“The Disciples Whom Jesus Had Chosen . . . Went Forth and Stood in the Midst of the Multitude”

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

During His visit to the New World, the resurrected Christ organizes His Church under the aegis of a new dispensation, calling twelve to lead the affairs of the kingdom of God in that part of the world. The Savior instructs the people concerning these authorized representatives: “Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am” (3 Nephi 12:1). The Lord gives special instructions to these disciples, beginning with Nephi, the son of Nephi who is the son of Helaman (see 3 Nephi 11:18–41; 13:25–34). We are then provided with the names of the members of this sacred quorum (see 3 Nephi 19:4).

The prophet Nephi had seen in vision many centuries previous the grand scope of responsibility pertaining to these twelve: “And he [the angel] 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 12:9–10).

Great and glorious are the experiences of these men. They teach the people with power and authority, receive and administer the ordinances of the gospel, enjoy angelic ministrations, administer the sacrament to the people, radiate light in their countenances as they pray, determine from the Savior the proper name of the Church, receive the commission to be judges of the Nephites, and reflect the Spirit of the Lord in all of their service (see 3 Nephi chapters 18–20, 26–27). Before the Savior departs, He grants each of them the desires of his heart. As we shall see, nine of the disciples desire to complete their mortal ministry and come “speedily” to the Savior in His kingdom (3 Nephi 28:2), while three desire to tarry in the world and bring souls unto Christ (see 3 Nephi 28:6–10).

The work of the twelve disciples following the ascension of the Savior contributes to an era of unprecedented peace among the people, one that endures for some four generations, in accordance with the promises of the Lord (see 3 Nephi 27:30–31). By the end of the first century AD, “the disciples of Jesus, whom he had chosen, had all gone to the paradise of God, save it were the three who should tarry; and there were other disciples ordained in their stead; and also many of that generation had passed away” (4 Nephi 1:14). Thus the work of the Lord continues, through times of peace and times of war, times of righteousness and times of spiritual decay, times of the outpouring of the Spirit and times where it is withheld due to wickedness—until the chronicle of the Book of Mormon comes to an end and the plates are consigned to their earthly vault to await the dawning of the Restoration in our day.

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2