I hate to say it, but before Celebrity Apprentice and even before
Trump, Jesus Christ called Twelve people to follow him. They were the
first Apprentices. Jesus called them Apostles. Here is the account of
the early followers of the Christian faith. Listed is some of their
post-Biblical ministry and martyrdoms (to be "martyred" means to choose
death, sometimes in terrifying forms, rather than deny faith in Jesus
Simon Peter – Was originally brought by his brother Andrew to meet
Jesus. Was a fisherman before he met Christ. After Christ ascended
into heaven, and beyond his ministry seen in the book of Acts, is said
to have preached in Jerusalem, Samaria, Corinth, Babylon, Rome and
possibly even as far as Britain. Was martyred by Nero on the same day
as Paul by being crucified upside down. He requested this, feeling he
was unworthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
James the Greater – Older brother of John the Beloved. Was the
first to become a martyr. Was one of two martyrs to be accounted in
Scripture (the other was Stephen). Was martyred by Herod Agrippa
around 44 AD (Acts 12:1-2). It is said by Church historians that at
the time of his beheading, one of his false accusers was so impacted by
his testimony and courage that he asked for forgiveness, converted on
the spot and was beheaded alongside him.
John the Beloved – Was first a disciple of John the Baptist, then
Jesus. Ministered in Jerusalem until shortly before it’s destruction.
From there he went on to minister in Ephesus, taking many Christians
from Jerusalem with him. Attempts were made on his life by martyrdom
from boiling him in hot oil before the coliseum in Rome and secretly
poisoning him, but both failed. The emperor at the time was so
frustrated that his plots were turning to testimonies for Christ, that
he exiled him to the aisle of Patmos. It was during this several year
exile period that John received the visions recorded in the book of
Revelation. He was granted return to Ephesus after the fall of
Domitian, and went on to minister in Russia, Iran and Eastern Turkey.
He died in peace and old age around the year 100 AD. Through his life
we see that God can protect his people, and has control over our lives
Andrew – Brother of Peter. Was the first recorded disciple Jesus
called. He is recorded throughout the gospels bringing individuals to
Jesus, including Simon Peter and Philip.
Beyond the Scriptures, he
went on to preach in Russia, and Istanbul to the Scythians. During
this time of ministry he was imprisioned, stoned, suffered many
hardships and nearly died by the threat of cannibals. He escaped,
however, and went on to preach later in Greece, Thrace, Macedonia,
Patros and as far as Gaul, France. He died as a martyr by being
crucified on an X-shaped cross. He requested for this form of cross,
stating he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
Philip – Was Greek influenced. All references to him are in John’s
gospel. He must have been a close friend of John’s. He is said to
have had four daughters who prophecied. Church historians say he
preached with Bartholomew in Scythia for 20 years. Later, he went on
to preach as far as Gaul, France, also in Heiropolis and for a time in
Phyrgia (a town 16 miles from Collosae and 6 miles from Laodocia) close
to where his good friend John the Beloved ministered. He was martyred
by being bound on a cross and stoned. Historians say he requested his
body be wrapped in papyrus, not fine linen, because he felt unworthy to
be wrapped in the same cloth as Jesus had.
Bartholomew – Possibly the only apostle of noble birth. Went on to
preach with the apostle Philip in Asia Minor, Turkey and Heiropolis.
It is said that the wife of the Roman Proconsul was healed, and her
husband became so angry about the gospel that he killed Philip, and
during this that Bartholomew somehow escaped. Bartholomew went on to
preach in India, Africa, and upwards into Armenia (there from 60-68
AD), joining Jude Thaddeus (43-66 AD) who was there before him. While
in Armenia, he healed a King’s daughter, causing the conversion of the
King and his court. However, the King’s brother and some pagan priests
were so upset that they killed Bartholomew by flaying him alive and
crucifying him upside down. Several thousand people died with Jude
Thaddeus and Bartholomew as martyrs at the same time.
Thomas – Known as “doubting Thomas.” Said to have preached in
Babylon, Persia, and Northern and Southern India. In arrived in
Northern India by Roman trade route and Southern India by ship. In
India, he built many churches and won many people to Christ. He was
martyred by Brahmin priests with a lance or spear while praying in a
cave. To this day certain groups of Christians in India known as
“Thomas Christians” trace their spiritual roots back to his work there.
Matthew – also known as Levi. Was originally a tax collector. Was
a brother of James the Lesser, both sons of Alpheus. Stayed in
Jerusalem preaching for 15 years after the ascension of Christ. One of
the first Church fathers - Clement, tells us he later preached in
Ethiopia, Northern Greece to the Syrians and the Persians. It is said
on the way back to Egypt he was martyred by the Jewish Sanhedrin in
James the Lesser – Brother of Matthew and also a son of Alpheus.
Sometimes confused with another James, the brother of Jesus. James,
brother of Jesus was one of the early pillars of the Church, wrote the
book of James in the Bible, but was not one of the Twelve (that James
began following Jesus after the resurrection). Not much is known of
James the Lesser’s later ministry, but he is said to have healed the
King of Egypt’s daughter of leperosy. He is also said to have a
ministry to Syrians in Israel. He was stoned by some Jews as a martyr.
Jude Thaddeus – Probably not the author of the book of Jude; the
author of Jude was most likely Jesus’ brother Jude. Jude Thaddeus is
said to have ministered in Armenia somewhere between 16-22 years. One
interesting story of his life is that he was said to have healed Agbar,
a King who had written a letter to Jesus asking for a healing.
Historians tell us Jesus sent him a letter back saying he would send
one of his disciples at a later time. Jude responded to this King’s
request of Jesus. He went on to preach all over Persia and Northern
Syria, and is said to have been martyred with a thousand others. Was
martyred by arrows and a spear/axe weapon.
Simon the Zealot – was known as a Canaanite or Zealot. Said to have
preached in Egypt, Northern Africa, Carthage and as far as Spain and
North Britain (possibly with Joseph of Arimathea). Because of a war at
the time, he was only in Britain for a short period of time. He then
took a ship to Palestine where he preached with Jude. He went on to
preach in parts of Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia. Was martyred with
Jude. Simon was martyred by being sawn in half.
Paul – After Acts ends, historians tell us he was released by Nero
for a period of 5 years (61-65 AD). He preached during this time in
Spain, France and Britain. After returning to Rome, he was martyred by
Nero, on the same day as Simon Peter. Paul was beheaded on Ostian Way,
a road outside the city. He received beheading as a more humane
martyrdom because he was a Roman citizen.
After studying their lives, there are four evangelistic styles the apostles used that we can still follow today:
1. They practiced "Never Give Up" Evangelism
is obvious that they were steadfast in their ministries and message.
Their martyrdoms are inspirational stories that serve as heroic
examples of the early faith.
2. They practiced "Work Together" Evangelism
It is so neat how the apostles partnered together in so many places. They often crossed paths and ministered together.
3. They practiced "Strategic Thinking" Evangelism
one of the earliest church historians, mentions that the apostles
“divided up the known world and assigned areas for each other to
evangelize it completely.” They were very strategic in their approach.
4. The practiced "Door of Jesus" Evangelism
the early Church, they had a statement referring to “the Door of
Jesus,” or Jesus as the route to the Father. It is very compelling to
note that we preach this truth in a time when 1 of 3 people claim to
follow Christ and Christianity is the most populous world religion.
However, the disciples preached this truth at a time when 1 in Millions
claimed to follow Christ. Yet, Christ had so impacted their lives,
they knew he was the only Door to God.