Spread of the Gospel



  1. Students should be able to name the early apostles.
  2. Students should know where at least some of them traveled.

3.   Students should be able to tell what “evangelism” means.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of the apostles as given on the next two pages, have a globe or map handy to show the destinations of these travelers; write the name of each apostle ahead of time on a post-it and stick to the map as you go:


                LIVES OF THE APOSTLES (IN BRIEF)       

            Where did they all go, these men who followed Jesus so closely? Let’s look quickly at their lives after the Ascension and Pentecost.

            St. Andrew, the first-called, a fisherman by trade and brother of Peter, traveled to Scythia, Greece, a small town then called Byzantium (later known as Constantinople!), and to Russia to the River Dniepr, where the cities of Kiev and Novgorod would later be built. He is the patron saint of Russia. He finally traveled to Patras, in Greece, where through his prayers many were healed, including the wife of the governor. But the governor ordered Andrew tied to an X-shaped cross, Andrew continued preaching the whole time he was on the cross for 2 days until his death.

            St. Thomas, better known as “Doubting Thomas” because of his doubts about the Resurrection, surely had no doubts after he saw Jesus with his own eyes. He traveled to far-off India to spread the good news of his faith and there, he died.

            St. Bartholomew was born in Cana of Galilee and first was sent by the apostles to Syria and Asia Minor. In the city of Hieropolis, there lived a man called Stakhios. Stakhios had been blind for 40 years, but was healed through the prayers of the apostle and was baptized. Soon many were being healed and leaving the pagan gods for Christ. This angered the pagan priests, who had St. Bartholomew, along with St. Philip arrested. Bartholomew survived crucifixion there, left Stakhios as bishop, and also is believed to have traveled to India and began the Christian Church there, translating the gospel of Matthew from the Hebrew for the new believers. He then traveled to Armenia, where he preached for many years and healed the daughter of King Polimios through prayer. King Polimios, his wife and daughter, and many people from the ten cities of Great Armenia became Christians. Finally, at the urging of the pagan priests, a wicked king named Astyages in the nearby city of Al’ban ordered Bartholomew killed.

            St. Simon (the Zealot) left Palestine and traveled first to Egypt to preach about Jesus. St. Jude left Jerusalem after Pentecost and traveled to the land of Mesopotamia. In and around the city of Edessa he preached the good news of Jesus and the resurrection. Finally, he went to Persia with St. Simon and there, in Persia, both of these courageous apostles died for their faith.

            St. James the Greater, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Beloved, traveled to Spain to preach; he is the patron saint of Spain to this day and is known there as Santiago (Our own San Diego is named for him.). He returned to Jerusalem to try to influence the Pharisees to accept Christ. But, the Jews still hated the Christians and begged King Herod Agrippa to put James to death. James was the first of the apostles to die and the second martyr (after Stephen).

            St. Philip introduced many members of the Greek community to Christianity. After performing many miracles in Jerusalem, including giving sight to the blind and restoring life to a dead infant, he traveled with is sister, Mariamne, to Phrygia in Asia Minor. There he preached to the people of Hierapolis. These people worshipped a huge snake; Philip prayed and the snake died. Many people who had been bitten by snakes were healed, including the wife of the governor. Many of the people then believed in Jesus, but some were so angry they put Philip in prison. When Philip would not deny Jesus, he was crucified, head down, along with the Apostle Bartholomew. A great earthquake struck, and Philip prayed for the safety of those present. The earthquake stopped, and Philip and Bartholomew were taken down from the cross. Bartholomew was still alive and established a bishop for the newly-converted people of the city, but Philip, through whose prayers the city had been saved, had already gone home to be with his Lord.

            St. Matthew remained for many years in the land of Israel, teaching the Jewish people about Jesus. He wrote the gospel of Matthew to tell the story of Jesus to his people. Finally, he traveled to Ethiopia to preach and was killed by those who hated Christians in that African land.

            St. James the son of Alpheus, also known as James the Less and brother of St. Matthew, traveled after Pentecost first to the city of Eleutheropolis and then to Egypt. There he preached and performed miracles with great success and churches were founded. Finally he was killed in the town of Ostracina, being crucified by pagans.

            St. Matthias was chosen by casting lots to take the place of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. He had been on of the 70 men sent out by Jesus to preach and perform miracles. He was with the other 11 disciples at Pentecost and preached in the land of Judea. Then he traveled to the land of Cappadocia and began the church there. He also died for his faith.

            There are 2 other very special apostles, even though they were not part of the first 12 chosen by Jesus. St. Barnabas was actually named Joseph; the apostles changed his name to Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement”. St. Barnabas was born on the island of Cyprus, and was a fellow-student of Saul (later to be St. Paul) in Jerusalem under the teacher, Gamaliel. He became a follower of Jesus and was one of the chosen Seventy. We see glimpses of his work in the book of Acts. He was one of those who sold all he had in the early church in Jerusalem. Next we see him leading the newly converted Saul back to Jerusalem to meet the other Christians there. He was sent by the church in Jerusalem to Antioch, where believers were first called Christians. After a year in Antioch with Paul, the two set out on their first missionary journey. They took with them on that journey a cousin of St. Barnabas, John Mark. John Mark, later the Evangelist Mark, left the two apostles part-way through the journey. Barnabas also traveled with Paul to Jerusalem for the first church council. But, when Paul refused to trust John Mark to come on his next journey, Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus. Barnabas then traveled to Rome, perhaps the first to preach there about Jesus. He traveled to Mediolanum (now Milan) in Italy and then returned to Cyprus. There, St. Barnabas and St. Mark preached together for many years until Barnabas was stoned to death in Salamis in about the year 62 at age 76.

            Finally, St. Luke, the Evangelist, was also an early companion of Paul. He was a Roman citizen and physician from the city of Antioch. He traveled with Paul through Asia Minor on Paul’s second missionary journey. He wrote down all they did and all he learned about the life of Jesus; we can still read these today in the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Luke. He painted an icon of the Virgin Mary, which he gave to the Theotokos herself; this is still a prized possession of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Luke lived to be an old man and died in Thebes at the age of 84.


  1. Have each student concentrate on one saint: Make an Illustrated Biography book with each student drawing a picture of the life of one of the apostles. Put the name of the apostle at the top of each page. Have the student tell the others about “his” apostle. Then punch holes along the side and mount with a piece of ribbon or yarn as a class book.


  1. One could write a little ditty, having the students pick out one fact they think is important about each character and singing to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas – for example:

The first of the apostles was Andrew; he is the patron saint of Russia.

The next of the apostles was Doubting Thomas, India was his goal and Andrew

            Patron saint of Russia.

The next of the apostles was Simon Zealotes, traveled to Egypt; Thomas went to

India, and Andrew patron saint of Russia. Etc., etc.


  1. Play a learning game: Matching game. Take an index card for each apostle. Fold in half. On one half write the name and on the other, the destination. Cut in half. Make two piles. Have students draw from the names pile until the names are all taken; these cards are their “hands”. One by one in turn draw a destination. Student can put the person and destination down together if they match. If not, discard the destination. Continue until all pairs are matched correctly.


  1. Alternate idea: Write a brief description of the saint’s life on one side of flash cards cut into fish, with a picture of the saint and/or the name on the other side. The blurbs, pictures, and fish pattern are on the next 5 pages.


7.   Close with prayer: Lord, make me as brave as the apostles in telling everyone about