According to the New Testament, Andrew the Apostle, also known as Saint Andrew, was a disciple of Jesus. He is the brother of Saint Peter and was part of the inner circle of Jesus Christ.
In the Orthodox tradition, he is known as the First-Called. The Patriarch of Constantinople is the apostolic successor to Saint Andrew.
Andrew was born in the early first century in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, according to the New Testament. He was a fisherman. His name means “strong,” and he was well-known for his social skills.
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According to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee when he noticed Andrew and Simon Peter fishing. Then he asked them to be disciples and “fishers of men.” Andrew is not named in the Gospel of Luke at first. It describes Jesus using a boat, thought to be solely Simon’s, to preach to the multitudes and catch a large amount of fish on a previously dry night. Later, in Luke 5:7, it is mentioned that Simon was not the only fisherman on the boat, but it is not mentioned until Luke 6:14 that Andrew is Simon Peter’s brother.
There are a few facts that you should know for instance that Andrew was born between the years of 5 and 10 in Bethsaida, Palestine’s main fishing port. His parents’ names were Jona and Joanna, and he had a brother called Simon. Jona was a fisherman, along with his business partner and friend Zebedee and his sons James and John. Andrew was naturally inquisitive. He would have started attending synagogue school at the age of five, where he would have studied scripture, astronomy, and arithmetic.
Life With Jesus
The Apostle Andrew, whose name means “manly,” was Jesus Christ’s first apostle. He had previously been a disciple of John the Baptist, but when John declared Jesus to be “the lamb of God,” Andrew followed him and spent a day with him. Andrew went straight to his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41) He accompanied Simon to meet Jesus. According to Matthew, Simon and Andrew dropped their fishing nets and followed Jesus as he passed by.
Three episodes involving the Apostle Andrew are recorded in the Gospels. He and three other disciples questioned Jesus about his prediction that the Temple would be demolished (Mark 13:3; Mark 13:4). Andrew brought a boy to Jesus with two fish and five barley loaves, which he multiplied to feed 5,000 people (John 6:8; John 6:9; John 6:10; John 6:11; John 6:12; John 6:13).
The Apostle Philip and Andrew brought some Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus to him (John 12:20; John 12:21; John 12:22). Although it is not mentioned in the Bible, church tradition holds that Andrew was crucified as a martyr on an X-shaped cross.
The Gospels tell us very little about Andrew’s holiness, as they do about all of the apostles except Peter and John. He was a preacher. That is sufficient. Jesus personally summoned him to proclaim the Good News, to heal with Jesus’ power, and to share his life and death.
Today’s holiness is no different. It is a gift that includes a call to be concerned about the Kingdom, an outgoing attitude that desires nothing more than to share Christ’s riches with all people. Many Catholics practice the St. Andrew Novena, also known as the St. Andrew Christmas Novena, in which a specific prayer is recited 15 times a day from his feast day on November 30 until Christmas.
The liturgical year in the Roman Catholic calendar begins with Advent, and the First Sunday of Advent is always the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew. Though Advent can begin as late as December 3, Saint Andrew’s feast (November 30) is traditionally listed as the first saint’s day of the liturgical year, even when the First Sunday of Advent falls after it—an honor befitting of Andrew’s position among the apostles.
Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Russia, Romania, Amalfi, and Luqa (Malta). Many national flags depict the cross on which he was crucified, serving as a memorial to him. For example, the Scottish flag (and, later, the Union Jack and the flag of Nova Scotia) includes a saltire to commemorate the shape of Saint Andrew’s cross. The saltire is also the flag of Tenerife and Russia’s naval jack.
The feast of Andrew is celebrated on November 30 in both the Eastern and Western churches, and it is Scotland’s national day. The feast of St. Andrew is the first feast day in the Proper of Saints in the traditional liturgical books of the Catholic church. Andrew is revered in the Greek Orthodox tradition as the founder of the See of Constantinople and the source of apostolic succession in this church. He is also a popular representation in icons and a popular name for boys in several countries with predominantly Christian populations.
Andrew, like the other apostles, went forth to spread the gospel after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, but accounts differ as to the extent of his travels. Andrew, according to Origen and Eusebius, first traveled around the Black Sea as far as Ukraine and Russia, whereas other accounts focus on Andrew’s later evangelization in Byzantium and Asia Minor. He is credited with establishing the Sea of Byzantium (later Constantinople) in the year 38, which is why he is the patron saint of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, even though Andrew was not the first bishop there.
