The Last Supper is a 15th century mural painting in Milan created by Leonardo da Vinci for his patron Duke Ludovico Sforza and his duchess Beatrice d’Este
For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice. No paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.
I had an idea for today’s blog based, once again, upon an email I got from my dad just the other day, which described the way each of the Apostles met their final moments. And as I began reviewing the list of names from the Email, suddenly I was struck by the fact that it included more than the twelve most of us have come to associate with being a part of the original group hand selected by Christ himself. And as usual, this propelled me into researching some interesting facts about this special group of men and what I discovered was that the statement, “Jesus had Twelve Disciples or Apostles” is not an entirely accurate one.
Perhaps leading the confusion as to who and how many there really were, is the fact that many have other names by which they are commonly known. For example Bartholomew was also known as Nathaniel and Peter was Simon Peter. Three names even pop up, such as Judas (AKA Thaddeus and Lebbaeus) versus Judas (Iscariot) and suddenly it begins to make perfect sense as to how it might just require the talents of a Biblical historian and a Playbill cast list to sort the matter out.
There were only twelve Apostles in the strictest sense. And while we have come to commonly use the word Disciple and Apostle interchangeably, in fact, those chosen few were considered to be Disciples while Christ lived and did not become Apostles until after His death and ascension into Heaven. And even that bears explaining because, in fact, there were some who were called upon to spread Christ’s message throughout the world who remained only Disciples throughout their lifetimes since they were not among those few who were hand chosen by Christ.
Of those hand chosen twelve, one (Judas Iscariot) betrayed Jesus for 40 pieces of silver and afterward, was so distraught, that he hanged himself (Acts 1:18). This left eleven men who awaited the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem; their names are listed in Acts 1:13 and are as follows: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. And we learn in Acts 1:26, that Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, bringing the total number of apostles back to twelve. Then in Acts 14:14, Barnabas and Paul are referred to as Apostles: “But when the Apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out.” And then more confusion reigns when in Revelation 21:14, we see that there are yet more, 15 to be precise, men named as Apostles. As my friend and colleague Rev Michael Weissman might say, “Oy vey!”
Now as I was trying to validate the post I received about the cause of death for the Apostles, I discover that from a historical biblical perspective, apart from James, son of Zebedee (brother of John), and Judas Iscariot, the Bible, in fact, shares very little insight into how any of the disciples died. Even the demise of Judas Iscariot is in dispute. Acts 1:18 describes Judas being brought a field and falling headlong, bursting asunder.
Now I am not a Rhodes scholar. In fact even trying to sort this much out today has given me a headache that might just measure a 10 on the Richter Scale. There are many who are much more scholarly than I am who might just be able to sort out the confusion so that it makes perfect sense to you. And if you are one or know of someone who is, please send me an email (email@example.com) and I will make sure that I share it right here in the future. But, in the meantime, I will share with you the Email that started it all. Although there are no identifiers on the Email itself, it seems to have originated as part of a website that I have discovered and I will follow the post with the URL at the end should you want to do some more exploring yourself or contact them with questions you may have.
Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia killed by a sword wound.
Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
Luke was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
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. He was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only Apostle to die peacefully.
He was crucified upside down on an X-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
The leader of the church in Jerusalem was thrown over a 100 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.
James (the Great)
Son of Zebedee, he was a strong leader of the church and was ultimately beheaded in Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
Also known as Nathaniel, Bartholomew was a missionary in Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. He was martyred for preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
He was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, they tied his body to a 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.
Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.
He was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
The Apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot was stoned and then beheaded.
Paul was tortured and then beheaded by Emperor Nero in Rome in 67 AD. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
Revelation 14: 13 NIV
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