Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
Lesson 25
Priesthood: “The Power of Godliness”

Lesson Highlights

A study of this lesson will help us gain a greater understanding of the priesthood and seek the blessings that come from using it righteously.

Scripture references for study:  D&C 84:33–44; 121:34–46; D&C 107
    Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at and will open in a new window.

Lesson 25 Handout (PDF)

The Restoration of Priesthood Authority & Organization

As discussed in Lesson 8, while translating the Book of Mormon Joseph and Oliver had questions about baptism. After retiring to the woods near the Susquehanna River, they knelt in prayer and inquired of the Lord. In response to their prayer John the Baptist appeared. Joseph and Oliver received the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John at this time.

Within a few weeks after the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph and Oliver. See Lesson 8.

Prior to the organization of the Church on April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith received the revelation known as Section 20. This section provides instructions regarding the duties of elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. Reference is also made to apostles, presiding elders, traveling bishops, high councilors, high priests.

On February 4, 1331, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which Edward Partridge was called to be the first bishop in the Church (see D&C 41).

In a conference held in June 1831, the first ordinations to the office of high priest were made.

The First Presidency of the Church was established in March 1832.

On December 18, 1833, in Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith, Sr., was ordained the first Patriarch to the Church.

On February 17, 1834, the first High Council of the Church was organized in Kirtland, Ohio. D&C 102 contains the minutes of that meeting. This first high council included the First Presidency and had jurisdiction over the whole Church.

On February 8, 1835, the Prophet invited Brigham and Joseph Young to his home in Kirtland.

"The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling" (D&C 107:25).

As can be seen from this brief survey of priesthood organization, the Church has evolved under the direction of divine revelation to a prophet to meet the needs of the times. The history of bishops and seventies are good examples. We have also had Assistants to the Twelve and Regional Representatives that have come and gone, each meeting a particular need for a period of time.

The Oath & Covenant of the Priesthood

  1. In September 1832, the Elders who had been doing missionary work in the Eastern States began returning to Kirtland. The revelation recorded as Section 84 was given in the presence of some of these elders. Part of this revelation addresses the importance of priesthood.
  2. Part of Section 84 is known at the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. These verses outline:
  3. READ D&C 84:33-44.

Principles For Using the Priesthood

In March 1839, Joseph Smith remained incarcerated in jail at Liberty, Missouri. In his frustration, the Prophet called out to the Lord and asked how long the Saints would continue to suffer. The Lord spoke words of comfort and peace. As part of this same revelation, the Lord instructed Joseph on principles for using the priesthood (see D&C 121:34-46).

"...the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and...the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness" (v36).

READ D&C 121:41-46.

Gospel Doctrine Notebook

Record your thoughts on priesthood organization and authority. How does the priesthood bless your life?

Resources Used In This Lesson

A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts (CHC).

Conference Reports (CR).

Encyclopedia of Mormonism edited by Daniel H. Ludlow.

Essentials in Church History by Joseph Fielding Smith.

Improvement Era.

Joseph Smith and the Restoration by Ivan J. Barrett.

Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).


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Changes last made on:  09 June 2017