Hyrum Smith: “the Office of Priesthood and Patriarch”


In section 124 Hyrum Smith appears to be elevated to the highest level of leadership in the church as the co-President in the first presidency of the church with his brother Joseph Smith jr.

In this series I am going to suggest that perhaps that is not exactly what really took place.

In fact, I don’t think the office of President in the First Presidency in the Melchizedek Priesthood existed in Nauvoo in the same sense that it existed in Kirtland prior to 1835. Indeed one of the major revelations found within Section 124 is the fact that the fullness of the priesthood had been lost by the time the saints had migrated to Nauvoo and received Section 124.

“ 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.”[1]

Section 124 is a revelatory document showing that the priesthood leadership structure of the church had been changed and would continue to change. A transition was taking place relevant to the fact that the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham had been secretly ushered in and therefore the priesthood structure of the church was going through a change.

The reason this is important is because the Lord was actually preparing the saints for a major organizational transition in Nauvoo from being a “church” to being a “tribal kingdom”.

According to section 124, Joseph was the “presiding elder” of a “church”, but he was no longer the President of the First Presidency of the High Priesthood that was restored in June of 1831 at the Isaac Morley Farm. That highest priesthood had been lost,  even though the lesser office of “high priest” within the ancient lineal priesthood continued on.

As previously demonstrated in other articles and blog posts, the restored church  had been condemned and was put on probation by the time the Nauvoo  era started.

In Section 124, the Lord was placing Hyrum in a patriarchal office over “my people”. His patriarchal office was to continue after the saints were rejected as a “church” shortly after Section 124 was given.

According to Lyman Wight, the church was rejected as a church with their dead later that year:

“… We were to have a sufficient time to build that house, during which time our baptisms for our dead should be acceptable in the river. If we did not build within this time we were to be rejected as a church, we and our dead together.

Both the temple and baptizing went very leisurely, till the temple was somewhere in building the second story, when Bro. Joseph from the stand announced the alarming declaration that baptism for our dead was no longer acceptable in the river. As much to say the time for building the temple had passed by, and both we and our dead were rejected together..

“The church now stands rejected together with their dead. The church being rejected now stands alienated from her God in every sense of the word.” [2]

Regardless of whether the Lord’s rejection of the Church with their dead happened as quickly after section 124 was given as Lyman Wight claims, or whether it happened a few years later, it clearly had taken place by the time Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred. The saints had failed to keep the law that had been given during the early Kirtland years as documented in section 42, including the law of consecration and the marital law of monogamy.

It is a matter of public record that the condemned saints failed to repent and reform and to complete the temple as commanded within the “sufficient time” allotted.

It is important to understand the above narrative because the Lord was in the process of transitioning the saints into a tribal kingdom, not unlike the ancient kingdom of Israel that David and Solomon reigned over.

It is not a coincidence that the Utah faction of the saints were led by the majority of the quorum of the Twelve apostles whose priesthood keys and office had been handed down from the patriarchal fathers (see sections 110, 112, 118).

It is not a coincidence that the posterity of Hyrum Smith, who held the lineal birthright to the office of Office of Priesthood and Patriarch, went with the saints to Utah and played a critical role in church leadership. Herein lies the true strength of the position of the membership of the modern corporate CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS as the organization that has been designated to take the knowledge of the fulness of the gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon and the revelations Joseph Smith brought forth, to the world.

This article will document that the modern corporate CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS does not represent the church of Christ that was restored during the early years of Joseph Smith’s ministry under the authority of the High Priests of the Melchizedek  Priesthood.

It will show that it represents an ancient tribal kingdom being lead by a patriarchal priesthood order. (which comes AFTER or UNDER the authority of Melchizedek vs 23) It represents the reestablishment of the ancient kingdom of Israel with patriarchal priesthood and an unbroken commission to take the Book of Mormon and the message of the gospel to the nations of the earth.

Again, it is interesting to note that Joseph is designated in this revelation as the “presiding elder” of the church instead of as the “president of the Melchizedek priesthood” or the Presiding member of the “First Presidency” that had existed during the 3 ½ year period that the fulness of the gospel/priesthood was on the earth.

Here are the passages in question regarding Hyrums calling:

 “And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William [Law] be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of [ instead of or in the place 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;

 That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people,

 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.

 And [in addition to his priethood office] 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;

 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 (cannot take place until temple is completed), 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;

  That my servant Hyrum may bear record of the things which I shall show unto him, that his name may be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever.

Although the above passages have been characterized by the main stream corporate church as placing Hyrum as the co-president in the First Presidency of the Church, holding the exact same priesthood office as Joseph Smith Jr., I am providing another interpretation of what the Lord is saying in Section 124 that challenges that assumption.

After scrutinizing the above passages, please note that there is only one place in the revelation that speaks of the “office(s)” in the church into which Hyrum is being placed.

It is the “office of Patriarch  and Priesthood”, that Hyrum holds. It is my belief that no other office is mentioned with regard to Hyrum. This office, if the term is referring to a singular office, is being mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants for the very first time, even though Father Smith appears to have held the same position.

Hyrum is appointed to that office or offices, by blessing and by right. It is clearly a different priesthood appointment than the one received by the 23 High Priests who were called by the voice of God out of the heavens at the Morley Farm. Nevertheless, Hyrum is appointed to enjoy the spiritual gifts of being a prophet, seer and revelator, subject to being taught by Joseph how to ask and receive. The nature of those two appointments seems to be significant.

This “office of Office of Priesthood and Patriarch” is being introduced in modern revelation following the ominous inference that the Kirtland apostasy had resulted in the loss of the fulness of the priesthood and that the defiling of the Kirtland Temple had left the church without an acceptable sanctuary in which the Lord could “restore again that which was lost.. even the fulness of the priesthood”.

