Listen:  121.3

You may be surprised to learn that we are only given the accounts of the deaths of two of the twelve disciples, or apostles, of the Lord.

We read of the death of Judas in Matthew 27:3-5, “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”  Although Judas had remorse for his betrayal of the Lord, that is not the same as faith in Him.  Judas remarked that he had betrayed ‘the innocent blood.’  Even Pilate commented on the Lord’s innocence in Luke 23:4 where we read, “Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.”  It’s said of Judas in Acts 1:18, “Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”

We read of the murder of James in Acts 12:1-2, “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.  And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”  There seemed to be an inner circle among the twelve disciples.  On several occasions the Lord separated Peter, James, and John for special occasions and privileges.  These three were with the Lord when He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead in Luke, chapter eight.  They were there when the Lord was transfigured in Mark, chapter nine.  They were there with the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew, chapter 26.  In an effort to do oppress the church, King Herod captured James and had him killed with a sword, which means he probably had his head cut off.  Because of his closeness to the Lord during His time on earth, Herod probably assumed that his death would intimidate many of the Christians and prevent them from following Christ.  We can thank the Lord that Herod was wrong about that.

We have no biblical history of the deaths of any of the other apostles.  Most of the history of the deaths of the apostles comes from tradition and legend.  Although the scripture does not give us any details, the Lord did tell Peter that he would die a martyr’s death in John 21:18-19, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God…”  It is thought that Peter was crucified around 68 A.D.  It is said that Peter did not feel worthy to die the same death of his savior, so he asked to be crucified upside-down.

Presumably, the Apostle Paul was beheaded shortly after Peter’s death during the time of Nero’s reign.  Obviously, Paul knew of his impending death.  Only months before he was executed, he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-7, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

It is believed that the Apostle John died of old age.  While there have been accounts of the deaths of most of the other apostles, we really can’t be sure.  It is thought that most of them died as martyrs for Christ.  Romans 14:8 tells us, “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”  Such was the case for the apostles, and such is the case for every one of us who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  (121.3)