Many of Jesus disciples died cruel deaths for preaching the gospel and/or being Christians.
In fact, of the original 12 disciples:
(1) Andrew (crucified).
- [According to Hippolytus] "Andrew preached to the Scythians [modern day Georgia] and Thracians [modern day Bulgaria], and was crucified, suspended on an olive tree, at Patrae, a town of Achaia [Greece]; and there too he was buried."
(2) Bartholomew/Nathanael (crucified).
- [According to Hippolytus, Bartholomew preached in India] "Bartholomew, again, preached to the Indians, to whom he also gave the Gospel according to Matthew, and was crucified with his head downward, and was buried in Allanum, a town of the great Armenia [modern day southern Georgia].
- Eusebius, in his Church History, confirms the ministry of Bartholomew in India, and adds an eye witness account: "About that time, Pantaenus, a man highly distinguished for his learning, had charge of the school of the faithful in Alexandria... Pantaenus...is said to have gone to India. It is reported that among persons there who knew of Christ, he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had anticipated his own arrival. For Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached to them, and left with them the writing of Matthew in the Hebrew language, which they had preserved till that time." ---- (Book 5, Chapter 10)
(3) James, Son of Alphaeus (stoned to death).
- Hippolytus identifies that James was stoned to death in Jerusalem: "And James the son of Alphaeus, when preaching in Jerusalem, was stoned to death by the Jews, and was buried there beside the temple."
(4) James, Son of Zebedee (beheaded).
- James was the brother of John, the disciple "that Jesus loved". According to the Book of Acts in the New Testament, James was killed by Herod: And at that time Herod the king threw on his hands to oppress some of those of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. (Acts 12:1-2)
- This is confirmed by Hippolytus: "James, his brother, when preaching in Judea, was cut off with the sword by Herod the tetrarch, and was buried there."
- Eusebius descibed more precisely what was cut off of James: "First Stephen was stoned to death by them, and after him James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, was beheaded..." (Book 3, Chapter 5)
(5) John, brother of James and son of Zebedee (old age).
- John was one of the few disciples that did not die a cruel death, but of "old age".
- Eusebius discusses the reason that John wrote his Gospel: "Matthew and John have left us written memorials, and they, tradition says, were led to write only under the pressure of necessity...And when Mark and Luke had already published their Gospels, they say that John, who had employed all his time in proclaiming the Gospel orally, finally proceeded to write for the following reason. The three Gospels already mentioned having come into the hands of all and into his own too, they say that he accepted them and bore witness to their truthfulness; but that there was lacking in them an account of the deeds done by Christ at the beginning of his ministry." (Book 3, Chapter 24)
- According to Hippolytus, John was banished by Domitian to the Isle of Patmos, and later died in Ephesus:
John, again, in Asia, was banished by Domitian the king to the isle of Patmos, in which also he wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision; and in Trajan's time he fell asleep at Ephesus, where his remains were sought for, but could not be found.
- Eusebius referenced to Bishop Papias of Hierapolis, as early as c. 110 A.D., bearing witness to Matthew's authorship of his gospel: "....Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could." (Eusebius, Book 3, Chapter 39)
- According to Hippolytus: "Matthew wrote the Gospel in the Hebrew tongue, and published it at Jerusalem, and fell asleep at Hierees, a town of Parthia.\224 [Parthia is near modern day Tehran].
(7) Simon/Peter (crucified).
- Eusebius, quoting Papias of Hierapolis (c. 110 A.D.), records a tradition that the Gospel of Mark preserved the Gospel as preached by Peter: "Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered.... he accompanied Peter..." ---- (Book 3, Chapter 39)
- Irenaeus (c. 180 A.D.) records a similar tradition, and mentions that Peter and Paul founded the Church in Rome: "Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter..." ---- (Irenaeus, "Against Heresies", Book 3, Chapter 1)
- Eusebius records that Peter was put to death under Nero in Rome: "It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day." ---- (Book 2, Chapter 25) Note that Paul was a Roman citizen cannot be crucified but got an "easier" death sentence.
- Hippolytus confirmed the fact that Peter was crucified by Nero in Rome: "Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia, and was afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downward, as he had himself desired to suffer in that manner."
(8) Philip (crucified).
- According to Hippolytus, Philip preached and was executed in what today is eastern Turkey: "Philip preached in Phrygia, and was crucified in Hierapolis with his head downward in the time of Domitian, and was buried there."
(9) Simon the Zealot (old age).
- According to Hippolytus, Simon the Zealot was the second Bishop of Jerusalem: "Simon the Zealot, the son of Clopas, who is also called Jude, became bishop of Jerusalem after James the Just, and fell asleep and was buried there at the age of 120 years."
(10) Thaddaeus/Judas son of James
- According to Mat 10:3 (KJV): Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.... Thaddaeus is also known as Lebbaeus.
- Hippolytus records: "Jude, who is also called Lebbaeus, preached to the people of Edessa, and to all Mesopotamia, and fell asleep at Berytus, and was buried there."
|An ethiopian icon of the 12 apostles.|
Could the early Christians have escaped death by denouncing their faith in Jesus?
A letter from Pliny to Trajan:
"Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed. For I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome."
"Yet, they decided not to denounce Jesus... Why ???... People do not [typically] die for a lie - these disciples must have seen something that made them choose their cruel death over denouncing their faith."