Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Apostles

The 12 Disciples of Jesus were chosen to experience his ministry first hand and following his crucifixion and resurrection the 11 remaining were caught up in the Holy Fire of the Holy Spirit and set out to work in his service.

Christians are not promised success, wealth, or even good health in this life. Sorry to the mega success churches out there, but they got it wrong. The proof. Here is what happened to the Apostles:

1. Simon-Peter: The Fisherman who was chosen by Jesus to the the Rock of his Church (to establish Christianity), the only human to ever walk on water (though he ultimately failed when he took his eyes off Jesus), the one who swore to never deny Christ, though he did three times in one night, and after the ressurrection-it was Peter who Jesus told to "Feed my sheep." He eventually made his way to Rome where he was crucified during Nero's persecution of the Christians. Nero blamed the Christians for setting Rome on fire in 65 A.D., making them scapegoats for what many believe was his plan to rebuild Rome. Peter refused to be crucified as Jesus had been, "I'm not worthy." Instead tradition states he was crucified upside down and suffered a horrible death.

2. James-Son of Zebedee, one of the first chosen by Jesus, and witness to the transfiguration. Following the first wave of anti-Christian rioting with the murder of Stephen, James is said to have traveled to Spain, then after a vision, returned home to be beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in 44 A.D.

3. John-Son of Zebedee, one of the first chosen by Jesus, witness to the transfiguration, member of the Jerusalem ruling council, and the only disciple to remain with Jesus' mother at the foot of the cross watching Jesus die. John is the one "Jesus loved," though he obviously loved them all. He lived to be very old and died in 100 A.D. after recieving many prophetic visions. He was the only Apostle that died of natural causes.

4. Andrew, brother of Simon-Peter, an original follower of John the Baptist and then Jesus, and later he spread the Gospel to north of the Black Sea, and to the new city of Byzantium. He was crucified in Patras in Greece. Like Simon-Peter, he begged not to be crucified as Jesus had been, but instead was tied to a cross that made an X now known as Saint Andrew's Cross.

5. Philip. He preached to the Hellenistic (Greek) Jews. Tradition states that he converted the wife of the Roman Proconsul in Heirapolis. The Proconsul was so angry he had Philip, Bartholomew, and Mariamne tortured and then crucified Philip and Bartholomew upside-down, but Philip continued to preach from the cross. The crowd, converted, and released Bartholomew, but Philip refused to be released and died on the cross. Another legend has him beheaded in Hierapolis. Either way, he was probably killed there for his teachings.

6. Bartholomew (Nathaniel). The Apostle usually linked with Philip. Following the resurrection, tradition states he traveled to India through Mesopotamia and Armenia. Stories tell that he was flayed alive, and crucified, head downward by the brother of the King of Armenia after he converted the King to Christianity. Other stories state he was beheaded in Armenia.

7. Matthew. He followed Jesus and was a witness to the resurrection and ascension of Christ. He lived in the upper room with Mary and other Christians in Jerusalem. He preached the Gospel throughout Judea and later to Ethiopia, Greece, and Persia. He may have died of natural causes, but the Catholic church claim he died a martyrs death.

8. Thomas, the one who doubted. He may have also been known as Judas (no not that one, he is listed later). It is believed he traveled to India and preached the Good News until about 72 A.D., when he upset Madai, a local king at mylapore. Madai ordered Thomas to be taken to a nearby mountain, be allowed to pray, then they stoned and stabbled him to death.

9. James the lesser, the Just. According to tradition he may have been a early leader of the Christian sect in Jerusalem following the Ascencion of Christ. Tradition states he was martyred by being beaten to death by a club at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt while preaching the Gospel.

10. Jude, possibly also known as Thaddeus. According to Armenian tradition he was martyred in 65 A.D. in Beirut, Lebanon.

11. Simon the Zealot. He wanted to free Israel from the Romans and like Judas Iscariot, probably wanted Jesus to be a warrior king rather than the Prince of Peace. After the Ascension, Simon evangelized with Jude in Egypt, Persia, and Armenia. There are many traditions about his death and possible martyrdom. Justus Lipsius writes that Simon was sawed in half at Suanir, Persia. Others state he was martyred in Spain, Britain, or even was killed in the Jewish revolt against Rome. Only one states he died peacefully in Edessa.

12. Judas Iscariot. The Betrayer of Christ. He may have committed suicide after the betrayal, some traditions state his innards burst out of his body, some state he grew enormous and was crushed by a chariot, and one even states that the other disciples stoned him to death. I go with the Gospel of Matthew and believe he killed himself, probably by a sword or dagger to the gut (hence the field of blood reference).

13. Matthais. Judas Iscariot's replacement following the Ascension. An early historian, Nicephorus wrote that Matthais taught in Judea, then in the modern region of Georgia (no not the state, the nation near Russia) where he was crucified in Colchis. Another tradition states he was stoned in Jerusalem by the Jewish rulers and beheaded.

So. Only one for sure, and possibly two of the original Apostles lived a long life and died of natural causes. We are not assured of peace, health, or success in this life. We are assured that we are saved in the next life with Jesus in eternal worship and joy. We are promised earthly joy in Christ. If you have a personal relationship with the Lord, the Holy Spirit will comfort and guide you, and your earthly days will be a monument to His grace, love, and forgiveness.

De Colores.

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