One of the distinguishing features of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the belief that there can be no Church authorized by God without apostles, who hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven on earth. This is expressed in the sixth Article of Faith: “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” Along with this, we acknowledge that God continues to reveal his will to our leaders and that callings to such leadership positions come by divine revelation (Articles of Faith 5 and 9). 2

Joseph Smith, under the Lord’s direction, restored the quorums of the Twelve and the Seventy in the early part of 1835. 3  The duties of these offices are outlined in sections 18 and 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Latter-day Saints consider the restoration of the Twelve and the Seventy in Joseph Smith’s time to be essential for the government of the kingdom of God on earth, especially as the Church grows in membership numbers.  4 As in Christ’s time, the men comprising these quorums are primarily responsible for the missionary work of the Church, for bearing witness of Jesus Christ, and are to build up and regulate the Church. 5  In addition, the Twelve hold the keys of the kingdom 6 and are a “traveling high council” in matters of Church discipline (D&C 102:30-31; 107:23, 33).

Keys of the Apostleship

During his mortal ministry, Jesus promised the apostle Peter, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19; note the singular forms thee and thou). A few days later, Jesus took the three leading apostles, Peter, James, and John, with him to a mountaintop, where Moses and Elijah (New Testament Greek form Elias) appeared to them (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). Of this event, Joseph Smith declared, “The Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James, and John, on the mount when they were transfigured before him.”7  The rest of the apostles subsequently received these keys, for Jesus, addressing all of them (note the plural ye), said, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18; cf. John 20:23). 8

While all four New Testament gospel accounts mention the calling of the twelve apostles, only Luke recounts the calling of the seventy. 9  The charge Jesus gave the seventy in Luke 10:1-12 is essentially the same as the one he had given to the twelve, as recorded in Luke 9:1-6. The Greek word apostolos, origin of our term apostle, derives from the verb “to send” and means “one sent” or “envoy.” Jesus told the twelve, “as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21; see also John 17:18).  10 The twelve apostles and the seventy have the same basic calling as “[e]special witnesses” of Christ “in all the world,” with the Seventy serving “under the direction of the Twelve . . . in building up the church and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations” (D&C 107:23, 25-26, 34). 11

Apostleship of the Seventy

Several passages from early Latter-day Saint records call the seventy by the term apostle. Under the date of 28 December 1835, History of the Church 2:346 notes, “This day the Council [presidency] of the Seventy met to render an account of their travels and ministry, since they were ordained to that Apostleship.” 12 At the dedication of the Kirtland temple in March 1836, Joseph Smith “called upon the quorums and congregation of Saints to acknowledge the presidents of Seventies who act as their representatives, as Apostles and special witnesses to the nations, to assist the Twelve in opening the Gospel kingdom among all people.” 13 Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, also referred to the seventies as “apostles to the nations to carry the gospel; and when we send you to build up the kingdom, we will give you the keys, and power and authority.” 14 Elder Orson Pratt of the Twelve, speaking of the events of February 1835, declared, “The Lord also, about the same time that He called the Twelve Apostles, was prepared to call Seventies to minister under the direction of the Twelve . . . and many were ordained to this Apostleship.” 15

During Brigham Young’s presidency, apostle Wilford Woodruff spoke of “the Twelve Apostles, the Seventy Apostles, and the High Priest Apostles, and all other Apostles.” 16  Later, when he became President of the Church, he spoke of Christ’s mortal ministry, saying, “Look at the suffering that He went through, the labor He performed—the organization of the Church of God, the appointing of Twelve Apostles, of seventy Apostles, and a few disciples, who followed Him during that period.” 17  Heber C. Kimball, counselor to Brigham Young, noted that when questioned about which office, high priest or seventy, was greater, Joseph Smith answered that “the Seventies are ordained Apostles and when they go forth into the ministry, they are sent with power to build up the kingdom in all the world and consequently they have power to ordain High Priests, and also to ordain and organize a High Council.” 18

President Joseph F. Smith noted that “The seventies are called to be assistants to the twelve apostles; indeed they are apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, subject to the direction of the Twelve.” 19 As late as 1931, J. Golden Kimball, one of the presidents of the Seventy, reported, “President Brigham Young said at a priesthood meeting in Logan, the same year that he died, that the Prophet Joseph Smith said to them in early days: ‘Brethren, you are going out to ordain Seventies, and you are to ordain them to the high priesthood. You are to ordain them to the High Priesthood and ordain them Seventy-Apostles.’” 20 B. H. Roberts, another of the presidents of the Seventy, wrote, “The Twelve, then, hold the keys of this ministry, and upon them devolves this responsibility of opening the door of salvation to the nations. But after them, other witnesses are chosen. These are the seventy apostles, or special witnesses, the assistants of the Twelve; under whose directions they labor.” 21

