Though the Bible records the fate of only Judas Iscariot and James, early church leaders said most of the others died as martyrs-killed for preaching about Jesus.

SIMON PETER. “Crucified at Rome with his head downward,” wrote Origen, a church leader in the AD 200s. This seems to fulfill what Jesus told Peter would happen: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands . . . ‘Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God” (John 21:18-19).

ANDREW, PETER’S BROTHER. Crucified on an X-shaped cross, according to the Acts of Andrew, a book written in the AD 200s.

JAMES, son of ZEBEDEE. The first disciple to die as a martyr, he was executed by King Herod Agrippa-probably beheaded “with a sword” (Acts 12:2).

JOHN, BROTHER OF JAMES. Died a natural death in about AD 100 at what is now Ephesus, Turkey.

PHILIP. Crucified in Turkey, according to tradition

BARTHOLOMEW. Skinned alive and beheaded after preaching in India, according to one tradition. But the Martyrdom of Bartholomew says he was stuffed in a sack and dumped in the sea.

SKINNED ALIVE. This was the apostle Bartholomew’s fate according to one legend that circulated among the early churches. The Bible reports the deaths of only two disciples: Judas, who committed suicide by hanging, and James, who was executed by sword.

THOMAS. Speared to death in what is now India after starting several churches there. India’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, with three million members, “claims” Thomas as its founding pastor.

MATTHEW. Martyred with an ax or a sword in Ethiopia, according to the most popular of many traditions. Other stories have him being burned to death or dying of natural causes.

JAMES, son of ALPHAEUS. Crucified in Egypt, according to one tradition-in Iran, according to another.

THADDAEUS (JUDAS, son of JAMES). Crucified or hacked to death with Simon the Zealot in what is now Iran, according to one story.

SIMON the ZEALOT. Martyred with Thaddaeus in Iran, according to one tradition. Another story says he was cut in two with a saw.

JUDAS ISCARIOT. After helping Jews arrest Jesus, he “went out and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5).

MATTHIAS. Chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, he was stoned and beheaded, according to one story.

Leave a Reply