How did Paul die and when?
The Bible does not give us that information, so I cannot say for sure. Tradition says that he died at the hand of Nero, by being beheaded.
If you have ever read Foxes Book of Martyrs, you know how terribly Christians have suffered and died for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They suffered so horribly, that many people cannot stomach to even read about it. It was not God’s will to have all of that recorded in the Bible.
John the Baptist and Stephen are rare examples of the details of martyrdom in the New Testament. John the Baptist was beheaded in jail, “And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and HE WENT AND BEHEADED HIM IN THE PRISON, And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. (Mark 6:22-28). Stephen’s stoning is seen in Acts 7:57-60, “Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. AND THEY STONED STEPHEN, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
We know also that Peter died as a martyr. John 21:18-23 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. THIS SPAKE HE, SIGNIFYING BY WHAT DEATH HE SHOULD GLORIFY GOD. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”
The Scripture does tell us that many Christians died horrible, gruesome deaths for Jesus’ sake, but it does not give us their names. Hebrews 11:35-38 says, “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
There are probably at least a couple of reasons why these deaths are not given in detail to us.
First, because Jesus’ death on the cross is the central theme of the Bible. It is His blood that cleanses us from all of our sin. I John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” There is no death that has ever been more horrible than that one. Isaiah 52:14 says, “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” The Bible says that His visage was marred more than any man. The word “visage” means, “face, countenance, appearance.” In other words, when they got through beating Jesus, He was not recognizable by looking at His face — “his visage was so marred more than any man.” And then there was His form. “his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” When they got through scourging Jesus, you would not have recognized His back as human flesh. It is really too bad that people try and paint pictures of Jesus hanging on the cross, because they do a great disservice to Him. They cannot paint a picture to show the horrible shape He was in physically. Most end up painting a picture that shows nothing at all of the true agony which He faced for our sins. As gruesome as the deaths of many Christians were, they are nothing in comparison with which Jesus suffered.
A second reason that God may not have listed all of the deaths of the apostles in detail, is that when you are training an army of soldiers, you do not center on the deaths of some of your choicest men, but on their service and accomplishments. You do not necessarily inspire courage in people when you describe the gory and horrible deaths that people have died who are of your number. You do not want people to be dwelling on death, but on a life of serving the Lord. Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
I have seen many people who are ready to die for Jesus, that is, they are diagnosed with a terminal illness, and then they speak up to people about the Lord. But some of those same people were pretty intent on serving the flesh and the world while they had good health and life. They were willing to “die for the Lord,” but they were not too willing to “live for the Lord.”
They are a lot like Samson. Judges 16:28-30 says, “And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” Samson accomplished more in his death, than he ever did in his worldly, sensual life.
May we center in on accomplishing something for the Lord while we have life. Revelation 3:8 says, “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”