This apostle is mentioned among the immediate disciples of our Lord, under the appellation of Bartholomew, though it is evident from divers passages in Scripture, that he was also called Nathanael. After our Lord’s ascension into heaven, Bartholomew visited different parts of the world, in order to propagate the gospel of his Master, and at length penetrated as far as the Hither India. Here he remained a considerable time, and then went to Hierapolis in Phrygia, where he labored (in conjunction with Philip) to plant Christianity in those parts; and to convince the blind idolaters of the evil of their ways, and direct them in the paths which lead to eternal salvation. This enraging the bigoted magistrates, they sentenced Bartholomew to death, and he was accordingly fastened to a cross; but their consciences staring them in their faces for the iniquity they were about to commit, they ordered him to be taken down and set at liberty.
In consequence of this our apostle left Hierapolis, and went to Lycaonia, where he obtained a great number of converts, whom he instructed and trained up in the principles of the Christian religion. From Lycaonia, he went to Albania, a city on the Caspian Sea, a place miserably overrun with idolatry, from which he labored hard to reclaim the people. But his endeavors to “turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God,” instead of proving effectual, only procured his destruction. The magistrates were so incensed against him, that they prevailed on the governor to order him to be put death, which was accordingly done with the most distinguished cruelty.
- This story is adapted from John Kitto's 1870 History of the Bible and represents the commonly accepted views about this apostle among rank and file believers in the late 19th century.