SEARCH FOR THE TWELVE APOSTLES
by William Steuart McBirnie Ph.D.
OTHER THAN THE TWELVE
This NOTED Apostle, while he was not one of the Twelve, nor
could he possibly be described as a sub-Apostle, is in a specail
class and both deserves and has received adequate coverage in
terms of his biography. Almost all theological libraries have
full and complete biographies of St.Paul and there is no reason
to repeat here what is so readily available elsewhere.
We shall, present only those traditions about St.Paul which
are not commonly known, or which are not dealt with adequately in
the standard biographies.
ST.PAUL IN PETRA
The fact that St.Paul went to Arabia after his escape from
Damascus is attested in Galatians 1:17. There is a very real
possibility that the "Arabia" mentioned is that area far to the
south of Amman, Jordan, that had as its chief city, Petra. This
was the capitol city of King Aretus who significantly is
mentioned by Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:32. It is difficult to
imagine St.Paul spending time in Arabia Petrea (as it was known)
without staying in the glorious city of Petra itself. It was the
only city worthy of the name at that time in an otherwise barren
desert area. Here he re-ceived from Jesus Christ, he said, those
special revelations of the gospel of grace which gave such
freedom and power to the churhes he organized.
PAUL IN SPAIN
In his letter to the Romans, St.Paul indicated an intention
to visit Rome "on his way to Spain," (Romans 15:28), but his
first imprisonment prevented that. If he was released after his
first trial he may well have gone there and beyond. Why should he
have wanted to go to Spain? Because it was the westernmost
portion of Europe and there were colonies of Jews there. Some
were slaves, imprisoned as political prisoners by Herod Antipas.
The Epistle of Clement and the Muratori Fragment both imply
this possibility and assert that St.Paul visited Spain. Eusebius
mentions, as Sir William Ramsey also points out, a gap in the
life of St.Paul between A.D.61 and 65. In this time he could have
gone to Spain and elsewhere as well.
"The Acts, however, of all the Apostles are written in one book,
Luke, to the most excellent Theophilus, includes events because
they were done in his own presence, as he also plainly shows by
leaving out the passion of Peter, and also the departure of Paul
from the City on his journey to Spain." ("A New Eusebius," J.
One great authoritative biography, "The Life and Epistles of
the Apostle Paul," by Conybeare and Howson, which is as widely
accepted a biography of St.Paul as any, emphatically asserts that
St.Paul did indeed go to Spain, spending at least two years
ST. PAUL IN ROME
The Apostle's first imprisonment was really not a stay in a
prison as such. Rather, Acts 28 tells that Paul lived two years
in his own house, ministering to all who came to see him, of whom
there must have been many. After his release, travels and second
arrest he was placed in the Mamertine Prison, a grim building
which still exists, that was constructed for political prisoners
a hundred years before St.Paul's incarceration there.
"St.Paul was sent to Rome in the second year of Nero, [i.e. A.D.
56], in which date agree Bede, Ivo, Freculphus Platina, Saliger,
Capellus, Cave., Stillingfleet, Alford, Godwin De Proesulibus,
Rapin, Bingham, Stanhope, Warner, Trapp. We believe this to be
the true date. ("St.Paul in Britain, Rev.R.W.Morgan, p.60)
"The evidence on this subject, though (as we have said) not
copious, is yet conclusive so far as it goes; and it is all way.
"The most important portion of it is supplied by Clement, the
disciple of Paul mentioned in Phil.iv.3, who was afterward bishop
of Rome. This author, writing from Rome to Corinth, expressly
asserts that Paul had preached the gospel IN THE EAST AND IN THE
WEST, that he had instructed the whole world [i.e. the Roman
empire, which was commonly so called] in righteousness,' and that
he 'had gone to THE EXTREMITY OF THE WEST before his martyrdom.
"Now, in a Roman author the 'extremity of the' West could mean
nothing short of Spain, and the expression is often used by Roman
writers to denote Spain. Here, then, we have the express
testimony of Paul's own disciple that he fulfilled his original
intention (mentioned Rom.xv.24-28) of visiting the Spanish
peninsula, and consequently that he was liberated from his first
imprisonment at Rome.