“Other Seventy”

The King James version of Luke 10:1 says that “the Lord appointed other seventy also.” Some have thought this referred to a second body of seventy. But the Greek original means “seventy others,” meaning that Christ selected seventy other apostles. 22

John Chrysostom (AD 347-407) interpreted Paul’s words, “Then to all the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:7) as meaning that “there were also other apostles, as the seventy.” 23 Even St. Augustine of Hippo considered the Seventy to have been apostles. 24 Hippolytus entitled his list of these men On the Seventy Apostles. In one of his letters, Jerome (ca. AD 340-420) wrote of “the seventy who are Christ’s apostles.” 25

In disagreement with other early Christian texts, the fourth-century Christian historian Eusebius wrote “Our Savior and Lord, not long after the beginning of his ministry, called the twelve apostles, and these alone of all his disciples he named apostles, as an especial honor.



And again he appointed seventy others whom he sent out two by two before his face into every place and city whither he himself was about to come.” 26

Why Twelve and Seventy?

Some four decades ago, I noted that, like Christ, Moses had a council of twelve tribal leaders and another council of seventy elders, and demonstrated the same from various passages in the Pentateuch. 27 Jesus told the Twelve that they would “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 28 In Recognitions of Clement 1.40, the apostle Peter declares, “Therefore He chose us twelve, the first who believed in Him, whom He named apostles; and afterwards other seventy-two most approved disciples, that, at least in this way recognizing the pattern of Moses, the multitude might believe that this is He of whom Moses foretold, the Prophet that was to come.” 29 In the Epistle of Peter to James 1-3, the chief apostle asks his fellow apostle to deliver his books to the Seventy disciples just as Moses delivered his writings to the Seventy who succeeded him. 30 That Moses delivered the law to the seventy elders is also affirmed in Clementine Homilies 3.47.

Jewish tradition also holds that the twelve springs of water and the seventy palm-trees at Elim where the Israelites encamped during the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 15:27; Numbers 33:9), represented the twelve tribes of Israel and the seventy nations listed in Genesis 10.  31 Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 28:3 adds a notation about the Jewish Sanhedrin, noting that its seventy members represent the number of the nations. Considering the misssionary responsibilities of the Seventy to go into all the world, this makes perfect sense.

Early Christians saw the twelve fountains and seventy palm-trees as types of the Apostles and Seventy chosen by Christ. This is affirmed by Tertullian (ca. AD 145-220), 32 Jerome, 33 Augustine (ca. AD 354-371), 34 and in the Armenian The Story of Moses.35  The Septuagint version of Genesis 10 lists 72 nations, though the Hebrew (and its English translation) lists 70. 36 Because early Christians followed the Greek translation, they sometimes acknowledged 72 selected by Christ rather than 70. 37 The number 72 is a multiple of 12.

Continuity of the Twelve and Seventy

For nearly two millennia, Christians in general have believed that the Twelve and the Seventy of Christ’s time represented a one-time calling and that when each apostle died, he was not replaced. 38 In both Eastern and Western Christianity, this led to the belief that the bishops were successors to the apostles. 39 Joseph Smith parted with the traditional view and taught that the quorums of the Twelve and the Seventy were to remain in the Church and to be replenished with new members as needed. 40 Even before the restoration of the Church in 1830, the Lord had addressed a revelation to the future Twelve Apostles via the prophet Joseph (D&C 18). The calling of the Twelve and the Seventy in February and March of 1835 made the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints virtually unique in claiming modern apostolic authority. 41 Since the time of Joseph Smith, additional men have been called to fill vacancies in these quorums, and we acknowledge the divine source of their appointment.

The Bible has only one clear example of an apostle, Matthias Barsabbas, 42 called to replace a member of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, who had apostatized and died (Acts 1:15-26). Paul wrote that “after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:18-19). This is the only place in the New Testament that suggests that Jesus’ half-brother James 43 was an apostle. Another James, the brother of the apostle John and one of the original Twelve, had been slain (Acts 12:2), creating another vacancy in the twelve, and this may account for Jesus’ half-brother James becoming an apostle. 44

That the offices of apostle and seventy were to continue in the Church is evidenced by early Christian writings about them. We noted earlier that the vacancy among the twelve apostles occasioned by the death of Judas Iscariot was filled soon after Christ’s ascension to heaven. The eleven remaining apostles noted that the replacement should be one of the “men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord . . . shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:21-26). 45 The two men under consideration were evidently among those who saw Christ both during his mortal ministry and following his resurrection, reminding us that Christ told the twelve, “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27). 46

Clement of Alexandria, writing in the second century AD, hinted that other elders could be called to the body of the twelve:

Not that they became apostles through being chosen for some distinguished peculiarity of nature, since also Judas was chosen along with them. But they were capable of becoming apostles on being chosen by Him who foresees even ultimate issues. Matthias, accordingly, who was not chosen along with them, on showing himself worthy of becoming an apostle, is substituted for Judas.

