The Deaths of the Original Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles played a foundational role in the development of early Christianity. They witnessed Jesus’ ministry, learned from his teachings, and were entrusted with carrying the good news of salvation to the world. Despite facing persecution and martyrdom, their dedication laid the groundwork for the church’s growth.

Few of the original twelve died of natural causes. Details about their deaths is often conflicted, confusing, and contradictory. It appears, according to tradition, the majority were martyred typically far from their homes in Galilee and Jerusalem:

  • Simon Peter (Cephas) is believed to have been crucified upside down in Rome;
  • Andrew (Simon Peter’s brother) was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Greece.
  • James the Greater, son of Zebedee, was beheaded by Herod Agrippa around 44 CE
  • John – James the Greater’s brother and credited author of the  Gospel of John, the letters of John, and possibly, the Book of Revelation – died in old age from natural causes.
  • Philip may also have died in old age though others claim he was crucified in Hierapolis.
  • Bartholomew was flayed alive, then crucified upside down.
  • Thomas is thought to have died in India, martyred by a spear thrust.
  • James the Lesser may have lived to old age, but little is known about him from the Scriptures of historical sources..
  • Matthew is thought to have been martyred by fire.
  • Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot were martyred in Persia.
  • Judas Iscariot hanged himself after betraying Jesus.