I was reading 3rd Nephi Chapter 28 during morning scripture study and noticed the disciples were separated into two groups based on the request from Christ. In verse 4 the nine disciples are promised Christ’s kingdom and in verse 10 the three disciples are promised the Kingdom of the Father. The latter sounds like Celestial glory as we know it while the former does not. Why would the nine not also inherit the Kingdom of the Father?
I think this is an excellent question to ponder. How hard is it to attain exaltation, in other words, to receive a fullness of the Father? In answer to your question, it would be best to understand the answer through recognizing other scriptures we have received which allow us to discover the answer to your question.
The first, John 17:3, explains that in order to receive “eternal life” (exaltation) we must have faith in, and knowledge of, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We recognize from the verse you share that the 12 disciples all had faith in Jesus Christ and in Heavenly Father.
The second verses of scripture, Doctrine & Covenants 84:33-40, explains that if we receive the Lord’s servants, we receive Jesus Christ, and by receiving Jesus Christ we also receive the “fullness of the Father” (exaltation).
The third verse of scripture, Article of Faith #3, explains that by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ we are saved (exaltation).
The final verse of scripture is found in our Pearl of Great Price within the Book of Abraham 1:2, explaining how Abraham became a rightful heir, a high priest (ultimately obtaining exaltation), through the proper application of knowledge and “choosing” and “desiring” to live the knowledge received — no matter the consequence.
Steps to Exaltation
In essence, if we have faith, receive the prophets, gain knowledge and apply this knowledge through choosing the sweet over the bitter, we will obtain exaltation.
In light of the verse you share, the question I would ask you, “where is Jesus’s kingdom”? Our Savior stands at the right hand of God. His kingdom is God the Father’s kingdom. He told the first that they would be with him in his kingdom, and he (Jesus) is an exalted being who will live within the Celestial Kingdom.
The others were told that they would be with him in the Kingdom of his Father. Our Savior and our Father in Heaven are “one.” Where the Father dwells the son dwells with him and where the Son (Jesus) dwells the servants who accepted him will be with him and the Father in their kingdom.