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Apostles:  A Tough Job With An Unbeatable Retirement Package

              Ever wonder what happened to the Apostles?  Such as where they ended up living and dying?  It's a question that was researched by quite a few good scholars over the centuries.  While the end met by some Apostles is not known with certainty, here are the reports you will typically find if you look it up.

1) Peter (also called Simon and Cephas): Brother of Andrew and an apostle.  Was Bishop of Antioch.  It is said by some that he later became first Bishop of Rome.   Others contest this.  Executed in  A.D. 64 in Rome under Nero for spreading the gospel.  Was martyred about the same time as Paul.  Was crucified by his own request in the upside down position, feeling he was unworthy of meeting the exact same death as Jesus.

2) Andrew:  Brother of Peter, and an apostle.  Preached in Asia Minor and Greece (also, according to some, in Poland and Russia.)  Was crucified in Patrae, Greece by a Roman Governor named Aegeas, around year 60 A.D. which was during Nero's reign.  His followers reported he was first flogged by seven soldiers, then taken to the cross, (an 'X' shaped cross, now sometimes called a St. Andrew's cross) which he saluted.  Supposedly he said he had long expected and looked forward to this happy hour and that the cross had been rendered consecrated by Jesus's having been crucified upon one.  He was crucified upside down.  For two days, as he died, he preached the gospel.   

3) Judas Iscariot:  One of original 12 apostles.  Betrayed Jesus for personal reasons and for money.  But mainly because Satan entered into him to direct him.  He later felt shame, returned money, and took his own life.  One account says he hanged himself. Mattew 27:5  Another says he jumped from a high place and split open in a field below, his intestines spilling out.  (Acts 1:18.)  It became known to everyone in Jerusalem, and the field gained the name Hakeldama (field of blood).  It's said it was not built upon thereafter, fulfilling the Psalm 'Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it.'  Jesus once said (Mark 14:21) "For the Son of Man is to go just as it was written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!  It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."  Not a cheery prognostication for Judas Iscariot's after life.  Another, Matthias, was chosen later by lot to replace Judas Iscariot as the twelth apostle, also fulfilling a Psalm prophecy "Let another man take his office." (Acts 1:20) 

              Revelation 21:14 speaks of the appearance of the new city Jerusalem coming down from heaven. (This is at a future time even in our own day.)  It has '12 foundation stones, and on them were the 12 names of the twelve apostles of the lamb.'  So, though Judas was an apostle for a while, I think he lost the job in the afterlife.  And though Paul became an apostle, he seems not to be treated like the other 12 in the afterlife.  Maybe he'll be treated better, or worse, or just differently.

              Concerning the two accounts of Judas's death, perhaps Judas jumped off of a high point to hang himself, like from a window or a cliff above his field.  And he ended up below split open, from a broken rope or his head coming off when he hit the end of the rope.  One day we'll know.

4) Matthias:  Judas Iscariot's replacement, he preached for more than 3 decades in Cappadocia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Judea, and probably places in between.  He was killed while spreading the gospel (by one tradition) in the area of Colchis (mostly in the modern Republic of Georgia on south/east shores of Black Sea) when preaching near there in approx. 80 A.D.  Some of the locals were supposed to have been cannibals, but there is no tradition that he was eaten.

               A marker at the ruins of an ancient fort there claims to designate the site of his burial, near the river Rioni, once called the Phasis River. (supposedly the area where the game bird 'pheasant' got it's name.  A second tradition says Matthias was killed and beheaded in Jerusalem.  This one seems more poorly supported to me.

5) Philip:  Preached in Asia Minor (area of Northern Syria, Turkey, etc., contained Antioch, Ionica, Collosae, and other New Testament church cities).  Martyred for Jesus in Hierapolis, Phrygia in 80 A.D.(now called Cotton Castle because of white cliffs near its ruins).  He was stoned, then hung upside down on a cross to die. **His two daughters are said to have died beside him in the same manner. **  By report, his tomb was identified in 2011 in the modern Turkish city of Pakkale (ancient Hieropolis) at the site of an ancient Christian church.  The archaeological group had hoped to find it there. 

6) Thomas (Didymas, Doubting Thomas):  He preached in Parthia, Persia, and India at the least.  Possibly China as well.  He built many churches where he preached.  He, the apostle that said he'd have to put his hands into Jesus's wounds to believe he was alive after His crucifixion, was later confronted by Jesus, returned in the flesh, and was invited to feel the nail holes in Jesus's hands, and the spear wound in Jesus side if he could not believe.  Then Thomas believed.  Jesus chided him for his unbelief.

              Thomas was martyred, killed in India by spear thrusts, tradition holds.  Ironic, is it not?  He needed a spear hole to believe.  He got a spear hole. 

              In the 15th century, a traveling Portugese sea captain and his crew had great adventures moving up and down the coast of India, porting where they could to meet the locals.  But they received a surprise in one location, finding out upon making contact with the natives that those natives were firm believers in Jesus and had been for 15 centuries.  The people explained that they were descended of churches founded in that time by the Apostle Thomas.  Their history said that about 1200 Christian churches had once flourished in India at the heyday, though it was much reduced in their day.  They even said they knew the location of Thomas's grave, beside an ancient church. 

