Luke 10: could the 12 Apostles be among the 72 disciples who were sent?



I ask, because man times I hear the famous passage “Who hears you hears me” as evidence for the teaching authority of the Apostles. So it may be that they were among the 72.
The problem is that the chapter begins with Jesus choosing 72 others. How do you see this?

Many commentaries cross reference this with “Who receives you receives me”, which gives the passage in Luke another sense.


Well 72 /12=6 but 84/12=7. In other words Jesus had 7 groups with 12 people in each group. One group, the apostles, were given more responsibilities than the others. Numerology is fun but I wouldn’t get too hung up on it. There’s a few lists of all the names of the 72 which don’t include the 12 apostles. This is from the Orthodox Churches:


Hi, Marco!

…I’ve heard the argument that Jesus did not Delegate His Authority to the Twelve (Eleven) but to everyone… some would place a whole bunch of other disciples during the Lord’s Supper–seeking inclusivity, I suspect… but there’s a difference…

While it may seem plausible that the Twelve would be with the 72… I doubt that that actually took place… the reason why I say this is because the very previous chapter (9) demonstrates that Jesus first Sends out the Twelve and His Command and Delegation is totally different:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

(St. Luke 9:1-2)
…here Jesus is not simply Commanding that they preach the Good News and cure the sick… Jesus Gives the Twelve Power and Authority to not only heal the sick but also battle and banish demons!

…we also have signs that are almost a signature for what is transpiring:

1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together

(St. Luke 9:1a)

10 When the apostles returned…

Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves (St. Luke 9:10a, 10c)

18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him (St. Luke 9:18a)

22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (St. Luke 9:22)
…it seems that there’s a progression of events… Jesus separates the Twelve, they are known as His Apostles, and, as His Time approaches, Jesus is often grouping the Twelve and having private meetings with them before/after addressing the larger discipleship and/or the crowds… then there’s the preparation for His death… as Jesus begins to make it known that in a short while He must go through the various experiences… culminating at His Resurrection.

Maran atha!




Thank you. In addition to what you said, there are lists of the 72. None of them includes the Twelve. So I would say this isn’t the best passage to defend apostolic succession, but that the disciple’s message is Jesus’. Who who hears (receives) you hears (receives) me.


Hi, Marco!

I concur. This passage speaks to the Mission (they are sent ahead of Christ) and not to Apostolic Succession since: a) the 72 are not filling a void left by the death of the Twelve, b) Jesus is still physically amongst the Believers, and c) the 72 are not included in the various private sessions with Christ–making their Delegation similar but not equaled to that of the Twelve.

Maran atha!



I always thought of those 72 guys as minor bishops.


Hi, James!

…I’m not versed in Church history so I do not know if there is any early Church Writings on any of the 72 (i.e.: did they become involved in the Church’s Missionary efforts and/or were granted authority to direct/lead a body of Believers…); however, I do believe that the Original Plan Called for Twelve (Judas’ Office was subsequently filled according to Scriptures) plus One (Paul).

…the Apostolic Succession would come about from these Thirteen as the Church, Guided, and Inspired by the Holy Spirit would establish a system of permanence (continuity) and consistency (clear direction, as in Church Teaching/Doctrine, given through Apostolic Delegates). It would make sense that some of the 72 remained tied to the Church… what is not clear, at least to me, where their place would be–remember, people respond differently in any given situation… some would shy away from involvement… others would become self-involved… still, others would respond to God, as the Virgin (“behold the handmaid of the Lord”).

Maran atha!



Many became bishops indeed, but they weren’t made priests or bishops by Christ Himself.


Here is a list of the disciples. Some lists have 72 disciples, other ones 70. This one has 69 (!).

“All of these were bishops among the pagans.”


James the Brother of the Lord was one of these minor bishops.

closed #11

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