Martyr- Greek word for "witness". One who chooses death rather than to deny Jesus Christ or His work.
The only apostle’s death the Bible records is James' (Acts 12:2). King Herod had James put to death “with the sword” – likely a reference to beheading. The circumstances of the deaths of the other apostles can only be known based on church history.
The most commonly accepted church history in regards to the death of an apostle is that the Apostle Peter was crucified, upside-down on an x-shaped cross, in Rome, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy (John 21:18).
Following are the church history in regards to the deaths of the other apostles:
Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, where he had drawn to take the gospel. There he performed many miracles and great teachings. King Aeglippus of Ethiopia liked the Christians. But upon his death King Hyactus took the throne. He was an unbeliever who hated the Christians. While Matthew was teaching in his church, he had him arrested. Matthew was dragged outside, nailed to the ground with short spears, and beheaded.
John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The Apostle John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
James, the brother of Jesus (not officially an apostle), the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a club. This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the temptation.
Jude, brother of James the Just and younger brother of Jesus, who wrote the book of Jude travels included Mesopotamia, Syria, Arabia, and Persia (now Iran). In Edema he angered the pagan priest by preaching against idol sacrifices and worships. They saw they were losing money and followers. So they attacked him with sticks and clubs, beating him to death in 68 AD.
Bartholomew, also know as Nathanael, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed in present-day Turkey and was martyred for his preaching in Armenia, when he was flayed to death by a whip.
Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, Andrew's body was tied to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he died.
The Apostle Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church there.
Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
Phillip's travels include going to Samaria. When the apostles later drew lots to divide the known world between them, he drew what is now Turkey and Syria. He planted many churches. Ending up at Hierapolis in Phrygia. He worked many miraculous signs there. The idol worshippers cared little for these miracles or the message he brought. Ancient historians say he was tied to a pillar and stoned to death. Others say they whipped him, threw him in prison, and later crucified him. He was the second apostle to be martyred.
Simon the Canaanite traveled in Egypt, North Africa, Mauritania-an island in the Indian Ocean, and in the Great Britian islands. Some say he was crucified in Great Britian. Others say after traveling with Jude he was tortured and crucified by a governor in Syria.
The Apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.
It is not so important how the apostles died. What is important is the fact that they were all willing to die for their faith. If Jesus had not been resurrected, the disciples would have known. No one will die for something he knows is a lie. The fact that all of the apostles were willing to die horrible deaths, refusing to renounce their faith in Christ – is tremendous evidence that they had truly witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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