Those, then, also now, who have exercised themselves in the Lord’s commandments, and lived perfectly and gnostically [knowingly] according to the Gospel, may be enrolled in the chosen body of the apostles. Such an one is in reality a presbyter [elder] of the Church, 47 and a true minister [deacon] 48 of the will of God, if he do and teach what is the Lord’s; not as being ordained by men, nor regarded righteous because a presbyter, but enrolled in the presbyterate because righteous. And although here upon earth he be not honored with the chief seat, he will sit down on the twenty-four thrones, judging the people, as John says in the Apocalypse.49

One major source of information on the twelve and the seventy called by Jesus is the fourth-century Christian historian Eusebius, who wrote:

The names of the apostles of our Saviour are known to every one from the Gospels. But there exists no catalogue of the seventy disciples. Barnabas, indeed, is said to have been one of them, of whom the Acts of the apostles makes mention in various places, 50 and especially Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians [2:1, 9, 13].






They say that Sosthenes also, who wrote to the Corinthians with Paul [1 Corinthians 1:1], was one of them. This is the account of Clement in the fifth book of his Hypotyposes, 51  in which he also says that Cephas was one of the seventy disciples, a man who bore the same name as the apostle Peter, and the one concerning whom Paul says, “When Cephas came to Antioch I withstood him to his face” [Galatians 2:11]. Matthias, also, who was numbered with the apostles in the place of Judas, and the one who was honored by being made a candidate with him [Acts 1:23-26], are likewise said to have been deemed worthy of the same calling with the seventy. They say that Thaddeus also was one of them, concerning whom I shall presently relate an account which has come down to us . . . there were many others who were called apostles, in imitation of the Twelve, as was Paul himself.52

Eusebius also attributed to Clement’s Hypotyposes the declaration that “The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge [gnosis] to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy of whom Barnabas was one.” 53 Unfortunately, the original work is no longer extant, though in Clement’s Stromata 2.20, which has survived, he wrote of “the apostolic Barnabas (and he was one of the seventy, and a fellow-worker of Paul).” 54 Since this knowledge was passed to the seventy after Christ’s ascension, the group must have remained intact after that time as one of the governing bodies of the Church.

Barnabas, along with Paul, is called an apostle in Acts 14:14 (see also verse 4). If Barnabas was one of the Seventy rather than one of the Twelve, it is likely that Paul was also of the Seventy. Others, too, were considered to be members of the Seventy. An eighth-century AD Syriac text, describes filling up the quorum of the Seventy after the death of Addaeus: “For they did not suffer that selection of the Seventy-two to be wanting, as likewise neither that of the Twelve. This man [Narcissus] was of the Seventy-two: perhaps he was a disciple of Addaeus the apostle.” 55

Seventies Who Joined the Twelve

Early extracanonical Christian sources indicate that Matthias and Joseph (Barsabas) Justus, who were considered for the vacancy in the twelve resulting from the suicide of Judas Iscariot, were among the seventy disciples called by Christ. The fourth-century Christian historian Eusebius wrote, “First, then, in the place of Judas, the betrayer, Matthias, who, as has been shown was also one of the Seventy, was chosen to the Apostolate.” 56 Hippolytus, a Christian historian of the early third century AD, confirmed this, saying that “Matthias, who was one of the seventy, was numbered along with the eleven apostles.” 57

The two candidates to replace Judas Iscariot were selected because they had been witnesses of Christ’s ministry and even his resurrection (Acts 1:21-22). Origen (AD 185-232) suggested that the resurrected Christ appeared to the seventy as well as to the twelve. 58 Another early Christian document has the apostles declaring, “We therefore, who have been vouchsafed the favor of being the witnesses of His appearance, together with James the brother of our Lord, and the other seventy-two disciples, 59 and his seven deacons,  have heard from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by exact knowledge declare ‘what is the will of God, that good, and acceptable, and perfect will’ which is made known to us by Jesus.” 61

