Spread of the Gospel

Spread of Gospel

            This is probably the “busiest” week of the year. 

Home Activities:

  • Review the stories of one or two disciples each day. Where did they go? What did they do?  There’s lots of drama here; the stories are exciting. 
  • Take a map of the world (or a globe) and mark all the countries the disciples reached. 
  • Get some books out of the library or search the Internet and look at pictures of these countries; what are they like today? 
  • Include Matthias; how was he chosen in Judas’s place?  Can you make a decision this week by casting lots? 
  • Finally, what is evangelism? Color the picture of the 4 Evangelists. Have your child try telling a friend about Jesus at least once during the week and inviting a friend to church; is it easy?

Prayer: Lord, help me to spread Your Good News to all the world just as Your disciples did.



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

            St. Andrew, the first-called, a fisherman by trade and brother of Peter, traveled to Scythia, Greece, Byzantium (later known as Constantinople), and finally to Russia.  He is the patron saint of Russia and finally died on an X-shaped cross, preaching the whole time he was on the cross.

            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 also is believed to have traveled to India and begin the Christian Church there.  He then traveled to Armenia where he preached for many years.  Finally, a wicked king named Astyages 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 the 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 married and had three daughters who also became Christians.  He traveled 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 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, and went to heaven 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 far-off 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 one 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.

           St. John, the Evangelist, spent most of his ministry in the city of Ephesus. We will study him in more detail later. 

            There are 3 other very special apostles, even though they were not part of the first 12 chosen by Jesus.  One of these was St. Mark, the Evangelist.  Mark, or John Mark, was probably the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Later, the first church in Jerusalem met at his home.  He traveled with Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary voyage and left after part of the trip to go home to Jerusalem.  Barnabas took Mark with him on later missionary trips to Cyprus and joined St. Paul in Rome.  He also spent time with Peter in Rome and here he wrote down the gospel of Mark what Peter told him about the life of Jesus.  After the deaths of Peter and Paul, Mark helped begin the church in Alexandria in Egypt.  He became bishop of Alexandria and finally was martyred under the reign of the Roman emperor Nero.

            St. Barnabas was actually named Joseph; the apostles changed his name to Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement”.  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.  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.  They preached there together for many years until Barnabas was stoned to death in Salamis.





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 his 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.