One of the early acts of the Savior's mortal ministry was the calling of 12 special witnesses, known as apostles.
In an April 1984 general conference address, President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency spoke on the topic of this "wonderful and sacred office in the holy priesthood."He spoke of the 12 apostles Jesus chose to assist Him in the work of the ministry and to extend it following His death. He told of Paul, who declared that the Church should be "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." (Eph. 2:20).
Notwithstanding all this, said President Hinckley, "the office of apostle, and certainly a council of twelve apostles, is not found to my knowledge in other Christian churches."
President Hinckley said, "The word apostle, in its origin, literally means
one sent forth.' If that definition were stated to sayone sent forth with certain authority and responsibility,' it would probably describe the calling as it was given at the time our Lord walked the earth, and as it has been given in our time.
"Luke records concerning the Master `that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.' (Luke 6:12-13.)
"It is significant to me that the Lord chose those who should walk next to Him only after He had prayed all night concerning the matter.
" `And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. . . . These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them: . . . As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. . . . For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.' " (Matt. 10:1, 5, 7, 8, 20.)
President Hinckley said this same office of apostle was restored to the earth when the Church was re-established in this dispensation. (See D&C 20:2-3.)
Of today's apostles, President Hinckley said: " . . . their one chief concern must be the advancement of the work of God on the earth. They must be concerned with the welfare of our Father's children, . . . They must do all that they can to give comfort to those who mourn, to give strength to those who are weak, to give encouragement to those who falter, to befriend the friendless, to nurture the destitute, to bless the sick, to bear witness . . . of the Son of God, their Friend and Master, whose servants they are."
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Gerry Avant
Sources: Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage; and the April 1984 and April 1989 general conference reports.