At Luke 21:16-19 (RSVCE) we read :

You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Tradition has it that all the apostles except John faced martyrdom. Why then did Jesus say "..Some of you...".Is it that He was talking to disciples who were not Apostles ? Are there any teachings from the side of Catholic Church explaining that Jesus was not in fact talking to the Apostles?

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    Tradition is, by definition, not always reliably true, and answers based on tradition must almost be considered opinion. As soon as you accept the possibility that not all the apostles died as second-century traditions describe, then the question unfortunately becomes meaningless. Nov 12, 2016 at 20:00
  • According to Catholic Tradition, even the Apostle John faced martyrdom during his life, but was spared by God for reasons He alone has chosen in doing so. Tradition says that St John was boiled in oil and was at another time poisoned. This passage was written about the Apostles in particular and the Church in general.
    – Ken Graham
    Nov 12, 2016 at 21:31
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    Questions about God's motives are off topic because they are unanswerable.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 12, 2016 at 22:04
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    Jesus was normally talking to more than just the twelve.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 13, 2016 at 1:33
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    @DickHarfield For other traditions, quoting a few prominent interpreters who are recognized members of that tradition usually suffices as an answer to a question like this. It seems to me that the same thing could be done here. Nov 13, 2016 at 3:26

1 Answer 1


The synoptics use to group many teachings of the Lord in the same block. To know whom Jesus was talking to, you have to read verses before and after Luke 21:16-19. Nothing says he was talking to the twelve only. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also sees this passage as refering to the persecussion of christians at all ages :

  1. Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers (Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12). The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth (Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20) will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh (Cf. 2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18,22)

If you want Jesus talking about the death of the Apostles (namely Peter and John), you should read John 21:18-24

Amen, amen I say to thee [Peter], when thou wast younger, thou didst gird thyself, and didst walk where thou wouldst. But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not. And this he said, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had said this, he saith to him: Follow me.

Peter turning about, saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned on his breast at supper, and said: Lord, who is he that shall betray thee? Him therefore when Peter had seen, he saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? follow thou me. This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but, So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. [D-R]

  • As currently written, this answer looks as if you have selected random citations in order to appear to have support for an opinion. To resolve this, please advise how you perceive CCC 675 as answering this question. Then, in what way is John 21:18-24 relevant to RCC teaching on whether all except John were martyred. I'll accept that the Church teaches that the beloved disciple was John. Nov 13, 2016 at 20:29
  • @DickHarfield I argued that Luke 21:16-19 is nested in a speech the Catholic Church interprests in connection with the persecussion of the faithful (cf. CCC 675; mind the bold). I thought that suffices since Joseph is looking for the link between Lk 21:16-19 and the fact all disciples except John (and Juda) were martyred. The end of the Apostles is not a matter of faith even though during their feast, white is used during the mass for John and red for the others. The death of each Apostle is reported in some documents of the first centuries and may be controversial.
    – Bernadin
    Nov 17, 2016 at 21:10

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