Patriarchal Priesthood Administers New and Everlasting Covenant
(This post was originally titled Patriarchal Priesthood)
I recently had a comment by someone who disagrees with the proposition that the priesthood that was restored by Peter James and John was what Joseph Smith and the scriptures refer to as patriarchal priesthood or that it is a priesthood based on lineage in the sense that the Aaronic priesthood is based on lineage.
Here is his comment;
“I fail to see any evidence… that Peter, James, and John had anything to do with the patriarchal priesthood.”
I totally understand why he feels the way he does. I felt the same way a few short years ago… and it is still a struggle for me to get use to this new way of viewing priesthood.
When the thought first occurred to me after reading Joseph Smith’s discourse on the three orders of priesthood, that the 2nd patriarchal priesthood, often named after Abraham and Moses, was referring to the priesthood that was restored by Peter James and John, it did not resonate with me either. It kind of goes against everything I had ever been taught.
One of the things that seems strange to me is that a person could be born with priesthood because of lineage and yet need to be “ordained” to that priesthood by the laying on of hands. Yet that is the way the Aaronic Priesthood is. The seed of Aaron has a legal right to it but it still needs to be ordained or anointed or confirmed, by the laying on of hands.
Although I address this issue in part five, I don’t plan on publishing part five of my current series anytime soon, since I am off on another research project, and also somewhat burned out with writing. Therefore I thought I would take the opportunity to address this issue separately at this time.
I will now try to provide a few scriptures and words of Joseph Smith to show why I have come to believe differently.
First, lets review a few of the diary entries from the discourse that started me considering the possibility that both of the priesthoods restored in 1829 are related to lineage. Although those taking notes of the sermon list the three priesthoods in different order, it is obvious that they are saying the same thing.
Here is a journal entry from someone who listened to Joseph Smith’s discourse about the three divisions of priesthood;
“3 grand orders of priesthood referred to here.
1st. King of Shiloam–power & authority over that of Abraham holding the key & the power of endless life.–… must sacrifice all to attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life… anointing & sealing–called elected and made sure without father &c. a priesthood which holds the priesthood by right from the Eternal Gods.–and not be descent from father and mother.
2d Priesthood, patriarchal authority finish that temple and god Will fill it with power.
3d Priesthood. Levitical”
“1st Levitical which was never able to administer a Blessing but Only to bind heavy burdens which neither they nor their father able to bear
2 Abrahams Patriarchal power which is the greatest yet experienced in this church (referring to the “Church of Jesus Christ of latter day Saints” in Nauvoo, not the “Church of Christ” that had been legally organized in 1830)
3d That of Melchisedec who had still greater power even power of an endless life
“2d Priesthood, patriarchal authority finish that temple and god Will fill it with power.”
Naturally, before I came upon the content in this discourse years ago, I, like most members of the Church had assumed that there were only two priesthoods, Aaronic and Melchizedek.
This discourse blew me away and really changed my paradigm. As I began studying the doctrine of priesthood in greater detail, I began to believe that the three corroborating testimonies of what Joseph Smith taught that day were accurate and that he was teaching the truth about the priesthood in this discourse.
From a very logical point of view, it was obvious to me that the 1st, lesser priesthood mentioned above was the Aaronic priesthood restored in 1829 by John the Baptist.
I then needed to determine which of the other two priesthoods listed would have been the priesthood that Peter James and John would have restored.
It makes sense that the very next priesthood would be the one that was chronologically restored by angels, nevertheless, I needed more proof because this concept was so foreign to me.
I would submit to you, that by process of elimination, the priesthood restored by Peter James and John has to be the 2nd priesthood that Joseph Smith refers to as “Abrahams Patriarchal Power”.
Some of the reasons for making this deduction are as follows;
The Melchizedek priesthood that was restored in 1831 at the special conference at the Morley Farm was clearly a higher priesthood authority than the previous two priesthoods that had been restored by angles. The highest, Melchizedek priesthood is clearly the third one mentioned above and is verified as such by Joseph’s acknowledgment that it represents the “power of endless life“. Hence, the second priesthood had to be the one restored by Peter James and John.
The highest portion of the Melchizedek priesthood is the one that is bestowed by the voice of God himself. The above summary indicates that God will fill the temple with power after the patriarchal priesthood builds it. Again, by process of elimination, it appears that it was the authority restored by Peter James and John that builds the temple, not the Aaronic, or the highest power of God that would be restored again AFTER the Nauvoo temple was finished.
