• Who were the 12 disciples:

New Testament Apostolic Lists

Matt 10:2 Mark 3:16 Luke 6:14 Acts 1:13
Andrew Andrew Andrew
Bartholomew Bartholomew Bartholomew
James son of Alphaeus James son of Alphaeus James son of Alphaeus
James son of Zebedee James son of Zebedee James
John John John Andrew
Judas Iscariot Judas Iscariot Judas Iscariot Bartholomew
Matthew Matthew Matthew James son of Alphaeus
Philip Philip Philip James
Simon (who is called Peter) Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter) Simon (whom he named Peter) Peter
Simon the Zealot Simon the Zealot Simon who was called the Zealot Simon the Zealot
Thaddaeus Thaddaeus Judas son of James Judas son of James
Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas
  • Sources on what happened to Jesus’ disciples
    • Hippolytus of Rome:
      • Birth unknown, died around 236 AD
      • See his entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia: click here
      • Here is a page on the Internet containing his writings: click here
    • Eusebius:
      • Was the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, known as the “Father of Church History” because he wrote about the church history.
      • Lived around 260-341 AD
      • See his entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia: click here
    • A very nice write up on the disciples (my source for this webpage): click here

….And now… what ever happened to the disciples of Jesus….

  • Judas

We all know what happened to him…

  • Andrew
    • 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.

  • Bartholomew
    • 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)

  • James, Son of Alphaeus
    • 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.

  • James, Son of Zebedee

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:

Act 12:1 And at that time Herod the king threw on his hands to oppress some of those of the church.
Act 12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

    • 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)

Yep… James’ head was cut…

  • John, brother of James and son of Zebedee

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.

  • 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]

  • Simon/Peter
    • 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)

(Paul was a Roman citizen can 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.

  • Philip
    • 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.

  • Simon the Zealot
    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Thomas
    • 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.

  • After thought
    • Many of Jesus disciples died cruel deaths for preaching the gospel
    • From other sources (e.g., Paul’s letters, Pliny’s letters to Trajan ( click here ), etc), all these Christians need to do to escape a cruel execution was simply: to denounce their faith in Jesus…
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.(A letter from Pliny to Trajan)
    • Yet, they decided not to denounce Jesus… Why ???…
    • People do not die for a lie – these disciples must have seen something that made them choose their cruel death over denouncing their faith.
    • Remember that these disciples are Jews – and the ultimate promise of God to the Jews was the coming of a Messiah….
    • Maybe, just maybe, they were convinced of having seen and touched the Messiah ? The ressurection of the death may have given them the necessary push that made them overcome their doubt ?
    • Human nature is such that no sane man would give up his own life to a belief that he knows is untrue.
    • If anyone knew for sure whether Jesus did or did not resurrect from His death, it would be His disciples.

In fact, Christianity was NOT spread by Jesus, but by these disciples… They willingly went out to tell about Jesus’ resurrection while putting their life on the line.

    • The historical FACT that many of these disciples decided to give up their own life to tell the world about that “Jesus has resurrected” is a very STRONG evidence that what they died for is the truth !
    • The reason that many of these disciples were executed is this:

They refuse to renounce their Lord Jesus, the Christ… That is the truth they are willing to die for…

  • Two more testimonies
    • There are 2 people who offer an even stronger testimony to Jesus’ resurrection:
      • Jesus’ (half) brother James
      • Paul
    • Both of these persons were anti-Jesus before their conversion; and yet later in their lives, both of them were willing to give their life to Jesus whom they willingly called “Lord”…
    • The Bible tells us that James did not believe in Him:

John 7:5 For His brothers did not believe in Him.

It should not be surprising that Jesus’ own brothers would not believe – imagine growing up with Jesus and one day, your brother claims to be the Son of God… Tough sell…

    • The Jewish Historian Josephus told us that James was martyred in Jerusalem:

In Antiquities, Book 20, Chapter 9:

Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned…

(Note that Josephus was not a Christian and his work was mainly to write about Jewish history – his mentioning of Jesus and James affirms the historicity of Jesus and James as actual persons in history)

    • This may be the reason why James was willing to die for Jesus:

1Co 15:1 And, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand;
1Co 15:2 by which you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
1Co 15:3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures,
1Co 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures;
1Co 15:5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve.
1Co 15:6 Afterward He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain until this present day, but also some fell asleep.
1Co 15:7 Afterward He was seen by James….