Another possible member of the seventy who later became one of the twelve is Thaddaeus. According to Matthew 10:3, Lebaeus Thaddaeus was one of the original twelve. He is also listed as one of the twelve in Mark 3:18. But the corresponding list of the apostles found in Luke 6:16 replaces him with “Judas the brother of James.” As we noted earlier, Eusebius wrote that Thaddaeus was one of the seventy, and promised to say more about him. The additional information is found in his Ecclesiastical History 1.13.4: “Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, under divine impulse sent Thaddeus, who was also numbered among the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa, as a preacher and evangelist of the teaching of Christ.” 62 Describing the exchange of letters between Jesus and Abgar, king of Edessa, Eusebius noted:

To these epistles there was added the following account in the Syriac language. “After the ascension of Jesus, Judas, who was also called Thomas, sent to him [Agbar] Thaddeus, an apostle, one of the Seventy. When he was come he lodged with Tobias, the son of Tobias. When the report of him got abroad, it was told Abgarus that an apostle of Jesus was come, as he had written him . . . And when he came, the nobles were present and stood about Agbarus. And immediately upon his entrance a great vision appeared to Abgarus in the countenance of the apostle Thaddeus. When Agbarus saw it he prostrated himself before Thaddeus.”)63

Looking at these various texts, one is tempted to suggest that Thaddaeus was not one of the original twelve, but that he was later added to that body when one of the apostles died. Eusebius’s declaration that one of the twelve (Thomas) sent one of the seventy (Thaddaeus) on a mission is in harmony with the role of these two offices as described in D&C 107:34, 38.

In the Syriac literature, Thaddaeus is called Adai (Addaeus). Of him, we read that “Addaeus the apostle, one of the seventy-two apostles, had gone down and built a church at Edessa.” 64 The story is also known from Teachings of the Apostles 9, which says that “Edessa, and all the countries round about it which were on all sides of it, and Zoba, and Arabia, and all the north, and the regions round about it, and the south, and all the regions on the borders of Mesopotamia, received the apostles’ ordination to the priesthood from Addaeus the apostle, one of the seventy-two apostles, who himself made disciples there, and built a church there, and was priest and ministered there in his office of Guide which he held there.” 65 An early Syriac text speaks of one “Narcissus” who seems to have been called to fill a vacancy in the seventy, “For they did not suffer that selection of the Seventy-two to be wanting, as likewise neither that of the Twelve. This man was of the Seventy-two: perhaps he was a disciple of Addaeus the apostle.” 66 Addaeus or Adai, along with Mari, are termed “holy apostles” in another Syriac text. 67

Paul wrote that “after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:18-19). This is the only place in the New Testament that suggests that Jesus’ half-brother James 68 was an apostle. James the brother of the apostle John had been slain (Acts 12:2), creating another vacancy in the twelve, and this may account for Jesus’ brother James becoming an apostle.



When Paul wrote that “James, Cephas [Peter], 69 and John . . . seemed to be pillars” in the Church (Galatians 2:9), he must have been referring to James the brother of Jesus.

There are also suggestions that Bartholomew was not one of the original twelve but later joined that body. Acts of Philip mentions “Bartholomew, one of the seventy disciples of the Lord, and his sister Mariamme, and his disciples that followed him.” 70 Bible scholars  have usually identified Bartholomew, named in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in Acts 1:13), with Nathanael, who is mentioned only in the gospel of John (John 1:45-49; 21:2), but the identification is uncertain.

Early Members of the Seventy

If Sosthenes, mentioned by Eusebius as one of the seventy and named in 1 Corinthians 1:1, is the same individual mentioned in Acts 18:17, he cannot have been one of the original Seventy, for he was a Corinthian (see Acts 18:1), while the original seventy would have been Palestinian Jews. He may have been a later addition to the Seventy, chosen to replace one of the original members of the quorum. Barnabas and Paul, who are called apostles (Acts 14:14) but are never said to number among the twelve, may, in fact, have been of the seventy. They, along with Judas Barsabas and Silas are called “chief men among the brethren” at the time they were sent by “the apostles and elders” as their envoys to Antioch (Acts 15:22). According to 1 Thessalonians 1:1, Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians was written by Paul, Silvanus [possibly the same as his missionary companion Silas], and Timotheus [Timothy]. From the wording of 1 Thessalonians 2:6, they may have all been “apostles of Christ.”

Paul wrote of Epaphroditus as a “messenger,” Greek apostolos, who had been sent to assist him (Philippians 2:25). He also noted Titus and others as “messengers,” again using the same Greek word (2 Corinthians 8:23). The name of Titus appears in four of the early lists of the Seventy, while Epaphroditus is included in the list prepared by Hippolytus.


