The Seventy Disciples or Seventy-two Disciples (known in the Eastern Christian tradition as the Seventy Apostles) were early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1-24. According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text. In Western Christianity it is usual to refer to them as Disciples while in Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as Apostles. Using the original Greek words, both titles are descriptive as an apostle is one sent on a mission whereas a disciple is a student, but the two traditions differ on the scope of the word apostle.
The passage from Luke 10 reads:
- And after these things, the Lord did appoint also other seventy, and sent them by twos before his face, to every city and place whither he himself was about to come,
- then said he unto them, `The harvest indeed [is] abundant, but the workmen few; beseech ye then the Lord of the harvest, that He may put forth workmen to His harvest.
- `Go away; lo, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves;
- carry no bag, no scrip, nor sandals; and salute no one on the way;
- and into whatever house ye do enter, first say, Peace to this house;
- and if indeed there may be there the son of peace, rest on it shall your peace; and if not so, upon you it shall turn back.
- `And in that house remain, eating and drinking the things they have, for worthy [is] the workman of his hire; go not from house to house,
- and into whatever city ye enter, and they may receive you, eat the things set before you,
- and heal the ailing in it, and say to them, The reign of God hath come nigh to you.
- `And into whatever city ye do enter, and they may not receive you, having gone forth to its broad places, say,
- And the dust that hath cleaved to us, from your city, we do wipe off against you, but this know ye, that the reign of God hath come nigh to you;
- and I say to you, that for Sodom in that day it shall be more tolerable than for that city.
- `Wo to thee, Chorazin; wo to thee, Bethsaida; for if in Tyre and Sidon had been done the mighty works that were done in you, long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes, they had reformed;
- but for Tyre and Sidon it shall be more tolerable in the judgment than for you.
- `And thou, Capernaum, which unto the heaven wast exalted, unto hades thou shalt be brought down.
- `He who is hearing you, doth hear me; and he who is putting you away, doth put me away; and he who is putting me away, doth put away Him who sent me.'
- And the seventy turned back with joy, saying, `Sir, and the demons are being subjected to us in thy name;'
- and he said to them, `I was beholding the Adversary, as lightning from the heaven having fallen;
- lo, I give to you the authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy, and nothing by any means shall hurt you;
- but, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subjected to you, but rejoice rather that your names were written in the heavens.'
This is the only mention of the group in the Bible. The number is seventy in manuscripts in the Alexandrian (such as Codex Sinaiticus) and Caesarean text traditions but seventy-two in most other Alexandrian and Western texts. It may derive from the 70 nations of Genesis or the many other 70 in the Bible, or the 72 translators of the Septuagint from the Letter of Aristeas. In translating the Vulgate, Jerome selected the reading of seventy-two.
The Gospel of Luke is not alone among the synoptic gospels in containing multiple episodes in which Jesus sends out his followers on missions. The first occasion ( ) is closely based on the "limited commission" mission in Mark 6:6-13, which however recounts the sending out of the Twelve Apostles, rather than seventy, though with similar details. The parallels (also Matthew 9:35, 10:1, 10:5-42), suggest a common origin in the posited Q document. Luke also mentions the Great Commission to "all nations" (24:44-49) but in less detail than Matthew's account.
What has been said to the seventy (two) in Luke 10:4 is referred in passing to the Twelve in Luke 22:35:
- "He said to them, "When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?" "No, nothing," they replied.
The feast day commemorating the Seventy is known as the "Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles" in Eastern Orthodoxy, and is celebrated on January 4. Each of the Seventy Apostles also has individual commemorations scattered throughout the liturgical year (see Eastern Orthodox Church calendar).
The Orthodox Church tradition of supplying names to the Seventy whose "names are written in heaven" is associated with a late 3rd century bishop Dorotheus of Tyre, unknown except in this context, to whom has been ascribed an account of the Seventy, of which the surviving version is 8th century. The names of these disciples are given in several lists: Chronicon Paschale, and the Pseudo-Dorotheus (printed in Migne's Patrologiae cursus completus, XCII, 521-524; 543-545; 1061-1065).
Roman Catholic scholars commonly judged that "these lists are unfortunately worthless" (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908, "Apostle").
Eusebius positively asserted that no such roll existed in his time, and mentioned among the disciples only Barnabas, Sosthenes, Cephas, Matthias, Thaddeus and James "the Lord's brother" (Historia Ecclesiae I.xii).
Many of the names included among the Seventy are recognizable for their other achievements. The names included in various lists differ slightly. In the lists Luke is also one of these seventy himself. The following list gives a widely accepted canon.
