Lesson 86: Doctrine and Covenants 84:1–44

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


In September 1832, missionaries returned to Kirtland, Ohio, after preaching the gospel in the eastern United States. During their joyful reunion, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. He received the revelation over the course of two days: September 22 and 23, 1832. In this manual, section 84 is divided among three lessons. This first lesson focuses on the Lord’s instructions about the priesthood and how the priesthood can prepare us to receive all that Heavenly Father has.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 84:1–30

The Lord declares that a temple will be built and explains the purposes of the priesthood

If possible, bring a copy of someone’s priesthood line of authority to class (yours or a family member’s). (You may want to copy the line of authority on the board.) Help students understand that a priesthood line of authority shows how priesthood authority has been conferred from one priesthood holder to another, from Jesus Christ to a priesthood holder today.

Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 84 contains a revelation about the priesthood and how it blesses Heavenly Father’s children. The first part of the revelation reveals the priesthood lineage of Moses. Invite students to silently scan Doctrine and Covenants 84:6–19 and look for how Moses could trace his priesthood authority to God.

  • Why do you think it is important that priesthood authority extends in a direct line back to God? (See Hebrews 5:4.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the phrase that describes the eternal nature of the priesthood (“without beginning of days or end of years”). You may want to testify that priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God and share your gratitude that God has conferred this power upon mankind for the benefit of His children.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the blessings we can receive through the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  • According to verses 19–22, what blessings can we receive through the Melchizedek Priesthood? (Students may share several answers. Ensure that they identify the following doctrine: In the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest. Write this doctrine on the board.)

  • Which of the saving ordinances must be performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood? (Confirmation, conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the temple endowment, and the temple sealing. List these ordinances on the board.) How have you seen the power of godliness manifest in these ordinances?

  • According to verse 22, why is it important that we receive the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood? (The “power of godliness” manifest in these ordinances will allow us to see the face of God and live.)

Write the following truth on the board: To become like God and dwell in His presence, we must receive the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Refer to the list of Melchizedek Priesthood ordinances on the board.

  • Which of these ordinances can be received only in the temple?

After students respond, read the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Russell M. Nelson

“The temple is the object of every activity, every lesson, every progressive step in the Church. … Ordinances of the temple are absolutely crucial. We cannot return to God’s glory without them” (“Prepare for the Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Oct. 2010, 41).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify what Moses did to prepare his people to see the face of God. Ask students to report what they find. You may want to explain that the word sanctify means to cleanse and make holy. We are sanctified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 84:24–30 by explaining that because the children of Israel hardened their hearts, they lost the opportunity to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and the associated ordinances in this life. However, the Lord continued to help them progress. He allowed the lesser priesthood, or the Aaronic Priesthood, to continue with them (see D&C 84:26–27).

Doctrine and Covenants 84:31–44

The Lord teaches the oath and covenant of the priesthood

    Ask a student who holds the priesthood to respond to the following questions:
  • How are you blessed because you hold the priesthood? How are you blessed because other people hold the priesthood?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:31–32 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the phrase the Lord used to refer to those who hold the priesthood.

  • How did the Lord refer to those who hold the priesthood? (Help students understand that the phrase “sons of Moses” refers to those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and that the phrase “sons of Aaron” refers to those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood.)

Write the following phrase on the board: Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.

Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44 is known as the oath and covenant of the priesthood. These verses outline (1) the covenants a person makes when he receives the priesthood and (2) the promises the Lord makes to faithful priesthood holders.

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If those who receive the priesthood will __________, then God will __________.

Invite students to study Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44 silently or in pairs. Ask them to complete the statement on the board based on these verses.

  • How did you complete the statement? (Students should recognize the following principle: If those who receive the priesthood will magnify their callings, follow the Lord and His servants, and give heed to the words of eternal life, then God will sanctify them and give them all that He has.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“We magnify our priesthood and enlarge our calling when we serve with diligence and enthusiasm in those responsibilities to which we are called by proper authority. … We magnify our calling, we enlarge the potential of our priesthood when we reach out to those in distress and give strength to those who falter. … We magnify our calling when we walk with honesty and integrity” (“Magnify Your Calling,” Ensign, May 1989, 48–49).

Explain that when we receive callings in the Church, we have the opportunity to prepare ourselves and others to receive the saving ordinances of the priesthood. Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:

President Thomas S. Monson

“How does one magnify a calling? Simply by performing the service that pertains to it. … I hope with all my heart and soul that every young man who receives the priesthood will honor that priesthood and be true to the trust which is conveyed when it is conferred” (“Priesthood Power,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 49, 51).

  • What are some ways Aaronic Priesthood holders magnify their callings in the priesthood?

  • When have you been blessed because someone has magnified his or her calling?

Help students see that the blessings of the oath and covenant of the priesthood are not just for priesthood holders. God’s greatest blessings come to men and women who are sealed to each other in the temple. Read the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson:

Elder Russell M. Nelson

“One day Sister Nelson and I will dwell together in the presence of our family and the Lord forevermore. We will have been faithful to covenants made in the temple and to the oath and covenant of the priesthood, which have assured us, in the words of the Lord, that ‘all that my Father hath shall be given unto [you]’ (D&C 84:38).