The Ethiopic Kebra Nagast 102 calls Stephen, “[one] of the Seventy Disciples” and adds, “Now among the Seventy Disciples there were seven who were chosen for service with the Twelve Apostles, to perform service with Silas, and Barnabas, and Mark and Luke and Paul.” 71 The seven “chosen for service” are mentioned in Acts 6:2-6 and include Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.72 Luke and Paul, being later converts, were obviously not among the original seventy chosen by Christ, but may have been added to that body to replace others who had died.        John Chrysostom (AD 347-407), bishop of Constantinople, suggested that Joseph of Arimathea, who buried Christ after the crucifixion, was “not one of the twelve, but perhaps one of the seventy.” 73

A Uighur 74 text (perhaps translated from Syriac) discovered at Bulayiq to the north of Turfan on the old Chinese Silk Route speaks of “Zavtai the Apostle,” 75 a name corresponding to the New Testament Zebedee, father of the apostles James and John. 76 This Zebedee, however, may not have been the older man of Capernaum, but may have been his grandson, since many Jews name a son after his grandfather. 77 The Zavtai of the Turfan inscription is likely the Zabdai whose name appears in the list of the seventy disciples included in Book of the Bee (see below).

Several lists of the Twelve and the Seventy have survived from antiquity. One such list is attributed to the early third-century AD Christian writer Hippolytus, 78 Another, said to have been taken from Eusebius and extant in both Greek and Latin versions, was prepared in the sixth century AD and attributed to Dorotheus, a third-century bishop of Tyre. 79 Two Syriac Fathers, Michael the Syrian (AD 1126-1199) and his contemporary Jacob (Dionysus) bar Salibi, also prepared lists of the Seventy, 80 as did an earlier Syriac cleric, Agapius (known in Arabic as Mahbub ibn Qustantin), Melkite bishop of Hierapolis (Menbidj). 81 Chapter 48 of the Syriac Book of the Bee notes that “the apostles are twelve and seventy,” 82 then proceeds to give an accounting of each, beginning with the twelve. Chapter 49 lists the names of each of the twelve and the seventy. Among the seventy are some individuals known from the New Testament and others known from other early documents, such as “Cephas, who preached at Antioch,” 83 who, as noted earlier, was named by Clement as one of the seventy. The seven selected to assist the apostles in Acts 6 are also included. 84 The list also mentions “the twelve who were rejected from among the seventy, as Judas Iscariot was from among the twelve,” 85 along with those who were called to replace them, including the gospel writers Mark and Luke. 86 The fact that they were replaced suggests that the group of seventy was intended to be a standing body in the early Church.

One must exercise caution with these lists, since they do not entirely agree among themselves on the list of names, though most of the names are shared in all of the texts. Some of the individuals included in the list were later converts to Christianity living outside of Palestine and consequently could not have been among the seventy chosen by Christ during his mortal ministry. This, too, suggests that the office of seventy was intended to continue if the non-Palestinian members of that body were later replacements for those who had fallen away or had died. 87


Joseph Smith, in receiving revelations regarding the Twelve and the Seventy, was following the pattern established in the meridian of time by Christ but best evidenced in extracanonical texts to which he would not have had access. By the time of the restoration of the Church, details about these leading authorities had been lost to the Christian world. Consequently, modern revelation to the prophet Joseph and his successors, was essential to re-establish the true Church on the earth. When we raise our hands to sustain our modern apostles, whether of the First Presidency, the Twelve, or the Seventy, we are following in the footsteps of the earliest Christians.



1 For the history and duty of the Seventy, see L. Aldin Porter, “A History of the Latter-day Seventy,” Ensign, August 2000; S. Kent Brown, “The Seventy in Scripture,” in John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., By Study and Also By Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret and FARMS, 1990), 1:25-45; and John A. Tvedtnes, “The Lord Appointed Other Seventy Also,” Insights 19/4 (April 1999). See also Alan K. Parrish, Richard C. Roberts, and Dean L. Larsen, “Seventy,” in vol. 3 of Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: Macmillan, 1992); John A. Tvedtnes, Organize My Kingdom: A History of Restored Priesthood (Bountiful: Cornerstone/Horizon, 2000), passim.

2 Latter-day Saints have become accustomed to calling the President of the Church “the prophet,” as though he were the only prophet, while continuing to sustain all members of the First Presidency and the Twelve as “prophets, seers, and revelators.” In fact, it is the apostleship that governs the Church.



