Were the Nephite Disciples Apostles?
“In fulfilment of this prophecy when the Savior came to the Nephites, he chose twelve men and gave them authority to minister in his name among the Nephites on this American continent in all the ordinances essential to their salvation. These twelve went forth healing the sick and performing many miracles and administering the ordinances as they had been commanded to do. The fulness of the gospel with the power and the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood were given to the Nephites the same as they were to the Church on the Eastern Hemisphere
While in every instance the Nephite twelve are spoken of as disciples, the fact remains that they had been endowed with divine authority to be special witnesses for Christ among their own people. Therefore, they were virtually apostles to the Nephite race, although their jurisdiction was, as revealed to Nephi, eventually to be subject to the authority and jurisdiction of Peter and the twelve chosen in Palestine. According to the definition prevailing in the world an apostle is a witness for Christ, or one who evangelizes a certain nation or people. “A zealous advocate of a doctrine or cause.” Therefore the Nephite twelve became apostles, as special witnesses, just as did Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:29; see also 1 Nephi 12:8-10)