There were at least six other Apostles in addition to the twelve -or thirteen- described previously. These six disciples were very close to Jesus, well known as evangelists in their time, and their work has been recorded in the Scriptures and in History. However for one reason or the other they were not included in the inner circle that surrounded Jesus.
2.4.1 John Mark
Many fragments of papyrus found in 1947 among the Dead Sea Scrolls have been identified as part of a copy of the Gospel written by St. Mark around 50 AD. The scholars have always thought that Mark wrote his Gospel on the base of recollections of the Apostle Peter and given to him before Peter’s death. That would date it around 68 AD and Jesus died in 33 AD. This would mean that Mark’s Gospel, the first Gospel, would have been written 35 years after the death of Christ. The details would have had to be transmitted by words of mouth, or by lost records (such as the famous “Q” document which existence is known, but was never found) over a long period of time with all the possible consequences on the accuracy of the text. However if Mark’s Gospel was written in 50 AD as the Dead Sea scrolls show, then the conclusions are different. Mark’s Gospel would then have been written at the most 17 years after Jesus’ death, and even probably before. In these conditions there were still enough living witnesses to verify the accuracy of the story, adding quite a lot to its credibility.
John Mark was an important person among the early Christians. He had a Roman name (Mark or Marcus) and a Jewish name (John or Jonah). It is thought that his father was Roman and his mother Jewish. His home was in Jerusalem (“Acts” 12:12) and he is assumed to come from a rich family. The family moved to Jerusalem from Cyrenaica, a Roman colony in North Africa, probably after his father death. The name of his father is not known but his mother was called Mary. He also had a cousin called Barnabas (Col.4:10) who was also rich (“Acts” 4:36). He is first mentioned in the “Acts” in 44 AD. At that time he was already a believer and his mother too. He probably was led to Christ by Simon Peter who called him “his spiritual Son” (I Peter 5:13). After a long experience in the Jerusalem church, he was chosen to accompany Paul and Barnabas to Antioch and then to Cyprus, the home of Barnabas. They decided to go to Turkey but Mark soon decided to come back to Antioch. A tradition says that he was afraid of the dangers of this journey. It is also possible that he did not quite agree with Paul’s doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith alone. This would mean that Mark was still a devout Jew at that time and, as such, could not accept the doctrine of faith for salvation. Later on even Barnabas had the same doubts as Mark on this doctrine. Paul refused to take Mark on a second missionary tour in Turkey two years later; Barnabas and Mark decided to go to Cyprus instead. Barnabas died in Cyprus around 58 AD (I Cor.9:5). Eleven years later the difference of opinion between Paul and Mark was settled in Rome, and Mark was one of the few Jewish Christians who stood firmly behind Paul. It is believed that he wrote his Gospel at the request of St. Peter while he was in Rome. It is possible that Mark visited Colossae. He also went to Babylon with St. Peter before returning to Turkey. After the death of Peter and Paul in Rome in 64 AD there was a strong tradition that John Mark went back to Alexandria, a Greco-Roman city in Egypt with a large Jewish population, where he had been before. Eusebius wrote that Anianus, a convert of St. Mark, followed him as bishop of Alexandria confirming in this way that Mark spent a few years in that city. It is not clear when he came in that city but it must be between 48 and 61 AD. He was martyred and buried there in 68 AD.
Mark was probably younger that the apostles but this did not prevent him to be very useful during the Apostolic age. He travelled to many lands to preach, and he was very successful at converting people to Christianism. In addition the fact that he wrote the first Gospel (by date) makes him somebody special for all the Christians.
In 642 the Arabs took Alexandria and stole St. Mark’ skull and vestments. Venetian merchants stole the headless body in 828 and took it to Venice where the cathedral of St. Mark was specially built to receive it. In this way the Saint gave his name to that city. Part of St. Mark’s body was returned recently to the Coptic church in Alexandria by Pope Paul VI. Another legend says that the ruins of the house where Mark wrote his Gospel are still under the church of St. Pudentiana. Moreover it is believed that the foundations of the house of Mary, St. Mark’s mother, have been found recently under the church of St. Mark in Jerusalem. It was the gathering place of the early Christians as well as the site of the Pentecostal baptism of the holy Spirit. (31)
Barnabas was born in Cyprus and he was the first of the seventy disciples of our Lord (“Acts” 13:1-34). The name Barnabas means “Son of the prophecy or exhortation or Consolation” given by the Apostles (“Acts” 4:36) to Joseph or Joses, a Levite of the island of Cyprus, who was a disciple of Christ. He is known to have been a good preacher and he travelled in many countries to teach the Gospel to the local people.
