Lesson 112: Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–38

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

In April 1835 the recently ordained members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were in Kirtland, Ohio, preparing to depart on their first mission as a quorum. Before they left, they requested that the Prophet Joseph Smith seek a revelation to help them while they were separated (see the introduction to lesson 111). The revelation he received is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107. This is the second of three lessons that discuss this section. In this portion of the revelation, the Lord outlines the duties of the presiding quorums of the Church: the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–26

The Lord outlines the duties and authority of the presiding quorums of the Church

Before class, write the following words on the board: support and sustain. When class begins, ask students to think of a time when someone supported or sustained them. Then invite students to turn to a partner and describe their experience.

  • What difference did it make when you knew that someone supported or sustained you?

Write the word uphold on the board, and explain that to uphold someone means that we support and sustain that person.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–22 silently, looking for whom the Lord said Church members should uphold.

  • Whom did the Lord say we should uphold? (As students respond, write The First Presidency as a heading on the board.)

Ask students to review Doctrine and Covenants 107:8–9 silently. Before they read these verses, explain that in verse 9, the phrase “Presidency of the High Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek” refers to the First Presidency. Ask students to look for what these verses teach about the First Presidency.

  • What do these verses teach about the First Presidency? (Under the heading, write the following truth: The First Presidency has responsibility and authority to preside over every office in the Church.)

  • According to verse 22, how do we uphold the First Presidency? (Students’ answers should reflect the following truth: The First Presidency is upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayers of the Church. You may want to suggest that students mark the words or phrases in verse 22 that teach this principle.)

  • Why do you think we need to uphold the First Presidency?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for what he said we should do to sustain, or uphold, our Church leaders.

President Henry B. Eyring

“For us to sustain those who have been called … , we must examine our lives, repent as necessary, pledge to keep the Lord’s commandments, and follow His servants. …

“… It would be wise to determine to sustain with our faith and our prayers all those who serve us in the kingdom. I am personally aware of the power of the faith of members of the Church to sustain those who have been called. … I have felt in powerful ways the prayers and the faith of people whom I do not know and who know me only as someone called to serve through the keys of the priesthood” (“The True and Living Church,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 21).

  • What did President Eyring say we must do to sustain our Church leaders?

  • How can we sustain Church leaders, such as the First Presidency, whom we do not know personally?

Ask students to think about what they are currently doing to uphold the First Presidency and other Church leaders. Invite them to write a specific goal in their class notebooks or scripture study journals of what they will do in the future to better support and sustain them.

Write The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as a heading on the board. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:23 silently, looking for what the Lord said about the duties of the Twelve Apostles.

  • According to verse 23, what are the Twelve Apostles called to be? (After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board under “The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles”: Apostles are special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world. You may want to suggest that students mark this doctrine in their scriptures.)

  • What do you think it means that the Apostles are special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ?

Invite students to read what the Bible Dictionary says about the word and title Apostle. Ask students to report their findings.

Explain that the President of the Church is the senior Apostle on the earth and that the counselors in the First Presidency are also Apostles. Therefore, members of the First Presidency are also special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ. Invite students to think about how they have felt when they have listened to or read the witnesses, or testimonies, of the Apostles. Ask a few students to share their feelings with the class.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:24 silently, looking for what the Lord said about the authority and power of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

  • In verse 24, what do we learn about the authority and power of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles? (The quorum has authority and power equal to the First Presidency. You may want to write this information on the board under “The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.”)

Explain that when men are ordained Apostles, they are given the same priesthood keys as the President of the Church. However, the President of the Church, as the presiding high priest over the Melchizedek Priesthood, is the only man on the earth who is authorized to exercise all of the keys of the priesthood. The other Apostles use these priesthood keys as authorized by the President of the Church. When a President of the Church dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the Quorum of the Twelve, which is equal in authority and power to the First Presidency, becomes the presiding body of the Church. As President of the Quorum of the Twelve, the senior living Apostle is then authorized to exercise all of the keys of the priesthood.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:25 silently, looking for another priesthood quorum mentioned in this revelation and what the duties of its members are.

  • What is the third quorum the Lord mentioned in this revelation? (As students respond, write The Seventy as a heading on the board.)

  • What are the duties of the Seventy? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board under “The Seventy”: The Seventy are called to preach the gospel and to be especial witnesses of Jesus Christ in all the world.)

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:26 silently, looking for what the Lord said about the authority of the Seventy. Invite students to report their findings.