See the discussion in John A. Tvedtnes, “The Title Prophet,” posted on the Meridian Magazine web site at

3 History of the Church 2:185-98, 201-4.

4 See John A. Tvedtnes, Organize My Kingdom: A History of Restored Priesthood.

5 D&C 18:27-32, 41; 49:11-14; 63:52; 107:23, 25, 33-35, 38, 58, 90, 97-98; 112:16-17, 21, 28-29; 124:38-39, 127-128.

6 D&C 27:12-13; 107:35; 112:16-17, 30-32; 124:128.

7 History of the Church 3:387.

8 Note the sequence of events in chapters 16-19 of Matthew: Christ promised keys to Peter (chapter 16); Peter, James, and John received keys from Jesus, Moses, and Elijah (chapter 17); Jesus confirmed that all the apostles held the sealing keys (chapter 18).

9 I have long suspected that Luke may have been later called into the Seventy, which might explain his interest in that body.

10 Hebrews 3:1 calls Jesus “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.”

11 Some have suggested that the calling of the Twelve and the Seventy are quite different because, in D&C 107, the Twelve are called “special witnesses,” while the Seventy are called “especial witnesses,” as if the prefixed letter e (which merely denotes an older spelling) made the difference. But in D&C 27:12, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery are said to have been ordained “apostles, and especial witnesses” by Peter, James, and John.

12 From the beginning of this dispensation, the seven presidents of the first quorum of the seventy have been called “the Council of the Seventy” or “the First Council of the Seventy.”

13 History of the Church 2:418.

14 History of the Church 7:307.

15 Journal of Discourses 22:30.

16 Journal of Discourses 4:147; see also 18:126. The “high priest apostles” may be the First Presidency, who are defined as “three Presiding High Priests” (D&C 107:22).

17 Collected Discourses, Vol.2, November 1st, 1891. Also in James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 3:222.

18 Heber C. Kimball, Journal, Book 93 (November 21, 1845-January 7, 1846), entry dated 14 December 1845, LDS Church Archives, cited in William G. Hartley, “Nauvoo Stake, Priesthood Quorums, and the Church’s First Wards,” BYU Studies 32/1 (Winter/Spring 1992), 72.

19 Conference Report, April 1907, 5.

20 Conference Report, April 1931, 88.

21 Conference Report, October 1903, 76; also in B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints (1907), 1:49.

22 See the discussion in John A. Tvedtnes, “The Lord Appointed Other Seventy Also,” Insights: An Ancient Window 19/4 (April 1999). For this use of “other,” note Matthew 25:16-17:, “Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.” In modern parlance, we would say “five more” and “two more.”

23 Homily 38 on 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, in Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series (reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 12:229,

24 Against the Donatists 2.18.40.

25 Letter 69.6 to Oceanus , in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series (reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 6:145.

26 Ecclesiastical History 1.10, in ibid., 1:97.

27 The Church of the Old Testament (2nd ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1980), 24-28. The first edition appeared in 1967.

28 Matthew 19:28; see also Luke 22:30; 1 Nephi 12:9; D&C 29:12.

29 Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers (reprint, Peabody, MA:, Hendrickson, 1994),  8:88. That Christ is the prophet foreseen by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is affirmed in Acts 3:20-23; 7:37; 1 Nephi 22:20-2; 3 Nephi 20:23; 21:11, 20; Joseph Smith History 1:40.

30 Clementine Homilies 2.38 declares that these seventy elders and their successors added falsehoods to Moses’ writings, probably because later rabbis claimed that the “oral law” passed through the hands of the elders. See also Clementine Homilies 3.47.

31 On occasion, the 70 elders are compared to the number of Jacob’s descendants who went to Egypt to join Joseph (Genesis 46:26-27; Exodus 1:1-6). This latter view is also held by the Christian author of Clementine Homilies 18.4.

32 Against Marcion 4.24.

33 Letter 69.6 to Oceanus.

34 Reply to Faustus 12.30.

35 Michael E. Stone, Armenian Apocrypha Relating to the Patriarchs and Prophets (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1982), 112. One version adds “of Christ” after “apostles” and “disciples.”

36 For a discussion of the early Christian view, see the chapter “Seventy or Seventy-Two Disciples?” in Bruce M. Metzger, Historical and Literary Studies, Pagan, Jewish, and Christian (Leiden and Grand Rapids: Brille and Eerdmans 1968), 67-76.

37 Constitutions of the Apostles 2.6; Recognitions of Clement 1.40, 2.42; Augustine of Hippo, Letter 173 to Donatus and Sermon 51; John Chrysostom, Homily 18 on John 1:40; Armenian The Story of Moses.

