Seventy disciples
Icon of the Seventy Apostles
Venerated in
Feast4 January (Eastern Orthodoxy)

The seventy disciples or seventy-two disciples, known in the Eastern Christian traditions as the seventy apostles or seventy-two apostles, were early emissaries of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. The correct Greek terminology is evdomikonta (εβδομήκοντα) apostoli or evdomikonta mathetes.

According to the Gospel of 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. The number of those disciples varies between either 70 or 72 depending on the account.

In Western Christianity, they are usually referred to as disciples,[1] whereas in Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as apostles.[2] Using the original Greek words, both titles are descriptive, as an apostle is one sent on a mission (the Greek uses the verb form: apesteilen) whereas a disciple is a student, but the two traditions differ on the scope of the words apostle and disciple.

Bible text

The passage from Luke 10 reads (in Douay–Rheims Bible):

'And after these things the Lord appointed also other seventy-two: and he sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself was to come.

And he said to them: The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into his harvest.

Go: Behold I send you as lambs among wolves.

Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way.

Into whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house.

And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you.

And in the same house, remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Remove not from house to house.

And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.

And heal the sick that are therein, and say to them: The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

But into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you not, going forth into the streets thereof, say:

Even the very dust of your city that cleaveth to us, we wipe off against you. Yet know this, that the kingdom of God is at hand.

I say to you, it shall be more tolerable at that day for Sodom, than for that city.

Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida. For if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the mighty works that have been wrought in you, they would have done penance long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgement, than for you.

And thou, Capharnaum, which art exalted unto heaven, thou shalt be thrust down to hell.

He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.

And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying: Lord, the devils also are subject to us in thy name.

And he said to them: I saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven.

Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall hurt you.

But yet rejoice not in this, that spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.

In that same hour, he rejoiced in the Holy Ghost, and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight.'[3]


This is the only mention of the group in the Bible. The number is seventy in some manuscripts of 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 seventy nations of Genesis 10 or the many other occurrences of the number seventy in the Bible, or the seventy-two translators of the Septuagint from the Letter of Aristeas.[4] 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 (Luke 9:1–6) is closely based on the "limited commission" mission in Mark 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 Matthew 9:35, Matthew 10:1, Matthew 10:5–42) suggest a common origin in the hypothesized Q document. Luke also mentions the Great Commission to "all nations" (Luke 24:44–49) but in less detail than Matthew's account and Mark 16:19–20 mentions the Dispersion of the Apostles.

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.

Feast days

Erastus, Olympus, Rhodion, Sosipater, Quartus and Tertius
Erastus, Olympus, Rhodion, Sosipater, Quartus and Tertius
Stachys, Amplias, Urban
Stachys, Amplias, Urban
Patrobulus, Hermas, Linus, Caius, Philologus
Patrobulus, Hermas, Linus, Caius, Philologus
Sosthenes, Apollo, Cephas, Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Cæsar and Onesiphorus
Sosthenes, Apollo, Cephas, Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Cæsar and Onesiphorus

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 record by Hippolytus

Hippolytus of Rome was a disciple of Irenaeus, who was taught by Polycarp, a disciple of Apostle John. Hippolytus's works were considered lost prior to their discovery at a monastery on Mount Athos in 1854.[5] 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 of Christ and On the Seventy Apostles of Christ, are still regarded as dubious, put in the appendix of his works in the voluminous collection of the writings of early church fathers.[6] Here is the complete text of Hippolytus's 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 (Abgar V)
  5. Ananias, who baptized Paul, and was bishop of Damascus
  6. Stephen, the first martyr
  7. Philip, who baptized the Ethiopian 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.[a]
  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.