- James "the Lord's brother", author of the Epistle of James, and first Bishop of Jerusalem (sometimes is replaced by Jacob Joses Justus, who was also a brother of Jesus, since James the Just is identified as one of the Twelve Apostles)
- Mark the Evangelist, author of the Gospel of Mark and Bishop of Alexandria
- Luke the Evangelist, author of the Gospel of Luke
- Symeon, son of Cleopas, 2nd Bishop of Jerusalem
- Barnabas, companion of Paul
- Justus, Bishop of Eleutheropolis
- Thaddeus of Edessa (not the Apostle called Thaddeus) also known as Saint Addai
- Ananias, Bishop of Damascus
- Stephen, one of the Seven Deacons, the first martyr
- Philip the Evangelist, one of the Seven Deacons, Bishop of Tralles in Asia Minor
- Prochorus, one of the Seven Deacons, Bishop of Nicomedia in Bithynia
- Nicanor the Deacon, one of the Seven Deacons
- Timon, one of the Seven Deacons
- Parmenas the Deacon, one of the Seven Deacons
- Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus
- Titus, Bishop of Crete
- Philemon, Bishop of Gaza
- Onesimus (Not the Onesimus mentioned in the Epistle to Philemon)
- Epaphras, Bishop of Andriaca
- Silas, Bishop of Corinth
- Crispus, Bishop of Chalcedon in Galilee
- Epenetus, Bishop of Carthage
- Andronicus, Bishop of Pannonia
- Stachys, Bishop of Byzantium
- Amplias, Bishop of Odissa (Odessus)
- Urban, Bishop of Macedonia
- Narcissus, Bishop of Athens
- Apelles, Bishop of Heraklion
- Aristobulus, Bishop of Britain
- Herodion, Bishop of Patras
- Agabus the Prophet
- Rufus, Bishop of Thebes
- Asyncritus, Bishop of Hyrcania
- Phlegon, Bishop of Marathon
- Hermes, Bishop of Philippopolis
- Parrobus, Bishop of Pottole
- Hermas, Bishop of Dalmatia
- Pope Linus, Bishop of Rome
- Gaius, Bishop of Ephesus
- Philologus, Bishop of Sinope
- Lucius of Cyrene, Bishop of Laodicea in Syria
- Jason, Bishop of Tarsus
- Sosipater, Bishop of Iconium
- Tertius, transcriber of the Epistle to the Romans and Bishop of Iconium
- Erastus, Bishop of Paneas
- Quartus, Bishop of Berytus
- Euodias, Bishop of Antioch
- Onesiphorus, Bishop of Cyrene
- Clement, Bishop of Serdica
- Sosthenes, Bishop of Colophon
- Apollos, Bishop of Caesarea
- Tychicus, Bishop of Colophon
- Carpus, Bishop of Beroea in Thrace
- John Mark (commonly considered identical to Mark the Evangelist), bishop of Byblos
- Zenas the Lawyer, Bishop of Diospolis
- Aristarchus, Bishop of Apamea in Syria
- Mark, Bishop of Apollonia
- Artemas, Bishop of Lystra
Also, some lists name a few different disciples than the ones listed above. Other names commonly included are:
- Another Stephen
- Cephas, Bishop of Iconium
- Caesar, Bishop of Dyrrhachium
- Another Mark, Bishop of Apollonias
- Another Tychicus, Bishop of Chalcedon in Bithynia
These are usually included at the expense of the aforementioned Timothy, Titus, Archippus, Crescens, Olympas, Epaphroditus, Quadratus, Aquila, Fortunatus, and/or Achaicus.
Solomon, Nestorian bishop of Basra in the 13th century offers the following list:
- "The names of the seventy. James, the son of Joseph; Simon the son of Cleopas; Cleopas his father; Joses; Simon; Judah; Barnabas; Manaeus (?); Ananias, who baptised Paul; Cephas, who preached at Antioch; Joseph the senator; Nicodemus the archon; Nathaniel the chief scribe; Justus, that is Joseph, who is called Barshabbâ; Silas; Judah; John, surnamed Mark; Mnason, who received Paul; Manaël, the foster-brother of Herod; Simon called Niger; Jason, who is (mentioned) in the Acts (of the Apostles); Rufus; Alexander; Simon the Cyrenian, their father; Lucius the Cyrenian; another Judah, who is mentioned in the Acts (of the Apostles); Judah, who is called Simon; Eurion (Orion) the splay-footed; Thôrus (?); Thorîsus (?); Zabdon; Zakron.
Early church building at Rihab, Jordan finding
In June 2008 Abdul Qader al-Husan, head of Jordan's Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, announced the discovery at Rihab in northern Jordan of what he claimed was "...the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD," beneath the foundations of the church building dedicated to Saint George at Rihab. "We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians -- the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ," who are described in a floor mosaic in the church above as "the 70 beloved by God and Divine".
Though this claim spread in June of 2008, it has been rejected by many[who?] since then. The mosaic floor Greek inscription had been inaccurately deciphered and says that the St. George oratory was built in A.D. 529, with no mention of "seventy beloved by God" at all. There is no evidence of the cave underneath being a first century Christian worship-place. In addition, the early church likely did not meet in special buildings dedicated to Christian worship -- the very definition of the word "church" meaning simply "an assembly" according to the known Greek texts.
Latter Day Saint Movement
In the Latter Day Saint movement, the calling of the seventy disciples is viewed as similar to that of the seventy elders of Israel. Latter Day Saints believe this calling was again restored in 1835, with the organization of the Quorums of the Seventy.
Manuscripts of New Testament with List of 70 disciples
- Minuscule 82
- Minuscule 93
- Minuscule 177
- Minuscule 459
- Minuscule 613
- From translation from Young's Literal Translation (1898)
- Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek NT
- "The Book of the Bee, Chapter XLIX, The Names of the Apostles in Order". 1886. http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/bb/bb49.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- "St. Matthias". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/St._Matthias.
- Jordan archaeologists unearth 'world's first church' Accessed 11 June 2008
- Latter-day Saint Guide to the Scriptures: Seventy
- Earl C. Tingey, “The Saga of Revelation: The Unfolding Role of the Seventy,” Ensign, Sep 2009, 54–60
- Luke 10 in Greek
- Luke 10 in Greek transliterated
- The Seventy Apostles
- The Book of the Bee, chapter XLIX "The names of the Apostles in order" by Solomon, Nestorian bishop of Basra, 13th century (edited by Ernest A. Wallace Budge, 1886).
- Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles Orthodox Synaxarion