38 Some of the Christian Fathers came to believe that the disciples who fell away after Christ’s sermon on the bread of life (John 6:60-66) were the Seventy. Augustine of Hippo wrote, “St. Augustine wrote, “So too those sixty apostles, who, when the twelve were left alone with the Lord Christ, departed in apostasy from the faith, are so far yet considered among wretched men to be apostles, that from them Manichaeus and the rest entangle many souls in many devilish sects which they destroyed that they might take them in their snares. For indeed the fallen Manichaeus, if fallen he was, is not to be reckoned among those sixty, if it be that we can find his name as an apostle among the twelve, or if he was ordained by the voice of Christ when Matthias was elected into the place of the traitor Judas, or another thirteenth like Paul, who calls himself the last of the apostles, expressly that any one who was later than himself might not be held to be an apostle. For these are his words: ‘For I am the last of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God’” (Against the Donatists 2, in Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, 4:539. The story seems to have begun with Hippolytus, who noted that two of the Seventy, the gospel writers Mark and Luke, were brought back into the fold by Peter and Paul, respectively (On the Seventy Apostles).

39 Many Protestants believe in a “priesthood of believers” and do not consider either priesthood or its ordinances to be essential to salvation; see the discussion in John A. Tvedtnes, “Is There a ‘Priesthood of All Believers’?” posted on the FAIR web site at For a discussion of the majority Christian view, see Hugh Nibley,

40 E.g., D&C 118:1, 6; D&C 124:138-139. The apostle Paul wrote that the Lord placed apostles and prophets in the Church “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Neither perfection nor unity in the faith have yet been achieved in the Christian world, so Latter-day Saints believe that these offices are still necessary, while others do not read the passage in that way.

41 When the term “apostolic authority” is used in the Roman Catholic Church, it means the authority passed down to the bishops by the apostles.



Latter-day Saints use the same term to refer to living apostles. A handful of modern churches claim also to have apostles.

42 Recognitions of Clement 1.60 mistakenly calls him Barnabas, evidently confusing him with Paul’s later missionary companion.

43 Jesus’ brothers are named or mentioned in a number of New Testament passages: Matthew 12:46; 13:55-56; 27:57; Mark 6:3; 15:40; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:19.

44 Christian tradition makes James a stepbrother to Jesus (i.e., Joseph’s son by an earlier marriage) and the first bishop of Jerusalem. To Latter-day Saints, his role in the Jerusalem council (Acts 15) suggests that he was a “general authority,” not a local bishop. Recognitions of Clement 1.68 calls him “chief of the bishops,” while in 1.73 he is termed “archbishop,” which may correspond to presiding bishop.

45 It was necessary to replace Judas (Acts 1:15-20) because the original twelve are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Nephi 12:9-10; D&C 29:12).

46 Cleopas, one of the two disciples Jesus met after his resurrection as they were traveling to Emmaeus, (Luke 24:18), was included in four early lists of the Seventy. He may be the same person as Cleophas, who was evidently one of Jesus’ cousins (John 19:25).

47 The term presbyter is from the Greek word meaning “elder.” Cf. D&C 20:38, “An apostle is an elder” and see also verses 2-3.

48 Our term deacon derives from a Greek word meaning “servant” or “minister.”

49 Stromata 6.13. in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers, 2:504. The reference to the Apocalypse (“revelation”) is to John’s vision of the twenty-four elders seated around the divine throne (Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:8, 14; 11:16; 19:4; cf. D&C 102:1). Clement may have been suggesting that all righteous elders will be considered apostles in heaven. The number twenty-four is significant because it is a multiple of twelve, on which the size of quorums of deacons, teachers, priests, elders, and apostles is based (D&C 107:85-89). However, it is clear that Clement confused the twelve thrones from which the apostles are to judge the tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30) with the twenty-four thrones John saw in vision. Joseph Smith indicated that the elders in John’s vision were from the seven cities in Asia to whom the apostle addressed his book (D&C 77:5).

50 Acts 4:36; 9:27; 11:22, 25, 30; 12:25; 13:1-2, 7, 43, 46, 50; 14:12, 14, 20; 15:2, 12, 22, 25, 35-37, 39.

51 A number of Clement’s writings have survived, but Hypotyposes is not one of them.

52 Ecclesiastical History 1.12.1-3, in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two 1:98-99. In Ecclesiastical History 3.24, Eusebius wrote, “And the rest of the followers of our Savior, the twelve apostles, the seventy disciples, and countless others besides, were not ignorant of these things. Nevertheless, of all the disciples of the Lord, only Matthew and John have left us written memorials” (ibid., 1:152).

