Revelation, , Seneca Co., NY, to , , and the future twelve disciples, June 1829. Featured version, titled “Chapter XV,” typeset [ca. early 1833] for Book of Commandments, 34–39. copied this revelation [ca. Mar. 1831] into Revelation Book 1, but the pages on which it was copied were removed at some point from that volume and are no longer extant. The version found in the Book of Commandments and featured below is the earliest extant version. For more complete source information, see the source note for the Book of Commandments.
JS dictated this revelation in , New York, within the first few days of June 1829. Although the first portion of the revelation is addressed to , the remainder provides direction for Cowdery and jointly, including a call for them to find twelve . The revelation then speaks to an intended future audience for JS’s revelation, addressing these unidentified twelve disciples. Previous revelations had always addressed the individuals directly involved as they or a scribe recorded the words JS dictated.
This revelation opens with an admonition that “rely upon the things which are written,” especially the finished portion of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon. Just weeks earlier Cowdery had recorded from JS’s of the an account of Jesus Christ choosing twelve disciples and calling them to lead the church that he established. The revelation featured here then describes the duties of twelve leaders yet to be selected, using terminology similar to the Book of Mormon manuscript, including the responsibilities to preach, , and “ and to declare my gospel, according to the power of the which is in you, and according to the callings and gifts of God unto men.” While the Book of Mormon uses both disciples and apostles, distinguishing between the twelve “disciples” in America and the twelve “apostles” in Jerusalem, the terms seem to refer to comparable offices. This revelation uses the term disciple to describe the calling of the twelve, but it is unclear whether in 1829 JS and Cowdery thought of the terms disciple and apostle as interchangeable, as they did later.
It is also not known when and began to search for the twelve disciples or . At a of the church on 26 October 1831, Cowdery informed those in attendance that he had recently been told that the twelve “would be ordained & sent forth from the Land of Zion.” In February 1835, when twelve apostles were called, Cowdery stated that since the time of this revelation in 1829, “our minds have been on a constant stretch to find who these Twelve were.”
In the index to Revelation Book 1, John Whitmer listed this as the second of five revelations that were apparently dictated in June. (The text of these five revelations is not extant in Revelation Book 1.) This revelation was likely dictated after David Whitmer’s baptism, which also occurred in June, and before Oliver Cowdery’s 14 June letter to Hyrum Smith. (Revelation Book 1, p. ; JS History, vol. A-1, 23; Oliver Cowdery, Fayette, NY, to Hyrum Smith, 14 June 1829, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 5–6.)
JS Letterbook 1 / Smith, Joseph. “Letter Book A,” 1832–1835. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL. MS 155, box 2, fd. 1.
A passage in the Book of Mormon specifies “the manner which the disciples, which were called the Elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 575 [Moroni 3:1]; see also JS History, vol. A-1, 27.)
When JS and Cowdery convened a meeting to select twelve apostles in February 1835, they referred to the proceedings as being a fulfillment of this revelation. Similarly, although the text featured here (from the 1833 Book of Commandments) refers to the calling of “disciples,” the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants describes the purpose of the same revelation as the “calling of twelve apostles,” as does JS’s history begun in 1838. (Minute Book 1, 14 Feb. 1835; Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Record, 14 Feb. 1835; Doctrine and Covenants 43, 1835 ed.; JS History, vol. A-1, 27.)
1 A Revelation to Joseph, and , making known the calling of in these last days, and also, instructions relative to building up the , according to the fulness of the gospel: Given in , New-York, June, 1829.
NOW behold, because of the thing which you have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:
2 Behold I have manifested unto you, by my [p. 34]
The editors of the Book of Commandments composed revelation headings loosely based on John Whitmer’s headings found in Revelation Book 1. Because the pages in Revelation Book 1 that apparently contained this revelation are missing, it is unknown whose work is reflected in this heading. Regardless, it was most likely not part of the original revelation text.