"The next piece of evidence which we possess on the subject is
contained in the canon of the New Testament, compiled by an
unknown Christian about the year A.D.170, which is known as
Muratori's Canon. In this document it is said in the account of
the Acts o f the Apostles that 'Luke relates to Theophilus events
of which he was an eye-witness, as also, in a separate, place
(semote) [viz. Luke xxii. 31-33], he evidently declares the
martyrdom of Peter, but (omits) THE JOURNEY OF PAUL FROM ROME TO
"In the next place, Eusebius tells us, 'After defending himself
successfully, it is currently reported that the Apostle again
went forth to proclaim the gospel, and afterward came to Rome a
second time, and was martyred under Nero.'
"Next we have the statement of Chrysostom, who mentions it as an
udoubted historical fact that 'Paul after his residence in Rome
departed to Spain.'
"About the same fime Jerome bears the same testimony, saying that
'Paul was dismissed by Nero, that he might preach Christ's gospel
in the West.'
"Against this unanimous testimony of the primitive Church there
is no external evidence whatever to oppose. Those who doubt the
liberation of Paul from his imprisonment are obliged to resort to
a gratuitous hythesis or to inconclusive arguments from
probability." ("Life and Epistles of the Apostle Paul,"
Conybeare and Howson, p.679-680)
One great authoritative biography, "The Life and Epistles of
the Apastle Paul," by Conybeare and Howson, which is as widely
accepted a biography of St.Paul as any, emphatically asserts that
St.Paul did indeed go to Spain, spending at least two years
"St.Jerome tells us:
"It ought to be said that at the first defence, the power of Nero
having not yet been confirmed, nor his wickedness broken forth to
such a degree as the histories relate concerning him, Paul was
dismissed by Nero, that the gospel of Christ might be preached
also in the West. As he himself writes in the second epistle to
Timothy, at the time when he was about to be put to death,
dictating his epistle as he did while in chains; 'At my first
defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be
laid to their account. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened
me; that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and
that all the Gentiles might hear, and I was delivered out of the
mouth of the lion'--clearly indicating Nero as a lion
account of his cruelty .... He then, in the fourteenth year of
Nero on the same day with Peter, was beheaded at Rome for
Christ's sake and was buried in the Ostian Way, the
twenty-seventh year after our Lord's passion." ("The Nicene and
Post-Nicene Fathers" Jerome, p.363)
Some details may be available regarding the place of
residence of St.Paul in Rome during his first visit: "Baronius
has the following note upon the Titulus: -- 'It is delivered to
us by the firm tradition of our forefathers that the house of
Pudens was the first that entertained St.Peter in Rome, and that
there the Christians assembling formed the Church, and that of
all our churches the oldest is that which is called after the
name of Pudens.'" ("St.Paul in Britain," Rev.R.W. Morgan, p.59)
"That the palace of Claudia was the home of the Apostles in Rome
appears agreed upon by all ecclesiastical historians - even
Robert Parsons, the Jesuit, admits. 'Claudia was the first
hostess or harbourer both of St.Peter and St.Paul at the time of
their coming to Rome.' See Parsons' T"hree Conversions of
England,' vol. i. p.16." (Ibid.)
George F.Jowett broadens our knowledge of the historically
based traditions of St.Paul in Rome when he writes:
"Yet we can still turn to the pages of the Martyrologies of Rome,
The Greek Menologies and the Martyrologies of Ado, Usuard and
Esquilinus, and therein read their glorious stories, noting the
Natal Days of each, therein described.
"They are as follows:
"May 17. Natal Day of the Blessed Pudens, father of Praxedes and
Pudentiana. He was clothed with Baptism by the Apostles, and
watched and kept his robe pure and without wrinkle to the crown
of a lameless life.
"May 17. Natal Day of St. Pudentiana, the virgin, of the most
illustrious descent, daughter of Pudens, and Disciple of the Holy
"June 20. Natal Day of St. Novatus, son of the Blessed Pudens,
brother of St.Timotheus the Elder and the Virgins of Christ,
Pudentiana and Praxedes. All these were instructed in the faith
by the Apostles." ("The Drama of the Lost Disciples," George F.