In “Acts” 9:27 we are told that he introduced the newly converted Saul to the Apostles as a friend. Barnabas was sent to Antioch because the Jerusalem church had learned that people there were preaching to the Gentiles. He also went to Tarsus to look for Saul who was already known for his ability to preach to the Gentiles (“Acts” 26:17). Saul and Barnabas went back first to Antioch and then to Jerusalem. Then they returned again to Antioch where they were ordained by the church for missionary work. From that time they had the title and dignity of the Apostles. Their first missionary journey was to Cyprus and Asia Minor. After they came back again to Antioch (47 or 48 AD), they went with some others to Jerusalem (50 AD) to discuss with the Apostles the difficult question of the circumcision of the converted Gentiles (“Acts” 15:1). >From then on they were known as the Apostles of the Uncircumcision. They went back again to Antioch and there was some disagreement between Barnabas and Paul because Barnabas wanted to take his sister’ son, John Mark, with them on another missionary journey (“Acts” 15:36). Their disagreement was so strong that they both went their own way. Barnabas went to Cyprus with John Mark, and from that time he is not mentioned anymore in the Scriptures.
A first tradition says that he went to Milan and became the first bishop of this town. It is more probable that he was killed by the Jews in Cyprus after he went back there and that his disciple Mark buried his body in an empty sepulchre outside Salamis. The tomb was forgotten until 477 AD when the then bishop of Constania (Salamis), Anthemios, was told the exact location in a dream. He opened the tomb and found the remains of the saint with a copy of St. Mark’s Gospel in Barnabas handwriting on his chest. Anthemios built a church near by in honour of the saint and the remains were kept there as well as his own body after his death. This discovery helped to secure the independence of the Cyprus church from the church of Antioch. Both tombs are now empty and the destination of the holy remains is unknown. According to the Roman Catholic tradition the remains of St. Barnabas have been scattered. His head is said to be in the church of St. Sernin in Toulouse, France after having been moved from Cyprus to Milan. (31)
The tradition maintains that the Church of Cyprus was founded by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in 45 AD.
2.4.3 John the Baptist
Josephus wrote that Herod had John the Baptist killed on 29 August because he was jealous of his popularity. He also added that the defeat of Herod’s army in the war with Aretas was a kind of divine punishment for the murder of John. According to Josephus, John the Baptist was imprisoned and killed in the fortress of Marchaerus or Mekaur (Mukaver) as it is now called. This was in the mountains on the east side of the Dead Sea. Some ruins are still visible including a well and two dungeons, one was probably the prison where John was kept. John the Baptist was buried by his disciples. His bones are scattered between Samaria, Istanbul (in the Topkapi Museum), Genoa and Rome. The bones kept in Samaria have disappeared although the traditional grave is still visible but the bones are probably now in the Monastery of St. John in Jerusalem. The Monastery of St. John in Jerusalem has two churches on top of each other. The lower one is also the oldest and has been dedicated to the beheading of John. It is there that the remains of John the Baptist are kept as well as some relics from St. Peter and from other Apostles, and a piece of the Holy Cross. (31)
The legends tell us that Luke was one of the Seventy disciples sent preaching by Jesus; they also say that he was one of the Greeks who asked Philip to be introduced to Jesus; he could also have been a companion of Cleopas. However there are no confirmation of these legends. It seems more probable that Luke was not a participant to the Ministry of Jesus. Luke is described by Paul as “uncircumcised” which meant that he was a Gentile (Col.4:14). He may or may not have been a Jewish proselyte. His first appearance with Paul at Troas (“Acts” 16:10-12) is compatible with this idea. He was a man of culture as the quality of his writings shows. He was in fact part of the cultivated Hellenic circles. His home is uncertain although there are some indications that he was from Antioch or, at least, that he had some family there. According to other sources Luke lived in Alexandria and in Achaia and he died in this last town or in Bithynia. We know for certain that he lived many years in Philippi, remaining after Paul and Silas has left (“Acts” 16:40). He was still there when Paul came back on his third tour to Jerusalem (“Acts” 20:3-5). He first met Paul in Galatia, or at Troas, before he went to Macedonia but his home, if any, was Philippi. However his later years were spent with Paul away from Philippi (going to Jerusalem and to Rome and staying there). Paul called him his “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14) because he took care of his health and prolonged his life by curing him of many serious illnesses. He was a medical missionary and practised medicine in Rome and also, probably, in Malta (“Acts” 28:9f). He was Paul’s only companion when Paul went to prison for the second time in Rome. Luke was also a painter and he illustrated his Gospel.
According to a tradition that goes back to Irenaeus, Luke is the author of the third Gospel and he could also have written the “Acts”. His Gospel has been described as the most beautiful book ever written. These two books constitute the earliest history of the Christian Church. He wrote his Gospel in Greece.
