Christ chose “twelve” and called them DISCIPLES or ELDERS, not APOSTLES, and the “twelve” ordained elders, priests and teachers. (David Whitmer, An Address to all Believers in Christ, p. 29)
The twelve at Jerusalem are called in the written word “Apostles.” They are apostles because they were special witnesses to the sufferings of Christ, his death, burial and resurrection; but THE TWELVE WHICH CHRIST CHOSE ON THIS LAND ARE CALLED DISCIPLES OR ELDERS, AND ARE NOT ONCE CALLED APOSTLES IN THE BOOK OF MORMON.
In the revelation which came through the stone in June, 1829, to Oliver Cowdery and myself to search out the twelve, they are also called disciples, and not apostles; and the revelation says “disciples” in the Book of Commandments today. BUT IT HAS BEEN CHANGED IN THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS TO READ “APOSTLES.”
The heading to this revelation in the Book of Commandments says:
Making known the calling of twelve “DISCIPLES” in these last days. (BC XV)
In the Doctrine and Covenants it reads:
Making known the calling of twelve “APOSTLES” in these last days. (1835 D&C XLIII
In 1 Nephi 12:8-9, where reference is made to the twelve at Jerusalem and the twelve upon this land, each twelve are called by their respective names:
8 …Behold the twelve “DISCIPLES” of the Lamb, who are chosen to minister unto thy seed.
9 And he (the angel) said unto me, thou remembereth 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…(1 Nephi 12)
The twelve on this land are called disciples, and not in any place are they called apostles.
When Christ was teaching the twelve on this land, in giving them instructions, he refers to the way his twelve apostles did it at Jerusalem, in the laying on of hands, saying:
2 For thus do mine apostles. (Moroni 2)
In 1 Corinthians 12:28 it says:
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, etc. (1 Corinthians 12)
He did so, placing the twelve apostles first, which he chose at Jerusalem. They are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and they are to judge the twelve disciples whom Christ chose on this land among the Nephites.
Therefore, we see from the written word that there is only one twelve who are called apostles, and that they are placed first.
When it is God’s own due time to gather up the scattered fragments of his kingdom which has been laid waste by men, then we suppose that God will place at the head of his church twelve disciples; but we of the Church of Christ will not place them there, unless God so commands us.
This is Gods’ work and not man’s work. WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN TWELVE MAN-MADE DISCIPLES. (Ibid, p 51)
There were likewise TWELVE called to bear witness of the Book of Mormon:
Three + Eight + Joseph = TWELVE