On November 25, 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 106. In this revelation, the Lord called Warren A. Cowdery, an older brother of Oliver Cowdery, to preside over the Church in Freedom, New York, and the surrounding communities. Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 about April 1835, as all the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were preparing to serve missions in the eastern United States. In a written statement, the Twelve said: “The time when we are about to separate is near; and when we shall meet again, God only knows; we therefore feel to ask of him whom we have acknowledged to be our Prophet and Seer, that he inquire of God for us, and obtain a revelation, … that we may look upon it when we are separated, that our hearts may be comforted” (in History of the Church, 2:209–10). The revelation was recorded in 1835, but “the historical records affirm that most of verses 60 through 100 incorporate a revelation given through Joseph Smith on November 11, 1831” (introduction to D&C 107). This is the first of three lessons in this manual on Doctrine and Covenants 107.
Suggestions for Teaching
The Lord calls Warren Cowdery as the presiding high priest in Freedom, New York
Ask students to think of a time when they have sustained a new bishop or branch president.
How do you think that person felt as he was sustained?
Explain that in 1834 the Church experienced significant growth in Freedom, New York, a little less than 200 miles (about 320 kilometers) from Kirtland, Ohio. The Lord called a priesthood leader to preside over the members there. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 106:1–3 silently.
What did the Lord instruct Warren Cowdery to do?
Explain that Brother Cowdery’s feelings might have been similar to those of a new bishop or branch president today. The Lord shared comforting words as Brother Cowdery accepted his new calling. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 106:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and discover why the Lord was pleased with Brother Cowdery.
What do you think the phrase “bowed to my scepter” means? (To help students answer this question, you may want to explain that a scepter is a staff carried by kings and queens. It is a symbol of authority.)
What do you think the phrase “separated himself from the crafts of men” means?
On the board, write If ____________________________________________________________________________________________________, then ____________________________________________________________________________________________________. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 106:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, searching for the Lord’s counsel and promises to Brother Cowdery. Invite students to write what they discover by writing an “if–then” principle in their scriptures. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share the principles they have identified. (Students may use different words, but they should express the following principle: If we humble ourselves before the Lord, then He will have mercy on us, lift us up, and give us grace and assurance.)
In what ways does the Lord lift up those who humble themselves before Him?
Testify that we can receive the blessings promised to Warren Cowdery if we humble ourselves before the Lord.
The Lord teaches about the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods
Explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 helped clarify the organization and responsibilities of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Quorum of the Seventy.
Read the following description of an Old Testament prophet. Invite students to guess who they think you are describing.
This prophet “was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire” (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:26 [in the Bible appendix]). As king of Salem, he “did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace” (Alma 13:18). The prophet Abraham paid tithes to him (see Alma 13:15).
After a few students attempt to guess the name of this prophet, write Melchizedek on the board. Ask students to search Doctrine and Covenants 107:1–4 silently, looking for what these verses teach about Melchizedek.
What was the Melchizedek Priesthood called before Melchizedek’s day? Why is it now called the Melchizedek Priesthood?
Write the following principle on the board: The Melchizedek Priesthood is after the order of the Son of God. You may want to suggest that students mark this phrase in verse 3.
What does this principle suggest about how priesthood holders should fulfill their responsibilities?
As part of this discussion, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
List the following organizations of the Church on the board: Relief Society, Sunday School, Young Men, Young Women, and Primary. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:5, 8–9 silently, looking for words or phrases that teach how these organizations relate to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Ask students to report what they find.
What is an appendage? (A part of a body, such as an arm or leg.)
According to verse 8, what right and authority does the Melchizedek Priesthood hold? (As students answer, you may want to write the following truth on the board: The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, power, and authority over all the offices in the Church, and the authority to administer in spiritual things. Explain that “administer[ing] in spiritual things” includes administering blessings, ordinances, and covenants.)