While I feel that the discourse itself provides strong evidence for the proposition, I needed to have confirmation from the scriptures.
Now let me call your attention to the following passages from section 84;
31 Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses—for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed—
32 And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church.
33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are SANCTIFIED BY THE SPIRIT UNTO THE RENEWING OF THEIR BODIES.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore ball that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.
I believe the above passages in section 84 are identifying all three priesthoods. Furthermore, they are identifying the first two priesthoods as being lineage based priesthoods… springing forth from the seed of Moses and the seed of Aaron.
Notice verse 33, which states that those who magnify the two priesthoods BECOME the Sons of Moses and Aaron. In other words, if they are not already of that lineage, they become adopted into those priesthood lineages upon magnifying the priesthood they had been called to.
I believe verse 31 is indicating that the first two priesthoods are the priesthood of Aaron and the priesthood of Moses!
The 3rd priesthood is identified by the words “sanctified” and “renewed” in verse 33. That is what happens when you magnify the priesthood of Aaron and the Priesthood of Moses, you enter into the highest priesthood and become sanctified and renewed. Third (Melchizedek) priesthood is also referred to in verse 34 as the ELECT OF GOD.
With the highest priesthood you are elected by the Father… not simply according to your lineage but because of you faith. At that point you transcend to the highest priesthood and you receive the Father and all that the Father has.
The bestowal of the Aaronic priesthood does not give you all that the Father has. The reception of the higher patriarchal priesthood of Moses does not give you all that the Father has. It is only after one has received and magnified those priesthoods that one enters into the oath and covenant of the Fathers priesthood.
There is no oath made when the Aaronic priesthood is bestowed. There is no oath and covenant which is made when the 2nd patriarchal priesthood of Moses and Abraham is bestowed.
It is only after magnifying those priesthoods that one becomes sanctified and enters into the oath and covenant of the Father like Enoch and Melchizedek did.
Verse 31 is actually a continuation of a prophecy that was begun back in verses 3, 4 and 5.
In the middle of the prophecy the Lord goes into a very long sub-topic pertaining to how the patriarchal priesthood of Moses and Abraham was handed down by mortal ordination… but lets splice the beginning of the prophecy in verses 3,4 and 5 together with the continuation of the prophecy in verse 31;
“Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city of New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saint, beginning at this place [Kirtland], even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.
And the sons of Moses and of Aaron, according the Holy Priesthood, shall offer up an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed.
And the Sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lords house, whose sons are ye and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church.”
As we can see from the prophecy, the Kirtland Temple was to be completed in that generation and the glory of the Lord was to rest upon the house… and indeed that prophecy came to pass! (See section 109:11-12 and also history of the Church regarding the Pentecostal experiences at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple)
Then the Lord also prophesies that those same Sons of Moses and Aaron will also, eventually, be filled with the glory of the Lord in Mount Zion. But notice that the Lord is revealing that Joseph, Hyrum, Oliver and others of the first elders ARE THE SONS OF MOSES AND AARON!
“whose sons are ye”
It seems somewhat poetic to me that the one like Moses would be a literal descendant of Moses.
If my interpretation of the above passages is correct, and the second priesthood that was restored by Peter James and John was indeed a lineage based priesthood based on the seed of Abraham and Moses, we should be able to find validation in the Old Testament that the seed of Moses was also given a similar priesthood promise based on their lineage to become a great nation, just like the promise given to the seed of Abraham or the seed of Jacob or the seed of Aaron.
First lets review the great promise the Lord gave to Abraham;
1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a gland that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Gen 12:1-3 Jacob gets the same promise in Gen 46)
Now, you will recall that after the children of Israel sinned in the sight of God he became angry and his wrath waxed hot. He told Moses he was going to consume them from off the face of the earth.
“Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” ( Exod 32:10)
Notice the declaration from God that he would make a great nation from the seed of Moses! It is the exact same promise that was made to Abraham and Jacob!
This is why God could consider wiping out the stiff necked tribes of Israel without skipping a beat in keeping the posterity of his elect on the earth… he knew he could still accomplish his purposes through the seed of Moses!
Yes it is true that Moses plead with God in behalf of the Children of Israel and he offered up himself as an atonement in their behalf to prolong their days upon the earth, nevertheless, God did not revoke his promise to continue the priesthood promise he made to the seed of Abraham and the seed of Jacob, through the seed of Moses! (and for that matter, he did not revoke his intent to send his wrath upon the children of Israel in the day of visitation, he simply delayed it as a result of Moses atonement.. see verse 34)
This bit of history in the Old Testament explains why the Lord makes the following promise and declaration to all those who magnify the priesthood of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron in section 84;
“They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.”