“Faithful sisters share the blessings of the priesthood. Think of those words ‘all that my Father hath.’ … It means that no earthly reward—no other success—could compensate for the bounties the Lord will bestow upon those who love Him, keep His commandments (see Moroni 4:3), and endure to the end (see D&C 14:7)” (“Identity, Priority, and Blessings,” Ensign, Aug. 2001, 10).

To help students understand the specific promises the Lord makes as part of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, write the following incomplete statement on the board: The Lord promises to …

Invite students to reread Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–34, 38, 42 silently. Ask them to identify the blessings the Lord promises as part of the oath and covenant of the priesthood. You may want to write their answers on the board. They may mention that the Lord will: (1) sanctify us by the Spirit (see verse 33); (2) renew our bodies (see verse 33); (3) count us among the seed of Abraham—in other words, give us the blessings promised to Abraham and his posterity (see verse 34); (4) make us His elect, or chosen (see verse 34); (5) give us all that the Father has (see verse 38); and (6) give His angels charge over us (see verse 42). (As students mention the promise in verse 38, you may want to encourage them to think of God’s attributes and glory, not material possessions. For example, we can receive His truth, His love, His joy, and His peace. We can be blessed by a fulness of His power.)

Invite students to share why the priesthood is meaningful to them. Consider sharing your testimony of the blessings of the priesthood.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

Students can learn to teach gospel truths from the scriptures—a skill they will use throughout their lives. Divide students into pairs, and invite each pair to prepare a one- to two-minute lesson about one of the Basic Doctrines, using at least one scripture mastery passage. Invite both partners to participate in the lesson. Ask two or three partnerships to teach the class about the doctrine they have been assigned. You could ask the remaining pairs to teach during upcoming devotionals or after a shorter lesson. You may want to remind students that explanations, examples, experiences, and testimony are elements of good teaching.

Note: This activity could be used at the end of this lesson or on another day when you have more time. For other scripture mastery review activities, see the appendix at the end of this manual.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 84:3–5. “This generation”

In Doctrine and Covenants 84:3–5 we read the Lord’s revelation that a temple would be built in the city of New Jerusalem in the state of Missouri. In this revelation, given in 1832, the Lord said that the temple would be built in “this generation” (D&C 84:4–5). That temple has not yet been built, but the Lord has commanded His Saints to build many other temples. The Lord has excused His people temporarily from building the temple in the city of New Jerusalem (see D&C 124:49–51).

Regarding the phrase “this generation,” President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“This statement has been a stumbling block to some and there have been various interpretations of the meaning of a generation. It is held by some that a generation is one hundred years; by others that it is one hundred and twenty years; by others that a generation as expressed in this and other scriptures has reference to a period of time which is indefinite. The Savior said: ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.’ This did not have reference to a period of years, but to a period of wickedness. A generation may mean the time of this present dispensation. Moreover, the statement is qualified in this revelation in the above quotation. ‘For verily this generation shall not pass away,’ etc. It is not our intention to place any interpretation on this expression, but to say that these matters are in the hands of the Lord and he will accomplish his purposes when he considers that the time has come” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:337).

Doctrine and Covenants 84:24–25. “He took … the Holy Priesthood”

In Doctrine and Covenants 84:25, we read that the Lord took the holy priesthood out of the midst of the children of Israel who were with Moses in the wilderness. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the Lord “took the Melchizedek Priesthood, which administers the gospel, out of their midst in the sense that it did not continue and pass from one priesthood holder to another in the normal and usual sense of the word. The keys of the priesthood were taken away with Moses so that any future priesthood ordinations required special divine authorization” (The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:60).

President Ezra Taft Benson further explained:

“We learn through the Joseph Smith Translation that the Lord … instructed Moses: ‘I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof.’ (JST Ex. 34:1; italics added.)

“This higher priesthood, with its attendant ordinances, was taken from Israel till the time of Jesus Christ. …

“Between Moses and Christ only certain prophets possessed the right to the higher priesthood and the blessings that could bring men into the presence of God” (“What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple,” Ensign, Aug. 1985, 9).

Doctrine and Covenants 84:28. Ordained by an angel

In the following statement, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles refers to Doctrine and Covenants 84:28 and explains that when John the Baptist was eight days old, he was ordained, or chosen, to fulfill a mission—he was not ordained to the priesthood at that time. John was ordained to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews and to prepare the way of the Lord. An angel decreed that he would.

“Luke says: ‘The word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.’ Later John is to say: ‘He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me,’ such and such things. (John 1:33.) Who sent him we do not know. We do know that ‘he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood [meaning, when he was eight years of age], and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power [note it well, not to the Aaronic Priesthood, but] to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power.’ (D&C 84:24.) We do not know when he received the Aaronic Priesthood, but obviously it came to him after his baptism, at whatever age was proper, and before he was sent by one whom he does not name to preach and baptize with water” (The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:384–85).

Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44. Confidence through the oath and covenant of the priesthood

President Henry B. Eyring spoke of the confidence priesthood holders should have when entering into the oath and covenant of the priesthood:

“Rising to the possibilities of the oath and covenant brings the greatest of all the gifts of God: eternal life. That is a purpose of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Through keeping the covenants as we receive the priesthood and renewing them in the temple ceremonies, we are promised by an oath made by our Heavenly Father, Elohim, that we will gain the fulness of His glory and live as He lives. We will have the blessing of being sealed in a family forever with the promise of eternal increase. …

“There are at least two reasons why you should be confident rather than discouraged with the penalties that would follow either failing to keep the oath and covenant or deciding not to accept it. Whether you accept the oath and covenant and find it too difficult or if you fail to try, the penalty is the same. There is no question, therefore, that your best course and mine is to receive the holy priesthood and try with all of our hearts to keep its covenants. If we choose not to try, we would certainly lose the opportunity for eternal life. If we try and with God’s help succeed, we will gain eternal life.

“There is yet another reason to decide now that you will try with all your heart to qualify for that oath and covenant and have confidence that you will succeed. God promises you the help and power which, if you exercise faith, will give you success.

“Let me describe some of the blessings you will receive as you go forward in faith.

“First, the very fact that you have been offered the oath and covenant is evidence that God has chosen you, knowing your power and capacity. He has known you since you were with Him in the spirit world. With His foreknowledge of your strength, He has allowed you to find the true Church of Jesus Christ and to be offered the priesthood. You can feel confidence because you have evidence of His confidence in you.

“Second, as you will try to keep your covenants, the Savior has promised His personal help. He has said that as you go forward in honoring the priesthood: ‘There I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up’ [D&C 84:88]” (“Faith and the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 61–62).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

Doctrine and Covenants 84:6–17. The Lord identifies Moses’s priesthood lineage

Melchizedek Priesthood holders can request their priesthood line of authority by contacting the Global Service Center at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. They may direct their requests to the following:

Priesthood Line of Authority
Global Service Center
120 North 200 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103-1514
Telephone: 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3500
Email: lineofauthority@ldschurch.org

Doctrine and Covenants 84:17–20. The power of God is manifest in the priesthood

To show an example of someone who magnified his priesthood, relate the following story told by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (or show the Mormon Messages for Youth video “Sanctify Yourselves,” available on LDS.org):

“On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 30, 1998, … a Little League football team in Inkom, Idaho, was out on the field for its midweek practice. They had completed their warm-ups and were starting to run a few plays from scrimmage. Dark clouds were gathering, as they sometimes do in the fall, and it began to rain lightly, but that was of no concern to a group of boys who loved playing football.

“Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, an absolutely deafening crack of thunder split the air, inseparable from the flash of lightning that illuminated, literally electrified, the entire scene.

“At that very moment a young friend of mine, A. J. Edwards, … was ready for the ball on a handoff. … But the lightning that had illuminated earth and sky struck A. J. Edwards from the crown of his football helmet to the soles of his shoes.

“The impact of the strike stunned all the players, knocking a few to the ground, leaving one player temporarily without his sight and virtually all the rest of the players dazed and shaken. Instinctively they started running for the concrete pavilion adjacent to the park. Some of the boys began to cry. Many of them fell to their knees and began to pray. Through it all, A. J. Edwards lay motionless on the field.

“Brother David Johnson … rushed to the player’s side. He shouted to coach and fellow ward member Rex Shaffer, ‘I can’t get a pulse. He’s in cardiac arrest.’ These two men, rather miraculously both trained emergency medical technicians, started a life-against-death effort in CPR.

“Cradling A. J.’s head as the men worked was the young defensive coach of the team, 18-year-old Bryce Reynolds. … As he watched Brother Johnson and Brother Shaffer urgently applying CPR, he had an impression. I am confident it was a revelation from heaven in every sense of the word. … As he held this young deacon in his arms, he realized that for the first time in his life he needed to use his newly conferred Melchizedek Priesthood. … [He] had been ordained an elder just 39 days earlier.

“Whether he audibly spoke the words or only uttered them under his breath, [Bryce] Reynolds said: ‘A. J. Edwards, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the power and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood which I hold, I bless you that you will be OK. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’ As Bryce Reynolds closed that brief but fervent blessing offered in the language of an 18-year-old, A. J. Edwards drew his first renewed breath” (“Sanctify Yourselves,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 38–39).

  • What helped Bryce respond like he did in this moment of crisis? How is following an impression an example of magnifying your priesthood?

Invite a student to read Elder Holland’s concluding remarks after he told the story of A. J. Edwards and Bryce Reynolds:

“Now, my young friends of both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, … not every priesthood declaration can command the renewal or the sustaining of life. Sometimes the will of God is otherwise. But young men, you will learn, if you have not already, that in frightening, even perilous moments, your faith and your priesthood will demand the very best of you and the best you can call down from heaven. You Aaronic Priesthood boys will not use your priesthood in exactly the same way an ordained elder uses the Melchizedek, but all priesthood bearers must be instruments in the hand of God. … You must be ready and worthy to act” (“Sanctify Yourselves,” 39).

Encourage the young men to be worthy to exercise the priesthood with power whenever they are asked to do so.