Jesus announced in Galilee, as He read from Isaiah in the synagogue, that He was the promised Messiah. Immediately, He began to organize His church. This organization, with twelve apostles, and eventually seventies, evangelists, etc., would be repeated among the Book of Mormon peoples, in the latter-day restoration of His Church, and probably among the Ten Lost Tribes. After Christ’s death and resurrection, He would guide His church through revelation to apostles by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We read in Luke 5:1–11, 27–28; 6:12–16, that Christ began calling His apostles among some Galilean fishermen. Christ had gone to the Sea of Galilee, and many people had followed Him. Two ships were in the sea near the shore, but the fishermen had left their ships and were washing their nets. Jesus entered into Simon Peter’s ship and requested that they would move a little way out from the shore. He proceeded to teach the people from the boat. Then he instructed Simon Peter and the others to launch out into the sea and cast their nets.
Fishing was typically done during the night, and the fishermen (Peter, James, and John) had already toiled all night without luck. Not only that, they had already washed and folded their nets. Yet, they followed the admonition of Jesus, even though it was illogical and inconvenient. Instructed to throw in their nets, they pulled in so great a catch, that their nets broke. The size of the catch nearly sunk the ship. Jesus promised them that their harvest of men would be as great.
Mark 1:17 says Peter, James, and John immediately left their nets and followed Christ. We know that Andrew had gone down to hear the preaching of John the Baptist, and witnessed that this was the very Savior witnessed of by John the Baptist. At this time, they were called to be disciples, and later were called as apostles. A disciple is any follower of Jesus Christ. An Apostle is a disciple who has been called to be a special witness of Christ (D&C 107:23). The word Apostle means “one [who is] sent forth” (Bible Dictionary, “Apostle,” 612). The members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are sent forth to testify to the world that Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of mankind.
And it came to pass in those days, 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;
Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphæus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor (Luke 6:12-16).
Two Apostles were named James: James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alphaeus. Two were named Simon: Simon Peter and Simon the Canaanite, also called Simon Zelotes (“the zealot”). Two were named Judas: Judas (also called Lebbaeus Thaddaeus) and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ. Matthew is called Levi in Luke 5:27–28. Thomas was also known as Didymus, which means “twin.” The Apostle referred to as Bartholomew in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke is presumed to be the same person referred to as Nathanael in the gospel of John.
Christ prayed to His Father before choosing His apostles, in fact, He prayed all night, so important was this choice. God chooses His servants in the same manner today. Those who have power and authority in His kingdom on earth pray for guidance and receive it through revelation, and thus callings in the kingdom are inspired.
Note that the original apostles were not paid ministers. They were called from their vocations and were never remunerated with money. They had no formal training for the ministry, but they were humble, obedient, hardworking men who were willing to sacrifice everything to follow the Lord. God’s modern church on earth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is structured in the same way. There is no paid clergy. Christ’s servants are called through revelation and set apart by the laying on of hands in order that they might receive the revelation and guidance necessary for their stewardship in the kingdom.
After Jesus called the Twelve Apostles, he gave them priesthood power and instructed them in their responsibilities. Through the laying on of hands, He enabled them to perform miracles in His name.
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. (See Matthew 10.)
This power is called “priesthood power,” and all the prophets of old had this power. It is had today by all worthy men in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The apostles were called as special witnesses of Christ. Some of their responsibilities were as follows:
- They have power to heal the spiritually and physically sick (verse 1).
- They are sent to the lost sheep of Israel to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (verses 6–7).
- They are to use their priesthood power to bless and heal people (verse 8).
- They are to seek out those who are prepared to hear the gospel (verses 11–14).
- They are to teach as guided by the Spirit (verses 19–20).
- They are to give their lives entirely to the Savior’s work (verse 39).
*Parts of this article were adapted from the LDS Church Gospel Doctrine New Testament manual.