Explain that the presidency mentioned in verse 9 is the First Presidency. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:10 aloud, and ask the class to look for who else has the right to officiate under the direction of the First Presidency. As students report what they learn, help them understand that stake presidencies and bishoprics are examples of high priests officiating in their own standing under the direction of the First Presidency.
Refer to the names of organizations that you have written on the board. To help students understand the relationship between these organizations and stake and ward priesthood leaders, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph F. Smith:
“There is no government in the Church of Jesus Christ separate and apart, above, or outside of the holy Priesthood or its authority. … [Auxiliary organizations] are not outside of, nor above it, nor beyond its reach. They acknowledge the principle of the Priesthood. Wherever they are they always exist with the view of accomplishing some good; some soul’s salvation, temporal or spiritual” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 341–42).
Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 107:18–19 silently to discover what additional authority the Melchizedek Priesthood holds.
According to verse 18, what authority does the Melchizedek Priesthood hold? (Write the following truth on the board as students identify it: The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church.)
To help students understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask the class to listen for spiritual blessings that come through the Melchizedek Priesthood.
“[The Melchizedek Priesthood] is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation, and every important matter is revealed from heaven” (in History of the Church, 4:207).
Which spiritual blessings described in verse 19 stand out to you? Why?
Help students understand that those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood are to use it to help other people receive blessings, such as the gift of the Holy Ghost and the blessings of the temple.
What are some blessings you have received through the Melchizedek Priesthood?
Explain that the Lord also described revealed truths about the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. Invite three students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 107:13–14, 20. Ask the class to follow along and identify the authority the Aaronic Priesthood holds.
What authority does the Aaronic Priesthood hold? (Students should identify the following doctrine: The Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of angels and administering in outward ordinances.)
What are some blessings you have received through the Aaronic Priesthood?
Write the following as headings on the board:
Melchizedek Priesthood offices Aaronic Priesthood offices
Before class, write the following priesthood offices on separate pieces of paper: deacon, teacher, priest, bishop, elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, Apostle. Place the papers in a container in random order.
At this point in the lesson, divide the papers among a few students. Invite students to come to the board and place each office under the correct heading.
Some students may say that the office of bishop is a Melchizedek Priesthood office. If they do, invite one of them to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:13, 15 aloud. Ask students to use these verses to determine where they should place the office of bishop on the board. Explain that the office of bishop is an office in the Aaronic Priesthood. A bishop is the president of the Aaronic Priesthood and the presiding high priest in his ward. (Note that the calling of literal descendants of Aaron, as mentioned in verses 16–17, is addressed in Doctrine and Covenants 68:15–21 and lesson 74.)
Make sure the offices are placed correctly on the board. (The Melchizedek Priesthood offices are elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, and Apostle. The Aaronic Priesthood offices are deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop.) Explain that these lists will prepare students for the next two lessons, in which they will learn more about priesthood offices.
Conclude by inviting students to share their testimonies about what they have learned and felt in class today.
Scripture Mastery—Doctrine and Covenants 107:8
To help students become more familiar with Doctrine and Covenants 107:8, challenge them to recite the verse together, with each student saying one word. For example, one student will say “The,” the second student will say “Melchizedek,” and so on. Record how long it takes the class to recite the verse, and give students multiple opportunities to improve their time. As you repeat this activity, consider shifting the order of students so they have to say different words. If the class is large enough to do the activity in two or three groups, see which group can get the best time.
Commentary and Background Information
Doctrine and Covenants 107:1. What is the relationship between the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood?
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
“Although there are two Priesthoods, yet the Melchizedek Priesthood comprehends the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood, and is the grand head, and holds the highest authority which pertains to the Priesthood, and the keys of the Kingdom of God in all ages of the world to the latest posterity on the earth, and is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation, and every important matter is revealed from heaven” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 108).
“All priesthood is Melchizedek; but there are different portions or degrees of it. … All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 109).