          The Portugese asked to be taken there, and they found a Muslim was living in the church, using it as his home.  It was a run down building no longer used.  The Muslim said his eyesight had been restored there, so he stayed and protected the building.  The Portugese viewed this claim with skepticism.  They received permission to rebuild the building and restore it, in honor of Thomas.  In digging out the old foundation, they came upon a grave marked as Thomas' burial site.  Inside were bones and a broken spear.  Some of these have survived as relics in churches to this day.   

7) Simon the Zealot:  Preached near Black Sea, in Persia, North Africa, and Britain.  I've heard of four different traditions of his death, all of which have him martyred.  1) He was crucified in Samaria.  2) Sawn in two parts in Suanir, Persia  or perhaps 3) Killed somehow in Weriosphoria, Iberia. 4) Killed by sword in Judea.  Obviously his manner and place of death are uncertain. 

8)  Judas (Jude Thaddeus): A brother of James the Lesser and Matthew. All were supposedly sons of the Mary who stood with Jesus's own mother Mary at the foot of the cross.  He preached in Persia, Syria, Mesopotamia.  Some traditions have him being the early posessor of the burial shroud of Jesus, later to be the Shroud of Turin.  It is said that he cured a certain King Abgar of Edessa (Now Urfa, Turkey) using the shroud.  The account holds that both Judas and the shroud lit up brightly as it cured Agbar the King.  Judas is reported to have died a martyr's death, beaten then beheaded somewhere in Persia sometime in the 1st century.

9)  James the Lesser (because he was the second James to join the ranks of the apostles):  A brother of Judas (Jude Thaddeus) and Matthew.  Killed by stoning outside of Jeruslem.

10)  Matthew (also called Levi):  Brother of James the Less and Jude Thaddeus.  He preached widely in Ethiopia and in Egypt.  Was martyred in Ethiopia- run through with a spear (though some acounts say a sword wound killed him) at the behest of a king.

11)  Bartholomew (also called Nathanael):  Preached in many places, among them India, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Lycaonia, Phrygia, and in areas of the Black Sea such as Armenia.  Flayed (skinned) alive and crucified upside down in Albanopolis, Armenia for his part in converting an early King of Armenia to Christianity.

12)  John:  Brother of James the Greater.  He is probably the 'disciple whom Jesus loved' though some have made the claim that it was Lazarus (whom Jesus brought back from the dead) who bore this title.  John was given gaurdianship of Jesus's mother Mary.  He helped found churches in Asia Minor.  He preached in Samaria.  He is usually credited with writing the Gospel of John, the three epistles of John, and the Book of Revelations of Jesus Christ (Revelations). 

              As for his death, good luck!  There was an early attempt in Rome to martyr him by boiling him in oil, during a wave of Roman persecutions against Christianity, but God interceded and there was no apparent harm done to him by the boiling oil.  Seeing this, his persecuters recognized it as a bit out of the ordinary and did not kill him. 

              His death is an interesting question to pursue the answer to.  You can read that John never died, or he died in Ephesus in 101 A.D. peacefully as an old man, or that after praying he had some of his followers just bury him alive in the dirt until a later time - there are a few traditional endings to be found.  One of the problems is that Jesus made statements that could be taken to mean John would never die.

              And John received the Revelations of the Thunders in the Book of Revelations, but then was not allowed to write down the words that the great angel had spoken.  Those were to be sealed until later.  So, John is apparently the only one who knows what was uttered, and therefore may need to come back at a later time to reveal the words.  Why, otherwise, was he allowed to hear them?  And why were we - as readers of Revelation - given to know that he had heard them? 

              Also, Jesus once said during His ministry that there were those standing by him who would not die before certain of His prophecies (some involving His second coming) were fulfilled.  Among those standing with Him at the time was John, and it would appear that all the others, of the apostles at least, met an earthly death - leaving John.  I suspect that John is not dead, but I am no scholar. 'It's not crucial to my salvation' as we dumb people like to say.  I hope to learn a better answer someday and update this site

13)  James the Greater: Son of Zebedee, Brother to John.  He preached in Spain, Judea and Samaria.  He was the first apostle martyred, killed by Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great, with a sword.  Died in 44 A.D.  

              Herod was killing Christians because at this time it pleased the Jews so much.  James was bought forward by an accuser to Herod.  When James defended his faith prior to being sentenced, his accuser was so moved he insisted on being beheaded with James.  One tradition has it that James' beheaded body was 'translated' to a place he had once preached - Iria Flavia in N/W Spain.  There is a memorial there even today.

              As an additional note, The Apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome after 2 years of preaching and teaching from there while imprisoned, and Mark (as in the Gospel of Mark) is said to have been drug behind horses in Alexandria Egypt for two different days before finally dying as the flesh hung from him in flaps and tatters.  His body was then said to have been burned.  But, the people of Venice Italy (and for about 5 centuries Venice had a mighty Maritime Empire) claim it wasn't burned, but buried.  And that they found and took it from Alexandria, concealed it under some pork on their ship.  Muslims searching their boat didn't find it (refusing to touch the pile of pork, I suppose) and then, escaping detection this way, the venetians brought it to Venice, where it now is enshrined in a church. 

The Coptic Christians of Egypt claim Mark as a founder of their branch of the Church.

           Jesus told the Apostles that they would sit in thrones and wear crowns in heaven one day.

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website