Andrew was one of the twelve Apostles, and he is known as “Protocletus” (the First-Called) because he was the first Apostle to be summoned into Jesus’ service. Andrew and his brother Peter were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Both men became Apostles, and while his brother came to symbolize the Church of the West, Andrew came to symbolize the Church of the East.
Today the voice of St. Andrew continues to call on all Christians, especially the Greek Orthodox Christians throughout the world. His unstilled spirit beckons across the centuries proclaiming:
“The Saviour of the world has come! He is the Christ, the Son of God!”
This is the call of St. Andrew to all men for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Tradition places Andrew’s martyrdom on November 30 of the year 60. Andrew was martyred on November 30, 60 (during Nero’s persecution) in the Greek city of Patrae, according to tradition. A medieval tradition also holds that he did not consider himself worthy of being crucified in the same manner as Christ, and so he was placed on an X-shaped cross, now known as Saint Andrew’s Cross (especially in heraldry and flags). The Roman governor had him bound rather than nailed to the cross to prolong the crucifixion and thus Andrew’s agony.
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Some of the interesting characteristics of Apostle Andrew are that, like many of us, Andrew lived in the shadow of his more famous sibling, Simon Peter. All four Gospels identify Andrew as Peter’s brother. The pair was from Bethsaida, a town north of the Sea of Galilee. Andrew led Peter to Christ, then stepped into the background as his boisterous brother became a leader among the apostles and the early church.
The Gospels don’t tell us a great deal about Andrew, but reading between the lines about the Characteristics of the 12 Apostles reveals Apostle Andrew as a person who thirsted for truth and found it in the living water of Jesus. In the life of Andrew, we discover how a simple fisherman dropped his nets on the shore and went on to become a remarkable fisher of men.
Who was St. Andrew?
He was the brother of St. Peter, who was also known as Simon bar-Jonah. He and Andrew shared the same father, so the latter would have been known as Andrew Bar-Jonah.
Saint Andrew is regularly mentioned after Simon Peter, which suggests that he was Peter’s younger brother. Like his brother Peter and their partners James and John, Andrew was initially a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.
The first striking characteristic of Andrew is his name: It is not Hebrew, as might have been expected, but Greek, indicative of a certain cultural openness in his family that cannot be ignored. We are in Galilee, where the Greek language and culture are quite present.
Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother and a member of the fishing community from which Jesus drew several of His disciples. Together with their partners, James and John, they plied their fishing trade on the Lake of Galilee with some success.
Excavations at Capernaum, the main fishing village on the Lake of Galilee in Bible days, reveal that some of the houses were large—implying that some of the fishermen were able to make a good living from their fishing business. A fisherman’s task in Bible days was a strenuous one and demanded total commitment. Successful fishermen were known to be reliable and diligent men—good qualities for disciples, too.
A New Vocation
As Jesus walks along the shore of Galilee, He catches sight of Andrew and Peter at work in their boat, letting down their fishing net. The Master speaks to them and informs them that He wants them to change their vocation and become His disciples.
No doubt they knew at once what was involved in this challenge—a different lifestyle, constant traveling, hours of instruction—but they seemed not to hesitate.
Christ’s call came to them in words with which they could easily identify: “Follow me… and I will make you fishers of men.” The word ‘make’ in Greek is a strong one, indicating that Christ would impart His spiritual strength and power to them.
A Change of Leader
Before his call to join Christ’s disciples, Andrew was a devoted disciple of John the Baptist. One day, when he was in John and another disciple’s company, a carpenter from Galilee passed by, and John pointed Him out as “the Lamb of God.” Andrew and the other disciple immediately left John and went after Jesus to get to know Him better.
We are not told who the other disciple was, but we do know that something began in Andrew’s heart that prepared him for the direct call of Christ. There had been many great spiritual leaders in Israel, but none so great as Jesus: others could proclaim Him, but none could equal Him.
A Willing Helper
As Jesus preaches and teaches the people on the shores of Galilee, great crowds are drawn to Him. On this occasion, being some distance from the nearest town and because the people are hungry, a problem arises as to how they will be fed. Philip points out that even if it were possible to buy food, the cost would be too great.
