? Do whatever you please”. He was eventually burned at stake.
One of those who faced the wrath of the Roman Papacy’s great persecution at about A.D 200 was Perpetua, a married lady of twenty-six years old with baby at her breast. She was asked to sacrifice to idols but she refused and was subsequently put in a dark dungeon and deprived of her child. On appearing again with ther accused Christians of similar offence, she remained resolute. Even the judge seemed to be moved and said to her “Spare the grey hairs of your father”, “Spare your child. Offer sacrifice for the welfare of the Emperor”.
Perpetua answered, |I will not sacrifice”. “Are you a Christian? Demanded Hilarianus, the judge”. “I am a Christian” was her answer. The sight of her new born baby, husband and aged father brought before her to possibly shake her faith, did not in any way move her deep love and firm commitment to Jesus Christ. She refused to compromise by renouncing Christ. She was eventually burned at stake by the heartless evil religious leaders and heathen of the Roman Papacy along with other believers of unshakable faith in Christ.
The suffering, persecution, torture, burning at state or killing of men of God such as Wycliffe, Dr. Robert Barnes, Williams Tyndale, Jorome, matin Luther, John Knox and other faithful and fearless Saints of God, of the 16th century is authentically and systematically narrated by JOHN FOXE in his book title “Foxe’s Christian Martyrs”.
From this brief delve into Church history, we have seen how the early Apostles and Saints stood for Christ uncompromisingly even at the point of facing the cruelest kind of death. Only one that is, John the beloved out of the twelve Apostles, died a natural death, yet not without bearing his own painful scar of trials and persecutions.
It is easy o boast of our faith, declare that we love God or feign spirituality when things are moving on smoothly with us or when we are standing with the crowd. But it takes courage to stand alone especially amidst trials. With God as our audience and Jesus Christ as our Companion, we can say and do anything we ought to His praise, glory and honour.
Culled from Uncompromising Christians in a Compromising World