Yep, if you see someone back alive after seeing Him die and be buried, the event can really change your mind about Him…

    • Paul himself confessed that he was persecuting Christians before his conversion.

According to his own words, Jesus appeared to Him on the way to Damascus (to round up Christians – see Acts, Chapter 9) and his life is no longer the same.

His belief in Jesus was backed by his martyrdom in Rome (he was decapitated) – that’s quite a turn around: from someone who could not care less about Christians to someone who would give up his own life for the belief….

The only explanation is that Paul did see Jesus on that road to Damascus…



What Happened to the Twelve Apostles? How Their Deaths Evidence Easter

by C Michael PattonApril 10th, 2009 39 Comments

I have an interest in the death of the Apostles. We all should. Every Christian should spend some time looking into the historical records. There are many legends concerning their deaths which makes the historical evidence hard to interpret. Many times the accounts conflict with one another. Most early Christians wanted their home to be crowned with the stature of having been the final resting place of one of the twelve. It is probably for this reason that there were embellishments forged.

Sifting through the wheat and the chaff is not easy task. The martyrdom of some of the Apostles is more certain than others. Historians will have different degrees of certainty concerning the circumstances of their deaths. For instance, unbiased historians will not take issue with the historical credibility of the martyrdom of Peter, Paul, and James the Apostle. Many of the other accounts have decent historic validity as well. Some accounts, however, raise the eyebrow and cause us to remain agnostic.

However, when boiled down to their least common denominator, it is very feasible to believe that all but one of the Apostles suffered and died a martyr’s death, even if we can’t be sure of the exact details.

Amidst some uncertainty, one thing is clear—the reason given for their death was the same in all accounts. They were killed because they proclaimed to have seen Christ die and then to have seen Him alive. They all died because of an unwavering, unrelenting claim that Christ rose from the grave. They died for Easter.

Personally, in my mind, the gruesome death of the Apostles as recorded below was one of the greatest gifts that God ever gave to the Church. It contributes much to Christian apologetics by answering the “how do you know?” question concerning the resurrection of Christ.

The following is my attempt to take the best of all the sources and share the most likely scenario for each Apostle’s death. At the risk of spoiling some of the “legends,” I have given each account a grade of probability from A (highest probability) to D (lowest probability).

Read through the accounts of their deaths. Use it this Easter. Tell your children. This may sound odd, but in a very real sense, I thank God for bringing about the Apostles’ deaths, for in their deaths they sealed their testimony in blood making our faith in the risen Christ built upon a solid foundation.

(1) The Apostle James

James, the Apostle of the Lord, was the second recorded martyr after Christ’s death (Stephen was the first). His death is recorded in Acts 12:2 where it is told that Herod Agrippa killed him with a sword. Clemens Alexandrinus and Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History II.2) both tell how the executioner witnessed the courage and un-recanting spirit of James and was then convinced of Christ resurrection and was executed along with James.

Date of Martyrdom: 44-45 A.D.

Probability rating: A for the death of James, C- for the death of the executioner

(2) The Apostle Peter

Although, just before the crucifixion, Peter denied three times that he even knew Christ, after the resurrection he did not do so again. Peter, just as Jesus told him in John 21:18-19, was crucified by Roman executioners because he could not deny his master again. According to Eusebius, he thought himself unworthy to be crucified as his Master, and, therefore, he asked to be crucified “head downward.”

Date of Martyrdom: ca. 64 A.D.

Probability rating: A

(3) The Apostle Andrew

Andrew, who introduced his brother Peter to Christ, went to join Peter with Christ in eternity six years after Peter’s death. After preaching Christ’s resurrection to the Scythians and Thracians, he too was crucified for his faith. As Hippolytus tells us, Andrew was hanged on an olive tree at Patrae, a town in Achaia.

Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Probability rating: B

(4) The Apostle Thomas

Thomas is known as “doubting Thomas” because of his reluctance to believe the other Apostles’ witness of the resurrection. After they told him that Christ was alive, he stated “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). After this, Christ did appear to him and Thomas believed unto death. Thomas sealed his testimony as he was thrust through with pine spears, tormented with red-hot plates, and burned alive.

Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Probability rating: B concerning his martyrdom, D concerning the exact method of execution.

(5) The Apostle Philip

Philip was corrected by Christ when he asked Christ to “show us the Father, then this will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Christ responded, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘?” (John 14:9). Philip later saw the glory of Christ after the resurrection and undoubtedly reflected with amazement on Christ’s response to his request. Philip evangelized in Phrygia where hostile Jews had him tortured and then crucified.

Date of Martyrdom: 54 A.D.

Probability rating: C

(6) The Apostle Matthew

Matthew, the tax collector, so desperately wanted the Jews to accept Christ. He wrote The Gospel According to Matthew about ten years before his death. Because of this, one can see, contained within his Gospel, the faith for which he spilled his blood. Matthew surely remembered his resurrected Savior’s words, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20), when he professed the resurrected Christ unto his death by beheading at Nad-Davar.

Date of Martyrdom: 60-70 A.D.

Probability rating: B

(7) The Apostle Nathanael (Bartholomew)

Nathanael, whose name means “gift of God” was truly given as a gift to the Church through his martyrdom. Nathanael was the first to profess, early in Christ’s ministry, that Christ was the Son of God (John 1:49). He later paid for this profession through a hideous death. Unwilling to recant of his proclamation of a risen Christ, he was flayed and then crucified.

Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Probability rating: C

(8) The Apostle James the Lesser

James was appointed to be the head of the Jerusalem church for many years after Christ’s death. In this, he undoubtedly came in contact with many hostile Jews (the same ones who killed Christ and stated “His [Christ’s] blood be on us and our children” (Matt. 27:25). In order to make James deny Christ’s resurrection, these men positioned him at the top of the Temple for all to see and hear. James, unwilling to deny what he knew to be true, was cast down from the Temple and finally beaten to death with a fuller’s club to the head.

Date of Martyrdom: 63 A.D.

Probability rating: B that he was cast down from the temple, D that he was being beaten to death with fuller’s club after the fall

(9) The Apostle Simon the Zealot

Simon was a Jewish zealot who strived to set his people free from Roman oppression. After he saw with his own eyes that Christ had been resurrected, he became a zealot of the Gospel. Historians tell of the many different places that Simon proclaimed the good news of Christ’s resurrection: Egypt, Cyrene, Africa, Mauritania, Britain, Lybia, and Persia. His rest finally came when he verified his testimony and went to be with Christ, being crucified by a governor in Syria.

Date of Martyrdom: 74 A.D.

Probability rating: B

(10) The Apostle Judas Thaddeus

Judas questioned the Lord: “Judas said to him (not Iscariot), Lord, how is it that you will show yourself to us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:22). After he witnessed Christ’s resurrection, Judas then knew the answer to his question. Preaching the risen Christ to those in Mesopotamia in the midst of pagan priests, Judas was beaten to death with sticks, showing to the world that Christ was indeed Lord and God.

Date of Martyrdom: 72 A.D.

Probability rating: C

(11) The Apostle Matthias

Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot (the betrayer of Christ who hanged himself) as the twelfth Apostle of Christ (Acts 1:26). It is believed by most that Matthias was one of the seventy that Christ sent out during his earthly ministry (Luke 10:1). This qualifies him to be an apostle. Matthias, of which the least is known, is said by Eusebius to have preached in Ethiopia. He was later stoned while hanging upon a cross.

Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Probability rating: D

(12) The Apostle John

John is the only one of the twelve Apostles to have died a natural death. Although he did not die a martyr’s death, he did live a martyr’s life. He was exiled to the Island of Patmos under the Emperor Domitian for his proclamation of the risen Christ. It was there that he wrote the last book in the Bible, Revelation. Some traditions tell us that he was thrown into boiling oil before the Latin Gate, where he was not killed but undoubtedly scarred for the rest of his life.

