Church of the Apostles Found in Israel

Near the Sea of Galilee, a team of American and Israeli archaeologists discovered the Church of the Apostles, which is believed to have been built over the home of Jesus’ disciples, Peter and Andrew. At the excavation site, called el-Araj, relics have been found identifying the area as the lost Roman city of Julias, which was formerly the Jewish fishing village of Bethsaida, the home of the Apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.

Bethsaida is described in the New Testament in Mark 8:22-26 where Jesus healed a blind man. It is also near the location where Jesus fed five thousand people mentioned in Luke 9:10-17. 

According to excavation archaeologist Professor Steven Notley of Nyack College, the Byzantine Church of the Apostles had been mentioned by early Christian pilgrims, notably Willibald, the bishop of Eichstatt in Germany in 725 A.D. “[Willibald] states that the church was in Bethsaida built over the house of Peter and Andrew, among the first disciples of Jesus,” Notley told Fox News.

Previous excavations at the el-Araj site yielded evidence that the church might be there. They had found pieces of marble, roof tiles and tesserae (small glass blocks) from a mosaic floor. However, this summer, they discovered the southern wall of the church and a more well-preserved mosaic flooring. 

Professor Notley said that the church’s discovery is significant for at least two reasons: “First, until its recent discovery, many scholars questioned its existence. Although it is mentioned in Byzantine pilgrimage itineraries, many thought these reports mistaken,” he explained. “Of equal importance, the church indicates that there existed a living memory in the Christian community about the location of Bethsaida, home of Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44).”

Plans have been made to continue excavating this site for several years to come. The desire is to unearth the entire church.