How the Apostles Died:
There is a tradition that the Apostles divided the entire world into sections and then cast lots to see who would go to which part of it, that the Gospel might be preached to the whole world.
Of course, we know where Paul went (as is recorded up to the end of the book of The Acts of the Apostles). Some think that he later went to Spain on a fourth missionary journey, as he had hoped to do. Here are some of the traditions telling where the other Apostles traveled as missionaries, and how their lives are said to have ended:
Traveling to what is now modern-day Russia, to the "land of the man-eaters," Andrew preached Jesus to its inhabitants. Christians there claim that he was the first to bring them the gospel. It is also said that he preached in the Roman province of Asia (modern-day Turkey). Tradition also has him preaching in Greece, and says that he was crucified there.
Tradition says that he went on missionary journeys to Southern Arabia and Ethiopia. That with Thomas he traveled to India, and also that he preached in Armenia. Accounts of his death vary, but all agree that he was martyred for the faith.
JAMES, THE SON OF ALPHEUS
James, the Son of Alpheus, is said to have proclaimed Jesus in Syria. Josephus (a Jewish historian writing for Romans; see also our page: Josephus On Jesus) reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.
The only Apostle for certain never said to have been martyred, is the Apostle John. John became Bishop of Ephesus (a Greek City located in what is now modern-day Turkey). He was exiled to the Island of Patmos. There John was inspired by God to write the Book of Revelation. Tradition holds that this happened in a particular cave which you can still go and visit. Greek Orthodox Monks long ago built a Church and monastery over it.
Matthew (Levi) was the tax collector who followed Jesus and later wrote the Gospel of Matthew. He preached in Persia and Ethiopia. There is disagreement as to whether or not he was martyred. According to some of the oldest sources, he was not martyred. Other sources hold that Ethiopia was the place where he died; and that he was stabbed to death there.
The other Apostles by casting of lot chose Matthias to take the place of Judas in an attempt to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy "...let another take his office" -Psalm 109:8, quoted in Acts 1:20 (however, some feel that the Lord Himself fulfilled this prophecy by replacing Judas with the Apostle Paul). Matthias is never mentioned again in Scripture. Tradition says that Matthias traveled to Syria with Andrew and was burned to death.
It is said that Peter asked to be crucified upside down in Rome, saying that he was not worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. He was executed ca. 66 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Nero.
To the northern African city of Carthage, Philip is said to have brought the Gospel. It is also said that he led the wife of a Roman proconsul to the Lord, and that the proconsul was not pleased with this. It is said that he had Philip arrested, and executed with great cruelty.
SIMON THE ZEALOT
Simon, it is held, traveled to Persia. Tradition says that he refused to sacrifice to the Persian's sun god, and was killed because of it.
It is held that Thomas preached east of Syria. Tradition says that he proclaimed Christ in India, and founded the church of Mar Thoma. This church is still in existence today, and claims Thomas as its founder. In India they say that he then traveled to China and also preached the Gospel there, later returning again to India. Thomas is said to have died in India, killed by four soldiers armed with spears.
The Roman Emperor Nero is said to have had Paul beheaded in Rome around 66 A.D.
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