SEARCH FOR THE TWELVE APOSTLES
by McBirnie PhD
ANDREW THE APOSTLE
Andrew was a native of Galilee, born in Bethsaida. Later he
lived by the sea in Capernaum. Josephus, toward the end of the
first century, wrote charmingly about this area, which was near
the city which he governed and later surrendered to the Roman
"Alongside Lake Gennesareth is a stretch of country with the same
name, wonderful in its characteristics and in its beauty. Thanks
to the rich soil there is not a plant that does not flourish
there, and the inhabitants grow everything: the air is so
temperate that it suits the most diverse species. Walnuts, most
winter-loving of trees, flourish in abundance, as do palms, which
thrive on heat, side by side with figs and olives, for which a
milder air is indicated. One might deem it nature's crowning
achievement to force together into one spot natural enemies and
to bring the seasons into healthy rivalry, each as it were laying
claim to the region. For not only does it produce the most
surprisingly diverse fruits; it maintains a continuous supply.
Those royal fruits the grape and the fig it furnishes for ten
months on end, the most ripening on the trees all year round; for
apart from the temperate atmosphere it is watered by a spring
with great fertilizing power, known locally as Capharnaum."
(Capernaum, D.Neeman and B.Saip, p.VII).[The Jewish War, Josephus
Flavius, Book 3, Ch.VI,8]
Today the land of Galilee is precisely the same in every
respect as in the days of Josephus and Andrew. One has no trouble
in fitting the Biblical scenes into the lush hillsides and blue
waters that are virtually unchanged in appearance in the long
centuries since Andrew lived there.
Andrew was the first Apostle whom Jesus chose. He was in a
way a successor to John the Baptist. As John the Baptist
introduced Jesus to the nation, so Andrew is noted for having
introduced Jesus to individuals.
Andrew was the son of a woman named Joanna, a fisherman
named John, and had a brother called Simon who was later called
Peter. Actually Andrew's father's name was not "John" as we say
the word today but "Jonah", the same as the famous prophet. It is
not commonly known, but Jonah's native village, GathHepher, was
near Nazareth. Jonah, the prophet, had been the most illustrious
citizen ever to have lived near Nazareth.
Betbsaida, where Andrew was born, was twenty-five miles east
of Nazareth, located on the northern shores of the sea. It was
highly appropriate that the head of a family in which the
tradition of fishing was passed from father to son should be
called "Jonah." Just as the name "Smith" originally referred to a
man's occupation, so the name "Jonah" was apparently often
applied in those days to those who followed the fishing trade.
Another "Jonah" whom we call "John the Apostle" was also at first
Apparently, Andrew thought more about matters of the soul
than about fishing, for he left his fishing nets to follow John
the Baptist. He walked a long way down the Jordan valley to come
to the place where John was preaching, to Bethany, across the
Jordan River from Jericho. Here Andrew found that voice of
authority in the spiritual matters for which he had been seeking.
He was not content with the spiritual wickedness, compromise and
graft which he had found in the cities of Galilee and Judea. But
John the Baptist was a man after his own heart; an outdoorsman,
rough, homely, who practiced the simple virtues and who lived the
life of a man to whom the flesh mattered little and worldly
acclaim even less. This was a man one could follow!
So Andrew busied himself serving John the Baptist. He
learned from him that some day, soon perhaps, the promised King
would arrive. To Jewish minds this coming king was known as the
"Messiah", which is translated via a Greek word, "Christos",
meaning, "The one anointed to become king, who has not yet come
After Andrew had heard John preach, and had seen the throngs
of people flocking out of the cities of Judea seeking spiritual
aid; after he had assisted John in baptizing many because they
wished to die to the old way of life and become alive to a new
one, Andrew was prepared for an event which would shortly change
his life too.
One day, as there was also growing a great antagonism on the
part of Herod toward the popular John the Baptist (which was
eventually to result in John being thrown in prison and finally
executed), there came among the crowd seeking baptism, Jesus of
When John the Baptist saw his cousin Jesus, he stopped his
preaching and turned the attention of the crowd toward that
lonely, solitary figure and said:
"Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!
This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is
preferred before me: for he was before me." (John 1:29,30).
Andrew, who heard these words, had been seeking more than
just the message of John, for John's message was delivered within
the framework of the old revelation. John was the last of the
prophets. But now, here was the One whom John had preached would
come. Here was the Christi. So Andrew immediately left John and
attached himself to Jesus. It is likely that John, the future
Apostle, who was also first a follower of John the Baptist, also
at this time followed Jesus. Andrew then found his brother Simon
Peter, and later Philip and introduced them to Jesus.
