About 600 years before the birth of the Savior, the prophet Nephi saw in a vision that the Savior would choose twelve apostles to serve with Him during His mortal ministry (1 Nephi 11:29, 34-36). He also saw that, following the Savior’s death and resurrection, He would visit Nephi’s descendants, and that He would choose twelve disciples to minister to the people (1 Nephi 12:7-10). The angel who narrated the vision called the twelve in Jerusalem “apostles,” but he referred to the twelve on the American continent as “the twelve disciples” or “the twelve ministers.”
When Jesus descended from heaven, He announced who He was, He invited the people to examine His wounds, and then He called twelve men forward and gave them authority to baptize (3 Nephi 11:8-22). He told the people that they would be blessed if they would “give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants” (3 Nephi 12:1).
What do we know about these twelve men? We know their names (3 Nephi 19:4). We know that two of them—Nephi and Timothy—were sons of the prophet Nephi, who had earned God’s trust and received the sealing power (Helaman 10:4-11). Another—Jonas—was Nephi’s grandson. Two of the other disciples—Mathoni and Mathonihah—were brothers. Another was named after the prophet Isaiah, which suggests that his parents were believers.
We know that they taught and baptized the people before the Savior’s return on the second day of His ministry, and that when the people were baptized, they received the Holy Ghost (3 Nephi 19:5-13). We know that they assisted the Savior in providing the sacrament to the people (3 Nephi 18:1-10, 3 Nephi 20:3-7).
We also know that nine of them lived to the age of 72 years, and that the other three were permitted to remain on the earth until the Second Coming of the Savior (3 Nephi 28:1-7). About 400 years later, the prophet Mormon and his son Moroni met them and interacted with them (3 Nephi 28:24-26, Mormon 8:10-11).
Today, I will be grateful that God chooses mortal people to help Him accomplish His work. I will be grateful for the apostles on the earth today. I will also be grateful for the opportunities He has given me to assist with His work.