02 May 2011

The Seventy Apostles of Jesus Christ

The Seventy 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, they are usually referred to as Disciples, whereas 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:
  1. 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,
  2. 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.
  3. `Go away; lo, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves;
  4. carry no bag, no scrip, nor sandals; and salute no one on the way;
  5. and into whatever house ye do enter, first say, Peace to this house;
  6. 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.
  7. `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,
  8. and into whatever city ye enter, and they may receive you, eat the things set before you,
  9. and heal the ailing in it, and say to them, The reign of God hath come nigh to you.
  10. `And into whatever city ye do enter, and they may not receive you, having gone forth to its broad places, say,
  11. 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;
  12. and I say to you, that for Sodom in that day it shall be more tolerable than for that city.
  13. `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;
  14. but for Tyre and Sidon it shall be more tolerable in the judgment than for you.
  15. `And thou, Capernaum, which unto the heaven wast exalted, unto hades thou shalt be brought down.
  16. `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.'
  17. And the seventy turned back with joy, saying, `Sir, and the demons are being subjected to us in thy name;'
  18. and he said to them, `I was beholding the Adversary, as lightning from the heaven having fallen;
  19. 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;
  20. 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.

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 (Luke 9:1–6) 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. 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.

Hippolytus of Rome is a disciple of Irenaeus, who is a disciple of Polycarp, who is a disciple of Apostle John. It would not be surprising if he had some insider information to pass on to later generations. Unfortunately because  he wrote in Greek rather than Latin, his works were shunned, neglected and lost to the West, until the discovery at a monastery on Mt. Athos in 1854. While his major work The Refutation of All Heresies was readily accepted (once the false attribution to Origen was resolved), his two small works, On the Twelve Apostles, and On the Seventy Apostles, were still regarded as dubious, put in the appendix of his works in the voluminous collection of Early Church Fathers. Here is the complete text of Hippolytus' On the Seventy Apostles of Christ:
1. James the Lord’s brother, bishop of Jerusalem
2. Cleopas, bishop of Jerusalem.
3. Matthias, who supplied the vacant place in the number of the twelve apostles.
4. Thaddeus, who conveyed the epistle to Augarus.
5. Ananias, who baptized Paul, and was bishop of Damascus.
6. Stephen, the first martyr.
7. Philip, who baptized the eunuch.
8. Prochorus, bishop of Nicomedia, who also was the first that departed, 11 believing together with his daughters.
9. Nicanor died when Stephen was martyred.
10. Timon, bishop of Bostra.
11. Parmenas, bishop of Soli.
12. Nicolaus, bishop of Samaria.
13. Barnabas, bishop of Milan.
14. Mark the evangelist, bishop of Alexandria.
15. Luke the evangelist.
(These two belonged to the seventy disciples who were scattered by the offence of the word which Christ spoke, “Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he is not worthy of me.” But the one being induced to return to the Lord by Peter’s instrumentality, and the other by Paul’s, they were honored to preach that Gospel on account of which they also suffered martyrdom, the one being burned, and the other being crucified on an olive tree.)
16. Silas, bishop of Corinth.
17. Silvanus, bishop of Thessalonica.
18. Crisces (Crescens), bishop of Carchedon in Gaul.
19. Epænetus, bishop of Carthage.
20. Andronicus, bishop of Pannonia.
21. Amplias, bishop of Odyssus.
22. Urban, bishop of Macedonia.
23. Stachys, bishop of Byzantium.
24. Barnabas, bishop of Heraclea
25. Phygellus, bishop of Ephesus. He was of the party also of Simon.
26. Hermogenes. He, too, was of the same mind with the former.
27. Demas, who also became a priest of idols.
28. Apelles, bishop of Smyrna.
29. Aristobulus, bishop of Britain.
30. Narcissus, bishop of Athens.
31. Herodion, bishop of Tarsus.
32. Agabus the prophet.
33. Rufus, bishop of Thebes.
34. Asyncritus, bishop of Hyrcania.
35. Phlegon, bishop of Marathon.
36. Hermes, bishop of Dalmatia.
37. Patrobulus,1 bishop of Puteoli.
38. Hermas, bishop of Philippi.
39. Linus, bishop of Rome.
40. Caius, bishop of Ephesus.
41. Philologus, bishop of Sinope
42, 43. Olympus and Rhodion were martyred in Rome.
44. Lucius, bishop of Laodicea in Syria.
45. Jason, bishop of Tarsus.
46. Sosipater, bishop of Iconium
47. Tertius, bishop of Iconium.
48. Erastus, bishop of Panellas.
49. Quartus, bishop of Berytus.
50. Apollo, bishop of Cæsarea.
51. Cephas.
52. Sosthenes, bishop of Colophonia.
53. Tychicus, bishop of Colophonia.
54. Epaphroditus, bishop of Andriace.
55. Cæsar, bishop of Dyrrachium.
56. Mark, cousin to Barnabas, bishop of Apollonia.
57. Justus, bishop of Eleutheropolis.
58. Artemas, bishop of Lystra.
59. Clement, bishop of Sardinia.
60. Onesiphorus, bishop of Corone.
61. Tychicus, bishop of Chalcedon.
62. Carpus, bishop of Berytus in Thrace.
63. Evodus, bishop of Antioch.
64. Aristarchus, bishop of Apamea.
65. Mark, who is also John, bishop of Bibloupolis.
66. Zenas, bishop of Diospolis.
67. Philemon, bishop of Gaza.
68, 69. Aristarchus and Pudes.
70. Trophimus, who was martyred along with Paul.
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 and icons in the church above as "the 70 beloved by God and Divine".

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