The Quorum of Seventy
Stewardship and Authority
The work of the Seventy is Prophetic, Legislative, Administrative and
Judicial in its scope.
A Brief History of the Seventy
The Seventy in the Old Testament
The gospel has been taught from the beginning of time, and this everlasting gospel has remained unchanged from the days of Adam. Holding this belief allows us an understanding of parts of the Old Testament that would otherwise remain a mystery. The gospel contains the power to transform lives. Through direct confession to God, Repentance, Baptism of water and Spirit, God can make the foulest clean. The call of the Seventy is to:
“Bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts” D&C 28:2c.
Little has been recorded about the first Seventy who were called. We have references of the seventy elders of Israel who were called of God through Moses, when he cried unto the Lord that he could not bear the burden of the people alone and to be merciful to him by taking his life.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there; and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” Num 11:16-17
These Elders were bid to come up unto the mountain and commune with the Lord. There the Seventy with Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu saw the God of Israel.
“And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off”.. Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.” See Exodus 24:1,9,10
The Seventy in the New Testament
The Seventy Elders, (Sanhedrin), during our Lord’s ministry had become corrupted by apostasy. King Herod had murdered forty five of the seventy and replaced them with those who would be loyal to him. The Book of Luke records the Lord calling other Seventy.
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, where he himself would come…….. And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” See Luke 10:1,18
The Book of Luke gives the only clear reference to the seventy in the New Testament, however, there are strong indications in the Book of Acts, and the letters of Paul, which refer to other members of this quorum.
Eusebius, a church historian that lived in the time when the Roman Emperor Constantine took control of the Christian factions about 325 AD writes:
“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, and especially Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians. They say that Sosthenes also, who wrote to the Corinthians with Paul, was one of them. This is the account of Clement in the fifth book of his Hypotyposes, 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.” 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, 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. And upon examination you will find that our Saviour had more than seventy disciples, according to the testimony of Paul, who says that after his resurrection from the dead he appeared first to Cephas, then to the twelve, and after them to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom some had fallen asleep; but the majority were still living at the time he wrote.”-Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, Chapter 12
The Seventy in the Restoration
February 28, 1835 marks the date of the calling of the first Restoration Seventy. These Seventy were to function as had the Seventy of old. They were, as their predecessors, under the direction of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles who were called just fourteen days earlier. Thus the First Quorum of Restoration Seventy was begun according to the visions and revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. Their ministry was to be to all the world. ……
……Those who were called to serve as Seventy were men with deep conviction bearing personal testimony of the mission of Jesus Christ and his coming kingdom. The calling and ordaining of the Twelve and Seventy at this period of Restoration history substantially completed the organization of priesthood in the church. They were commanded to stand with the First Presidency as the three leading quorums of the church, to serve in The Joint Council with joint responsibility to protect the rights of the Saints and the teachings of Christ.
See D&C 104: 11e;123: 22; and 126: 10
The priesthood quorums received an endowment of the Holy Spirit in the Kirtland Temple at Kirtland Ohio in 1836 and in the following eight years moved out with great power in missionary activity. “The Lord now caused a greater endowment to rest upon his people, and the church grew rapidly. By 1844 the church estimated that 200,000 souls had embraced the truth”.
Church History, Vol. 3, Page 1.
The Presidents of Seventy have authority and responsibility to choose other Seventy to fill the seven quorums of Seventy as the need arises. They are to do this by consulting with the Presidents of the various Elders Quorums and also with their brother Seventies.
“And it is according to the vision, showing the order of the Seventy, that they should have Seven Presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the Seventy, and seventh president of these presidents is to preside over the six; and these Seven Presidents are to choose other Seventy besides the first Seventy, to whom they belong, and are to preside over them; and also other Seventy until seven times seventy, if the labor in the vineyard of necessity requires it.” D&C 104:43a, b
“The presidents of Seventy are instructed to select from the several quorums of elders such as are qualified and in a condition to take upon them the office of Seventy, that they may be ordained unto the filling of the first quorum of Seventy. In making these selections the presidents of Seventy should confer with the several quorums before so selecting, and be guided by wisdom and the spirit of revelation, choosing none but men of good repute”. D&C 120:10a, b
“My servants, the presidents of the Seventy, may with the consent and approval of their brethren of the Seventy sitting in council together, select from their brethren one to take the place of my servant I. N. White, if he accept the appointment to the Quorum of Twelve, and his choosing be approved by the church; and in like manner they may fill any other vacancy that has occurred or may occur; such selection and appointment to be made in the spirit of prayer and supplication and wisdom, and to be approved by the church.” D&C 124:5 a, b
“The seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world–thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling; and they form a quorum equal in authority to that of the twelve especial witnesses, or apostles, just named”. D&C 104:11e
“It is the duty of the traveling high council, (Twelve Apostles), to call upon the Seventy, when they need assistance, to fill the several calls for preaching and administering the gospel, instead of any others.” D&C 104:16
“The Twelve and Seventy administering as those prosecuting the work of preaching with the warning voice, baptizing, organizing and setting in order, then pushing their ministry into other fields until the world is warned.” D&C 122:8c
The Quorum of Seventy form an equal part of The Joint Council. As a Legislative Body they may propose, debate, and review Rules, Resolutions, Policies, Procedures, Budgets, and other matters for consideration of the Joint Council and the Body.
“And every decision made by either of these quorums, (Presidency; Twelve; or Seventy), must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other.
“The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith and virtue and knowledge; temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity, because the promise is, if these things abound in them, they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.”
“The Seventy are to act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve, or the traveling high council, in building up the church, and regulating all the affairs of the same, in all nations; first unto the Gentiles, and then to the Jews;”
The Seventy having equal jurisdictional authority with the Presidency and Twelve, act as an oversight quorum to ensure that the rights of the people are not trampled upon. In doing this, they have authority to inspect all aspects of church administrative operations. Any discrepancies encountered shall be brought before a session of the Joint Council of the First Presidency, Twelve, and Seventy.
“In case there should be a flagrant disregard of the rights of the people, the quorums of the church in joint council should be appealed to, and their action and determination should govern. I inquired what quorums of the church were meant, and I was answered, the three quorums the decisions of which are provided for in the law–the Presidency, the Twelve, and the Seventy.” D&C 126:10d, e
The word of God established a judicial body of seventy Elders to assist Moses in judging the people of Israel. In later years this body of seventy elders was known as the Jewish Sanhedrin. It was to this judicial body that Paul, Nicodemus, and others well known in the New Testament belonged. When Jesus called other Seventy (Luke 10) he was calling those who would replace the Seventy that were in apostasy under the High Priest Caiaphas.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there; and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” Num 11:16,17
Jesus sent out his newly called Seventy to go into every city and place where he himself would come, and instructed them to preach the gospel of the Kingdom with a warning voice. They were to warn those with whom they came into contact of the judgment that was to follow all who would not hear them.
“But into whatsoever city ye, (the Seventy), enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you; notwithstanding, be sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom, than for that city.” Luke 10:10-12