Acts & Topical by Robert Dean
Disciple is not always a synonym for believer. It’s also used for a committed believer and other times it’s used for the original twelve apostles. There are early, non-scriptural manuscripts that give us an idea about the apostles’ lives and their martyrdom. Andrew, the first apostle Jesus called, was Peter’s brother. After Andrew heard from John the Baptist that Jesus was the Lamb of God, he told Peter they had found the Messiah. Andrew was the quieter of the two, usually mentioned as Peter’s brother. Learn about Andrew’s travels east and possibly north, his crucifixion on an “X”-shaped cross, the disposition of his remains and his connection to Scotland. Finally, discover evidence of Bartholomew’s identification with Nathaniel, his travels to India and his martyrdom.

Gods Choice Men: Andrew, Bartholomew, James X 2. Various Scriptures


The focus is on God's choice men, these eleven men (twelve if you count Judas Iscariot) that the Lord Jesus Christ chose as His disciples; those who would study under Him. The word "disciple" basically means a student, someone who studies under a master rabbi or teacher and is learning from them. It is not s synonym for a believer. In fact, we know that a disciple may not have been a believer. Judas Iscariot was not a believer and yet he was considered a disciple. Sometimes the word "disciple" was used almost as an equivalent for a believer, and at other times it was used for a believer who was a committed believer, someone who was fully committed to following the teachings of a leader. Then there is the more technical use of the word referring to those specific twelve that Jesus chose as His closest companions during the period of His ministry.

A couple of things that we didn't mention about Peter. There is very strong historical evidence that goes back to the Gallic wars in Rome, written evidence by those who lived at that time that give us information. For example, in Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars—there are only a few extant copies and the oldest of which is several hundred years after the time that he wrote, and yet we consider these to be accurate copies, accurate reflections of what he wrote and that what he wrote from his perspective is a solid historical witness. There are also a huge number of early church manuscripts from the period of the first century to about the seventh century written in Greek and in Latin that have never been translated. Probably no more than 25 per cent of what we have extant has been translated. So there is still a lot that is not available in English. But we can go back and discover writings by various early church figures that did have access to these documents, so we have more information, some of which is good, and we do have some ideas about what went on in the early church with some of these disciples because the traditions come from different sources, different geographical areas, and even though they may disagree in some details a lot of times in the general outline there is a lot of agreement indicating a basic consensus of where a certain apostle went in the latter part of his life.

Peter was married and we know that because Paul talks about Peter travelling with his wife in 1 Corinthians chapter nine. Peter also had a daughter, according to early church records. Both his wife and daughter preceded him in martyrdom, according to church tradition.

Peter had a brother named Andrew. He was actually the first disciple that Jesus called. Andrew probably had a much higher degree of positive volition and spiritual interest than Peter did, at least initially. He is the one who left the fishing business initially, went to join John the Baptist and became one of his disciples. John 1:35 NASB "Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples." In John 1:14 we are told that one of the two who heard John speak—identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world—and followed him was Andrew, Simon's brother. He heard Jesus identified as the one who would take away the sin of the world and then began to follow Him. John 1:37 NASB  "The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. [38] And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, 'What do you seek?' They said to Him, 'Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying? [39] He said to them, 'Come, and you will see.' So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour… [41] He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which translated means Christ)."

Then they go back to operating their business on the Sea of Galilee. At this time they were probably living in Capernaum although they were originally from Bethsaida. The interesting thing archaeologically is that the ruins of Bethsaida have been identified in the mid-nineteenth century by an archaeologist by the name of Robinson. Everybody stopped him and said it couldn't be because it was about a mile away from coastline of the Sea of Galilee. But the coastline has shifted. That is clearly identified as Bethsaida today, and so that is the fishing village where Peter grew up.

Sometime after that initial encounter Jesus comes back and is walking by the Sea of Galilee. Mark 1:16 NASB "As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. [17] And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Notice that word "fishers" is translated in the plural because it is in the plural in the Greek. He is talking to both of them. They will both be evangelists. He will train them to fish not for fish but to fish for men. It is a metaphor for evangelism and this would apply to both Peter and Andrew. We don't hear much about Andrew. He was the quiet one, the less obvious one, and he is always mentioned in Scripture as Peter's brother. Every time we see the mention of all of the disciples going somewhere he would have been included. He wasn't in that inner circle that were the closest trainees of the Lord Jesus Christ (Peter, James and John) but he would have been there with all of the others throughout the entire period of Jesus' ministry.

He is mentioned in three specific events in Scripture. One is the feeding of the five thousand in John chapter six. John 6:5 NASB "Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, 'Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?' [6] This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.'" Is Philip going to trust Him to provide for them? This is going to be one of the great teaching moments in Jesus' ministry. [7] "Philip answered Him, 'Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.'" He is totally focused on human limitations and human means. And that is one of the great problems we all have in life. We focus on limitations and God doesn't have any limitations. We always have to learn that God is the one who owns that cattle on a thousand hills and we need to trust Him to provide the resources that we need for ministry.

Andrew is actually the people person. We see this in a couple of other situations. He has figured out who has what and what is available. He has found this young boy who has five loaves and two small fish and he didn't really catch what was going on but he probably has an instinct in the right direction. Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish, gets everyone to sit down and feeds them, showing that He is sufficient for everything. That gives us one insight into Andrew.