"The most authentic record of which can still be seen and read is
on the wall of the ancient former Palace of the British, the
sanctified church of St.Pudentiana. The Memorial was carved on
its walls following the execution of Praxedes in the second
century, the last surviving member of the original Christian band
and the youngest daughter of Claudia and Pudens.
"Inscribed in these few words is told the noble, tragic story:
"'In this sacred and most ancient of churches, known as that of
Pastor (Hermas), dedicated by Sanetus Pius Papa (St.Paul),
formerly the house of Sanctus Pudens, the Senator, and the home
of the holy Apostles, repose the remains of three thousand
blessed martyrs which Pudentiana and Praxedes, virgins of Christ,
with their own hands interred.'" (Ibid., p.128 )
"The Martyrologies inform us that the Pudens, after retrieving
the body of Paul, interred it on their estate on the Via Ostiensa
road. We know from the historic records of the Emperor
Constantine, first Christian Emperor of Rome, that he, knowing
where the mutilated body of Paul lay, caused it to be excavated.
He had it placed in a stone coffin, and over the spot built a
church, still known as St.Paul's without-the-walls, meaning the
church and his body are outside the city walls of Rome. The
original church perished and a larger one was built on the site.
Fire destroyed this in 1823. In the present church built after
the fire, but still bearing its ancient name, a Benedictine
priest is ever on guard before a grille on the floor of the High
Altar. On occasion, for the benefit of special visitors, the
priest moves the grille, lowering a light through the floor into
a cell beneath, revealing to the eyes a crude slabstone on the
floor bearing the name 'Pauli.'"
There are no competing traditions for another place of
martyrdom for St.Paul than Rome. The book of Acts certainly
leaves St.Paul in Rome. An interval between his first and final
imprisonments there is clearly indicated and attested by the
early Church fathers.
It is equally clear that Constantine erected a church
building over the place where he reburied St.Paul, and the relics
of the body of the Apostle seem certainly to have been placed in
the crypt under the altar of St.Paul's outside-the-Walls on the
Ostian Way, not too far from the place of his martyrdom at Tre
"According to tradition, St.Paul, who suffered mardom on a site
known as the Aquae Salviae, now the Abbey of the Three Fountains,
was buried in praedio Lucanae, that is to say, in a little
cemetery beside the Ostian Way, about one thousand paces from the
gate of the same name. A 'cella memoriae' was probably erected
over his tomb. Constantine transformed these 'cellae memoriae'
of the Apostles Peter and Paul into basilicas; the Liber
Pontificalis, in fact, records that the emperor 'fecit basilicam
S ancto Paulo Apostolo cuius corpus recondidit et conclusit in
arca sicut Sancti Petri.'
"Pope Sylvester I is said to have consecrated the church on the
same day on which the basilica of St.Peter was consecrated, on
November 18th, 324. In the Acts of St.Sylvester rich donations
made to the church by Constantine are also recorded; the first
church was probably quite small and faced on to the Ostian Way.
"In 386 an imperial edict of Valentinianus II, Theodosius and
Arcadius to the prefect of Rome stated that the church was to be
enlarged, in accordance with the sanctity of the site, the
concourse of pilgrims and their devotion. It added that the new
church 'si placuerit tam populo quam Senatui' was to be extended
towards the plain rather than towards the nearby slope. The
construction was entrusted to a certain Ciriades known as the
'mechanicus' or 'Professor of mechanicus,' who built a church
with five aisles, eighty columns and a huge porch, probably
similar to that of the ancient basilica of St.Peter. The church
was consecrated by Pope Siricius in 390. It was finished,
according to the inscription on the triumphal arch, whose mosaic
ornament was commissioned and paid for by Galla Placidia, under
Honorius in 395 and restored by Pope Leo the Great, after it had
been damaged either by an earthquake or by fire. An incription
mentiones the restorations carried out under Pope Leo the Great
by the priest Felix and the deacon Adeodatus, and another records
important works commissioned by a certain Eusebius." ("St.Paul's
Outside the Walls of Rome," Cecilia Pericoli Ridolfini, p.3)
Mary Sharp presents the Catholic version of the death of St.
