Doctrine and Covenants 13; Joseph Smith–History 1:66–75

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 42–43


About a month after starting the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, came to a passage on the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins. They went to the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania, to ask the Lord for further understanding concerning baptism. In answer to their petition, the Lord sent John the Baptist to restore the Aaronic Priesthood.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized the importance of this event:

“The holding of the Aaronic Priesthood, and the exercise of its power, is not a small or unimportant thing. The bestowal of these keys in this dispensation was one of the greatest and most significant things incident to the entire Restoration” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 56; or Ensign, May 1988, 46).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, p. 55.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 28–29.

  • Pearl of Great Price Student Manual: Religion 327, pp. 52–63.

Suggestions for Teaching

Joseph Smith—History 1:66–75. When we keep the Lord’s commandments, He blesses us with the Holy Ghost, who increases our understanding of the scriptures.

(20–25 minutes)

Have students complete the Aaronic Priesthood Pretest found in the appendix (p. 302). When they finish, have them study Joseph Smith—History 1:66–74 to find the answers, and review them as a class.

Answers: 1. b (see v. 68); 2. d, c, g, b, e, f, a (see vv. 68–71); 3. c; 4. b (see v. 72); 5. a (see v. 72); 6. c (see v. 73); 7. b (see v. 74); 8. c (see v. 74); 9. a.

Have students reread verse 73 and discuss why Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were filled with the Holy Ghost. Read Mosiah 18:10; Moroni 4:3 to see what blessing the Lord promises us when we covenant to keep the commandments. Suggest that students mark these verses to show the relationship between the commandments and the Holy Ghost. Ask: What specific commandment did Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery obey?

Read the first sentence of Joseph Smith—History 1:74 and discuss how the Holy Ghost influenced Joseph and Oliver. Have students compare verse 74 with 1 Nephi 10:19 and Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–36. Ask: Why does the Holy Ghost make a difference in one’s ability to understand the scriptures? Testify that the Holy Ghost is essential in our study of the sacred word.

Doctrine and Covenants 13. The Aaronic Priesthood “holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.”

(20–25 minutes)

Note: Consider referring students to the photograph of the Susquehanna River in the back of their scriptures (no. 5) as you teach Doctrine and Covenants 13.

Draw on the board a picture of a door with a keyhole. Ask students what a door can represent. Point out that a door can suggest a passageway to a location or opportunity, and that the door can either keep us out or let us in. Show students a set of keys, and explain briefly what each key is for. Ask which key they think is most important. Discuss how a key relates to the door’s symbolism. Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 13 for the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood. Have them mark these keys in their scriptures, and list them next to the drawing of the door.

Write the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks on the board: “Those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood open the door for all Church members who worthily partake of the sacrament to …” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 39).

Invite students to look again at section 13 and identify the three keys held by the Aaronic Priesthood. Have students share ideas about these three keys. Study the excerpts from “The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the appendix (p. 303). (Consider making copies for your students.) Discuss the following questions as you review the various sections of Elder Oaks’s talk.

The Key of the Gospel of Repentance

  • How should preparing for the sacrament be similar to preparing for baptism?

  • What difference can the way you prepare for the sacrament make in your daily life?

  • How does a call to be a home teacher help an Aaronic Priesthood holder preach repentance?

The Key of Baptism by Immersion for the Remission of Sins

  • Why is the companionship of the Holy Ghost “the most precious possession we can have in mortality”?

  • What part of Elder Oaks’s comments could you share with a friend who said, “I wish I could be baptized when I am old, so my sins could be remitted right before I die”?

The Key of the Ministering of Angels

  • Since “most angelic communications are felt or heard rather than seen,” what gift does the ministering of angels remind you of? (see D&C 8:2).

  • How would you complete Elder Oaks’s statement on the board? (see the next to last paragraph in the excerpts from Elder Oaks’s talk).

  • How do the Aaronic Priesthood ordinances of baptism and the sacrament open the way for a Church member to enjoy the ministering of angels?

  • What difference should this make to an Aaronic Priesthood holder when he considers his worthiness to perform baptisms or bless or pass the sacrament?

  • What difference should it make when he considers his behavior and appearance while preparing, administering, or passing the sacrament?