Kingdom Women

Were there women among the “seventy”?

I’ve recently become fascinated by the life of a woman I call Mrs. Zebedee, mother of James and John, wife of a fisherman from Galilee.


Photo Credit: Hindrik S via Compfight cc

This is what Matthew’s gospel says about Mrs Zebedee on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion:

And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 27:55-56)

When did Mrs. Zebedee join Jesus’ group? When he left Galilee for Jerusalem.

The first part of Luke 9 clearly takes place in Galilee. Then Luke 9:51-53 says this: As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival.  But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem.

This passage obviously refers to Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem. If we marry these two verses, it sounds to me as though Mrs. Zebedee was with Jesus from this point onwards.

The remainder of Luke 9 is the passage where Jesus talks about the cost of discipleship. Luke 10 then goes straight into the story of sending out the seventy or seventy-two “other disciples.”  It’s hard to know if the rest of Luke’s gospel is in chronological order, but the end of Luke 9 and the first part of Luke 10 are clearly linked in time.

There’s no way to prove it, but it seems likely that Mrs. Zebedee and the other women were among the seventy that Jesus sent out to all the places where he planned to visit. They went out two by two, praying for the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest. They put into practice the teaching about the “person of peace.” healing the sick and telling the good news of the Kingdom. They reported back to Jesus how even demons were subject to his name. And Jesus told them too that they had authority over all the power of the enemy.

And Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, thanking God for revealing truths to the childlike (Luke 10:21).


6 replies on “Were there women among the “seventy”?”

Thank you so much for this! I have been researching whether or not there were women in the number of the 70 that Jesus sent out in Luke 10. The closer look at these verses helps so much!! I haven’t thought about Mrs. Zebedee a lot before, but she’s someone I would like to study now.

Here’s another verse that we can pair with these verses that adds to the fact that there were women in the number.

“Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.”-Mark 15:40-41

Paul mentions many women by name in his epistles. In his epistles to the Romans alone he speaks of Julia, Junia, Mary, Persis, Phoebe, Prisca, Typhaena and Tryphosa and of women identified only as “the mother of Rufus”, and “the sister of Nerus”.

Leave a Reply to Beth ReavisCancel reply