The idea that the eye-witnesses (apostles) who were in the position to
know the truth and died for it, was to me one of the strongest reasons to
believe their testimony of Jesus Christ. Because numerous eye-witnesses
don’t die for a know lie. It’s against human nature. I have been told (by
non-believers on some website) that John Foxe’s book of Martyrs, which has
the apostles’ deaths on record, isn’t trustworthy. Is this true? If so,
how can I know for a FACT that the apostles, who were in the position to
know the truth about Jesus, were martyred for their faith? Who says it’s
FACT (do non-Christians too?) and who says it’s not?


I have read parts of Foxe. He is strongly biased against the Catholic
Church, so his information is skewed somewhat. I conclude that he
is fairly reliable for history near his own time, but for the early
martyrs, he is obviously relying on others, so his info cannot be any
better than the reliability of his sources. The principle source for the
biographies of the apostles is Eusebius, the apologist who worked for
Constantine in the early fourth century. Eusebius was rather biased,
praising Constantine, for example, more than he deserves. His information
on the apostles is of mixed reliability. Sometimes he gives sources,
sometimes he does not. I would say that overall Eusebius is not
particularly reliable.

Although Eusebius is not a particularly reliable source, it is not likely
that me made up stories out of whole cloth. He is likely passing along
actual traditions without being as skeptical as modern scholars would
demand. My conclusion is that for most of the apostles, we cannot say that
it is FACT that they were martyred. We know that the apostle James and
James, the brother of Jesus were martyred; the former because it is
reported by Luke in Acts, the latter because it is mentioned by Josephus.
For the other apostles, the tradition of Paul and Peter being executed in
Rome is pretty solid. We know of plots on both of their lives from Acts.
Eusebius’ sources on their execution seem very good. You can conclude that
Peter and Paul were almost certainly martyred. As for the other apostles,
you can assume that all of them were persecuted intensely and some of them
were martyred, but the details of their stories are in doubt.

You ask who says it is a fact, and who says that it is not. As far as I
know, no one claims that none of the apostles were persecuted. No one
claims that the stories of their persecution are grossly exaggerated. Some
do question the details of Eusebius’ history, which is definitely
legitimate. I have even seen some critics say that the persecutions of the
early church are exaggerated by Catholic historians. However, even these
people do not claim that the apostles were not persecuted, at least as far
as I can tell from my research.

This brings me back to the reason for your question. We have sufficient
information to conclude that there was very intense pressure on all the
apostles. Even if we cannot prove that all but John (according to
tradition) were martyred, we have more than enough information to conclude
with great confidence that all of them were under great pressure–that
their lives were at stake. This does indeed provide good support to the
claim that they were telling the truth. It is inconceivable that a great
hoax was pulled with regard to the resurrection or other significant
details of the life of Jesus, in view of the fact that none of the
apostles ever recanted even a single part of the central claims of the New

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