During the life and ministry of Jesus in the 1st Century A.D., the Apostles were his closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus. The word disciple is sometimes used interchangeably with apostle. The following are very brief glimpses into the life and death of the major apostles of Jesus.
- Andrew was one of the original Twelve Apostles, a fisherman by trade, and the brother of Peter. After Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension, he went to the "land of the man-eaters," in what is now known as Russia. Christians there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece. He is said to have been crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it."
- Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, was one of the original Twelve Apostles. He is noted for widespread missionary travels in Asia attributed to him by tradition. He is said to have traveled to India with Thomas, then to Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel. It is said he was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip and then beheaded.
- Barnabas, a Cypriot Jew, was one of the early group of ‘seventy disciples’ who followed Christ. He was not one of the original Twelve Apostles. He traveled extensively with Paul and successfully evangelized among the early ‘God-fearing’ Gentiles who attended synagogues in various in cities and towns within the Roman Empire. He traveled and preached throughout Italy and Cyprus. Christian tradition holds that Barnabas was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus, in AD 61. He is considered to be the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church.
- James the Lesser, 'brother' of Jesus and Jude, was one of the original Twelve Apostles. He became one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. He is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. He was first stoned and then thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a club.
- James the Greater, a son of Zebedee and brother of John, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. He is said to have preached the Gospel in Iberia. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded in Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
- John, a son of Zebedee and brother of James, is the only one of the company generally thought to have died a natural death from old age. He is said to have faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome during Emperor Domitian's reign in the 90's. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. He was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. There he is credited with writing the last book of the New Testament--the Revelation. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in the area of Ephesus. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully. He is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home.
- Jude, also known as Judas Thaddeus, was one of the original Twelve Apostles. He was a farmer and the 'brother' of Jesus and James. The Armenian Apostolic Church honors him as one of its patron saints. He was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. Various traditions say he preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia, Persia and elsewhere, before he was martyred
- Luke was not one of the original Twelve Apostles, but is venerated as one of the Four Evangelists. Early church fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel according to Luke and the book of Acts of the Apostles. It is said he was martyred, hanged by idolatrous priests on an olive tree in Greece. Others say Luke died at the ripe old age of 84 in Boeotia, Greece.
- Matthew, also called Levi, was one of the original Twelve Apostles and author of one of the Gospels. He was a tax collector in Capernaum. For many years after the Lord's Resurrection he remained with the other apostles to work among his own people, the Jews. He is also said to have ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death by sword in the region of Ethiopia.
- Mark is the traditionally ascribed author of the Gospel of Mark. Mark is said to have founded the Church of Alexandria in Egypt. Today, both the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria claim to be successors to this original community. It is said he died in Alexandria after pagans dragged him by horses through the streets until he was dead.
- Matthias was the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, following the betrayal of Jesus. According to the Book of Acts, he had been with Jesus from the time of His baptism by John until the Ascension. Tradition sends him to Syria and along the coast of the Caspian Sea with Andrew. He has been variously said to have been stoned to death, beheaded, or sentenced to death by burning.
- Peter, also known as Simon, was known as the ‘Apostle of the Apostles’. Originally a fisherman, he played a leadership role and was with Jesus during events witnessed by the inner circle of the original apostles. It is believed he was crucified in Rome, upside down on an X-shaped cross at his own request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
- Paul, also known as Saul of Tarsus, is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age even though he was not one of the original Twelve Apostles. Paul founded several churches across Asia Minor and Europe. During his lengthy imprisonment, he wrote his many epistles to the early churches. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament. He was subsequently tortured and then beheaded by the Emperor Nero in Rome in 67 A.D.
- Philip was one of the original Twelve Apostles. He was from Bethsaida, a fisherman's village, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He was supposedly married and had three daughters. He apparently had an evangelical ministry in North Africa, then Syria and Greece. Clement of Alexandria affirmed that Philip, like the apostles Matthew and Thomas, died a natural death. Numerous others, however, maintained that he died a martyr at the age of 87, crucified upside down in Hierapolis during the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian.
- Simon, one of the more obscure Apostles known as the Zealot, was related to Jude and James. He ministered in Persia, Syria, and Lebanon. He was supposedly killed around 65 A.D. in Persia, after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
- Thomas, one of the original Twelve Apostles, He is informally called doubting Thomas because he doubted Jesus' resurrection when first told of it. He was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the subcontinent in 72 A.D.
To conclude, most of our information about the deaths of the Apostles is derived from early church traditions. While tradition is often unreliable as to small details, it very seldom contains outright inventions. The Church historian Schumacher researched the lives of the apostles and recounted the history of their martyrdoms. See http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/martyrdom.html In addition, you might also want to check out http://www.12apostlesofthecatholicchurch.com/ for more detail.