At this stage Andrew was not yet a disciple of Jesus. He was
merely a follower - that is, an interested onlooker who was
willing to go along to observe. Jesus took Peter, Andrew, Philip
and John back to Nazareth with Him, after the forty days
temptation in the wilderness following His baptism. There they
were permitted to accompany Him to a family feast in honor of a
marriage at Cana of Galilee, just six miles from Nazareth. In
Cana they saw Him perform His first miracle. Then He took them on
a preaching tour up into Galilee, and later down to visit
Jerusalem where they saw Him cleanse the Temple. But not during
any of this time were they yet His disciples. Finally, they
returned to Galilee and went back to their old task of fishing.
We do not know how much time passed, but one day Jesus came
to the coasts of Galilee into Capernaum and there found Andrew
We have often heard Peter referred to as "The big
fisherman." That he was, but so was Andrew. We have often heard
the words of Christ to Peter quoted; "Follow me and I will make
you to become fishers of men." But we must remember that these
words were spoken to Andrew as well as to Peter, for they were
invited to become fishers of men, a plural reference. Andrew
merited this title even more than Peter. Or to be fair to both,
let us say that Peter became the fisherman of men en masse and
Andrew was a fisher for individuals.
Now at last Andrew had been enrolled as a disciple of Christ
and for Andrew there followed approximately two and one half
years of instruction. His name was inscribed upon the original
list of the Twelve Apostles. He was present at the feeding of the
five thousand by the Sea of Galilee, where he is mentioned as
having introduced to Jesus the lad who had the five loaves and
He was also present at the Feast of the Passover and
introduced many to the Master.
On the Mount of Olives Andrew was present with Peter and
inquired diligently about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and
the end of the age. His name is listed as an Apostle in the book
of The Acts. That is the last record we have of him in the New
Yet we must realize that Andrew was present and ministered
to the church in Jerusalem. Each time we read a reference to that
church and the Elders or Apostles, we must also read in his name,
for he belongs there.
Just when Andrew left Jerusalem is not known. Perhaps he
went out as a missionary of his own accord, or perhaps he was
driven out by the persecution which arose.
THE LATER MINISTRY OF ANDREW
There are some impressive traditions about the later
ministry of Andrew. One, recorded by Eusebius (HE III,1,1), is
that he went to Scythia, which is southern Russia, in the area
around the Black Sea. St.Andrew was known for a long time
thereafter as the patron saint of Russia, and this adoption of
Andrew as the holy patron was based upon the early tradition that
he had preached the gospel in Russia. Early apocryphal works
"The Acts of St.Andrew and St.Bartholomew gives an account of
their mission among the Parthians." ("Contendings of the
According to the Martyrdom of St.Andrew (Budge) he was
stoned and crucified in Scythia.
Another strong tradition places his ministry in Greece.
There, according to tradition he was imprisoned, then crucified
by order of the proconsul Aegeates, whose wife Maximilla had been
estranged from her husband by the preaching of St.Andrew.
Supposedly Andrew was crucified on a cross which instead of
being made like the one upon which Jesus died, was made in the
form of an "X". To this day that type of cross is known as "St.
There is a third tradition about the ministry of St.Andrew
which describes him as spending time in Ephesus, in Asia Minor,
where St.John is supposed to have written his Gospel in
consequence of a revelation given to Andrew.
"To Andrew, tradition has assigned Scythia, north of the Black
Sea, as his mission field, but the Acts of Andrew, written
probably about A.D.260, describes his labors as taking place
chiefly in Greece or in Macedonia, where his martyrdom occurs at
Patras as described in his Acts." ("The Twelve," Edgar J. Good-
(Many Israelites of the House of Israel - the lost sheep of the
House of Israel, were still in the Black Sea area, after they
started to migrate from the Assyrian captivity of 745-718 B.C.-
Now it would seem, at first glance, that these three
traditions are contradictory. But perhaps they are mutually
complementary. After all, Andrew had to minister somewhere in the
world, and if he did not die in Jerusalem it is very possible
that he went to Asia Minor to be with his old friend, John. Or if
for a while he went on beyond Asia Minor to Scythia, that too is
reasonable. Scythians are mentioned in the New Testament. Then
perhaps he returned to Asia Minor because it is the natural
land-bridge between Russia and Greece. It is entirely possible
that Andrew labored for a while in and around Ephesus and then
finally went to Greece in his later years. There in the southern
part of Greece he may well have, as tradition says, so angered
the governor by winning his wife to faith in Christ that the
governor, in seeking revenge, caused this preacher of the Cross
to die himself upon a cross in Patras. It was not at all unusual
in the first century for noble people, especially the wives of
nobles, to be converted to Christianity. There is nothing in this
tradition that is impossible or incredible.