"The history of St.Paul is fully recorded in the New Testament
(except for his visit to Spain which is implied by the Epistle of
Clement and asserted in the Muratori fragment and legend has
added little to it. It is believed that he was martyred outside
the Ostian Gate on the same day that St.Peter was crucified, and
that when his head was struck off it bounced three times on the
ground and at each place a fountain of water sprang up, the first
hot, the second warm and the third cold. The spot is still
venerated as the 'Tre Fontane,' and the fountains remain, though
there is little difference in temperature. He was originally
buried on the Via Ostian where the basilica of St.Paul-outside-
the-Walls nnow stands. When the Christian tombs were threatened
with desecration in the Valerian persecution, it is said that the
bodies of SS Paul and Peter were taken, on 29th June 258, to a
place called 'Ad Catacumbtas' on the Appian Way. If this was so,
the body of St.Paul was later returned to its original place, but
but his head, along with that of St.Peter, was taken to the
basilica of St.John Lateran." ("A Traveller's Guide to Europe,"
Mary Sharp, p.173 )
ST. PAUL IN ENGLAND?
The idea that St.Paul and other Apostles may have visited
and ministered in England does not find much serious
consideration or even interest among most church historians. They
may be quite right, but there is too much evidence of at least
the bare possibility of Apostolic journeys there for serious
scholars to dismiss the whole question out of hand.
(A whole lot of evidence there is that Israel Britain DID receive
the Gospel only early after the start of the NT Church of God in
30 A.D. - Keith Hunt)
The least the questing mind of the scholar can do is to
examine what evidence, tradition and legends do exist and
determine how much, if any validity they might have.
As has been noted before (see the Chapter on St.Simon
Zelotes) Britain was a relatively bighly developed country by the
time the first Phoenicians visited it more than a millennium
before the Apostolic age. Recent discoveries on the Greek
mainland reveal British importance firmly dated 1500 B.C. (see
National Geographic, May 1972, p.707)
(But Briatin was not settled until king Brutus from Troy came
with his people to dwell in Britain. The Trojan people were from
a branch of the House of Judah. Brutus and his people were Jews -
By the Roman period Britain was a land of mines, cities,
roads, schools, government, armies with advanced technology, etc.
Seneca, the mentor of Nero, made large investments in Britain
during the early Apostolic age. Why should some of the Apostles
not have traveled there? They certainly went to many other
equally distant and strange places, such as Russia, India and the
This writer while in Bath, England, purchased in 1971 a
silver coin of Nero found in the Roman baths, at Bath. The
existence of such firm evidence assures us that Roman
civilization, as evidenced by its coinage, had spread widely in
Britain well before the climax of the age of Apostolic labours.
Such a find does not prove that the Apostles, or even Christians,
were in England at that time, but it is beyond cavil that such a
thing was entirely possible.
"'From, India to Britain,' writes St.Jerome (A.D.378), 'all
nations resound with the death and resurrection of Christ'."
(Jerome, "In Isaiam," c. liv.: also, "Epistol.," xiii. ad
"In A.D.320, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, speaks of Apostolic
missions to Britain as a matter of notoriety: 'The Apostles
passed beyond the ocean to the isles called the Brittanic
Isles'." (Eusebius, "De Demon-stratione Evangelii," lib. iii, as
quoted in "St.Paul in Britain," Rev. R.W.Morgan, p.108)
The Rev.R.W.Morgan also writes:
" 'There are six years of St.Paul's life to be accounted for,
between his liberation from his first imprisonment and his
martyrdom at Aquae Salviae in the Ostian Road, near Rome. Part
certainly, the greater part perhaps, of this period was spent in
Britain, in Siluria or Cambria, beyond the bounds of the Roman
Empire; and hence the silence of the Greek and Latin writers upon
it.'" ("St.Paul in Britain," Morgan, p.175)
Perhaps the enthusiasts for this interpretation of history
go too far.
(Not at all too far, it's just that so-called "scholars" do not
want to know the truth about Britain, and why some of the
apostles were swift to go there and preach the Gospel. Britain
was part of the "Lost House of Israel" - Keith Hunt)
Their supporting quotations range from the early church
fathers to the lesser known modern writers in Christian history.