53 Ecclesiastical History 2.1.4, in ibid., 1:104.

54 Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers, 2:372.

55 Ibid., 8:655.

56 Ecclesiastical History 2.1.2, in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, 1:103.

57 On the Twelve Apostles 12, in ibid., 5:255.

58 Against Celsus 2.65.

59 While the Bible mentions only 70, some early Christian texts indicate that there were seventy-two disciples, not seventy; e.g., Zephyrinus, First Epistle, in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers, 8:609. Similarly, Jewish tradition holds that the seventy elders of Moses’ day (Exodus 24:1, 9; Numbers 11:16, 24-25) were actually seventy-two in number, six from each of the twelve tribes, and that the later Sanhedrin patterned after them consisted of either 70 or 72 members.

60 The seven chosen to assist the poor in Acts 6 have traditionally (and incorrectly) been called “deacons” in Christian histories,

61 Apostolic Constitutions 2.7.55, inAlexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers, 7:420.

62 Ibid., 1:100. Eusebius also noted that Thaddaeus was sent to Edessa by Thomas in Ecclesiastical History 2.1 (ibid., 2:101; see also ibid., 8:651). The Armenian historian Moses Chorene, in his History of Armenia, wrote, “After the ascension of our Savior, the Apostle Thomas, one of the twelve, sent one of the seventy-six disciples, Thaddaeus, to the city of Edessa to heal Abgar and to preach the Gospel, according to the word of the Lord” (ibid., 8:704). The number 76 seems to be an error.

63 Ecclesiastical History 1.13.10-13, in ibid., 1:101; see also ibid., 8:652.

64 Memoirs of Edessa Extracts 6, in ibid., 8:656. A number of early Syriac texts mention “Addaeus the Apostle.” For an English translation of the Teachings of Addaeus the Apostle, see ibid., 8:657-65.

65 Ibid., 8:671.

66 See fragment 5 in ibid., 8:655.

67 K. A. Paul and G. Mooken, The Liturgy of the Holy Apostles Adai and Mari (Trichur, 1967).

68 Jesus’ brothers are mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3.

69 Cephas is from Aramaic Kepha, “rock,” which has the same meaning as Greek Petros, whence English “Peter.” His given name was Simon, which was the name of two other apostles chosen by Christ. The Savior also named another James, son of Alphaeus, to that body.

70 Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers, 8:497.

71 Ernest A. Wallis Budge, The Queen of Shebs & her only Son Menyelek (London: Medici Society, 1922), 194.

72 While the number of these men is the same as the number of presidents of the seventy (D&C 107:93), these seven oversaw the early Church’s welfare program and hence were likely not the presidency of the seventy.

73 Homily 85 on John 19:38, in Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, 14:320.

74 The Uighur people still live in western China and have a language of their own.

75 A. von le Coq, Ein christliches und ein manichäisches Manuskriptfragment, SB (Berlin 1909), 1205-08. See the English translation in Wilhelm Schneemelcher, ed. (transl. R. McL. Wilson), New Testament Apocrypha (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox), 1:381.

76 Matthew 4:21; 10:2; 26:37; Mark 1:19-20; 3:17; 10:35; Luke 5:10; John 21:2.

77 That the names likely carried on in this family is suggested by the discovery of a pillar from a fourth-century AD synagogue found in Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, inscribed with the name of its donor, “Zebida [Zebedee] son of Yohanan [John] son of Halphu [Alphaeus, cf. Mark 2:14].”

78 Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers, 5:254-6.

79 Meredith Hanmer, The Ancient Ecclesiasticall Histories of the First Six Hundred Yeares after Christ (4th ed., London: George Miller, 1636), 533-40.

80 Chronicle, appendix to book 5, in Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, Patriarche Jacobite d’Antioche (1166-1199) (Paris, 1899; reprint, Brussels: Culture et Civlisation, 1963), 149-151.

81 Agapius of Menbidj, Kitab al-‘Unvan, transl. and ed. Alexandre A. Vasiliev, Patrologia Orientalis vol. 7 (Paris 1912).

82 Ernest A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Bee (Oxford: Clarendon, 1886), 103.

83 Ibid., 113.

84 Ibid., 114.

85 Ibid.

86 For the complete account, see ibid., 103-15.

87 Augustine, a fifth-century AD bishop of Hippo, indicated that some of the seventy were among those who left Christ following his sermon on the bread of life, as described in chapter 6 of the gospel of John. See Augustine’s Letter 173 to Donatus and On the Psalms 99.