There are some medieval forgeries, however, about the life
and ministry of the Apostle Andrew which are beyond belief. At
least they probably do not have much truth in them. There is the
story that it was revealed to him that the Apostle Matthias, (the
one chosen to succeed Judas), had been imprisoned by cannibals.
Andrew was commissioned to go and set him free. After a
miraculous voyage, he arrived on the scene and was instrumental
in releasing Matthias and then converting the entire cannibal
population, except for a few incorrigibles, to Christianity, by
means of spectacular miracles. Now such a story is plainly a leg-
end. Nevertheless, there may be indeed a grain of truth in the
fact that Andrew, true to his character as a personal soul
winner, interested in rescuing people, may have actually helped
one or the other of the Apostles, perhaps even Matthias, to be
rescued from some difficult situation. And he might thereby have
won Matthias' captors to Christ. Andrew may actually have had
some sort of adventure with cannibals in Russia, although not in
the fantastic extremes as described by this legend.
At the time of the Emperor Justinian, relics of the Apostle
Andrew were found in Constantinople. This city was a depository
of Christian relics from southern Russia, and Asia Minor, as well
as Greece. For, in fact, the relies of martyrs were often
transported to this chief city of Greek Orthodox Christianity. A
modern authority, Maedagen recounts:
"Constantine began in 338 a shrine to the Holy Apostles. The
edifice was completed by his son and consecrated in about 358. It
contained the relies of St.Timothy, St.Luke and St.Andrew."
("City of Constantinople," Michael Maedagen, Thomas Hudson, p.
A few bones reputed to be those of St.Andrew were
transported to Scotland by a Christian named St.Regulus, in the
fourth or fifth century. There they were buried at a place which
was later called, "St.Andrews." The Apostle is today the patron
saint of Scotland, and "St.Andrews' Cross" is the official symbol
of that great Christian country. He is also claimed as patron
saint by Russian Christians, and Greek Christians.
(Ah, is there something that these historians have missed? Did
St.Andrew go to Britain at one time in his ministry? He is the
patron saint of Scotland - Keith Hunt)
Dorman Newman reports the details of the life and death of
St Andrew as they were known to him in 1885:
"St.Andrew went to Scythia and to Byzantium where he founded
churches. Thence to Greece and finally to Patrae a city of Achaia
where he was martyred. Aaegaas, proconsul of Achaia, after
debate, ordered Andrew to forsake his religion or be tortured
fiercely. Each begged the other to recant. Aaegaas urged Andrew
not to lose his life. Andrew in return urged Aaegaas not to lose
"After patiently bearing scourging, Andrew was tied, not nailed,
to a cross that his sufferings might be prolonged. He exhorted
the Christians and prayed, saluted the cross which he had long
desired as the opportunity to show an honorable testimony to his
Master. Andrew hung upon the cross two days, exhorting all who
witnessed. Some people importuned the Proconsul but Andrew
besought the Lord that he might seal the truth with his blood. He
died upon the last day of November though in what year no certain
account may be recovered." ("The Lives and Deaths of the Holy
Apostles," Dorman Newman, p.43-45).
It must be added, despite Newman, that the date of 69 A.D.
is generally accepted as the year of the martyrdom of St.Andrew
Mary Sharp indicates the Roman Catholic tradition of the
fate of Andrew's relics:
"The relics of St.Andrew: Head in St.Peter's, Rome; some are in
Sant' Andrea al Quirinal, Rome, the rest are in Amalfi. They were
stolen from Constantinople in 1210 and taken to the Cathedral of
Amalfi near Naples. In 1482, Pope Pius II transferred the head to
St.Peter's, Rome." ("A Traveller's Guide to Saints in Europe,"
Mary Sharp, p.15) (The head of St.Andrew, in 1984, was given by
the Pope to the Greek Orthodox Church in Patras, Greece, where
Andrew was martyred-Au.)
