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The Seventy

One of the scriptural identifying traits of the Church, which I have never seen present in any other denomination, is the office of the Seventy. The Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, mentions the calling of these seventy men to agument the ranks of the apostles. They were given authority to preach the gospel and to heal the sick, as did the apostles. They were sent out two by two go as unpaid ministers of the gospel, preaching without purse or scrip.

I hope the editors will forgive my writing this in first person, but I've been studying the New Testament this year and this became one of my topics of study. My interest in the Seventy grew after being challenged by an anti-Mormon who asked about Philip, who baptized a eunuch as recorded in Acts chapter 8. My antagonist was seeking to refute a claim that I had made that the Book of Acts shows the pattern that, when the Holy Ghost ministered to individuals in that book, it always to connect a potential convert to someone who had priesthood authority. The anti-Mormon thought she had me over Phillip and demanded to know if he had authority given to him. Unfortunately for her and her argument, it was easy to point to Acts chapter 6, where Philip was one of the seven men chosen and ordained by the laying on of hands by the apostles.

As I researched more about Philip, I found that he was also listed on some historical lists of the Seventy. Then, as I perused these lists, I found that many of the men listed as companions of the apostles in the New Testament were of the Seventy whom Jesus ordained. Here are a few of the notable, recognizable names:

Mark - author of the Gospel of Mark and later became bishop of Alexandria

Luke - author of the Gospel of Luke

Cleopas - one of the two disciples who saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection

Barnabas - Paul's missionary companion

Stephen - the one who saw the vision of the Father and the Son as he was stoned to death

Titus - who was also bishop of Crete

Timothy - who became bishop of Ephesus

Ananias - became bishop of Damascus, who received revelation to go heal and baptize Saul of Tarsus

When you understand that these men held the office of Seventy in the priesthood, just like those who hold the same priesthood today, you see the New Testament in a completely new light. No wonder these men were so closely associated with the apostles. They worked exactly as our Seventy do in our time.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is exactly the same church and organization that we read about in the Bible. The way in which it operates is the same. We understand that authority and revelation are vertical and heirarchical in nature. It is one thing to read the Book of Acts and see Ananias receive revelation to go and restore Saul's site and baptize him. It's altogether more current when we understand that the Spirit spoke to the bishop of Damascus and sent him to do this. It was his stewardship, his calling to do so, within the parameters of his authority. Angels of God and the Holy Ghost respect the authority that God has granted unto his earthly servants.

I have studied a lot of religions in my time. I don't recall any other Church having a priesthood office called "Seventy" as in the Bible. They have popes, priests, cardinals, and archbishops, ministers, pastors, and even some that claim to have apostles. None of them have a group called the Seventy who exercise the authority that were given those men in the Bible. It is just one more sign that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is MORE BIBLICAL than any of its critics wish to admit.

The more I study the scriptures and compare it with the history of the 1st century Church, the more my testimony grows. What a blessing it is to be a member of the same Church as Peter, James, John, Paul, as well as Mark, Luke, Cleopas, Philip, and all the rest!