One can see thirteen magnificent statues in the Visitor’s Center for the Rome, Italy temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These are cut directly from brilliant white Carrara marble, and they represent the Savior Jesus Christ and His original twelve apostles. The statues are near-exact replicas or real look-alikes of the originals created by Danish master sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen during the 1800’s. They stand as proofs of the unwavering faith and commitment of the apostles to their mission to testify of Christ.
The statues are also physical testimonies of the struggles of ancient apostles in guiding the early church of Christ, and once again, the living apostles of today are represented by the said statues in their holy efforts in leading His church. Learn about who the ancient apostles were, what they did, what they have gone through, and as well meet the apostles of present who work their ways on the earth.
What kind of people are the apostles?
Apostles were people from different backgrounds who were called by Jesus Christ when He was living on the earth to help Him teach His gospel. The ancient apostles were twelve men; a number of them were fishermen, and another was a tax collector. Despite having different professions, all of them had one thing in common: they were Jesus Christ’s apostles with a mission to serve other people and testify of Jesus.
These ancient apostles were appointed by God to carry out His holy priesthood and were ordained as persons responsible to hold His authority. They had a special calling and a sacred mission to accomplish. Today, these apostles are here again thru the living apostles called by God. They hold the same special priesthood authority to act in God’s name, and they travel the whole world teaching people about Jesus and testifying of Him.
Who were the ancient Apostles and what we know about them?
The Bible teaches us that the original apostles of Jesus were Peter; James; John; Andrew; Philip; Judas Iscariot; Matthew; Thomas; James, the son of Alpheus; Bartholomew; Judas Thaddeus; and Simon Zelotes.
Among these were fishermen during the time of calling, namely: Peter; James; John; Andrew. Jesus Christ called Peter “the Rock” on which he would build His Church, and rightly so it was Peter who presided over His church after His death. Peter was believed by many to have been oppressed and martyred. The Bible teaches that James was also killed, but it was John who never experienced death, with Jesus having said that John would stay on earth and preach the gospel until Christ’s Second Coming. The other two apostles, Andrew and Philip, have preached the gospel after Christ’s death, and history say that both were also martyred.
Matthew was a tax collector or a “publican.” He has forsaken his career to follow Jesus Christ, and became popularly known as the writer of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Matthew was probably a well-educated man and the gospel he wrote was intended especially for the Jews.
Judas Iscariot is among the more famous apostles of Jesus Christ because of his reputation as a traitor; he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Out of remorse and guilty conscience, Judas hung himself. The apostle Matthias was called to replace Judas.
The mission of Jesus Christ to redeem all of God’s children is being known to many people today because of the apostles and their works.
Not much has been recorded about the lives of the other apostles like Thomas; James, the son of Alpheus; Bartholomew; Judas Thaddeus; and Simon Zelotes. We know little about the mentioned apostles unlike the other popular ones, but despite the limited information, we can be sure that they were fully committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Tradition teaches that many of them traveled the ancient world teaching the gospel and were ready to give their lives for the sake of their mission. The ancient apostles of Jesus Christ have manifested amazing faith, unwavering commitment, and unimaginable sacrifice to preach Christ’s gospel.
The Apostles of Today, and How They Came About
When the ancient apostles of Jesus Christ were killed, the messages that Jesus taught and wanted to be delivered to His children have been slowly distorted and corrupted through the passage of time. Christ’s priesthood, or the authority for man to act in God’s name, was taken from the earth. The Church that Jesus had established was no longer the same and has ceased to exist. Centuries have passed without Jesus Christ’s true Church on the earth.
A very important event in the restoration of the Church took place in 1820 when a teenage farm boy named Joseph Smith prayed and asked for guidance on which church to join. In answer to Joseph’s prayer, both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ appeared. Jesus Christ told Joseph not to join any of the churches then on the earth. He also told Joseph that He wanted His true Church to be on the earth again, and that He wanted Joseph to be responsible for its restoration.
Eventually, the ancient apostles Peter, James, and John returned as heavenly messengers to bless Joseph with the same authority they held in leading Christ’s Church while they were alive. Over time, the complete structure of Christ’s Church was restored, including the calling of apostles. Since then, a continuous line of apostles and prophets has led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the earth.
Why is this important today?
The mission of Jesus Christ to redeem all of God’s children is being known to many people today because of the apostles and their works. The apostles continue the teaching and preaching of Jesus’ commandments, and have been leading and guiding Christ’s Church under His direction. These living apostles speak to the Church and the world twice each year at a special meeting called general conference, which is broadcast around the world. ◼︎