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Dear Gramps,

I sometimes wonder, how come in the time of Christ were there more than one set of apostles called and why there is only THE twelve today. What I mean is that Jesus called his apostles, those who ministered with him and then when he was resurrected and visited the Americas, he called another twelve apostles to minister unto the people there (unless I’m reading it wrong). Also, was there a possibility that he called others in other lands? Hope you can shed some insight as no one is quite sure.

Many thanks,

C.A. Smith

Dear C.A.

The special ministers called from among the Nephites by the Savior when He appeared to them after his resurrection were not called Apostles, but rather disciples or ministers. Nephi was shown in vision the advent of the Savior among his descendants. The account of that vision speaks of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, who were those called to preside over the Church at Jerusalem, and who would act as judges over the twelve ministers or disciples who were called to preside over the Church in the Land of Promise.

And I saw the heavens open, and the Lamb of God descending out of heaven; and he came down and showed himself unto them. And I also saw and bear record that the Holy Ghost fell upon twelve others; and they were ordained of God, and chosen. And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the twelve disciples of the Lamb, who are chosen to minister unto thy seed. And he said unto me: Thou rememberest the twelve apostles of the Lamb? Behold they are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them; for ye are of the house of Israel. And these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed. And, behold, they are righteous forever; for because of their faith in the Lamb of God their garments are made white in his blood (1 Nephi 12:6-10.)

When the Savior appeared before the Nephites after his resurrection, one of the first things He did was to call Nephi and eleven others and gave them authority to baptize (3 Nephi 12:1.) In 3 Nephi 15:11-12 He cites them as his disciples, and in 3 Nephi 18:37 He gives them the power to bestow the Holy Ghost. The names of the twelve disciples are given in 3 Nephi 19:4.

These disciples administered among their people much as the twelve Apostles did among the church in the Old World.

And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus (4 Nephi 15.)

As the church has grown in the days of the Restoration, the administration of the affairs of the Kingdom has been modified to fit the circumstances. In earlier times, for instance, quarterly stake conferences were held, presided over by members of the Twelve. As the Church grew, more and more authority was delegated to local officials. Today the church throughout the world is divided into administrate areas, presided over by members of the Quorums of Seventy, who act under the direction of the Twelve Apostles.

In the days of the Savior communication between the two great heads of the church was impossible, and so they acted independently of one another, but both under the active direction of the Savior. Yet, the organization was one, and the twelve disciples in land of Bountiful were and are under the authority of the twelve Apostles who served in the land of Jerusalem.


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