Question: Why did the Savior appoint men to be Seventies?
Answer: Following a pattern established in Old Testament times, Jesus Christ appointed “other seventy” to witness of Him, preach His gospel, and assist Him in His work. This pattern continues in the restored Church. Seventies are called to assist the Twelve in their mission as special witnesses of Jesus Christ to all the world. Seventies are organized into quorums. Members of the first two quorums are set apart as General Authority Seventies, while members of the other quorums are set apart as Area Seventies.
1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face (in advance of him) into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great (the potential for converts is large), but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves (you will be in danger at times).
4 Carry neither purse (money), nor scrip (food), nor shoes (wear sandals): and salute no man by the way (don’t stop to visit or delay the work you have been assigned).
5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
6 And if the son of peace (a peaceful person) be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire (It is worthwhile for people to support you). Go not from house to house (Go where the Spirit directs).
8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you (the true gospel is now available to you).
10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on (sticks to) us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding (even though you have rejected us) be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day (Judgment Day) for Sodom, than for that city (it is a very serious thing to reject the gospel, knowingly).
13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida (cities where Jesus had preached and done many miracles)! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon (non-Jewish cities), which have been done in you, they had (would have) a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes (would have humbled themselves).
14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you (because you have had great opportunities to know the gospel and they haven’t).
15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven (whose inhabitants are prideful, cocky), shalt be thrust down to hell.
16 (JST “And he said unto his disciples”) He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him (the Father) that sent me.
17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name (when we do it in the name of Jesus Christ).
18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (Satan and all who work with him): and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not (don’t get cocky or boastful), that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven (you will go to celestial glory).
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LDS.ORG: “The Unfolding Role of the Seventy: A Timeline”
(In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
“Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73).
Year Event 1829
Priesthood restored (D&C 13; 18:9; 27:12–13; 128:20).
“Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” (D&C 13:1).
“And now, Oliver Cowdery, I speak unto you, and also unto David Whitmer, by the way of commandment; for, behold, I command all men everywhere to repent, and I speak unto you, even as unto Paul mine apostle, for you are called even with that same calling with which he was called” (D&C 18:9).
“And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;
“Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (D&C 27:12–13).
“And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!” (D&C 128:20).
Revelation on the priesthood received (D&C 107:34–35, 38, 93–98).
“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 Twelve being sent out, holding the keys, to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and first unto the Gentiles and then unto the Jews. …
“It is the duty of the traveling high council to call upon the Seventy, when they need assistance, to fill the several calls for preaching and administering the gospel, instead of any others. …
“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 the 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.
“And these seventy are to be traveling ministers, unto the Gentiles first and also unto the Jews.
“Whereas other officers of the church, who belong not unto the Twelve, neither to the Seventy, are not under the responsibility to travel among all nations, but are to travel as their circumstances shall allow, notwithstanding they may hold as high and responsible offices in the church” (D&C 107:34–35, 38, 93–98).
First Quorum of the Seventy organized.
Presidency of the Seventy receive their anointings and blessings in the Kirtland Temple. Later the same month, members of the Seventy were anointed and blessed in the Kirtland Temple.
Joseph Smith met with some of the Brethren to choose the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
Presidents of the Seventy reorganized.
Duties of the Seventy outlined (D&C 124:138–40).
“And again, I give unto you Joseph Young, Josiah Butterfield, Daniel Miles, Henry Herriman, Zera Pulsipher, Levi Hancock, James Foster, to preside over the quorum of seventies;
“Which quorum is instituted for traveling elders to bear record of my name in all the world, wherever the traveling high council, mine apostles, shall send them to prepare a way before my face.
“The difference between this quorum and the quorum of elders is that one is to travel continually, and the other is to preside over the churches from time to time; the one has the responsibility of presiding from time to time, and the other has no responsibility of presiding, saith the Lord your God” (D&C 124:138–40).
First Quorum of Seventy to lead other quorums.
The Seventies' Hall was dedicated in Nauvoo.
At the time of the exodus from Nauvoo, the number of seventies quorums had increased to about 35.
Revelation to John Taylor on organization of quorums in stakes.
Seventy to be trained as missionaries.
Number of seventies quorums reaches 146.
Region and stake missions organized.
Assistants to the Twelve first called.
Seventies quorums or units are organized in each stake.
First Council of Seventy ordained high priests.
Members of the First Council of the Seventy authorized to organize or reorganize stake presidencies and to call stake presidents on assignment.
First Council of Seventy given sealing authority.
First regional representatives called.
Stake presidents authorized to ordain seventies in stakes.
Units of seventy were discontinued and quorums of seventy authorized in all stakes.
The First Quorum of the Seventy activated, to be gradually organized.
Stake presidents and General Authorities authorized to ordain bishops.
General Authority Area Supervisors assigned outside of North America.
Presidents of the First Quorum of Seventy may be rotated from time to time according to the discretion of the First Presidency.
Assistants to the Twelve released and called into the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Authorization for ordination of stake seventies no longer required from Church headquarters.
Emeritus status for General Authorities announced.
Seventies serving as Executive Directors of Church headquarters departments called to the Presidency of the Seventy.
First Quorum of Seventy and stake presidents authorized to ordain patriarchs.
Tenure of appointment to be fewer years for some Seventy (3–5 years): “However, tenure of appointment is not important insofar as the work is concerned. … After much prayerful consideration, we have called six men, mature and tested through long years of service, to become members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, to serve for periods of three to five years. … They will be General Authorities with every right, power, and authority necessary to function” (Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Apr. 1984, 4).
Area Presidencies appointed from the Seventy.
Seventies quorums in stakes discontinued.
Organization of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
Managing directors at Church headquarters changed to employees.
Policy established for members of the First Quorum to serve until age 70 and members of the Second Quorum to be released after five years.
Regional representatives released.
Area Authorities called.
First and Second Quorum of Seventy are General Authorities.
Area Authorities are ordained Seventies; Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy organized.
The tenure of Area Authority Seventies is modified to be an initial five-year period with an indefinite time period thereafter as circumstances may dictate.
Sixth Quorum of the Seventy organized.
Area Presidencies in the 11 areas in the United States and Canada are discontinued.
Seven Presidents are released from their assignments as Executive Directors of major Church departments.
Seven Presidents are assigned supervision of the 11 areas in the United States and Canada.
Area Authority Seventy title changed to Area Seventy.
Seventh and Eighth Quorums of the Seventy organized.
Number of Area Seventies serving in Area Presidencies reduced.
Additional responsibilities given to Area Presidencies.
Area Seventies replaced by General Authorities in all Area Presidencies.
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Source: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 63; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, 56; The New Testament with Joseph Smith Translation, compiled by Steven J. Hite & Julie M. Hite, 196; LDS.ORG, Prophets and Apostles, “The Unfolding Role of the Seventy: A Timeline.”