To help the class understand what the Lord said about the authority of the Seventy, invite a student to read the following statement:

“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. …

“Seventies act by assignment and by the delegation of authority from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. … The Presidency of the Seventy are set apart and are given the keys to preside over the Quorums of Seventy” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 2.1.1).

Invite a few students to share experiences they have had as they have read or listened to talks by members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Seventy. If students have met some of these brethren, invite them to share those experiences as well.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:27–32

The Savior explains how the presiding quorums of the Church are to make decisions

Tell students you would like them to make a simple decision as a group (for example, they could decide on the hymn to sing for the next class devotional). Encourage students to discuss their options and reach a decision together. Once students have made a decision, discuss the following:

  • How do groups of people generally make decisions?

  • How do you think these approaches compare to how the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy make decisions?

Divide students into pairs. Invite them to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:27–32 together, looking for what the Lord taught about how the presiding quorums of the Church are to make decisions. After students have had sufficient time to search these verses, discuss the following questions:

  • According to these verses, how do the presiding quorums make decisions? (After students respond, you may want to summarize their responses by writing the following principle on the board: Decisions of the presiding quorums of the Church are made in unity and righteousness.)

  • What are the qualities mentioned in verse 30 that are important for these brethren to have in order to come to unified decisions?

  • According to verse 31, what does the Lord promise the presiding quorums of the Church as they make decisions using these qualities?

  • How can knowing that the Lord promises to bless the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy with His knowledge help you uphold these leaders with confidence, faith, and prayer and follow their counsel?

Doctrine and Covenants 107:33–38

The Lord gives additional direction to the presiding quorums of the Church

Assign each student one of the following verses: Doctrine and Covenants 107:33, 34, or 35. Invite students to study their verse and identify truths about the Twelve Apostles or the Seventy. After sufficient time, invite a few students to come to the board and write the truths they have identified under “The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles” or “The Seventy.”

Among the truths students might identify are the following: The Twelve Apostles act in the name of the Lord and under the direction of the First Presidency in building up the Church. The Seventy act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles hold the keys of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Conclude this lesson by sharing your testimony of the sacred responsibilities of those who are called by the Lord to lead His Church. Encourage students to uphold and sustain them by heeding their inspired direction.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–24. Special witnesses of the name of Christ

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught what it means to be a special witness of the name of Christ:

“The role of an Apostle today is the same as it was anciently (see Acts 1:22; 4:33). Our commission is to go into all the world and proclaim ‘Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ (see Mark 16:15; 1 Corinthians 2:2). An Apostle is a missionary and a special witness of the name of Christ. The ‘name of Christ’ refers to the totality of the Savior’s mission, death, and resurrection—His authority, His doctrine, and His unique qualifications as the Son of God to be our Redeemer and our Savior. As special witnesses of the name of Christ, we bear testimony of the reality, divinity, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His infinite and eternal Atonement, and His gospel” (“Special Witnesses of the Name of Christ,” The Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel, vol. 12, no. 2 [2011], 1).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:27–30. Decisions of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught about the decisions of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“No decision emanates from the deliberations of the First Presidency and the Twelve without total unanimity among all concerned. At the outset in considering matters, there may be differences of opinion. These are to be expected. These men come from different backgrounds. They are men who think for themselves. But before a final decision is reached, there comes a unanimity of mind and voice.

“This is to be expected if the revealed word of the Lord is followed. Again I quote from the revelation:

“‘The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;

“‘Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord’ (D&C 107:30–31).

“I add by way of personal testimony that during the twenty years I served as a member of the Council of the Twelve and during the nearly thirteen years that I have served in the First Presidency, there has never been a major action taken where this procedure was not observed. I have seen differences of opinion presented in these deliberations. Out of this very process of men speaking their minds has come a sifting and winnowing of ideas and concepts. But I have never observed serious discord or personal enmity among my Brethren. I have, rather, observed a beautiful and remarkable thing—the coming together, under the directing influence of the Holy Spirit and under the power of revelation, of divergent views until there is total harmony and full agreement. Only then is implementation made. That, I testify, represents the spirit of revelation manifested again and again in directing this the Lord’s work” (“God Is at the Helm,” Ensign, May 1994, 54, 59).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:35. Keys of the Twelve Apostles

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Twelve Apostles “are to preside over the churches of the Saints. … They are to hold the keys of this ministry, to unlock the door of the Kingdom of heaven unto all nations, and to preach the Gospel to every creature. This is the power, authority, and virtue of their apostleship” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 141).