Saturday, May 14, 2011

Killed For Their Faith

From the website ---

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... 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.

(6) Matthew/Levi
- 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.

(11) Thomas (speared).

- Hippolytus records that Thomas was an active missionary, and that he met his fate in India:  "And Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians, and was thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine spear at Calamene, the city of India, and was buried there."

(12) Judas Iscariot (suicide).
- The Bible records: “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”  So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.  The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” (Matthew 27:4-6)

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."


Vinny said...

Nero scapegoated the Christians in Rome for a fire that he had started himself. If Peter and Paul died under Nero, they were put to death for arson rather than being Christians. It seems unlikely that recanting their beliefs would have allowed them to escape death.

Tony said...

After reading Tacitus' account, I would say that they were put to death for both arson and being Christians. The Christians were a target for Nero because of who they were.

In regard to Peter and Paul, if they had recanted to Nero (which they did not), would they have escaped death? Perhaps not.


Tacitus (AD 62-65)

[15.44] "Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed."

Tony said...

"They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah."
Acts 5:41-42