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Andrew, Apostle of Jesus in the Gospels

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People in the storyJesus of NazarethPeter

What happened: Miracle of the loaves & fishes,   Jesus in the Garden of Olives

Who was Andrew? 

Andrew brings some Greeks to meet Jesus, painting by James TissotAndrew is mentioned quite often in the gospels, but mostly in a way that might have annoyed him: 'Peter, and his brother Andrew...'.   Always 'and his brother Andrew'  following after the name of the more high profile Peter. You wonder if it ever annoyed Andrew, or if he was used to being the tag-along. 

The truth is that Andrew had quite a different personality to Peter. He was less impulsive, more approachable, a man who thought quite deeply. 

His origins were humble. He was a fisherman who came from Bethsaida on the Lake of Galilee, but lived in nearby Capernaum. But the life of a fisherman does not seem to have satisfied him, for he was also a disciple of John the Baptist, the radical preacher in the desert, who told him about Jesus of Nazareth and called Jesus the 'Lamb of God'.

St John the Baptist points out Jesus to Andrew, Ottavio Vannini: John points to the figure of Jesus as Andrew listens; painting

St John the Baptist points out Jesus to Andrew, Ottavio Vannini


Andrew meets Jesus

Intrigued, Andrew approached Jesus and soon became convinced Jesus was the Messiah. When Jesus later approached Andrew and asked him to join him in his ministry, Andrew readily agreed. It is surprising that the gospels do not make more of Andrew, because he was the first to whom Jesus 'stated his case'. Jesus must have been fortified by Andrew's belief in him when he underwent that life-changing event called the Temptation. 

Peter meets Jesus

Mosaic showing Jesus with Andrew and PeterAndrew was perhaps the first to spread the Good News. He brought Peter, his brother, to Jesus (John 1, 35-44). The first two disciples whom John reports as attaching themselves to Jesus (Jn 1:35-42) are Andrew and another disciple - whom John does not name, but who is commonly supposed to be John himself. Andrew then finds his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus. Because of this sequence of events, Andrew has been called 'the Peter before Peter' because he is the first (that we know) to bring others to belief in Jesus.  

What sort of person was he?

Why was he among the first to follow Jesus? Because he had an enquiring mind. He was actively looking for the truth. We would not have been a follower of Joh the Batpist, and would never have heard of Jesus, if this were not so. He simply wanted to know. This is why he took Jesus aside on the Mount of Olives to ask when the destruction of the Temple would occur. 

Right from the start, Andrew appears to have been part of an inner circle among the disciples only he and three others (Peter, James, and John) were on the Mount of Olives with Jesus when Jesus spoke about the coming cataclysm in Jerusalem: the destruction of the Temple and the coming apocalypse.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes

Photograph, boy with a basket overflowing with fishAndrew was also practical, and a problem-solver: he brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus (John 6:8)  'Here is a lad' he says 'with five barley loaves and two fish." (John 6:8f) 

The enquiring Greeks

He brought the enquiring Greeks to Jesus (John 12:22-26) in the tense hourse before the Last Supper and Jesus'arrest in the Garden of Olives. When a number of Greek Jews wish to speak with Jesus, they approach Philip and Andrew to introduce them to Jesus. This is an important point. Every time Andrew is mentioned as an individual, it is because he is bringing someone to Jesus. 

Jesus arrested

Despite this, Andrew too seems to have abandoned Jesus after he was arrested, but he was with the frightened group of disciples in Jerusalem after Jesus ascended to heaven.

Matthew 4:18-19, 10:2, Acts 1:13

The death of Andrew

There is no mention of his death in the New Testment, but tradition has it that he was murdered at Patrae in Achaea on an X-shaped cross which has become the traditional St. Andrew's cross - having said that he was unworthy to be executed on a cross that was the same shape on which Jesus died. He is said to have two agonising days to die.

The Apostle Andrew and his cross, El Greco

St Andrew the apostle, and his cross, El Greco


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Andrew's brother Peter

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Bible Study Guide:  Jesus Christ:  the first disciple Andrew brought his brother Peter to Jesus, miracle of loaves & fishes

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Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Fletcher