Date of Martyrdom: 95 A.D.

Probability rating: A that he was not martyred, C that he was thrown into boiling oil

(13) The Apostle Paul

Paul, himself a persecutor of the Christian faith (Galatians 1:13), was brought to repentance on his way to Damascus by an appearance of the risen Christ. Ironically, Paul was heading for Damascus to arrest those who held to Christ’s resurrection. Paul was the greatest skeptic there was until he saw the truth of the resurrection. He then devoted his life to the proclamation of the living Christ. Writing to the Corinthians, defending his ministry, Paul tells of his sufferings for the name of Christ: “In labors more abundant, in beatings above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once was I stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeys often, in storms on the water, in danger of robbers, in danger by mine own countrymen, in danger by the heathen, in danger in the city, in danger in the wilderness, in the sea, among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness “(2 Cor. 11:23-27). Finally, Paul met his death at the hands of the Roman Emperor Nero when he was beheaded in Rome.

Date of Martyrdom: ca. 67 A.D.

Probability rating: A

An Afterthought:

I believe that the deaths of the Apostles increase the certainty level of the historicity of the resurrection to a level that is beyond excuse for disbelief. People do not die for their own lies, half-truths, or fabrications. If the Apostles truly died proclaiming to have seen Christ dead then alive and ascend into heaven, Christ is who He said He was, God incarnate who came to take away the sins of the world.

An Objection:

However, some might object to my reasoning. You may object to my reasoning. The question that gives rise to the objection is this: Don’t many people die for something they believe? Does this mean that if you die for something, it is true? To be sure, many people have died for something that they believed and this does not make it true. The 9-11 bombers believed something and died for that belief, but their deaths do no give credence to the validity of their beliefs in any way. There is a big difference in dying for something that you believe having received the basis for that belief from someone else and dying for something that you believe because you witnessed the events that establish the belief.

From a historical stand point, the difference is as great as day and night. The suicide bombers and others who die for their faith are dying for something that they believe because the have heard it from someone else. This adds no valid verification to what they believe from an standpoint of evidence or reason. It would be like me dying for my faith in Christ’s resurrection. All that this would prove is that I truly did believe that Christ rose from the grave, but it would not verify in any way that He actually did rise from the grave. Why? Because I did not see it. I was not a first hand witness.

Now if I died a martyr’s death saying that I saw Christ die and rise from the grave with my own eyes that would be a different story. Why? Because it would not verify a belief handed down from someone else, but a belief in something that I witnessed firsthand. At this point, you have only three options for explaining the Apostles’ belief: 1) Say that they died for a lie knowing that it was a lie, 2) that they were delusional or crazy, or 3) that was the truth, Christ did rise from the grave.

To say that they died knowing it was a lie places a great burden of proof upon the proponent of this view and completely lacks in any historical credibility (no matter how many attempts have been made to substantiate such). It would take a much greater leap of faith to believe this than to believe that they were telling the truth and Christ actually rose. Remember, the possibility of an alternative does not amount to probability.

To opt for number two and say that they were crazy suffers from the same fate as the first. There is no way to substantiate this. There is absolutely no historical evidence in favor of this supposed insanity for even a single Apostle, much less all of them. From a historical standpoint, this would most certainly be a greater leap of faith than to believe that they were telling the truth.

The only option is the last—that Christ did raise from the grave and He is who he said he was. All others are blind leaps into the dark.

The motives for these blind leaps are many I am sure, but let me mention a couple of the most likely.

People who deny this evidence are sometimes motivated by an anti-supernatural bias. This bias starts with the assumption that Christ did not rise from the grave because it is impossible for people to rise from the grave. But this argument is completely unsustainable since it begs the question. It may be true that people don’t normally rise from the grave, but simply because you do not have personal empirical evidence of its possibility does not make it impossible objectively. I do however understand this bias. I think that it is foolish to uncritically and characteristically accept stories of happenings that fall outside of our God-given means of empirically acquiring information. But belief in the resurrection of Christ, as I have been arguing, is not in any way an uncritical belief (at least it does not have to be). The evidence compels us to adjust our bias at this point.

