Jesus and 72 disciples


I have read in the scriptures that Jesus had 72 disciples in his outer circle. Is there any record of them? We all know the 12 apostles/disciples but what of these 72?


It parallels the “twelve” in Matthew 10:5 and Mark 6:7.

I’m probably completely wrong on this, but maybe Luke chose to use “seventy-two” instead of “twelve” for symbolic / numeric reasons. It might not be a literal seventy-two disciples.


In one of my religion classes I took in college and learned it was a common practice in ancient times for spiritual, religious, and philosophical leaders to have 12 protege students, 70-72 extended students, and many more followers. And I think within the 12 there was usually 1-4 students who were trained to carry on the master’s work. Jesus had 12 apostles, 70-72 disciples, and at least 5,000+ followers. The disciples would probably have consisted of men and women like Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, and possibly the writers of the Gospels. The apostles and disciples would have traveled with Jesus from town to town, but the followers would mostly me made up of the town residents and would have stayed to work and continue their lives when Jesus moved on. There are lists, but they come later.


The wikipedia link has a something on them. A nice book on them might be interesting, any one know of one?:slight_smile:


Luke 10:1 reports that Jesus appointed 70 others…what is Jesus doing? Setting up the new priesthood…not like the Levitical priesthood which was established AFTER the golden calf but the priesthood set up by the Lord in Ex 24 in ratification of the Covenant with Moses BEFORE the golden calf incident. Moses went up with the 3…Aaron the high priest and his sons the brothers Nadab and Abihu. An altar with 12 pillars from the 12 tribes of Israel was built and certain young men from each tribe were sent to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings…and only “priests” could offer sacrifice and the 70 elders of Israel.

We see the parallel that Jesus is setting up as he establishes his new priesthood and to gather the tribes of Israel around himself.

Moses was a type of Jesus the heavenly high priest. Moses’s inner circle of Aaron and brothers Nadab and Abihu parallels the New Kingdom’s priest, Peter and the brothers James and John…who also went up a mountain and beheld God’s glory in the Transfiguration. And Peter is the new earthly high priest. The twelve tribes of Israel who offered sacrifices parallels the 12 apostles. And the 70 elders that were chosen to beheld the God of Israel parallel the 70 chosen disciples who were “annointed” and set out to preach and heal the sick.

The priesthood of bishop, priest and deacon finds its roots in the Old Testament. While there isn’t a list of them, we can find some names throughout Acts that leads one to figure which ones might have been included.


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Luke 10

Ver. 1. Other seventy-two. Most Greek copies, and the Syriac version, have seventy, as in the Protestant translation. Yet there seems no doubt but the true number was seventy-two. For seventy-two may be called seventy; but had they been only seventy, they could never have been called seventy-two. This was also the exact number of the judges chosen to assist Moses; (Exodus xxiv. 1.) though called seventy, (Numbers xi. 16.) as it is evident, because there were six chosen out of every one of the twelve tribes. In like manner the exact number of the interpreters called the Septuagint must have been seventy-two; and also the just number of the Sanhedrim. — Two and two, that one might be a help and comfort to the other; as also a witness of the carriage and behaviour of his companion. (Witham)


Practically speaking, Jesus had advance men going before him to set things up for his ministry in the later stages, so that would account for many of them. And a lot could have been men needed to keep things running- cooking, tending to donations, dealing with outside people.

People are called priests who do not actually minister to the people. Zacharias, for example, the father of John the Baptist, was a temple priest, but he just tended the incense and candles in the Temple sanctuary building.

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