Is it fair?
IS it right that (according to the BIBLICAL record) Saints Stephen and James died a violent murderous death....while nothing is specifically stated in Scripture about the demise of any other of the Twelve Apostles?
To my knowledge, this is all that canonical Scripture informs us about the end of Saint Paul's earthly pilgrimage:
Ac 20:22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there;
23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.
24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
25 And now, behold, I know that all you among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom will see my face no more.
2Ti 4:6 For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come.
2Ti 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Ac 28:30 And [Paul] lived there [in Rome] two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him,
31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered.
Also, the final earthly destiny of Saint Peter is not explicitly stated in canonical Scripture:
Joh 21:18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.
[Hence, the possible (or probable, in the case of impetuous and impulsive former-and-under-duress Christ-denyer Peter) eventual dementia, senility, and Alzheimer's in a Christian nursing home with medical attention? Mythological/fairy-tale? beheading/decapitation or "upside-down crucifixion" is not only never mentioned, but never even hinted of occurring in the Holy Bible!]
John 21:20 Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?"
21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?"
22 Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!"
23 The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?"
2Pe 1:15 And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
IS it the Lord's will for a Christian employee to get fired from a job for witnessing on behalf of Jesus and His doctrines (then thereafter have that dismissal black mark on his occupational record especially when applying for another job)....instead of resigning or quitting - or, best yet, waiting to be laid off (thus enabling himself to obtain Unemployment Benefits)?
WAS it the Lord's will for Stephen to extend beyond his allocated and designated occupational tables-serving miracles-working capacity without bodyguards backup, and (presumptuously?) - then fatally - turn into (questionably-hostile?), non-armed, evangelistic, penis-snipper-mentioning critic?:
Acts 6:2 And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.
3 Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty.
4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
5 And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.
6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
Because of jealousy and disbelief, slanderers rose up against Stephen, causing Stephen to be arrested by jewish security guards (not Roman police, sheriff, nor marshals), put into a kangaroo court, lynched, and stoned to death:
Ac 7:51 "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.
Why did not a chariot of fire whisk Steve up to Heaven?:
2Ki 2:9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you." And Elisha said, "I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit."
10 And he said, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so."
11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, "My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces.
13 And he took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
Why did not a blinding Light from Heaven knock the murderers down to the ground?:
Ac 9:3 Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him.
4 And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5 And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting;
6 but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
8 Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Ac 22:6 "As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me.
7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'
8 And I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' And he said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.'
9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
10 And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.'
11 And when I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'
Ac 26:12 "Thus I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.
13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me.
14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.'
15 And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
16 But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
17 delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles--to whom I send you
18 to open their eyes.....
2Co 12:7 And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.
Ga 4:15 What has become of the satisfaction you felt? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.
Or why not fire descend from heaven as it did TWO sequential times against a squadron of jewish National Guard troops?:
2Ki 1:10 But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then fire came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
2Ki 1:12 But Elijah answered [the next battalion of fifty], "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
Why could not Stephen at least have hidden himself?:
Joh 8:59 So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
Or pretended to be crazy?:
1Sa 21:13 So he [David] changed his behavior before them [the Philistine captors], and feigned himself insane in their hands, and made marks on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle run down his beard.
14 Then said Achish to his servants, "Wow, you see the man is nuts; why then have you brought him to me?
15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the [goof] in my presence? Shall this [kooky] guy come into my house?"
How about an angel-escorted prison break, or two?
Ac 5:17 But the high priest rose up and all who were with him, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and filled with jealousy
18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the common prison.
19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and said,
20 "Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life."
21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and taught. Now the high priest came and those who were with him and called together the council and all the senate of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, and they returned and reported,
23 "We found the prison securely locked and the sentries standing at the doors, but when we opened it we found no one inside."
24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to.
25 And some one came and told them, "The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people."
26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but without violence.....
Ac 12:1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church.
2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword;
3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread.
4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.
5 So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
6 The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison;
7 and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands.
8 And the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your mantle around you and follow me."
9 And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him.
11 And Peter came to himself, and said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."
Or instead (or in addition) an angelic execution?:
2Ki 19:35 And that night the angel of the LORD went forth, and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
Isa 37:36 And the angel of the LORD went forth, and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
Ac 12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord smote [Herod], because he did not give God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and died.
Others had been snatched out of the fire of murderers:
Da 3:19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was used to be heated.
20 And he ordered certain mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their mantles, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were cast into the burning fiery furnace.
22 Because the king's order was strict and the furnace very hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He said to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?" They answered the king, "True, O king."
25 He answered, "But I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like the son of God."
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace and said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come forth, and come here!" Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire.
27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their mantles were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set at nought the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.
29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way."
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
[No wonder Hebrew Jews have survived in captivity down through the centuries! Reminds me of the huge and massive wind-driven Red-Sea waterwalls collapsing over and drowning the entire Egyptian Army under Pharaoh]
As Christ allowed Himself to be lynched and murdered, so God called Stephen to be murdered......not merely because of the dangerous sarcasm Stephen uttered against the soon-to-be lynchers and murderers.....but because of the lack of escape mechanism(s) God allowed in THAT singular and particular situation. So Stephen was martyred, but not before petitioning God (like Jesus did from His cross) for those few in the stoning audience (like Saul who would become Paul and select other future-believer Jews) to "not hold this sin against them."
So God's retaliatory anger was temporarily abated toward the entire group as a whole - until the Romans (like distant-future Nazis with the concentration-camp ovens, and atheistic Communists with the gulags).....in furious (though not necessarily antisemitic) rage.....exterminated those jews yet alive who murdered both Christ and Stephen during the holocaustic ransaking against Jerusalem circa 70 A.D. where everthing was cut down and leveled so thoroughly there was not left "one stone upon another" (as Christ had predicted):
Mt 24:2 But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."
Mrk 13:2 And Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."
Lu 19:44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation."
Lu 21:6 "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down."
But for the LORD's elect:
Ac 18:10 .....for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city."
1Pe 3:13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right?
14 But even IF you do suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
15 but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;
16 and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
17 For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong.
18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit;
19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison,
20 who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark [relating to THE catastrophic Act of God involving worldwide and global execution against adversarial enemies!], in which a few, that is, eight persons, were [phenomenally]! saved through water.
Ge 25:8 Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.
Ge 35:29 And Isaac breathed his last; and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Ge 49:33 When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
Ex 2:11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.
12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together; and he said to the man that did the wrong, "Why do you strike your fellow?"
14 He answered, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid, and thought, "Surely the thing is known."
15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.
De 34:4 And the LORD said to [Moses], "This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there."
5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD,
6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Bethpeor; but no man knows the place of his burial to this day.
7 Moses [one of God's executioners who himself was never executed nor murdered by any human] was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
1Ki 2:1 When David's time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying.....
9 Now therefore hold [Shimei] not guiltless, for you are a wise man; you will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol."
10 Then David [one of the many warrior saints - then and now - who took and take to swords and firearms but did not and do not perish with the sword or a firearm] slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
Job 42:17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days.
Php 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Job 19:26 .....and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God.....