The incarnation of Jesus Christ was a moment that literally splits our definition of history. All of time is defined as the events before Christ or After Christ. So it is in the “first” century that our story starts. The events of His life, death and resurrection are detailed in the gospels according to four witnesses. The chronicles of the nascent Church are contained in Acts and Romans, with other teachings from the apostles in the remaining epistles. However the books that comprise the new testament only get us started with Church History. I want to begin highlighting what happens after the scriptures leave off.
The Ministries and Martyrdom of the Apostles
The twelve apostles, after the decent of the Holy Spirit went to the four corners of the empire (and beyond) to spread the Gospel of Christ. All of them suffered for his sake, giving the full measure of devotion to the God that had so deeply changed each one of them.
Here is a list of the areas they reached and how they died:
|Matthew||Preached to the Jews in Judea before heading west ultimately ending in Ethiopia.||Dies at the hands of pagan rulers in Ethiopia.|
|John||Cared for the virgin Mary till her death (41 ad) and then traveled to Asia Minor to preach the Gospel. After an audience with the Roman Emperor he was banished to the isle of Patmos where he was imprisoned for fifteen years. While in exile he wrote his Gospel and the book of Revelation.||After his release from Patmos he returned to Ephesus and lived for another 26 years.|
|Peter||Helped to found the Church in Jerusalem and ministered there till his death.||Crucified upside down by the Emperor Nero in 64 ad.|
|Andrew||Preached all along the black sea ending in Scythia||Died in 60 ad by crucifixion.|
|James (the son of Zebedee)||Traveled to Spain and preached the Gospel before returning to Jerusalem where conflict with the Jewish leaders lead to his martyrdom.||The first of the Apostles to be martyred, he was beheaded by Herod in 45 ad.|
|Phillip||Preached the gospel across Asia and Greece before traveling to what is now Armenia.||Around 80 ad Phillip was crucified by angry pagans for preaching the gospel alongside the Apostle Bartholomew.|
|Bartholomew||He traveled, preaching in Asia, India and eventual Armenia.||Martyred (via crucifixion) in 80 ad alongside Phillip by angry pagans who they were preaching to.|
|Thomas||Founded churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and India before being Martyred.||After converting a high ranking town official’s son (in 72 ad) Thomas was imprisoned, tortured and pierced with five spears till dead.|
|James (the son of Alphaeus)||Preached the Gospel throughout Judea, Edessa, Gaza, and Eleutheropolis before heading to Egypt.||James was martyred in Egypt by the local pagans via crucifixion in 62 ad.|
|Jude||Preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumea, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Armenia.||Jude was beheaded in the city of Beirut in 65 ad.|
|Simon (the cananaen)||Preached the gospel from Britain to the black sea before his death.||Simon was crucified in 65 ad.|
|Matthias (replaced Judas)||Planted churches and preached in Cappadocia and along the coasts of the Caspian Sea.||Martyred in 80 ad after witnessing to the Jews in Jerusalem.|
As the the twelve Apostles went about their ministries they started Churches, taught their own disciples and eventually selected successors. This doesn’t even start to cover the 70 other close disciples Jesus had during his ministry, who all worked under the Twelve to win the hearts of the world around them to Christ’s kingdom. During this time there is a clear hierarchy shown, of the Twelve, considered to be the first Bishops of the Church, appointing ministers (the greeg word was Presbyter, where we get the word Priest) to watch over local Churches they planted. Below is an incomplete list of the various successors and who appointed them.
- Linus, A disciple of Peter Appointed Bishop of Rome in 67 ad, died 80 ad.
- Timothy was appointed Bishop of Ephesus by Paul, died after 15 years (93 ad) service as a martyr.
- Titus was appointed Bishop of Crete by Paul in 65 ad, died peacefully at the age of 97.
- Dionysius was Bishop of Athens, appointed by Paul. He traveled to Jerusalem to meet John and the Virgin Mary and wrote to Paul to describe his experience.