Witnesses of the Savior:
Apostles are righteous men who have been chosen by Jesus Christ to be special witnesses of His divinity and His literal resurrection from the dead. They are His representatives and act in His name. Apostles bear witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and testify of its truth.1
When speaking to His apostles, Jesus Christ said, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you...."2 President Harold B. Lee, who was first an apostle and later the eleventh President of the Church in these Latter-days, taught about the mission and purpose of apostles:
"At the commencement of His ministry, the Master chose twelve men whom he separated from the rest by the name, Apostles. These were to be special witnesses of the sanctity of His life, and of His divine mission, and to be responsible for transmitting to the latest posterity, a genuine account of His doctrines, and principles, and ordinances essential to the salvation of the human soul."3Disciple VS an Apostle:
A disciple can be anyone who is devoted to a particular principle or following, whereas the office and calling of an apostle is a holy appointment in the Melchizedek Priesthood and is received by ordination.4
Apostles Are Prophets:
Through modern revelation we know that apostles are also prophets, seers, and revelators. See What is a Prophet? to learn more.
The Original Twelve Apostles:
In the New Testament we learn that Jesus Christ chose from His disciples, twelve men whom He called His apostles. Here's a list of the original Twelve Apostles:5
- Simon/Peter (Named Peter by Jesus Christ; Son of Jonah and brother of Andrew)
- James (Son of Zebedee and brother of John)
- John (Son of Zebedee and brother of James)
- Andrew (Son of Jonah and brother of Simon/Peter)
- Nathanael/Bartholomew (Likely the son of Tholomew)
- Thomas (Also called Didymus)
- Matthew/Levi (Called the Publican; Son of Alphaeus and brother of James the less)
- James (Called "the less" to distinguish him from the other James; Son of Alphaeus and brother of Matthew)
- Jude/Lebbaeus/Thaddaeus (Called "not Iscariot" to distinguish him from the traitor Judas)
- Simon (Called "the Canaanite" and "the Zealot")
- Judas (Called Iscariot; Son of Simon)
Other Scriptures Witness of the Twelve Apostles:
In The Book of Mormon we learn that the disciples of Christ who lived on the American Continent also knew of the existence of the original Twelve Apostles.6
Modern Day Apostles:
In these Latter-days, Jesus Christ restored His Church and once again called prophets and apostles to be His special witnesses, to represent Him, and to work in His name.
"Today twelve men with this same divine calling and ordination constitute the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."7I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He chose men to be His special witnesses. I know, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that these men are His apostles and that Christ has also selected men in these days to be His prophets and apostles. They testify of Him and are true witnesses of Jesus Christ.8
1. See 1 Nephi 13:24.
2. John 15:16.
3. Harold B. Lee in CR, Apr. 1955, pp. 18-19. Quoted in "Chapter 7: The Calling of the Twelve," The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, pg 52.
4. See Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage, p. 227.
5. See Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13, and John 21:2. Also see the chart on page 55 of "Chapter 7: The Calling of the Twelve," The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
6. See Apostle in the Index to the Triple Combination.
7. See Doctrine and Covenants 21:1.
8. See The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles", The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.