One of the first disciples of Jesus and the brother of Simon Peter, Andrew appears in all the lists of the apostles. All three Synoptic Gospels — Matthew, Mark, and Luke — and the first chapter of the Acts describe the call of Simon Peter and Andrew, though Luke does not mention Andrew in his account of the event by name, but adds the story of the miraculous draught of fish and Peter's penitence. ‘And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.’ (Mark 1:16–18)
After the exorcism of an unclean spirit in the synagogue at Capernaum, all three Gospels again record that Jesus entered the home of Peter. Mark adds, ‘And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew’, implying that the house was directly outside the synagogue and that it was the home of both the brothers as well as of Peter's mother-in-law. An octagonal Byzantine shrine of ‘Peter's house’ has long been shown opposite the entrance of the site of the synagogue at Capernaum. Recently, however, the Byzantine pavement has been lifted to permit the excavation of 1st-century houses beneath, thus confirming the occupation of the site in the life-time of Jesus.
Andrew was present on the Mount of Olives with the inner circle of Jesus's disciples, Peter, James, and John, when Jesus foretold the destruction of the Temple. The four disciples questioned him privately, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?’ (Mark 13:4) Mark uses their question to introduce the long discourse that follows in his Gospel and which is repeated in both Matthew and Luke.
There is no further reference to Andrew in the first three Gospels, apart from the list of apostles, where he is linked with Philip, as he is also in the list of apostles in the Upper Room before Pentecost.
Andrew and John the Baptist
The Fourth Gospel is far more specific about Andrew and his particular function within the group of disciples. It seems that Andrew and another disciple, possibly Philip, were disciples of John the Baptist during his evangelistic mission by the River Jordan. It was thanks to the words of John the Baptist that his disciples first took notice of Jesus: ‘John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day.’ (John 1:35–9)
Early next morning Andrew met his brother Simon Peter and declared ‘We have found the Messiah’, and introduced Simon Peter to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at Peter and said, ‘ “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).’ The writer goes on to speak of Philip, Simon Peter, and Andrew as being natives of the fishing town Bethsaida.
The next reference to Andrew in the Fourth Gospel is in the story of the feeding of the five thousand. His friend Philip, possibly the caterer of the party, has just commented on the fact that two hundred denarii would hardly buy enough bread to give such a crowd a mere mouthful apiece. At this point in the dilemma, Andrew produces a little boy with his picnic meal of five barley loaves and two small fishes, saying, ‘But what are they among so many?’ Nevertheless, he introduces the boy to Jesus, who takes what the boy has to offer, says grace, and divides it for distribution by the disciples. And all are fed.
The last appearance of Andrew is before the Passover festival in Jerusalem, after the triumphal entry on the first Palm Sunday. Some Greeks came up to Philip with the request, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip promptly told his friend Andrew, and together they told Jesus. Andrew once again seems to have been the willing witness and missionary, introducing first his own brother, Peter, then the boy with the loaves and the fishes, and finally a Gentile delegation to Jesus.
St Andrew's Cross
A 3rd-century apocryphal Acts of St Andrew describes his ministry, persecution, imprisonment, and execution at Patrae, on the north-west coast of Achaia, in the year 60. He was said to have hung alive on the cross for two days, preaching to and encouraging his watchers. The 4th-century bishop of Caesarea and ‘Father of Church History’, Eusebius, relates that Andrew's ministry was among the backward and ruthless barbarians of Scythia — now the southern steppes of Russia and the Ukraine.
The Muratorian Fragment, the earliest list of New Testament writings, dating from the end of the 2nd century, connects Andrew vaguely with the writing of the Fourth Gospel.
Since about 750, Andrew has been the patron saint of Scotland, and his festival has always been kept in the Anglican Church as a time of prayer for missionaries and the mission of the Church. It was not until the 14th century that the tradition of his crucifixion on the ‘X’-shaped cross appeared, presumably because the ‘X’ was the Greek ‘Ch’, the first letter of ‘Christos’, meaning ‘Messiah’. [Matthew 10:2; Mark 1:14–18; Mark 1:29; Mark 3:18; Mark 13:3; Luke 6:14; John 1:40–44; John 6:8–12; John 1:20–22; Acts 1:13]
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