Andrew, overhearing these words, brings a young boy to Jesus who has with him five small loaves and two fishes. Jesus blesses the small supply, and, miraculously, enough food is distributed to meet everyone’s needs. Later, when some Greeks ask the Apostle Philip if they can be introduced to Jesus, he appeals to Andrew for help. No doubt by this time, Andrew had revealed what seems to be his uppermost characteristic: that of being a willing helper.
Introduces the Family
Having left John the Baptist to seek Jesus and get to know Him more intimately, Andrew is so thrilled with his first encounter with Christ that he hastens to find his brother, Simon Peter, and joyfully introduces him to Jesus. Although a seemingly simple act, that introduction made a great impact, not only on Simon Peter personally but on the ages to come.
Simon Peter became the one to whom Christ gave the keys of the kingdom, and through his thrilling, Spirit-anointed sermon on the Day of Pentecost, opened its gates to thousands of newly-converted souls. Little did Andrew know what impact that simple introduction was to have.
A Good Learner
Jesus spent a good deal of His time teaching His disciples and preparing them for their future ministry in His Church. On this occasion, when one of the disciples remarked to Jesus how well-built and how magnificent were the Temple buildings, the Master turned to them and predicted their utter destruction.
This prediction disturbed the disciples somewhat, and four of them—Peter, James, John, and Andrew—approached Christ privately and asked Him to tell them precisely when the event would take place and what would be the signs that would precede it. Andrew, no doubt, learned a lot from Jesus, not just by listening to what He said, but by asking Him pointed questions.
The Place of Prayer
After His resurrection, Jesus instructed His disciples to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to descend upon them. Now that Judas is dead, the remaining eleven disciples—one of whom is Andrew—make their way and over one hundred other followers of Christ into the Upper Room.
They wait in prayer for ten days until, at last, on the Day of Pentecost, the promised power is given. As the Holy Spirit falls, everyone in the room is filled with the Spirit and empowered to carry out Jesus’ commission to them: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
Summary Characteristics of Apostle Andrew
Andrew was the first recorded disciple of Christ—and his first action as a disciple was to seek out his brother, Simon Peter, and bring him to Jesus. This makes Andrew not just the first disciple but the first evangelist too.
Some commentators refer to Andrew as “the overshadowed saint” in that he appears to be constantly overshadowed by his more ebullient and outgoing brother.
Despite this, however, Andrew continues with his task of serving Christ and excels as “a bringer of others to Jesus.” First, he brought his brother, then the lad with the loaves and fishes, and later the Greeks.
Though the mention of Andrew in the Gospel accounts is scarce compared to his brother Simon Peter, yet he is a life worth studying. He may not have been included in the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples (Peter, James, and John), but he was a saint* and an apostle whose character is to be admired.
Resources Characteristics of Apostle Andrew
Apostle Andrew Facts share an analysis of how Andrew the Apostle was not a dominant person next to his outspoken brother.
He was a passionate preacher and shared the gospel boldly and was a significant contributor to the early church.
Andrew died a martyr’s death. He faced crucifixion with boldness and courage.
Oh, cross most welcome and longed for! With a willing mind, joyfully and desirously, I come to you, being a scholar of Him which did hang on you, because I have always been your lover and yearn to embrace you.”
Andrew the Apostle Facts; Gospel Revelation
There are three notable incidents. The first occurs when Jesus performs the multiplication of loaves.
Pope Benedict notes:
The Gospel traditions mention Andrew’s name in particular on another three occasions that tell us something more about this man. The first is that of the multiplication of the loaves in Galilee.
On that occasion, it was Andrew who pointed out to Jesus the presence of a young boy who had with him five barley loaves and two fish: not much, he remarked, for the multitudes who had gathered in that place.
In this case, it is worth highlighting Andrew’s realism. He noticed the boy, that is, he had already asked the question: “But what good is that for so many?”, and recognized the insufficiency of his minimal resources. Jesus, however, knew how to make them sufficient for the multitude of people who had come to hear him.
Apostle Andrew’s Miracles
God made many miracles through St Andrew in Patra. The blind got their sight and the infirm were made whole. Through the Apostle’s prayers, Sosios, the illustrious citizen, recovered from a serious illness.
