How did the twelve Apostles die?

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Apart from Judas Iscariot, the Bible does not tell us how any of the disciples died.

Matthew 27:5 says that Judas threw down the silver in the Temple and went and hanged himself. The priests took the blood money and bought the potter's field, which they called the field of blood. Acts 1:18 has a different story, that Judas bought a field with the reward of iniquity, and fell headlong, bursting asunder and all his bowels gushed out. Because of this, the field was called the field of blood. In other words, neither Matthew nor Luke knew how Judas Iscariot died, but Matthew seems to have got his story from the Book of Zechariah.

Various traditions have grown up around the supposed deaths of other disciples, but there is no evidence that supports those traditions. Although none of these traditions is likely to be historical, they are nevertheless interesting:

Peter - widely believed to have been either beheaded or crucified (upside down) in Rome.
Matthew - arrested in Ethiopia and there nailed to the ground with short spears and beheaded.
John - John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The Apostle John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
James, the brother of Jesus (not officially an apostle) - thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat him to death with a club. This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the temptation.
Bartholomew, also know as Nathanael - a missionary to Asia, he witnessed in present-day Turkey and was martyred for his preaching in Armenia, when he was flayed to death by a whip.
Andrew - was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Greece, parallelling the story of his brother, Peter.
Thomas - stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church there.
Matthias (the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot) - stoned and then beheaded.
Paul - tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.
There are traditions regarding the other apostles as well, but none with any reliable historical or traditional support.
James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded by King Herod in Palestine.
Philip was crucified.
James the Less (son of Aphaeus) was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple at Jerusalem and dispatched with a club where he fell, or crucified or stoned.
Simon was crucified.
Jude was "cruelly put to death" by the Magi of Persia, or crucified.
We do not know how any of the disciples died. Even Judas, the only disciple whose death is mentioned in the Bible seems to have died in two quite different ways:
  • In Matthew's Gospel, Judas returned the money to the priests and then hanged himself. They bought a piece of land for the burial of Gentiles.
  • In Acts of the Apostles, Judas did not return the money, bought himself some land with the money, but fell down headlong and died.

The Acts of the Apostles specifically records the death of James the son of Zebedee -
Act 12:1 And at that time Herod the king threw on his hands to oppress some of those of the church.
Act 12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

Many traditions grew up in the second and third centuries about the glorious and noble deaths of the disciples, but none seems to be based on fact. If even the biblical record, written within a hundred years of the supposed event, contains contradictions about the death of Judas, then these traditions should be considered as no more than pious preachings, designed to enhance the status of the disciples.
According to Christian tradition, the original 12 Apostles died in the following manner:

Judas - hanged himself after betraying Christ or fell headlong and died
James - was beheaded
John - died of old age
Andrew - crucified
Philip - crucified
Bartholamew - skinned alive, then beheaded
Matthew - impaled
Thomas - stabbed with a spear
James (son of Alphaeus) - crucified, stoned, then beaten to death
Jude - crucified
Simon - beheaded or crucified

Matthias, the replacement for Judas (chosen after the death of Christ) - stoned, then beheaded

With the exception of Judas (who has two conflicting accounts of his death in the Bible) and James, these are just unsupported legends. It always amazes me how often this gets used as an argument ("they would have had to die for what they knew was a lie"), without any substantiation whatsoever.
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