Some readers of the New Testament confuse the terms "disciples" and "apostles." According to Elder James E. Talmage in Jesus the Christ, discipleship is general; any follower of a person or devotee to a principle may be called a disciple. Therefore, Jesus had hundreds, even thousands of disciples - men and women who heard and accepted His teachings.
"The Holy Apostleship," explained Elder Talmage, "is an office and calling belonging to the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, at once exalted and specific, comprising a distinguishing function that of personal and special witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ as the one and only Redeemer and Savior of mankind. The apostleship is an individual bestowal, and as such is conferred only through ordination." Before calling and ordaining the Twelve Apostles, Jesus "went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12.)Elder Talmage wrote: "Then when day had come, and while many people were gathering to hear more of the new and wonderful gospel of the kingdom, He called to come closer some who had theretofore been devotedly associated together as His disciples or followers, and from among them He chose twelve, whom He ordained and named apostles." (See Luke 3:13.)
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.