In November, 1971, this writer journeyed to Patras, Greece,
to photograph the reliquary containing the skull of St.Andrew,
now kept in an old church building covering a well of water said
to have been there at the time of St.Andrew. In a beautiful
silver reliquary, resting in an altar, is the skull the Pope
returned from Rome to Patras. A new Cathedral is being finished
nearby to house the sacred relic. The Greek Orthodox priest in
the church was the soul of kindness and permitted the photographs
to be taken.
The original gold reliquary, which was shaped like the face
of the Apostle by the Roman Catholics while they had custody in
Rome of the relic, had been destroyed by a deranged person in
Patras several years ago. Greek Orthodox doctrine prohibits the
duplication of the human form or visage "in the round",
preferring flat pictures (IKONS) as less likely to resemble pagan
gods. The deranged person was discovered to have removed the
skull of St.Andrew unobserved, and to have smashed the gold
reliquary in which it was delivered from Rome in 1984. The new
silver reliquary now used is a lavishly decorated, round
container, without a likeness of a human face.
In the church of St.Andrews in Patras there is obtainable a
book written in Greek which contains added light on the story of
St.Andrew. I am indebted to the Reverand Mark Beshara, one of my
graduate students at the California Graduate School of Theology
and an Orthodox minister, for his excellent original translation
from which the following is quoted:
"Holy Tradition says that Andrew went to the foothills of the
Caucasus Mountains (present day Georgia in Russia), and he
preached to the race of Scythians as far as the Caspian Sea.
"He finally reached Byzantium (present day Istanbul) and there he
ordained Bishop Stachys.
"Andrew was imprisoned and stoned and suffered much for Christ.
In Sinope he was under the threat of being eaten alive by
cannibals. In spite of this he continued his Apostolic task of
ordaining priests and Bishops and spreading the Gospel of Jesus
Christ the Saviour.
"From Byzantium he continued to Greece for his main Apostolic
journey. He travelled to Thrace and Macedonia down through the
Corinthian Gulf to Patros. It was in Patros that Andrew was to
preach the Gospel of Christ for the last time.
"Aigeatis, the governor of Patios became enraged at Andrew for
his preaching and ordered him to stand before the tribunal in his
attempt to do away with the Christian Faith. When Andrew resisted
the tribunal the governor ordered him crucified. Andrew remained
tied to the cross with thick ropes for three days and his last
words were: 'Accept me, O Christ Jesus, Whom I saw, Whom I love,
and in Whom I am; Accept my spirit in peace in Your Eternal
"A Christian named Maximilla took down Andrew's body from the
cross and buried it. When Constantius, the son of the Emperor
Constantine, himself became the Emperor, he had the body of Saint
Andrew removed to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Byzantium
(Istanbul) where it was placed in the Altar. The head of Saint
Andrew remained in Patros.
"In 1480 A.D. the head of Andrew was taken to Italy and placed in
the Church of Saint Peter for safekeeping after the Turks had
swept through Byzantium (Istanbul). It remained there in Italy
until 1984 when Pope Paul VI had it returned to the Episcopal See
of Patros. Three representatives of the Pope accompanied the head
which was placed in a reliquary and was carried by Cardinal Bea
from the Basilica of Saint Peter. It was returned to Metropolitan
Archbishop Constantine, who still guards it to this day." ("The
First-Called Apostle Andrew," The Very Reverend Archimandrite
Some indication of the means by which the relics of St.
Andrew were dispersed is to be found in "Sacred and Legendary
"...At the time that Constantinople was taken, and the relics of
St.Andrew dispersed in consequence, a lively enthusiasm for this
Apostle was excited throughout all Christendom. He had been
previously honored chiefly as the brother of St.Peter; he
obtained thenceforth a kind of personal interest and
consideration. Philip of Burgundy (A.D.1433), who had obtained at
great cost a portion of the precious relics, consisting chiefly
of some pieces of his cross, placed under the protection of the
Apostle his new order of chivalry, which according to the
preamble, was intended to rvive the honor and the memory of the
Argonauts. His knights wore as their badge the cross of St.
Andrew." (Mrs.Anna Jameson, p.238).
Perhaps the relies of St.Andrew have more evidence for
genuineness than those of any other Apostle. We can trace them
clearly through the centuries and down to the present; in Rome,
Amalfi, and most importantly now in Patras, on the west coast of
Greece, facing Italy. Before long a great cathedral will house
the sacred head of the Apostle, honoring it and his martyrdom in
the very place where he was executed for his faith.
To be continued with "James the son of Zebedee"
Entered on this Website December 2007