Mormonism teaches that Jesus Christ established a church with very specific structure. He is the head; directly under Him, and responsible for the whole church on earth, is a Prophet and group (quorum) of Twelve Apostles. Mormonism reminds us that The Apostles were chosen by Jesus and ordained through the laying on of hands (John 15.16). The Mormon Church claims that when any one of the Apostles died, the remaining eleven met to choose his replacement, as in the case of Judas (Act 1:15-26).
According to Mormon teaching, the growth of the Church in the First Century rapidly separated the Apostles so that it became impossible for them to meet together to choose successors. Eventually the Quorum of Twelve Apostles was entirely depleted. In effect, the Church then ceased to exist in the earth.
Mormonism further teaches that Jesus bestowed the Priesthood upon the Apostles through the laying on of hands; they, in turn, passed it on to other men.