Doctrine and Covenants 107:8–9, 18. Priesthood keys
“Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth. The exercise of priesthood authority is governed by those who hold its keys (see D&C 65:2; 81:2; 124:123). Those who hold priesthood keys have the right to preside over and direct the Church within a jurisdiction.
“Jesus Christ holds all the keys of the priesthood pertaining to His Church. He has conferred upon each of His Apostles all the keys that pertain to the kingdom of God on earth. The senior living Apostle, the President of the Church, is the only person on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys (see D&C 43:1–4; 81:2; 107:64–67, 91–92; 132:7).
“Seventies act by assignment and by the delegation of authority from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Area Presidents are assigned to administer areas under the authorization of the First Presidency and the Twelve. The Presidency of the Seventy are set apart and are given the keys to preside over the Quorums of Seventy.
“The President of the Church delegates priesthood keys to other priesthood leaders so they can preside in their areas of responsibility. Priesthood keys are bestowed on presidents of temples, missions, stakes, and districts; bishops; branch presidents; and quorum presidents. This presiding authority is valid only for the designated responsibilities and within the geographic jurisdiction of each leader’s calling. When priesthood leaders are released from their callings, they no longer hold the associated keys.
“Counselors to priesthood leaders do not receive keys. They are set apart and function in their callings by assignment and delegated authority.
“All ward and stake auxiliary organizations operate under the direction of the bishop or stake president, who holds the keys to preside. Auxiliary presidents and their counselors do not receive keys. They receive delegated authority to function in their callings” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 2.1.1).
Doctrine and Covenants 107:8–12. The First Presidency, the presidency of the Melchizedek Priesthood
“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Lord reveals His will through the presidency of the Melchizedek Priesthood, meaning the First Presidency: ‘The Melchizedek High Priesthood was no other than the Priesthood of the Son of God; … there are certain ordinances which belong to the Priesthood, from which flow certain results; and the Presidents or Presidency are over the Church; and revelations of the mind and will of God to the Church, are to come through the Presidency. This is the order of heaven, and the power and privilege of this Priesthood’ (in History of the Church, 2:477)” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 263).
Doctrine and Covenants 107:18. The Melchizedek Priesthood holds “the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church”
President Spencer W. Kimball taught:
“[The Melchizedek Priesthood] is the means whereby the Lord acts through men to save souls. Without this priesthood power, men are lost. Only through this power does man ‘hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church,’ enabling him to receive ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened’ unto him (see D&C 107:18–19), enabling him to enter the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and to have his wife and children bound to him in an everlasting tie, enabling him to become a patriarch to his posterity forever, and enabling him to receive a fullness of the blessings of the Lord” (“The Example of Abraham,” Ensign, June 1975, 3; see also Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 263).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified of the spiritual blessings associated with the Melchizedek Priesthood:
“I have beheld the power of God manifest in my home and in my ministry. I have seen evil rebuked and the elements controlled. I know what it means to have mountains of difficulty move and ominous Red Seas part. I know what it means to have the destroying angel ‘pass by them’ [D&C 89:21]. To have received the authority and to have exercised the power of ‘the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God’ [see D&C 107:1–3], is as great a blessing for me and for my family as I could ever hope for in this world. And that, in the end, is the meaning of the priesthood in everyday terms—its unequaled, unending, constant capacity to bless” (“Our Most Distinguishing Feature,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 45).
Supplemental Teaching Idea
Doctrine and Covenants 106:4–5. A thief in the night will not overtake the children of light
Ask the following question:
When do thieves usually commit their crimes? (Answers might include when no one is watching, when we least expect, when people are distracted, and when it is dark.)
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 106:4–5 silently, looking for what event is coming like “a thief in the night.” You might suggest that they mark the phrase in verse 4 that identifies the event.
Explain that verse 5 contains the phrase “gird up your loins.” This means to prepare ourselves to work. Ask a student to read this verse aloud.
What are some things we can do to prepare ourselves for the Savior’s Second Coming? What can we do to help others prepare?