These are examples of both:
"Eloquently St.Clement sums up the magnitude of the achievements
of the Apostle to the Gentiles. Being one of the original Bethany
band that dwelt at Avalon with Joseph, he knew St.Paul
intimately, and long before he followed in the office of his
beloved friend Linus, as Bishop of Rome. He writes:
" To leave the examples of antiquity, and to come to the most
recent, let us take the noble examples of our own times. Let us
place before our eyes the good Apostle, Peter, through unjust
odium, underwent not one or two, but many sufferings; and having
undergone his martyrdom, he went to the place of glory to which
he was entitled. Paul, also, having seven times worn chains, and
been hunted and stoned, received the prize of such endurance. For
he was the herald (of the Gospel in the West as well as in the
East), and enjoyed the illustrious reputation of the faith in
teaching the whole world to be righteous. And after he had been
in the extremity of the West, he suffered martyrdom before the
sovereigns of mankind; and thus delivered from this world, he
went to his holy place, the most brilliant example of
steadfastness that we possess.'"
'Extremity of the West' was the term used to indicate Britain.
"Capellus, in 'History of the Apostles,' writes:
"'I know scarcely of one author from the time of the Fathers
downward who does not maintain that St.Paul, after his
liberation, preached in every country of the West, in Europe,
Britain included.'" ("The Drama o f the Lost Disciples," George
F. Jawett, p.196)
However there is more solid evidence for an early Christian
tradition of Apostolic evangelism in Britain -- possibly that of
"TERTULLIAN, A.D. 155-222, the Early Father, the first great
genius after the Apostles among Christian writers, writing in
A.D.192, said: 'The extremities of Spain, the various parts of
Gaul, the regions of Britain, which have never been penetrated by
the Roman Arms, have received the religion of Christ.'"
(Tertullian, :Def. Fidei," p.179)" ("St.Joseph of Arimathea at
Glastonbury," Rev. Lionel Smithett Lewis, pp.129,130)
"ORIGEN, another Early Father (A.D.185-254), wrote:
"'The divine goodness of Our Lord and Saviour is equally diffused
among the Britons, the Africans, and other nations of the world."
"ST.CLEMENT speaks of Paul going to 'the extremity of the West,
then returning to Rome and suffering martyrdom before the
sovereigns of mankind.'
"Jerome and Chrysostom refer to Paul travelling to the extreme
West and Theodore, the Syrian bishop of the fifth century, tells
us that he 'preached Christ's Gospel to the Britons and others in
"Even the Pope, wishing to please some important British
visitors, in 1931, 'Advanced the theory that if was St.Paul
himself, and not Pope Gregory, who first introduced Christianity
into Britain'. We hailed that piece of news reported in The
Morning Post, of March 27, with delight. We knew the truth, but
here was the Pope voicing it too, an unprecedented event" ("Our
Neglected Heritage, The Early Church," Gladys Taylor, p.67)
(The truth of the matter concerning the introduction of
Christianity into Britain can be found in-depth in various other
studies on this Website - Keith Hunt)
WHAT WAS THE APPEARANCE OF ST. PAUL?
There is absolutely no proof of how any Biblical
personalities looked in their person except for a few Caesars
whose coins and statues survive. However, a study of St.Paul has
been made and some interesting concepts have developed. For
example, Boyce W. Blackwelder has penned the following:
"The apocryphal 'Acts of Paul and Thecla,' written in the third
century, has a portraiture of Paul which describes him as 'of a
low stature, bald (or shaved on the head, crooked thighs,
handsome legs, hollow eyed; had a crooked nose; full of grace;
for sometimes he appeared as a man, sometimes he had the
countenance of an angel.' (1:7)
"This is the earliest description of Paul's features which we
have in Christian literature. Callan says, 'In the fourth century
Paul is ridiculed in the Philopatris of the Pseudo-Lucian as the
bald-headed, hooknosed Galilean who trod the air into the third
heaven and learned the most beautiful things.' (Philopat. 12)
Cone notes that John of Antioch, writing in the sixth
century, preserves the tradition that Paul was 'round shouldered,
with a sprinkling of gray on his head and beard, with an aquiline
nose, grayish eyes, meeting eyebrows, with a mixture of pale and
red in his complexion ...'
