Jesus promised His apostles that they would be persecuted - "'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). According to sacred history and uninspired tradition, it appears that almost all of the apostles gave their lives for Christ:
- James the son of Zebedee died by Herod's sword in 44 A.D. He was the first apostle to die as a martyr (cf. Acts 12:2).
- Philip, after preaching in Asia, was scourged, thrown in prison, and then crucified in 54 A.D. at Heliopolis in Phrygia.
- Matthew, after preaching in Parthia and Ethiopia, was slain in A.D. 60 by a halberd at Nadabah, Ethiopia.
- James the son of Alphaeus, at 94 years old, after being beaten and stoned by the Jews, finally had his brain dashed out with a fuller's club.
- Simon Peter, at his request, was crucified with his head down and feet upward, affirming that he was unworthy to be executed in the same manner as the Lord (cf. John 21:18,19).
- Thaddeus was crucified at Edessa in 72 A.D.
- Bartholomew, after preaching in India, was cruelly beaten and then crucified by idolaters.
- Thomas, who preached in Parthia and India, was killed by a spear thrust.
- Simon the Zealot, who preached some in Africa, was crucified in 74 A.D.
- Andrew, brother of Peter, served God in Asia and was crucified in Edessa on a cross that looked like an "X" instead of a "T" (later known as a St. Andrew's cross).
- Paul, although not one of the original twelve apostles, suffered greatly for the sake of Christ. He had been stoned, left for dead, beaten with rods, jailed for years, scourged a number of times, etc. He was eventually beheaded by Nero in Rome.
- John, the beloved apostle, was exiled to Patmos by Domitian because of his labors for Christ. He was eventually given his freedom and he later died peacefully (cf. John 21:22,23).
Dear friends, these men gave everything for the cause of Christ because they believed in it with all their hearts. Are you giving your everything for the One who died for you? If not, you must strengthen your faith and commitment to the Lord! "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (II Tim. 3:12). "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matt. 10:22). "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer, indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).