Having explained why I think the seed of Moses has a lineage based priesthood just as the seed of Aaron does, I want to provide some other food for thought.
I still understand why people are skeptical that the apostolic priesthood that has the right to govern the church of Christ and dispense the saving ordinances is the patriarchal priesthood that descends down from Abraham and eventually down through Moses, because we just don’t think of patriarchal priesthood as necessarily having administrative authority… even though Moses obviously had administrative priesthood.
Lets drill a little deeper for more verification. Note the following verse in the D&C;
“Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to?
He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel [Melchizedek Priesthood]; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion,has a right to by lineage [patriarchal Priesthood]; also to return to that power which she had lost [Melchizedek].” D&C 113: 7-8
According to Joseph’s interpretation of Isaiah above, the priesthood authority that enables the Saints to return to the highest Melchizedek priesthood that was lost, is a lineage based priesthood!
The priesthood power refers to the highest priesthood.
I think that is pretty strong evidence that the administrative priesthood authority that was restored by Peter James and John is the lineage based priesthood of Moses and Abraham.
Let me now throw out one very interesting quote from Joseph Smith which he made at the funeral of Judge Adams.
“I had anointed him to the Patriarchal Power to receive the keys of knowledge and power by revelation to himself. He had had revelations concerning his departure and has gone to a more important work.”
Notice how, according to Joseph Smith, the patriarchal power holds the keys of knowledge. This is what the section 84 tells us- the “higher priesthood” that descended down from Moses, that administers the gospel and holds the “key of the knowledge of God“. (see verse 19)
These are a few of the reasons why I have come to believe that there are three general levels or categories of priesthood and that the 2nd, or “higher” priesthood that was restored by Peter, James and John is also what is referred to as the patriarchal priesthood, often named after Abraham and/or Moses
Lesser priesthood- named after Aaron
Higher priesthood- named after Abraham, Moses
Highest priesthood- named after Enoch, Melchizedek
(the fact that the lesser priesthood was named after Aaron does not necessarily mean he did not personally hold a higher priesthood. Conversely, the fact that the patriarchal priesthoods are named after Moses and Abraham certainly does not mean that they did not each attain the highest and most holy priesthood personally.)
Here is another thing to consider. It is revealed in the Book of Abraham that the priesthood that would take the blessings of the gospel, even the blessings of salvation and eternal life to all nations would be the priesthood that God gives to Abraham and his posterity… even the patriarchal priesthood!
My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.
9 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.
Clearly, it is the Abrahamic priesthood that administers the saving ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Now take a look at what the Lord reveals in section 124-
“And as I said unto Abraham concerning the kindreds of the earth, even so I say unto my servant Joseph: In thee and in thy seed shall the kindred of the earth be blessed.” (verse 58)
As you can see, Joseph Smith and his seed held the same priesthood and the same promise as Abraham. They held the lineage based priesthood that blesses the nations of the earth with the gospel!
Now look at these passages. They reveal that the priesthood that presided over the church in Nauvoo was the lineal priesthood of Abraham that is administered by by ordination blessing and by right of descent. Notice also the same promise that the Lord gave to Abraham pertaining to the blessings and the cursings-
And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of my servant Hyrum, that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right;
92 That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people,
93 That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
94 And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph;
95 That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery; (verses 91-95)
The above passages also reveal that the President of the Church, who acts as a prophet seer and revelator, does so under the priesthood authority of the patriarchal priesthood!
Lastly, notice that Hyrum is taking the same priesthood office that was originally held by Oliver Cowdery!
This proves that the church in Nauvoo was functioning under the same patriarchal priesthood that the restored church of Christ had during the first two years proceeding the restoration of the fulness of the priesthood that was restored at the Morley Farm!
But what about the fulness of the priesthood that had been restored in 1831? What happened to it?
This very same section, section 124 informs us that the fulness of the priesthood had been lost-
“For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood!” (verse 28)
As you can see, when you compare the above passages in the book of Abraham with the passages in section 124, it becomes quite clear that the priesthood that governed the church between 1829 and 1831, was the patriarchal priesthood that comes down through the posterity of Abraham. It is a priesthood given by birthright and ordination blessing. It was the same priesthood that was governing the church AFTER the fulness of the priesthood, even the Melchizedek priesthood had been restored and lost again.