The Disciples

The Twelve Disciples

There was nothing particularly special about the disciples and you might wonder why Jesus chose such men. They were just ordinary people like us. However, Jesus turned them into the bedrock of the church and set them on the most incredible journey.

The Bible says nothing about last names: People in biblical times were not identified by their last names. Often, people were characterised by where they lived (Mary Magdalene) or by their familial associations (Mary the mother of James and Joseph). 

Who were the disciples and what happened to them?

Below are some possible explanations of what might have taken place.

 1.  Simon Peter brother of Andrew – Crucified by Nero about AD 66. Aged about 64. 


PETER and PAUL were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. Peter is said to have founded the Church in Rome.

 2.  Andrew brother of Simon Peter – Crucified on an X shaped cross in AD 60


ANDREW went to the "land of the man-eaters," in what is now the Soviet Union. Christians there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.

 3.  John brother of James the Greater – Died of old age probably at Patmos in about AD 100 aged about 94

Fisherman and Businessman and Possible Cousin of Jesus

JOHN is the only one of the company generally thought to have died a natural death from old age. He was the leader of the church in the Ephesus area and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. During Domitian's persecution in the middle 90's, he was exiled to the island of Patmos. There he is credited with writing the last book of the New Testament- Revelation.

 4.  James the Greater brother of John– Killed by the sword in about AD 44 aged about 48

Fisherman and Possible Cousin of Jesus

 It is thought that JAMES was the first of the 12 disciples to be martyred. He was killed with the sword on order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea in about about AD 44. This was during a general persecution of the early church.

 5.  James the Less – Stoned/clubbed in Jerusalem in about AD 62

Possible Cousin of Jesus

JAMES the son of Alpheus, is one of at least three James' referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.

 6.  Matthew also known as Levi – Killed by a pike (halberd) in Nadabah

Tax Collector

MATTHEW the tax collector and writer of a Gospel, ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.

 7.  Philip – Crucified at Heliopolus in about AD 80 aged about 77

PHILIP possibly had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.

 8.  Bartholomew also known as Nathaniel – Beheaded in Armenia

 BARTHOLOMEW had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.

 9.  Thomas – Killed by a spear in India in about AD 72

"Doubting" THOMAS was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.

 10.           Thadeus also known as Jude – Crucified at Edessa Persia

 THADEUS, like the other disciples, left his former life to follow and serve Jesus Christ faithfully, enduring hardship and persecution. Some scholars believe Thaddeus wrote the book of Jude, although the more widely accepted view is that Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, penned the book. Extrabiblical literature says that, after Pentecost, Thaddeus took the gospel message north, where he performed miracles, preached, and founded a church in Edessa, an area in modern Turkey. One tradition says that he was either clubbed or axed to death for his faith, and another that he was crucified.

 11.           Simon the Zealot – Put to death with a Saw

Zealot or Political Activist

 SIMON the Zealot It is said that he ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.

 12.           Judas Iscariot – Hanged himself


JUDAS was one of the original disciples who was said to have betrayed Jesus and later repented and hanged himself.

 12.      Matthias – Stoned/beheaded in Jerusalem

MATTHIAS was the apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by either burning or stoning/beheading.

 Interesting observation

 The names of Jesus' disciples have become some of the most common names in use. How many people do you know named John, Simon, Pete, Tom, Andy, Jim, Bart, Nat, Mat or Phil?