In Luke 10:1-17, the Lord appoints seventy men to go out as missionaries – as apostles. Though not so prominent as the Twelve, the Seventy carried out their missions with fervor and enthusiasm. The Tradition of the Church confirms that the Seventy remained true to the Lord and their calling, fulfilling a vital role in the spread of the gospel. These were not random choices or accidental volunteers but true disciples, true apostles, whose labors carried the message of their Lord throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.
Though lists of the Seventy vary somewhat, all these men are remembered in the calendar of the Church (see below). One day, January 4, is set aside to remember them all, and the record of their work is preserved in accounts handed down through the centuries from place to place, especially in those locations where they labored.
To tell all the stories passed down in the Church concerning the Seventy would fill a book of considerable size, but the stories of a few will convey the conviction and faith of this illustrious body.
Barnabas, a Jew of the tribe of Levi, was born in Cyprus of wealthy parents. He is said to have studied under Gamaliel with Saul of Tarsus, who was to become Paul the apostle. Originally named Joseph, he was called Barnabas (Son of Consolation) by the apostles (Acts 4:36) because he had a rare gift of comforting people’s hearts. He sought out Paul when everyone else was afraid of him, bringing him to the apostles. It was Barnabas whom the apostles first sent to Antioch with Paul. Their long association was broken only when Barnabas was determined to take his cousin Mark, whom Paul did not trust just then, on a missionary journey. The three were later reconciled (Col 4:10). Many ancient accounts say Barnabas was the first to preach in Rome and in Milan, but he was martyred in Cyprus, then buried by Mark at the western gate of the city of Salamis.
Also among the more prominent of the Seventy was the apostle Titus, whom Paul called his brother (2Co 12:18) and his son (Tts 1:4). Born in Crete, Titus was educated in Greek philosophy, but after reading the prophet Isaiah he began to doubt the value of all he had been taught. Hearing the news of the coming of Jesus Christ, he joined some others from Crete who were going to Jerusalem to see for themselves. After hearing Jesus speak and seeing His works, the young Titus joined those who followed Him. Baptized by the apostle Paul, he worked with and served the great apostle to the Gentiles, traveling with him until Paul sent him to Crete, making him bishop of that city. It is said that Titus was in Rome at the time of the beheading of St. Paul and that he buried the body of his spiritual father before returning home. Back in Crete, he converted and baptized many people, governing the Church on that island until he entered into rest at the age of ninety-four.
Many less prominent among the Seventy also labored for Christ unto death. Aristarchus, whom Paul mentions several times (Acts 19:29; Col 4:10; Phm 24), calling him a “fellow laborer,” became bishop of Apamea in Syria. Sosthenes (Acts 18:17; 1Co 1:1) became bishop of Caesarea, and Tychicus (Acts 20:4; Eph 6:21; Col 4:7; 2Ti 4:12; Tts 3:12) succeeded him in that city. Simeon (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3), son of Cleopas (who was the brother of Joseph, the betrothed of the Virgin Mary), succeeded James as bishop of Jerusalem. Aristobulus (Rom 16:10), the brother of the apostle Barnabas, preached the gospel in Britain and died peacefully there.
The live of these few are quite representative of the Seventy, who were instrumental in helping to plant the Church throughout the world. Many became bishops, but the names of all are numbered in heaven in the Book of Life as faithful servants of the Lord, apostles and foundations of the Church.
Source: The Orthodox Study Bible, St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, 2008.
|Agabus||April 1; May 26|
|Andronicus||May 17; July 30|
|Apelles||September 10; October 31|
|Apollos||March 30; December 8|
|Archippus||February 19; July 6|
|Aristarchus||April 15; September 27|
|Aristobulus||March 16; October 31|
|Caesar||March 30; December 8|
|Cephas||March 30; December 8|
|Epaphroditus||March 30; December 8|
|Hermas||March 8; November 5|
|Hermes||April 8; May 31|
|Herodion||March 28; April 8; November 10|
|James, brother of the Lord||November 23|
|Luke the Evangelist||October 18|
|Mark the Evangelist (called John)||April 25|
|Mark||September 27; October 30|
|Onesiphorus||September 7; December 8|
|Philemon||February 19; July 6; November 2|
|Philip the Deacon||October 11|
|Silas (Silvanus)||July 30|
|Simeon, son of Cleopas||April 27|
|Sosipater||April 28; November 10|
|Sosthenes||March 30; December 8|
|Stephen the Archdeacon||December 27|
|Tertius||November 10; December 30|
|Timon||July 28; December 30|