Another takes place in John chapter twelve. Some Greeks come to Philip asking to visit with Jesus. John 12:20 NASB "Now there were some Greeks [Hellenized Jews] among those who were going up to worship at the feast;[21] these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and {began to} ask him, saying, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.'" Philip, Peter and Andrew are all from Bethsaida, so they're all close.[22] "Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus.[23] And Jesus answered them, saying, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.'" This again gives us a picture of Andrew as being someone somewhat close to Jesus and has some leadership traits there because Philip brings these two Andrew to find out what to do. Then in the other situation Andrew is listed among those who are questioning Jesus privately on the Mount of Olives in Mark 13:3, 4. That is all we know of Andrew from the Scriptures. 

Outside of the Bible we have a fair degree of certainty as to what happened to Andrew. There are several apocryphal writings. There is The Acts of Andrew and some others that are of doubtful historical value. But there are some different traditions that have come up from some different eastern Orthodox groups—Greek churches, Armenian churches, Syrians churches. Several very ancient records, including Eusebius, indicate that Andrew left Judea and then took the gospel north into the area of modern Turkey. Then he went around to the east of the Black Sea and maybe even further north. That is the area Cythia. He would have left and followed the track of Peter and Paul and Barnabas going north to the church at Antioch, and then he headed north and east going around the eastern end of the Black Sea up into Cythia. It is possible that he may have gone completely around because we also find references to him in Ephesus, and ultimately—and there is agreement across a host of different traditions—he is martyred in Greece. He was first imprisoned, then tortured, flayed and crucified by order of the proconsul whose wife had become estranged from him because she had become a Christian and he was hostile to Christianity.

There is a striking tradition that is preserved in the Muratorian Fragment—the earliest list (not a complete list) of all the New Testament books dating from about 170-180 AD—indicating that Andrew and John in later years were ministering in Ephesus, and Andrew had a vision that John should write the Gospel of John. We don't know that that is true but that is an ancient witness going back to at least the mid-second century.

When Andrew was to be executed he was to be crucified. It is interesting that, like his brother Peter, he did not think he should be crucified as the Lord had been. Peter chose to be crucified upside down. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. That became identified later as Saint Andrew's cross. Apparently his grave was known, visited and venerated by Christians from the first century on. By the time of Constantine his remains were moved to Constantinople where a shrine was built. The construction was begun by Constantine and finished by his son from 336-356, and allegedly it contained the remains of Timothy, Luke and Andrew.

About two centuries later a Christian by the name of Regulus took some of the bones out. By the fourth of fifth century they were starting to worship relics and so it was the big thing to get the bones of saints. It is fairly well documented that Regulus took some of the bones out of the crypt of Andrew and took them with him to Scotland. He buried them in Scotland at the site of what is known as Saint Andrews. That is why Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland and why the Scottish flag had a Saint Andrews cross on it.

The other disciple we want to talk about is Bartholomew. He was one of the twelve disciples that Jesus chose, including Judas Iscariot, and is listed in all of the major lists of the twelve apostles: Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16, as well as in Acts 1:13. His name means the son of Tolmai, and it is speculated that he was also known by another name because Bartholomew or Tolmai might have been his last name—just as Simon bar-Jonah, so bar-Tholomew or bar-Tolmai would have been his last name. So he would have had a first name that may not have been listed. In the early part of the middle ages it was suggested that he was actually to be identified with Nathaneal. It has suggested by many that Batholomew is Nathaneal because Nathaneal is not mentioned again after John chapter one. Outside of the Gospels and outside the list of the apostles there is no mention of Batholomew. According to Eusebius Bartholomew travelled to India and that he left the Gospel of Matthew with them in Hebrew. Other traditions talk about Bartholomew as travelling with Philip, as well as Thomas. There is clear documentation that Thomas took the gospel to India and established numerous churches. According to various traditions he suffered martyrdom in Armenia, and that this is where he took the gospel. Armenia would also be the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. So it was to the north and east that Bartholomew had taken the gospel.

And so we see the gospel continuing to expand as all of the disciples are following the mandate of the Lord Jesus Christ and taking the gospel out across the world.

There is a lot of documentation in different Christian traditions in that part of the world. In Iran there is a tradition among Christian leaders that the first missionary to bring the gospel into Armenia was Thaddeus and Bartholomew, and they are considered to be the first ones to bring the gospel to that area. They also believe, based on a lot of very ancient traditions, that they took the gospel down to Arabia, throughout the Parthian empire, Persia and to the borders of India. Eventually Bartholomew was martyred. There are traditions as to how he actually died. One has him being crucified; another has him being stoned. We are not sure exactly how he ended up giving his life for the Lord but it is clear from various traditions that he did. According to one tradition that is recorded in Butler's Lives of the Saints, a very significant historical work coming out of the Protestant Reformation, Bartholomew was flayed alive by the barbarians at the command of King Asyages in the Parthian empire in the city of Albanopolis. Those terms and locations show up in whatever the traditions are—they all end up putting his martyrdom in the same location. Other details change but the basic idea of him being martyred for his gospel success by the leaders in the Parthian empire at Albanopolis are consistent. That is all that we know about what happened to Bartholomew.