One of Andrew the apostle’s facts is that he healed Maximilla, the Patra governor’s wife. St Andrew’s miracles and his speech enlightened nearly all citizens of Patra with true faith.
Several pagans remained in the city of Patra; however, among them was Aegeatos, the city’s prefect.
The apostle repeatedly tried to turn to Aegeatos with the words of the Gospel. However, Aegeatos was not convinced even by his miracles.
With humility and love, St Andrew appealed to his soul, trying to disclose to him the mystery of eternal life through the Holy Cross of the Lord’s power.
Another of the Andrew the apostle facts is that Aegeatos ordered the crucifixion of St Andrew.
The pagan believed he was likely to undo the preaching of the apostle if he was to let him die on the cross.
The Disciple of John the Baptist
There are multiple Andrew the apostle facts and one of them is that he was a disciple of John the Baptist before he was a disciple of Jesus. We read of an encounter between Andrew, John, and Jesus in John 1:40; John 1:41; John 1:42 “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him,
“We have found the Messiah (that is, the Christ)”.
And he brought him to Jesus.” What I like about Andrew’s nature was that he was always bringing people to Christ. Perhaps he had been doing the same thing for John the Baptist.
It wouldn’t be surprising if he did give the fact that he was bringing others to Jesus. Maybe that’s because Andrew immediately recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of the long-prophesied Messiah (John 1:41).
Andrew and the Apostle Philip once even brought some Greeks to meet Jesus (John 12:22) so the thing that impresses me most about Andrew is that he forsook everything and everyone to follow Jesus and then was determined to bring others to Christ. How much am I like that or how far do I fall short of that willingness to forsake all and bring others to Christ?
St Andrew’s Relationship with Jesus
In the synoptic Gospels and Acts, the twelve apostles are always listed in three groups of four individuals. The first of these groups indicates those who were the closest to Jesus. It includes the two pairs of brothers: (1) Peter and Andrew, the sons of Jonah, and (2) James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
Going through Andrew the Apostle’s facts it is interesting to see that he was one of the four disciples closest to Jesus, but he seems to have been the least close of the four.
This is reflected in the fact that several times, Peter, James, and John seem to have privileged access to Jesus, while Andrew is not present.
For example, Peter, James, and John were present for the Transfiguration, but Andrew was not present. They were the closest three, while Andrew was a distant fourth. This is ironic.
Both Andrew and apostle Peter left everything behind to follow Jesus to become “fishers of men.” This is astounding if you think about it because they left their lifelong job security, the only thing they had ever known, everything that was familiar to them, and they had to leave their family behind too, all walking away at Jesus’ invitation.
The words “Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him” reveal to us the true nature of this “all” that they left to follow Him. They forsook both their living and their father and family.
What their father must have felt about this is not stated but one wonders if Andrew and Peter’s father tried to talk them both out of it and when he couldn’t, must have been dumbfounded.
Conclusion Andrew the Apostle Facts
Andrew the apostle’s facts made us realize that Andrews’s life is an example to us, let it be that as he did, we need to be bringing people to Christ and to go into all the world, even if it is our next-door neighbor. He forsook everything to follow Christ, including his family, his job security, and even his nation in the latter part of his life.
Andrew demonstrated his love for his brother as well as his apostolic zeal when he sought out Peter, convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first went to his own brother Simon and told him, ‘We have found the Messiah,’ and then brought him to Jesus.” (John 1:40; John 1:41; John 1:42)
Some of Andrew’s relics were brought to Scotland in the fourth century, but parts of his skeleton are kept in the crypt of Amalfi Cathedral in Italy, where they are removed twice a year and produce a clear, water-like substance. The substance, known as “manna,” is said to have miraculous properties.
#1. Where was Andrew the Apostle born?
#2. With what name did the Byzantine tradition honor Andrew?
#3. How is Andrew known in the ecclesiastical tradition?
#4. What was another Biblical name for Andrew?
#5. What is Saint Andrew known for?
#6. Who was Andrews brother?
#7. Which countries flag is Andrew represented on?
#8. Where was Apostle Andrew killed?
#9. How many Synoptic gospels mention Andrew?
#10. Who baptized Saint Andrew?