Andrew was a native of Bethsaida, a town in Galilee, upon the banks of the lake
of Genesareth. He was the son of Jonas, or John, a fisherman of that town, and brother
to Simon Peter, but whether elder or younger the Scriptures don't say. Andrew,
like his brother Simon Peter, was a fisherman. It is no small proof of the piety
and good inclinations of Andrew, that when John Baptizer began to preach penance
in the desert, he was not content with just going to hear him as others did, but
became his disciple, passing much of his time hearing John’s instructions, and studied
diligently to practice all John’s lessons and copy John's example; but he often
returned home to his fishing trade.
Andrew was with John when John, seeing Jesus pass by the day after He had been baptized
by John, said, "Behold the Lamb of God." Andrew understood that Jesus
Andrew, by purity of his desires and his faithfulness in every religious practice,
wanted to be enlightened so that he could understand this mysterious saying. At
once Andrew and another disciple of the Baptist, named Austin, went after Jesus,
who drew them secretly by the invisible bands of his grace, and saw them with the
eyes of His spirit before He beheld them with His corporal eyes. Turning back as
He walked and seeing them follow Him, He said, "What seek ye?" They said
they desired to know where He dwelt; and He bade them "come and see."
There were only two hours remaining of that day, which they spent with Him, and,
according to several witnesses, the whole night following. "O how happy a day,
how happy a night did we pass,” cries out Austin. "Who will tell us what things
we may learn from the mouth of our Savior?"
From then on, he chose to follow Jesus. Andrew was thus the first disciple of Christ.
Next, Andrew brought his brother Simon (Peter) to Jesus and Jesus received him,
too, as His disciple. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing
trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the
time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets
for good. The year following, Jesus formed the college of His apostles, in which
our two brothers are named by the evangelists at the head of the rest. Not long
after Jesus went down to Capharnaum and lodged at the house of Peter and Andrew
and, at the request of them both, cured Peter's wife's mother of a fever,
by taking her by the hand and rebuking the fever, by which it left her.
When Christ would not send away the multitude of five thousand persons who had followed
him into the desert till they were refreshed with some food, Philip said two hundred
pennyworth of bread would not suffice. But it was Andrew who expressed a stronger
faith, saying there was a boy who had five barley loaves and two small fishes—which,
indeed, were nothing among so many—but Christ could, if he pleased to exert his
power, seeing he was greater than Elisha who, with twenty loaves, fed a hundred
men (2 Kings 4:43).
When Christ was at Bethania, at the house of Lazarus, a little before His crucifixion,
certain Greeks who came to worship God at the festival addressed themselves to Philip,
begging him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip did not undertake to do it alone;
but spoke to Andrew, and they both together spoke to Jesus and procured these strangers
that happiness. This shows the great position Andrew had with Christ; on which account
St. Bede (672-735 AD) calls him the Introductor to Christ, and says he had this
honor because he brought Peter, and others, to Jesus. After Christ's resurrection
and the descent of the Holy Ghost, Andrew preached the gospel in Scythia, Sogdiana
and Colchis as Origen (185-254 AD) an early Christian scholar and theologian, testifies.
Theodoret (c. 393 -457) an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop
of Cyrrhus, tells us that Andrew passed into Greece; St. Gregory Nazianzen mentions
particularly Epirus and St. Jerom Achaia. St. Paulinus says Andrew, preaching at
Argos, put all the philosophers there to silence.
St. Philastrius tells us, that he came out of Pontus into Greece, and that in his
time people at Sinope, Turkey were persuaded that they had his true picture, and
the pulpit in which he had preached in that city. The Muscovites have long gloried
that Andrew carried the gospel into their country as far as the mouth of the Borysthenes,
and to the mountains where the city of Kiou now stands, and to the frontiers of
Poland. Basically Andrew seems to have preached the gospel in the region North of
the Black Sea and in various parts of Greece. His life ended in Northern Greece
in a city called Patras in 60 AD. Andrew was a diligent preacher of the gospel and
had brought many people to faith in Christ. When Aegeas, the governor, heard about
this, he came to Patras to put an end to the Christian movement there. To do this,
he enforced a legal requirement that everyone worship the Roman gods by making sacrifices
to them. Andrew immediately decided to resist Aegeas and went to address him directly.
“It would be wise for someone who judges men,” Andrew said, “to know the One who
is his Judge—the One who lives in heaven. And once you have known Him, you will
worship Him, since He is the One true God. In so doing, this judge of men will turn
his mind away from false gods and blind idols.” These words from Andrew angered
Aegeas. “Are you the same Andrew that overthrew the temple of the gods?” he demanded.
“Are you the same Andrew that goes around persuading men to believe in superstitions
which Rome has abolished? I have been commanded to put an end to such teaching.”
Andrew replied by saying that it was indeed a fact that the Roman authorities did
not understand the truth. “The Son of God came from heaven into the world for man’s
sake,” he said, “He taught us that these idols you honor as gods are not only not
gods, but are actually cruel demons. They are enemies to mankind, and they teach
people nothing except things which offend God. As a result, these people fall into
all kinds of wickedness, and when they die, they have nothing to offer to God but
As you might imagine, the governor was not appeased by what Andrew had to say. Instead,
he commanded Andrew to quit teaching and preaching these things immediately. If
he refused, he would be fastened to the cross at once.
But Andrew did refuse to change his mind and replied to the threat of crucifixion
by saying, “I would not preach the honor and glory of the cross if I feared the
death of the cross.” So the sentence of death was pronounced, and Andrew was taken
away to be crucified. Because crucifixion was an especially cruel and painful death,
men who faced it often lost their minds from fear. They would frequently faint when
they saw the cross. Andrew, however, didn’t even pale. Instead, out of his deep
love for Christ, he spoke these words that strike the heart like sparks of fire.
“O cross!” he declared, “O cross most welcome and long anticipated! I come to you
with a willing mind, with joy and desire. Since I am a follower and a student of
the One who died on you, I have always loved you and sought to embrace you.”
And so Andrew gave his life for the love of Christ.
It is believed that the apostle Andrew was crucified on a Saltire (X-shaped) cross;
hence the name St. Andrew's Cross. He is said to have told his executioners
that he was not worthy to be crucified on the same cross style as Jesus, and persuaded
them to alter the shape. If this is true, it's a remarkable example of stoicism
displayed by a man, no doubt beaten and starved, yet retaining the mental energy
to plead such a thing with his brutal executioners.