September 7, 2016

Holy Apostles Evodos and Onesiphoros of the Seventy

Sts. Evodos and Onesiphoros the Apostles (Feast Day - September 7)


To Evodos
Evodos ran the road of the straight word,
Running to teach it to all.

To Onesiphoros
Onesiphoros brought profit to all,
Bearing the name he hastened to preach the Word.

Saint Evodos (or Evodios) was one of the Seventy Apostles of the Lord. He was appointed by the Apostle Peter to be the first Bishop of Antioch, and it is said that we owe to Evodos the name Christians, since it was during his episcopacy in Antioch that the followers of Christ were first called Christians (cf. Acts 11:26). Evodos was Bishop of Antioch until 66 AD, and was succeeded by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who writes of him in his Epistle to the Antiochians: "Keep in remembrance Evodos, your blessed shepherd, into whose hands the government over you was first entrusted by the apostles. Let us not bring disgrace upon such a father, and let us prove ourselves his true-born children, and not children of adultery." After leading the flock of Antioch in wisdom, and shining with all the virtues, some say he departed to the Lord in peace, while others say he died a martyric death. Saint Nikolai Velimirovich writes of him: "Evodos wrote a work on the Holy Theotokos, in which he related how the Holy Virgin Mary was brought to the Temple at the age of three, and remained in the Temple for eleven years; how, on entering her fifteenth year, she was entrusted to Saint Joseph for protection; and how, at age fifteen, she gave birth to the Lord. Evodos also wrote another work titled The Beacon (according to Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopolous). However, both of these works were destroyed during the persecution of Christians."

Saint Onesiphoros was also among the Seventy Apostles of the Lord, and is mentioned by the Apostle Paul with gratitude in his second epistle to Timothy: "May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphoros, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus" (2 Timothy 1:16-18). Because Paul speaks of Onesiphoros only in the past tense, wishes blessings upon his house (family), and mercy for him "on that day," some scholars believe that Onesiphoros had at this point died. Towards the end of the same letter, in 2 Timothy 4:19, Paul sends greetings to "Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphoros," again apparently distinguishing the situation of Onesiphoros from that of the still living Prisca and Aquila. Paul's reference to Onesiphoros, along with 2 Maccabees 12:40-46, is cited as one of the early examples of prayer for the dead. Onesiphoros became the first Bishop of Colophon in Asia Minor. It is said he died a martyr in the city of Parium (not far from Ephesus) on the shores of the Hellespont, for proclaiming Christ there during the persecution of Nero, by being tied to wild horses and pulled apart.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.