Many people ask me why is it important to confirm the historical details of the Bible? The Bible can be broken into two separate areas, the historical, and the divine. Critics complain that if the authors of the Bible could not get the historical facts, the kings, cities, battles, and other details correct, how can they be trusted to get the divine portions correct? If you intend to witness to others about your faith, questions regarding the accuracy of the Bible are certain to come up. Having the proper, and honest answer to questions is essential. I consider this research and knowledge to be just one more element of your spiritual armor Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians. The Bible commands us to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." We are also told to "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." In order to know how to respond to critics and doubters of the Bible's accuracy, we must study and search for the answers. Only then can we fulfill our commitment to know how to answer everyone. We, of course, cannot know all the answers, but by careful study we can learn more, and continue our spiritual growth.

"If I have told you people about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about Heavenly Things?" John 3:12

Twelve Disciples - Who Were They?

During His ministry on Earth Jesus selected twelve men to be His disciples. These men traveled with Him, learned from Him and were His constant companions during His earthly ministry. These are also the men who were responsible for carrying on the work of Jesus after His resurrection and ascension into heaven.  How much do we know about these twelve men who were so critical in the early days of the new church which would come to be known as Christianity? Some of the men we know a great deal about, others are almost strangers.
Twelve Disciples

Here I have attempted to gather together information about these twelve men from various sources. There is a great deal of research to be done and this is just the beginning of this project. and the information below is limited at best. I will be inserting archaeological discoveries which help confirm some of the elements of the information below. While limited, it does offer confirmation of what we believe we know about these men.

Andrew - Preached the Gospel to the Scythians and Thracians, which is modern day Georgia and Bulgaria. Tradition tells us Andrew was crucified at Patrae, located in Greece and was buried there.

Bartholomew - Went out and preached the Gospel in India and gave them the written Gospel of Matthew, according to Eusebius. Bartholomew was eventually crucified, head down and buried in Allanum, a town in modern day Georgia.

James, son of Alphaeus - Very little is known about James. According to Hippolytus James was stoned to death by the Jews in Jerusalem and was buried beside the temple.

James, son of Zebedee was also the brother of the disciple John (the one Jesus loved). According to the Book of Acts, Herod the king hand James beheaded. This is confirmed by both Hippolytus and Eusebius.

John - is the author of the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelations. John was eventually banished by Domitian to the Isle of Patmos. John is one of the few disciples who did not suffer a violent death, rather he is said to have died in Ephesus.

Judas Iscariot - was the keeper of the money for the disciples. He later betrayed Jesus, handing Him over to His enemies for 30 silver pieces. Judas tried to return the money but it was refused and he later went out and hung himself.

Matthew - is the author of the Gospel of Matthew which he wrote in Hebrew and published in Jerusalem. Matthew died at Hierees.

Philip - preached in what we today know as eastern Turkey. He was eventually crucifed, head down, in Hierapolis and was buried there .

Simon, who Jesus named Peter is widely considered the first Pope and the early leader of the Christian movement. Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark travelled with Peter and is often referred to as the interpreter of Peter. Peter was put to death in Rome at the command of Nero. Not feeling worthy of dying in the same manner as his Lord, Peter was crucified head down.

Simon the Zealot - was the son of Clopas and was the second Bishop of Jerusalem after James the Just. Simon is said to have died in Jerusalem at the age of 120.

Thaddaeus - also called Judas son of James, also called Jude, preached the Gospel to Edessa and Mesopotamia. He is believed to have died in Berytus and was buried there.

Thomas - was a very active missionary and preached to the Margians, Bactrians, Persians, Medes, Parthians and Hyrcanians. According to Hippolutus Thomas died in Calamene in India and was buried there. Hippolytus records that Thomas was thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine spear. All of this after Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus and demanded physical evidence before he would believe.

James - the brother of Jesus was the first bishop of Jerusalem and is often confused as one of the twelve disciples. James was not an active member of Jesus' ministry until after His death.  It is recorded in John that James did not believe in Jesus but later died a martyr, being stoned in Jerusalem.

Paul - is also often considered one of the twelve but was actually actively opposed to the ministry of Jesus until his conversion. Paul then became perhaps the greatest missionary in the history of the church and suffered numerous trials and punishments during his lifetime. He was beheaded in Rome at the command of Nero. Tradition has it that Paul and Peter died on the same day. Some believe they died on the same date, but a year apart, but there is no confirmation of this tradition.

Tradition holds that Paul's body was collected by his followers and buried in the catacombs along with the body of Saint Peter.  Then in approximately 390 A.D. the remains of St. Paul were moved to Rome's Basilica of St. Paul. The sarcophagus containing St. Paul then vanished, not to be seen again for nearly 1,600 years.

For centuries it was believed the sarcophagus was buried beneath the alter of the Basilica of St. Paul but not until 2002 was the alter explored to see if the long thought resting place for St. Paul was indeed there. After four long years the alter was opened and a white sarcophagus was found. On top of the sarcophagus was a Latin inscription which read "Paul Apostle Martyr".  The inscription and the location of the sarcophagus seemed to confirm this was indeed the tomb of St. Paul. The question remained however, did the sarcophagus contain the bodily remains of the great missionary. The Vatican decided against allowing the sarcophagus to be opened at that time.

The Vatican later changed its position on this issue and allowed further examination by archeologist. Three years after the sarcophagus was discovered, Pope Benedict reported a tiny hole had been drilled in the sarcophagus in order to allow inspection of the interior. The probe found traces of a precious linen cloth which was purple in color and laminated with pure gold. They also found blue colored textile with filaments of linen.  Traces of limestone, protein and grains of red incense were also found to be present. Also there were small bone fragments, which according to carbon dating belonged to a person who lived in either the first or second century A.D.

At the same time the discovery of bone fragments was being announced the Vatican also announced the discovery of perhaps the oldest image of St. Paul yet found. The frescoed image was discovered on the walls the catacomb of Santa Tecla below Rome. It is believed the image was drawn sometime in the fourth century. It depicts a man with a pointed black beard on a bright red backdrop. It was customary for tombs to be carved out of the soft rock within the catacombs and the walls decorated with drawings or paintings.

While it can never be proven the bone fragments within the sarcophagus are those of Saint Paul, all evidence points in that direction. Moved to its hiding place approximately 325 years after Paul's death the sarcophagus remained hidden and undisturbed for the next 1600 years. The sarcophagus is now on display in the basilica. The Vatican has not released a time line for how long the sarcophagus will remain on display.

This page is a work in progress and I will be adding new material as time permits.

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