"Scholars generally agree that the traditional view regarding
Paul's personal appearance is correct. HoIzner speaks of 'the
small, emaciated figure of the man from Tarsus! Giordani
describes Paul as 'small of stature and all nerves;' a man
'infirm in health' with 'a miserable physique.' He depicts Paul
'with his sore eyes' as a sight 'repulsive! Shaw, as quoted by
Callan, speaks of Paul's 'insignificant stature, his marred vi-
lion, his weak and often distorted frame.' Stalker observes that
Paul appears to have been small of stature, and that his bodily
presence was weak. He says 'This weakness seems to have been
sometimes aggravated by disfiguring disease.'
'St.Paul, according to the persistent tradition of the Church,
was anything but commanding and beautiful in his physical
appearance. Glimpses, doubtless, of the great soul within could
be caught now and then, or frequently by his friends, as sunbeams
are seen through openings in prison walls; but for all that the
bodily make-up of the man was homely and poor.'
"The idea that Paul was of inferior stature may, in some
respects, be confirmed in references gleaned from his own
writings. In Second Corinthians 10:10, Paid quotes what his
opponents said of him to the effect that 'his letters ... are
weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his
speech contemptible.' Probably this was not a groundless
statement, for even Paul's opponents would hardly dare to speak
thus of him in one of his congregations without a basis in fact.
"What about Paul's health? Scholars hold opposite opinions with
regard to this question. Some biographers are sure that Paul must
have been exceptionally robust or he could not have endured the
rigors of missionary work over a vast area for a period of
approximately thirty years. Craig says, 'A man who could trudge
mountain and valley day after day, endure shipwreck and
imprisonment, hardship and persecution, was no weakling.'
"Other authorities, on the contrary, are convinced that Paid was
physically weak and frail throughout his life. Callan, following
Hayes, thinks Paul was a chronic invalid, but that God's grace
was upon the Apostle in such measure that physical deficiencies
"If Paul did not have a hardy appearance, this must have been a
difficult problem for him when he worked among peoples of the
Greek tradition which held that a vigorous body was essential to
a normal personality.
"There is no question but what the painful bodily sufferings
which Paul endured (cf. 2 Cor.11:23-27) left lasting physical
effects (Gal.6:17; 2 Cor.4:10). There must have been terrible
scarmarks remaining from the scourgings, and from the stoning at
Lystra which was so severe that the perpetrators thought Paul had
been killed (Acts 14:19)." ("Toward Understanding Paul," Boyce W.
(Well brethren, friends, and "scholars" I've got news for you. It
makes NO DIFFERENCE what Paul looked like from whatever
weaknesses of the flesh, or physical trials he went through, the
Eternal Holy One used him to do a work few ever did, and further
more, used him to write 14 whole books of the New Testament. And
further to that, he will one day, in the resurrection, have a
PERFECT HOLY GLORIFIED BODY, as all the children of God will -
ST. PAUL AND THE WRITINGS OF ST.LUKE
Eusebius has an interesting observation about the
relationship of these two great Apostolic figures:
"....But at some he was present, and so he set them down.
The third book of the Gospel, that according to Luke, was
compiled in his own name on Paul's authority by Luke the
physician, when, after Christ's ascension, Paul had taken him to
be with him like a legal expert. Yet neither did he see the Lord
in the flesh; and he too, as he was able to ascertain events,
begins his story from the birth of John." ("A New Eusebius," J.
Entered on this Website June 2008
So we end the book by McBirnie, who spent years in researching
where the Twelve Apostles and others like Paul, went to, in
preaching and teaching the Gospel of Christ to Israelites and the
They did indeed go forth and did as it was written of them, "turn
the world upside down."
So it is for us, in this last age (as for them in the first age)
to go forth and turn the world upside down and inside out, with
the truths of our Lord.
It's time, to be ZEALOUS in doing the work of God, while it is
day, for the night comes when no person can work. The Eternal has
said His Word will go forth and not return until Him void. That
time is NOW, for it is also written, that the day will come when
people will look for the Word of God, and will not find it.
YOU, need to APPRECIATE and LOVE and HUNGER for TRUTH and
RIGHTEOUSNESS, for to you it is at present made freely available.
That WEALTH of the Word of Truth and Light is on this Website.