How the Disciples of Jesus Died
This account of how the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ were persecuted and killed, gives us valuable insights into the trials we must also face as the National Sunday Law approaches. We must ask ourselves the question: if our Saviour was prepared to suffer and die such a horrible and cruel death, and if all His disciples, except John, died cruel deaths at the hands of unbelievers, why should we be any different? Are we prepared for the onslaught that is soon coming? I pray that we’ll keep our eyes firmly fixed upon Jesus during these troublous times. I. Stephen Stephen’s death was caused by the faithful manner in which he preached the Gospel to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. The Jews were so furious at the straight truth which Stephen spoke, that they threw him out of the city and stoned him to death. The time when he died is generally thought to have been at the Passover. After Stephen’s death by stoning, an intense persecution began against all who professed their belief in Christ as the Messiah. We are told by Luke, that “there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem,” and that “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Acts 8:1 About two thousand Christians, with Nicanor, one of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom during the “persecution that arose about Stephen. 2. James the Great The next martyr we meet with, according to Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, was James the son of Zebedee, the older brother of John, and a relative of Jesus. James’ mother Salome, was cousin to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place. No sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a devastating persecution against the Christians. He was determined to make an end of them by killing all their leaders. Clemens Alexandrinus, the ancient historian, brings us the following account: As James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was repented of his conduct. His repentance was brought on by the apostle’s extraordinary courage. The man fell down at James’ feet to ask his pardon. He became a convert to Christianity, and resolved that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. So they were both beheaded at the same time. 3. Philip Philip was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee, and was first called by the name of “disciple.” He diligently spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was beaten, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified in A.D. 54. 4. Matthew Whose occupation was that of a toll-gatherer, was born at Nazareth. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The place of his ministry was Parthia, and Ethiopia. It was in Ethiopia that he suffered martyrdom, being killed with an axe in the city of Nadabah, A.D. 60. 5. James the Less James was elected to the director of the churches in Jerusalem; and was the author of the book James in the Bible. At the age of ninety-four he was beaten and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club. 6. Matthias Less is known about Matthias than of most of the other disciples. He was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and was then beheaded. 7. Andrew Andrew was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many countries in Asia nations. However, on his arrival at Edessa, an ancient town in upper Mesopotamia, he was taken and crucified on a cross. The two ends of the cross were fixed transversely in the ground. This is where we got the term, St. Andrew’s Cross. 8. Mark Mark was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He is supposed to have been converted to Christianity by Peter. He assisted Peter as a writer, and also wrote his own Gospel in the Greek language. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, at a celebration of Serapis their idol, ending his life under their merciless hands. 9. Peter Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, at Rome. The ancient historian, Hegesippus said that the Roman emperor Nero tried to get evidence against Peter to put him to death. When the Roman Christians heard this, they pleaded with Peter to leave the city. It is said that Peter, after much encouragement at length gave in and prepared to leave. But, as he was approaching the gate of the city, he saw coming towards him the Lord Jesus Christ. As Peter fell to his knees in worship, he asked Jesus, “Lord, whither dost Thou go?” Jesus answered and said, “I am come again to be crucified.” Peter took this to mean that he should suffer as his Master did. So he returned to the city. The historian Jerome said that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, upside down. Peter himself requested this, because he said that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord was. 10. Paul Paul, the apostle, who was before called Saul, suffered great persecution and trials in his labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ. His persecution particularly came from Emperor Nero. Abdias, the ancient historian, said that Nero sent two of his officers, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of Paul’s death after they finished the job of executing him. However, when they came to Paul they requested that they too might believe in Jesus Christ. Paul told them that shortly after that they would believe and be baptized at His sepulcher. After this, the soldiers came and led Paul out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers were made, gave his neck to the sword. 11. Jude The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. Like Andrew he was also crucified at Edessa, A.D. 72 12. Bartholomew Preached in several countries, and after translating the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he preached it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by cruel Indian idolaters. 13. Thomas Thomas also called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India His preaching of Christ caused such a rage that the pagan priests there caused him to be martyred by being thrust through with a spear. 14. Luke Luke the physician and evangelist, was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name, and also the Acts of the Apostles. He traveled with Paul through various countries, and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece. 15. Simon Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain. It was in Britain he was crucified, A.D. 74. 16. John John the “beloved disciple,” was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were all founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is confirmed he was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. He miraculously he escaped without being injured. The Roman emperor Domitian, afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him from exile. He was the only apostle who did not die a violent death. 17. Barnabas Barnabas was of Cyprus, but of Jewish descent, his death is supposed to have taken place about A.D. 73. And yet, regardless all these horrible persecutions the Church daily increased. It was deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles of Jesus Christ, and watered with the blood of saints.