According to one tradition Luke was not married and died peacefully in Boeotia (or Bithynia) at the age of 84. Another says that he was crucified with St. Andrew at Patras or at Elaea in Peloponnesus. In 356-357 Constantius II had his remains removed from Thebes in Boeotia to Constantinople and placed in the Church of the Apostles that was built soon after. Later his head was taken to Rome and buried in St. Peter Basilica. (31)
Lazarus (Lazaros in Greek, or Eleazar in Hebrew) means “God has helped”. This name was very common among the Jews and two different persons with that name are mentioned in the New Testament. The home of Lazarus was in Bethany (John 11:1). He was the brother of Martha and Mary Magdalene (John 11:1,2; Luke 10:38-41) and all three were well loved by Jesus (John 11:5) who visited them very often (Luke 10:38-41; John 11). They must have been a rich family if we consider the number of their friends and the money they spent to anoint Jesus. In the absence of Jesus, Lazarus became sick, died, and was buried. Four days later Jesus brought him back to life (John 11:184.108.40.206.44). As a result many Jews believed in Jesus but some others informed the Pharisees and a Council was assembled to organise the Lord’s death (John 11:45-53). Later, six days before Passover, at a gathering in Bethany given to thank the Lord, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet (John 12:1-3). Many people came to see Jesus but also the raised Lazarus. They believed in Jesus and followed Him to assist to his entry in Jerusalem (John 12:220.127.116.11).
In Cyprus there is an ancient tradition that Lazarus moved there from Jerusalem in 60 or 63 AD (but probably much earlier). He settled in Citium (or Kittium) where he was the bishop for thirty years. Lazarus died in Citium and his tomb still exists today. However his body was removed to Constantinople in 800 AD and later on to Marseilles, France, from where it has disappeared. There is also a tradition that says that Lazarus went to Marseilles to preach. There Lazarus had to hide in a grotto under the fourth century lower church of St. Victor where he lived, preached, and finally died of a natural death in 44 or 45 AD. He could also have been the bishop of Marseilles for seven years. Mary and Martha were with him on all his journeys. Mary lived near Marseilles on a high mountain and Martha founded a convent for women and was buried at Tarascon. There are still many monuments, liturgies, relics and traditions to his memory in Marseilles, Lyons, Aix, St. Maxim, La Sainte Baume, etc. that witness his importance to the region. The two traditions of Marseilles and Cyprus are, of course, incompatible between them. Historians are in favour of the Cyprus tradition but they are no real proof one way or the other. (31)
Although he was not one of the Twelve Apostles of the inner circle, St. Paul is very well known due to his special merits. St. Paul went to “Arabia” after his escape from Damascus (Galatians 1:17) and by this it is most probably meant that he went to Petra, the capital city of King Aretus (II Corinthians 11:32). This was the only city in the desert. Here he received, so he said, some revelations from Jesus Christ who told him to found many free and powerful churches.
St. Paul intended to visit Rome on his way to Spain (Romans 15:28) but he was imprisoned first. He wanted to go to Spain because there were some Jewish communities there, including some in slavery. The Epistle of Clement and the Muratori Fragment imply that he was in Spain from 61 to 65 AD and this is not in opposition with what Eusebius said. During his first imprisonment, as “Acts” 28 tells us, he was in fact confined to his house for two years, but with the possibility to minister to his many visitors. After his release, travels and second arrest he was sent to the grim Mamertine Prison. St. Paul was sent to Rome in 56 AD where he remained at least two years. His disciple, Clement, who later became bishop of Rome, confirms it, as well as the journey of St. Paul to Spain. After his release from his first arrest he was authorised by Nero to preach Christianity in the West. This did not prevent the Roman Emperor to arrest him again, to send him to prison, and to put him to death. He was beheaded at a place called “Aquae Salviae”, now the Abbey of the “Tre Fontana”, on the same day that Peter was crucified. The tradition tells us that while he was in Rome Peter lived in the house of Pudens where the early Christians assembled. The palace of Claudia was the home of the Apostles in Rome and St. Peter and St. Paul also lived there.
Paul was buried on the Ostian Way (Via Ostiensia), in Praedio Lucinae, in 60 AD by the Pudens family in their estate cemetery. It was later removed on 29 June 258 to a place called Catacumbas on the Appian Way. The Emperor Constantine, first Christian Emperor of Rome, removed the body of the saint, put it in a proper stone coffin, buried it again and built a church above it (St. Paul-outside-the-walls of Rome). His head, however, with that of St. Peter, was taken to the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
There are some legends that say that St. Paul, as well as other Apostles, ministered in England but there are no historical proof to confirm it. Since at least from 1500 BC to the Roman time England was a highly developed country and that made it even more possible that, at least one of the Apostles visited this country. Even Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, mentioned this in 320 AD. A visit to England is quite possible during the six years from St. Paul’s first imprisonment to his martyrdom. (31)