They suffered greatly for the Christian faith and in most cases met violent deaths on account of their bold witness.
The Apostles occupy a special place in the Church:
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God(1 Cor. 4:1).
Vested with equal power from above and with equal authority to absolve sins, all the Apostles will sit on the twelve thrones next to the Son of Man (cf. Mt. 19:28).
Peter bore the name Simon before being called by the Lord. Peter was an outstanding preacher. The strength of his word was so great that he turned five thousand people to Christ. From Peter's word, those accused of cries fell dead (Acts. 5:5, 10), the dead returned to life (Acts 9:40), the sick were healed (Acts 9:3–34), even just by touching his shadow as it passed by (Acts 5:15).
Jesus included Peter in his inner circle when he took Peter, James, and John into the house of Jairus where Jesus raised Jairus daughter from the dead (Mark 5:35).
Later, Peter was among the same disciples Jesus chose to witness the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1). Also these same 3 disciples saw Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33).
Peter denied Christ three times during the night of Jesus trial. Following Jesus resurrection, he took special care to rehabilitate Peter and assure him he was forgiven.
Peter originally preached only to Jews, but God gave him a vision in Joppa warning him not to call anything made by God impure. Then Peter understood the gospel is for all people.
As the story goes, Peter asked to be crucified upside down, so that his death would not be the equal of Jesus and the Romans supposedly obliged.
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.
At Nero's command, the Apostle Peter was crucified on June 29, A.D. 67.
The brother of St. Peter (Also known as Simon bar-Jonah) was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. He was the First Apostle, and was previously a follower of John The Baptist.
Andrew met Jesus first, and after realizing Jesus was the "Lamb Of God", he ran to his brother Simon and said "We have Found the Messiah!" (John 1:41).
Andrew brought a boy with two fish and five barley loaves to Jesus, who multiplied them to feed 5,000 people (John 6:8).
Andrew and Philip brought some Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20).
Andrew went to the "land of the man-eaters," in what is now the Soviet Union to preach the gospel.
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.
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.
Since Thomas was not present when the risen Jesus first reappeared to the disciples, when he was told by the disciples "We have seen the Lord," Thomas replied that he would not believe it unless he could actually touch Jesus' wounds.
Jesus presented himself to the apostles, and invited Thomas to inspect his wounds.
Thomas was present with the other disciples at the Sea of Galilee when Jesus appeared again.
It is claimed Thomas died in India where he was speared to death, being pierced through with the spears of Four soldiers.
Philip may have had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul.
Speculation exists that he was first a disciple of John the Baptist, because he lived in the region where John preached.
Philip was a Galilean, (like Peter and Andrew), and most likely were neighborhood friends.
Jesus asked Philip: "Follow Me" (John 1:43).
Philip left his old life behind, and answered the call. It is believed he was with Jesus at the wedding feast in Cana, when Christ performed his first micrcle: turning water into wine.
Philip recruited Nathanael (Bartholomew) leading Jesus to reveal that he supernaturally saw Nathaniel sitting under a fig tree even before Philip called him.
When Jesus performed the miracle to feed 5000, Jesus asked Philip where they could buy bread for 5000 people? Philip said 8 months wages would not be enough to buy each person one bite.
Philip preached in Phrygia, in Asia Minor and was martyred at Hierapolis.
The proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.
Matthew was originally a dishonest tax collector driven by greed. His birthname was Levi, but he was called Matthew after following Jesus.
He was in Capernaum, in his tax booth on the main highway. Collecting duties on imported goods (brought in by farmers, merchants, caravans etc).
The tax collectors were corrupt because they extorted above what was owed to make a personal profit.
When Jesus asked Matthew to follow, he left the same day and threw a farewell feast in Capernaum, inviting friends to meet Jesus.
Despite his sinful past, he was talented as an accurate record keeper and keen observer of people. He captured the smallest details. Those traits served him well when he wrote the Gospel of Matthew some 20 years later.
On the surface, it appears scandalous and offensive for Jesus to pick a tax collector as one of his closest followers, since they were widely hated by the Jews.
Yet of the four Gospel writers, Matthew presented Jesus to the Jews as their hoped-for Messiah, tailoring his account to answer their questions.
Matthew displayed one of the most radically changed lives in the Bible in response to an invitation from Jesus.
He did not hesitate; he did not look back. He left behind a life of wealth and security for poverty and uncertainty.
He abandoned the pleasures of this world for the promise of eternal life.
The remainder of Matthew's life is uncertain. Tradition says he preached for 15 years in Jerusalem following the death and resurrection of Jesus, then went out on the mission field to other countries.
Legend has it he also ministered in Persia and Ethiopia.
Legendary reports claim he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
Bartholomew had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.