Another evidence that the only office or offices Hyrum is being called to is that of “Office of Priesthood and Patriarch” and not as the co-president in the same priesthood office as Joseph, is substantiated by the fact that when the Lord replaces Hyrum Smith with William Law as the councilor in the Presidency of the condemned church, William is only declared to be a counselor to Joseph, not to Joseph and Hyrum as co-presidents of the church:

“And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William [Law] be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of [ instead of or in the place 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..”[3]

Clearly, if Hyrum was being made the co-president of the church with Joseph, William would have been designated as a counselor to both Joseph and Hyrum.

Note also that although Hyrum is to “work in concert with Joseph”. That does not necessarily mean he holds the exact same priesthood office as Joseph nor does it mean that he or Joseph are functioning in the first Presidency as a High Priest in the calling of of Melchizedek High Priest that was restored at the Morley Farm.

According to the 1828 Websters Dictionary, working in concert simply means to be in agreement and mutual harmony with regard to a scheme:

“Agreement of two or more in a design or plan; union formed by mutual communication of opinions and views; accordance in a scheme; harmony.

It does not categorically mean that they hold the same office in the church.

It appears as if the Lord was indeed positioning Hyrum to replace Joseph as the presiding leader of the saints when Joseph would eventually resign from his position of leadership, but the nature of Hyrum’s leadership position would be different than Joseph’s previous position. Additionally, the status of the saints would change from that of being a church, to that of being a tribal entity.

Joseph Steps Down as the Prophet of the Church

On July 16th 1843 The prophet Joseph Smith-

 “stated that Hyrum held the office of prophet to the church by birth-right & he was going to have a REFORMATION and the saints must regard Hyrum for he has authority

Technically speaking, I believe that the “office” or “offices” being spoken of above is what Hyrum held according to priesthood “blessing” and “birth-right”, which according to section 124, was the “Office of Priesthood and Patriarch”. My contention, despite the above wording from William Clayton’s journal entry, is that being a “prophet” or “prophet, seer and revelator,” refers to a spiritual gift, not necessarily an official priesthood office per se, although we commonly refer to the prophet seer and revelator of the church as a priesthood office. We do this because the Lord has commanded the saints to sustain someone with those spiritual gifts as the President of the church.

The point Joseph was making when he said he would no longer prophesy for the church and that Hyrum had the authority, was that Hyrum was now the sole designated priesthood President of the church. It would no longer be Joseph and Hyrum working in concert with each other.

The acknowledgement that Hyrum was going to lead a reformation illustrates the fact that the church was still under condemnation.

Few if any of the Nauvoo Saints appear to have recognized the fulfillment of the succession prophecy in section 43 taking place before their very eyes when Joseph announced that Hyrum would now be the sole prophet of the church. It is virtually unknown among latter day saints that Hyrum became the sole prophet and president of the church, officiating in the ancient patriarchal priesthood of Abraham, at the time of the martyrdom.

Section 124 was essentially informing the saints that they had lost the fulness of the priesthood and it was offering them the chance to reform or be rejected as a “church”. It appears as if the significance of being a “church” rather than a patriarchal tribal kingdom is that the church holds the keys of the kingdom of God (which would include the ordinances of salvation.)

“Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for unto you the kingdom, or in other words, the keys of the church have been given. Even so. Amen.” (D&C 42:69)

In addition to the William Clayton Journal documenting Joseph’s resignation as the co-leader of the church, Apostle Willard Richards gave a similar report in a letter to the absent Brigham Young:

“[Joseph] said he would not prophesy anymore— Hyrum should be the prophet.”

 Joseph was making it clear in a public discourse that Hyrum would be the sole leader of the church in his designated office of “Office of Priesthood and Patriarch” and that He, [Joseph] was no longer going to speak prophetically for the church membership.

Differentiating Hyrum’s Priesthood Office from his Spiritual Blessings

Hyrum’s commission to be a prophet seer and revelator did not represent a priesthood “office” but rather it was a grouping of “spiritual gifts” required to fully function in his designated office of “Office of Priesthood and Patriarch”.

Notice how the following passage indicates that the “President of the Office of High Priesthood” presides over the whole church like unto Moses while the spiritual gifts required to act in that office are spiritual “gifts of God”:

The following quote seems to indicate they are gifts associated with the office;

91 And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to apreside over the whole church, and to be like unto bMoses

92 Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a aseer, a brevelator, a translator, and a cprophet, having all the dgifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.

When we continue this series in part two, we will review the five general parts of Section 124 that are mentioned with regard to Hyrum’s calling to the office of Office of Priesthood and Patriarch. We shall review and analyse Hyrums responsibility to receive specific spiritual blessings[4]. In future parts of this series we will evaluate the term “patriarchal blessings” that Hyrum was commissioned to give, as it is used in Section 124 to see what it is really referring to.

It is my belief that the patriarchal blessings given by Hyrum Smith during the Nauvoo period actually represent a type of “Rosetta stone” in helping us to decipher what the office of “Office of Priesthood and Patriarch” represents. Additionally it will help us identify the leadership transition taking place among the saints, and recognize the change in trajectory that the saints were going through from a “church” which has the saving ordinances of the gospel, to a “tribal kingdom”. We have documented in previous posts, using section 118 and other evidences, that the tribal kingdom being established has a limited patriarchal priesthood commission to take the knowledge of the fullness of the gospel to the world and testify of the name of Christ, in preparation for the fullness of the Gentiles that would once again come in, four generations later.

[1] D&C 124:28

[2] History Vol 2 p 790

[3] D&C 124:91

[4] It is important to understand the distinction between “spiritual gifts” and “priesthood office”.

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