The Apostles of Christ paid a supreme price for their faithfulness
I have to thank my good friend, Jules Jahr, of Maggie Valley, for sending me the idea for this column. He was kind enough to forward an email that you may also have received, about the fate of the 12 Apostles after Christ’s death and resurrection.
The email was a real eye-opener for me, and the content is worthy of reflection — especially during this most holy of weeks.
Before I share the details of that email with you, I need to make a disclaimer — I am not a Biblical scholar. My only credentials are that: (1) I have been a life-long Christian, (2) I have been closely watching the History Channel’s new hit series, “The Bible,” and (3) most evident to my readers — I am a sinner.
A further disclaimer — though widely discussed in early Christendom, and in folklore passed on for generations, there are few actual historical records of the lives of Christ’s Apostles after the crucifixion.
Most of the Apostles were in hiding, spreading the word and teachings of Christ, but meeting secretly, behind close doors, hiding from persecution. They were doing God’s work, but sadly, all but one of the Apostles became martyrs for their faith — suffering horrible deaths.
Here is what is commonly believed to have happened to them:
Mathew — preached in Persia and Ethiopia. There are conflicting accounts as to whether or not he was a martyr, but most accounts indicate that he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
Mark — traveled to Egypt where he was reportedly dragged behind horses through the streets of Alexandria until he was dead.
Luke — preached openly to the lost throughout Greece, but was eventually hanged to death.
John — suffered in a most cruel way — boiled in oil during a wave of Christian persecution in Rome. Miraculously, John escaped death, and was sentenced to work in the mines on the prison island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation.
John was later freed and went on to serve as Bishop of Edessa, in modern Turkey. He lived a long life, and was the only Apostle to die peacefully, in old age.
Peter — never denied Christ after the crucifixion. He himself was crucified upside down, because he felt not worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
James (the Just) — went on to be the leader of the church in Jerusalem. When he refused to deny his faith in Christ, he was thrown down from the pinnacle of the Temple — a distance of more than 100 feet. This is the same pinnacle Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
When James’ enemies discovered he had survived the fall, they beat him to death with an axe-like weapon called a fuller’s club.
James (the Great), son of Zebedee — became one of the strongest early leaders of the Christian church. After staunchly defending his faith during his trial in Jerusalem, James was beheaded.
According to legend, the officer who guarded James throughout his trial, and also accompanied him to the execution, became so overcome by James’ conviction, that he professed his own faith in Christ to the judge. He knelt down next to James, accepting his own beheading as a Christian.
Bartholomew (also know as Nathaniel) — became a missionary to Asia. He was martyred for his preaching in Armenia, where he was flayed to death by a whip.
Andrew — was whipped severely by soldiers, and who then tied his body to an X-shaped cross to prolong his agony. As he was led to the cross, Andrew is reported to have said, “I have long desired and expected this happy hour.”
Andrew continued to preach to his tormentors for two days before he died.
Thomas — was stabbed with a spear in India on a missionary trip to establish a church in the sub-continent.
Jude — was executed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
Mathias — was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ. He was later stoned and then beheaded.
Paul — endured a lengthy imprisonment, where he wrote epistles to the many churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. Paul was tortured and beheaded in 66 A.D. by the evil Roman Emperor, Nero.
So there you have it. I don’t mean to burden you with this information, but Lent is a time to reflect on the agony of Christ, and I thought we should all take a moment to also reflect on the painful price his Apostles paid — for the greater glory of the Lord.