Synaxis of Seventy Evangelists of Christ – July 5

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

The liturgical calendar of the Indian Orthodox Church commemorates the Seventy (Seventy-two) evangelists, whom our Lord chose in addition to the Twelve Apostles; and they were sent by in pairs, so that they could preach the gospel in all those places where Christ Himself was about to visit. Our Lord instructed these evangelists thus, to prepare a way for Him and lay down the groundwork and infrastructure for the Early Church. According to the Gospel of Luke, the only gospel in which they appear (Luke 10:1–24). The Twelve generally remained at Christ’s side, serving as witnesses to His life; but the Seventy preceded Him in every place He visited.

“Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10: 2-9)

As humanity was reborn after the Great Deluge, the sons of Noah became the fathers of the nations. Seventy sons of Noah are named (Gen. 10: 1-32), who became the fathers of seventy nations. This is first occurrence of the number seventy in scripture is found with Noah.

This order of seventy in God’s kingdom recurs with both Moses. God commanded Moses to choose seventy Elders to assist with the administration of the spiritual government of Israel. (Ex. 24: 9). God then blessed these Seventy with His spirit so that they had power to prophesy even as Moses. (Num. 11:25)

Another notable example of the occurrence of seventy is the number of people of the family of Jacob who escaped famine by going to Egypt (Gen. 46: 27; Ex. 1: 5; Gen. 46: 27; Deut. 10: 22). Just as seventy were the fathers of all the nations of the earth, so were seventy the fathers and mothers of all of Israel. The nation of Israel was reminded of these first seventy on the day after they crossed the Red Sea and camped at Elim next to twelve wells of water (Exodus 15:27) and seventy palm trees (Numbers 33:9). The number seventy was so important that scripture took time to specify exactly how many palm trees were present in that first camp of freedom.

This pattern of seventy continued with the Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ established on the earth. Christ appointed seventy men to assist the Twelve Apostles spread the gospel throughout all the nations of the earth. (Lk. 10: 1) These seventy were blessed with great power to perform miracles through Christ’s name. (Lk. 10: 17) 

The seventy of Noah, and the Seventy of Moses, and the Seventy of Apostles of Christ were as the eyes of God to administer the affairs of His kingdom. Remember it was the seventy who like the Apostles were commanded to go forth unto all the nations of the world to proclaim the mission of Jesus the Christ.                                            

After appointing the 70 (or 72) disciples, Jesus spoke of the great need for evangelism (Lk. 10: 1-2). He then commissioned the 70, sent them (Lk 10:3) into pairs and visit all the places where Jesus was about to go, (Lk 10: 3) like lambs among wolves, surrounded by danger. They lived by faith (Lk. 10: 4), carrying no extra provisions, but were focused (Lk. 10: 4) on the more important mission of evangelism. They extended their blessing (Lk. 10: 5–6) to whosoever house they entered with the greeting “Peace to this house.” They were content (Lk. 10: 7), with what they received and did not seek better accommodations. Receive your due (Lk. 10: 7). The laborer is worthy of his wages. Doing evangelistic work is indeed work and is worthy of compensation. Be flexible (Lk. 10: 7-8). The 70 were to eat whatever their hosts served; as God’s servants, they were not to be finicky. Heal the sick (Lk. 10: 9)

Jesus gave the 70 disciples specific authority to heal diseases and illness. It was as if the Great Physician had 70 interns making house calls. When the 70 returned to Jesus, they jubilantly recounted how they were able not only to heal diseases but to cast out demons as well (verse 17). They proclaimed the kingdom (Lk 10: 9). The message of the 70 disciples was simple: “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” This was a clear-cut call to faith in the King who would soon visit each village.

Jesus then told the 70 (or 72) disciples that they might expect rejection in some villages (Lk. 10: 10) and He told them how to respond: publicly wipe the dust of that town from their feet (Lk. 10: 11; cf. 9:5), proclaim the kingdom one more time, and warn them of coming judgment (Lk. 10: 10).

The Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles is commemorated on our Church on July 5 and in the Indian Orthodox Churcg and on January 4, in Other Churches was established by the Orthodox Church to indicate the equal honor of each of the Seventy. Besides the celebration of the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles, the Church also celebrates the memory of each of them during the year. The Church venerates and praises the Seventy Apostles because they taught us to honor the Trinity One in Essence and Undivided.


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