  1. Silas, bishop of Corinth
  2. Silvanus, bishop of Thessalonica
  3. Crisces (Crescens), bishop of Carchedon in Gaul
  4. Epænetus, bishop of Carthage
  5. Andronicus, bishop of Pannonia
  6. Amplias, bishop of Odyssus
  7. Urban, bishop of Macedonia
  8. Stachys, bishop of Byzantium
  9. Barnabas, bishop of Heraclea
  10. Phygellus, bishop of Ephesus. He was of the party also of Simon
  11. Hermogenes. He, too, was of the same mind with the former
  12. Demas, who also became a priest of idols
  13. Apelles, bishop of Smyrna
  14. Aristobulus, bishop of Britain
  15. Narcissus, bishop of Athens
  16. Herodion, bishop of Tarsus
  17. Agabus the prophet
  18. Rufus, bishop of Thebes
  19. Asyncritus, bishop of Hyrcania
  20. Phlegon, bishop of Marathon
  21. Hermes, bishop of Dalmatia
  22. Patrobulus, bishop of Puteoli
  23. Hermas, bishop of Philippopolis (Thrace)
  24. Linus, bishop of Rome
  25. Caius, bishop of Ephesus
  26. Philologus, bishop of Sinope
  27. and 43. Olympus and Rhodion were martyred in Rome
  1. Lucius, bishop of Laodicea in Syria
  2. Jason, bishop of Tarsus
  3. Sosipater, bishop of Iconium
  4. Tertius, bishop of Iconium
  5. Erastus, bishop of Panellas
  6. Quartus, bishop of Berytus
  7. Apollos, bishop of Cæsarea
  8. Cephas
  9. Sosthenes, bishop of Colophonia
  10. Tychicus, bishop of Colophonia
  11. Epaphroditus, bishop of Andriace
  12. Cæsar, bishop of Dyrrachium
  13. Mark, cousin to Barnabas, bishop of Apollonia
  14. Justus, bishop of Eleutheropolis
  15. Artemas, bishop of Lystra
  16. Clement, bishop of Sardinia
  17. Onesiphorus, bishop of Corone
  18. Tychicus, bishop of Chalcedon
  19. Carpus, bishop of Berytus in Thrace
  20. Evodus, bishop of Antioch
  21. Aristarchus, bishop of Apamea
  22. Mark, who is also John, bishop of Bibloupolis
  23. Zenas, bishop of Diospolis
  24. Philemon, bishop of Gaza
  25. Aristarchus
  26. Pudes
  27. Trophimus, who was martyred along with Paul

Matthias, who would later replace Judas Iscariot as one of the twelve apostles, is also often numbered among the seventy, since John Mark is typically viewed as Mark the Evangelist.[7]

Bishop Solomon of Basra of the Church of the East in the 13th century offers the following list:[8]

The names of the seventy:
  1. James, the son of Joseph
  2. Simon the son of Cleopas
  3. Cleopas, his father
  4. Joses
  5. Simon
  6. Judah
  7. Barnabas
  8. Manaeus (?)
  9. Ananias, who baptised Paul
  10. Cephas, who preached at Antioch
  11. Joseph the senator
  12. Nicodemus the archon
  13. Nathaniel the chief scribe
  14. Justus, that is Joseph, who is called Barshabbâ
  15. Silas
  16. Judah
  17. John, surnamed Mark (John Mark)
  18. Mnason, who received Paul
  19. Manaël, the foster-brother of Herod
  20. Simon called Niger
  21. Jason, who is (mentioned) in the Acts (of the apostles)
  22. Rufus
  23. Alexander
  24. Simon the Cyrenian, their father
  25. Lucius the Cyrenian
  26. Another Judah, who is mentioned in the Acts (of the apostles)
  27. Judah, who is called Simon
  28. Eurion (Orion) the splay-footed
  29. Thôrus (?)
  30. Thorîsus (?)
  31. Zabdon
  32. Zakron

In some accounts of the life of the legendary Saint Mantius of Évora, he is regarded as one of the disciples, having witnessed the Last Supper and Pentecost.[9]

Manuscripts of the New Testament with lists

See also


  1. ^ Soli has been variously identified as Soli, Cyprus and Soli, Cilicia.


  1. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Disciple: "The disciples, in this disciples, in this context, are not the crowds of believers who flocked around Christ, but a smaller body of His followers. They are commonly identified with the seventy-two (seventy, according to the received Greek text, although several Greek manuscripts mention seventy-two, as does the Vulgate) referred to (Luke 10:1) as having been chosen by Jesus. The names of these disciples are given in several lists (Chronicon Paschale, and Pseudo-Dorotheus in Migne, P.G., XCII, 521–24, 543–45, 1061–65); but these lists are unfortunately worthless."
  2. ^ "Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles".
  3. ^ Luke 10:1–21
  4. ^ Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek NT
  5. ^ Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 3
  6. ^ Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 254–56
  7. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Matthias" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  8. ^ "The Book of the Bee, Chapter XLIX, The Names of the Apostles in Order". 1886. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  9. ^ Cardoso, Jorge (1666). Agiologio lusitano dos sanctos, e varoens illustres em virtude do Reino de Portugal, e suas conquistas [Lusitanian hagiology of the saints and men illustrious in their virtue from the Kingdom of Portugal] (in Portuguese). 3. Lisbon: Officina de António Craesbeeck de Mello. pp. 337–342.