Synaxis of the Seventy Apostoles
Church tradition confirms that the Seventy remained true to the Lord and their calling, fulfilling a vital role in the spread of the gospel. These were not random choices or accidental: volunteers but true disciples, true apostles, whose labours carried the message of their Lord throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.
Though lists of the Seventy vary somewhat, all are remembered in the calendar of the Church. One day, January 4, is set aside to remember them all, and the record of their work is preserved in accounts handed down through the centuries from place to place, especially in those locations where they laboured.
To tell the stories passed down in the Church concerning all of the Seventy would fill a book of considerable size, but the compromise of telling the stories of a few, both prominent and relatively obscure members, will relate the conviction and faith of this illustrious body.
Barnabas, a Jew of the tribe of Levi, was born in Cyprus of wealthy parents. He is said to have studied under Gamaliel with Saul of Tarsus, who was to become Paul the Apostle. Originally named Joseph, he was called Barnabas (Son of Consolation) by the apostles (Acts 4:36) because he had a rare gift of comforting the hearts of people, He who sought out Paul when everyone else was afraid of him, bringing him to the apostles. And it was Barnabas who was first sent by the apostles to Antioch to find out what was going on there (Acts 11:22).
Barnabas sought out Paul to work with him, and their long association was broken only when Barnabas was determined to take his cousin Mark, whom Paul did not trust just then, on a missionary journey. The mutual relationships among the three were later healed (Col 4:10).Many ancient accounts say Barnabas was the first to preach in Rome and the first in Milan, but he was martyred in Cyprus, and then buried by Mark at the western gate of the city of Salamis.
Among the more prominent of the Seventy was the Apostle Titus, whom Paul called his. Brother (2 Cor. 12:18) and his son (Titus 1:4). Born Crete, Titus was educated in Greek philosophy, but after reading the Prophet Isaiah he began to doubt the value of all he had been taught. Hearing the news of the coming of Jesus Christ, he joined some others from Crete who went to Jerusalem to see for themselves. After hearing Jesus speak and seeing His works, the young Titus joined those who followed.
Baptised by the Apostle Paul, he worked with and served the great apostle to the Gentiles, traveling with him until Paul sent him to Crete, making him bishop of that city. It is said that he was in Rome at the time of the beheading of St Paul and that he buried the body of his spiritual father before returning home.
Back in Crete, he converted and baptised many people, governing the Church on that island until he entered into rest at the age of ninety-four.
There are many less prominent among the Seventy who also laboured for Christ unto death, Aristarchus, whom Paul mentions several times (cf. Acts 19:29; Col 4:10; Philemon 24), calling him a “fellow labourer”, became bishop of Apamea in Syria. Sosthenes (Acts 18:17; 1 Cor 1:1) became Bishop of Caesarea, and Tychicus (Acts 20:4; Eph 6:21; Col 4:7; 2 Tim 4:12; Titus 3:12) succeeded him in that city. Simeon (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3), son of Cleopas (who was the brother of Joseph the betrothed of the Virgin Mary), succeeded James as bishop of Jerusalem. Aristobulus (Rom 16:10), the brother of the Apostle Barnabas, preached the Gospel in Britain and died peacefully there.
The lives of these few are quite representative of the Seventy who were instrumental in helping to plant the Church throughout the world. Many became bishops, but the names of all are numbered in heaven. In the Book of Life, as faithful servants of the Lord, apostles and foundations of the Church.
Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
With hymns let us praise the chorus of the Seventy Disciples of Christ, you faithful ones; and in godliness, let us keep a feast, for we learned through them to worship the Trinity, Who is indivisibly one; for they are the lamps of our most godly Faith.
Our Righteous Father Theoctistus, Abbot of Cucomo in Sicily
Saint Theoctistus, Abbot of the Monastery of Cucomo in Sicily, reposed in peace in the year 800.
Apolytikion of Theoctistus the Righteous in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Theoctistus, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.
Kontakion of Theoctistus the Righteous in the Fourth Tone
Thou didst rise out of the West, O Theoctistus, mystically illumining the Church of Christ like a bright sun with the resplendent and sacred rays of thine ascetical labours, O righteous one.
Forefeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Be thou ready, Zabulon; prepare thyself, O Nephthalim. River Jordan, stay thy course and skip for gladness to receive the Sovereign Master, Who cometh now to be baptized. O Adam, be thou glad with our first mother, Eve; hide not as ye did of old in Paradise. Seeing you naked, He hath appeared now to clothe you in the first robe again. Christ hath appeared, for He truly willeth to renew all creation.
Kontakion of Forefeast of Theophany in the Fourth Tone
In the running waters of the Jordan River, on this day the Lord of all crieth to John: Be not afraid and hesitate not to baptize Me, for I am come to save Adam, the first-formed man.
Also Celebrated Today:
- Zosimos the Monk and Athanasios the Notary
- Righteous Apollinaria the Senator
- Martyrs Chrysanthos and Euphemia
- Righteous Euthymios the Younger
- New Martyr Onuphrios
- Righteous Euthymios of Vatopedi
- Righteous John Scholarios
- Eustathios Archbishop of Serbia
- Nikephoros the Leper