He lived in the first century AD and was introduced to Christ through St. Philip.
He is also known as "Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee," notably in John's Gospel.
St. Bartholomew is credited with many miracles related to the weight of objects.
He was martyred in Armenia, being either decapitated or skinned alive.
The scripture does not tell us much about Simon, but in Acts 1:13, he was present with the other 11 apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem after Christ ascended to heaven.
He spread the gospel in Egypt as a missionary and was martyred in Persia.
Simon ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
Matthias was the apostle chosen to replace Judas. (Acts 1:16).
It is said that the 11 remaining disciples prayed for direction then cast lots (Acts 1:24) and the lot fell to Matthias (Acts 1:26).
He is believed to have gone to Syria with Andrew.
It is believed he was burned to death.
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.
John is the author of Five New Testament Books: The Gospel of John, the 3 short epistles (John 1,2,3) and the Book of Revelation.
John is one of the 3 in the inner circle: John, Peter and James.
John had the privilege of witnessing Jesus conversation with Moses and Elijah on the mount of the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1).
John became a pillar in the Jerusalem church (Galatians 2:9), ministered with Peter (Acts 3:1), and was finally exiled to the island of Patmos by the Romans where he received the majestic visions from God that comprise the book of Revelation.
There he is credited with writing the last book of the New Testament--the Revelation.
John and his brother James had such a passion and ambition for the gospel, they were sometimes known to act rashly, impetously, and aggressively.
The brothers were called "sons of thunder" because they wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy Samaritans who refused to welcome Jesus.
Jesus had to stop them for their lack of genuine love for the lost.
John however matured into a loving person, understanding the need for humility and eventually started washing the disciples feet (John 13:4).
John cared for Jesus mother (John 19:25).
John strongly condemned those who perverted truth and then led others astray, especially after claiming to be believers (1 John 2:4).
John proclaimed false prophets to be demonic in nature (1 John 2:18).
An early Latin tradition claims he escaped unhurt : after being cast into a vat of boiling oil in Rome.
He is the only one generally thought to have died a natural death from old age.
Judas, who is primarily remembered for his betrayal of Jesus.
Judas followed Jesus for 3 years.
He used his trusted position as treasurer to steal from the groups resources.
Judas was a theif. He was paid 30 silver coins to betray the Lord.
At the Last Supper, Jesus predicted Judas betrayal and identified the betrayer: “Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon” (John 13:26).
After Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins, he felt bad and gave it back to the Jews. The Jews counseled, and decided to buy the Potters Field (the Field of Blood).
The field was bought in Judas name.
Judas died by hanging himself, and his intestines dropped out of his body and landed in Potters Field. Hence the name Field of Blood.
James was one of 3 in Jesus inner circle: James, John and Simon Peter.
James and his brother John were fisherman with their father Zebedee on the Sea of Galilee.
They left the fishing business to follow Jesus. James is believed to be the older of the brothers.
James, John and Peter were the only people to see the raising of the daughter of Jairus from the dead and the transfiguration, and Jesus agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36).
James zeal for Jesus caused him to be the first to be martyred. He was killed with the sword by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judas, in 44 AD. (Acts 12:2).
It is believed James first witnessed the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:7).
Jesus hand picked James. He was present with the other 11 apostles in the upper room of Jerusamlem after Christ ascended to heaven.
Some believe James (also called James The Less) ministered in Syria.
The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.
Mark was a native of Libya in North Africa. He was born in Cyrene of Jewish parents.
When Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, they took Mark with them.
Mark's mother was an admirer of Jesus Christ and followed Him everywhere, and Mark was one of the attendants who served at the feast in Cana of Galilee at which Jesus Christ turned the water into wine:
"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee ... and both Jesus and was called and his disciples, to the marriage .. when the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, ... This was the first miracle Jesus did ..." (John 2:1-11)
He witnessed the preaching of our Lord in Palestine.
He is the author of the earliest Gospel to be written (it was written in Greek).
He was the founder of Christianity in Egypt (or in Alexandria). He came to Alexandria approximately 48 AD. According to some sources, St. Peter preached in Babylon about the same time St. Mark was in Alexandria, however he focussed on the Jews of Babylon (A city near Memphis, Cairo now ).
The Church celebrates his martyrdom on the 8th of May each year.
His head is in a church named after him in Alexandria, and parts of his relics is in St. Mark's Cairo's Cathedral. The rest of his relics are in the San Marco Cathedral in Venice, Italy.
Mark was also known as The Evangelist, the Apostle, the Witness and the Martyr.
Mark was martyred in 68 AD when pagans of Serapis (the Serapion-Abbis Greek Egyptian god) tied him to a horse's tail and dragged him through the streets of Alexandria's district of Bokalia for two days until his body was torn to pieces.