First Century Sources for the Apostles’ Martyrdoms

by Ryan Leasure

What’s something you’d be willing to die for? Your family? Country? Most cherished beliefs? Many of you, I’m sure, would be willing to lay down your lives for these noble causes.

But would you die for a lie? Would you subject yourself to the death penalty for a crime you made up? Would you really take a bullet in the head instead of recanting your belief in, say, purple unicorns? Not likely. At some point, when they’re about to pull the trigger or inject the poison, you’d admit that the whole story was a hoax.

These points are crucial for us to consider when we look at the apostles’ martyrdoms. For if the apostles were willing to die for their belief in a resurrected Jesus, what does that say about their belief in the resurrection? It strongly suggests that they genuinely believed he rose again and appeared to them. Otherwise, at some point, at least one of them would have caved under the threat of persecution. Yet, we don’t have any evidence to suggest that any of them ever recanted.

Instead, we have an abundance of sources testifying to the apostles’ martyrdoms. While many sources of this nature exist, I only want to draw our attention to ones coming from the first century…

First Century Sources for the Apostles’ Martyrdoms