Another motive that people have for rejecting the evidence is less intellectual and more emotional. Many people have an emotional bias against the very idea of God. This emotional bias, practically speaking, comes to us from a variety of avenues. For some, it is their upbringing. They have a commitment to that which they were taught. We all want mom and dad to be right and we will do everything in our power to cheer for their beliefs. Why? Because they become our beliefs and we have a lot invested in them. For many, if Christ rose from the grave, then they, their family, their religion, and all their friends are wrong. This is sometimes too much to handle emotionally.

For others, the emotional objection comes from a jilted experience. They have called upon God to save them from sickness. They have looked for His mercy in their family. They have prayed for their basic needs and He, in their estimation, has not answered. Therefore, they are apathetic to the evidence of the resurrection, being guided by their emotional experiences and longings. Both of these emotional objections to the resurrection are understandable.

I know that emotion unbridled is a much more powerful source for belief than the cold facts of the intellectual realm. But, at the same time, while the objections are understandable, they should not be not admissible or sustainable. We cannot let emotions rule our belief system. We must be ready to look past our experience and our traditions so that we can see the truth. Once we do, then the truth can take the hand of our emotions and train them properly.

In sum concerning the initial objection, the 9-11 suicide bombers may have sincerely believed their religion, but their conviction carries no inherent verification. All we know is that they were sincere in their belief. The disciples, on the other hand, died for something that they claimed to have witnessed firsthand. This carries no “hearsay” but firsthand testimony. It is a completely different story.

Therefore, the objection, while understandable at first glance, really must be dismissed as an irrelevant and false comparison. Here are your three options concerning the Apostles:

  1. They died for a lie and knew it (unsustainable do to lack of any reasonable motive).
  2. They were all delusional and crazy (but this would take more faith than any option since you would have to explain how they all had the same delusion and craziness—many being at different places and different times).
  3. What they said was true. Christ did rise from the grave and is who He said He was.

To conclude, I want you to listen to the words of Ignatius, a second century church Father who’s beliefs were sustained by the reasoning of my current argument concerning the Apostles’ deaths.

“Mindful of him, do ye by all means know that Jesus the Lord was truly born of Mary, being made of a woman; and was as truly crucified. For, says he, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus.”11 And He really suffered, and died, and rose again. For says [Paul], “If Christ should become passible, and should be the first to rise again from the dead.12 And again, In that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God.13 Otherwise, what advantage would there be in [becoming subject to] bonds, if Christ has not died? what advantage in patience? what advantage in [enduring] stripes? And why such facts as the following: Peter was crucified; Paul and James were slain with the sword; John was banished to Patmos; Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews who killed the Lord? But, [in truth,] none of these sufferings were in vain; for the Lord was really crucified by the ungodly.” (Ignasius: The Epistle of Ignatius to the Tarsians, III)

Happy Easter—celebrate the resurrection and proclaim the kingdom!

The evidence is there. Do you believe? . . .

Discussion Questions:

  1. It was said in the article that we can thank God for the death of the Apostles. Why would we be compelled to do such a thing?

.    If the Apostles had recanted their faith in order to save their lives, how would things possibly be different?

.    It was said that one cannot compare the deaths of the 9-11 hijackers and their religious convictions to that of the Apostles. Summarize the difference.

.      If one were to die for something that they said they saw, this adds credibility to their testimony, no matter how extraordinary. Give a
modern-day example of some extraordinary claim that would parallel the death of the Apostles. It does not have to be real; be creative.

.      All of the Apostles were God honoring men. While they were sinners in need of God mercy, they followed Christ as much as anyone. Why do you think God allowed such suffering in their lives?

.      Do you think that the Apostles had any idea that Christians would be referring back to the gruesome circumstances of their deaths 2000 years later? Explain.

  1. Read Roman 8:28. Considering the suffering of the Apostles, what does this tell you about God’s purpose for suffering and how does it give you hope in your own suffering?



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