Twelve Apostles

Members of a governing body in the church, with special administrative and proselytizing responsibilities. A June 1829 revelation commanded Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer to call twelve disciples, similar to the twelve apostles in the New Testament and the twelve disciples in the Book of Mormon [Doctrine and Covenants 18]. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was organized on 14 February 1835, and twelve men were selected as apostles in that quorum. These apostles were to be “special witnesses of the name of Christ, in all the world”; they were also designated “Prophets and Seers” [D&C 107:23]. The Quorum of the Twelve was referred to as the “travelling high council” and had the responsibility “to preside over all the churches of the saints” where no presidency or high council existed [Record of the Twelve, 27 Feb. and 2 May 1835]. Seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve was initially based on age. Thomas B. Marsh was the first president, followed by Brigham Young. As part of their proselytizing responsibilities, the Quorum of the Twelve were appointed to serve missions abroad, beginning in England in 1837. In August 1841, the Quorum of the Twelve were “called upon to stand in their place next to the first presidency” and given additional governing responsibilities over the general church [Times and Seasons, 1 Sept. 1841, 2:521–522]. Joseph Smith appointed the Twelve as authorized agents for receiving donations. At the 6 April 1843 conference, they were appointed agents for the Nauvoo House and Nauvoo temple. Orson Hyde later reported that Smith gave the Quorum of the Twelve the final priesthood key in early 1844 [Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1844, 5:651]. See also Apostle.

Retrieved with permission from The Joseph Smith Papers.