Doctrine and Covenants 90: The Keys of the Kingdom

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 103–104


President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that the keys of the kingdom of God on earth “are the right of presidency; they are the power and authority to govern and direct all of the Lord’s affairs on earth. Those who hold them have power to govern and control the manner in which all others may serve in the priesthood” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 98; orEnsign,July 1972, 87). As you readDoctrine and Covenants 90, notice what the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith about these priesthood keys.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 90

Petition(v. 1)Request, asking 
Oracles(vv. 4–5)Revelations from God through His prophets 
Accounted as a light thing(v. 5)Considered to be not very important 
Heathen(v. 10)Those without a knowledge of the gospel or of the true God 
Confounded(v. 17)Put to silence, humiliated 
High-mindedness(v. 17)Thinking oneself above or better than others 
Snare(v. 17)Hidden trap 
Slothfulness(v. 18)Laziness 
Discharge(v. 23)Pay off 
Disrepute(v. 23)Bad reputation 
Hindered(v. 27)Slowed down 
Contend(v. 36)Discuss, debate 
Chasten(v. 36)Punish, discipline 

Doctrine and Covenants 90:3—The Keys of the Kingdom Never Taken from the Prophet Joseph

InDoctrine and Covenants 90:3, the Lord indicated that the Prophet Joseph Smith would hold the keys of the kingdom in this dispensation, even after he died. President George Q. Cannon, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, said that President Brigham Young taught that the Prophet Joseph Smith “stood at the head of this dispensation, that Joseph holds the keys, that although Joseph had gone behind the veil, he [Joseph Smith] stood at the head of this dispensation and that he himself [Brigham Young] held the keys subordinate to him.” President Cannon went on to say that President John Taylor taught “the same doctrine, and you will never hear any other doctrine from any of the faithful Apostles or servants of God, who understand the order of the Holy Priesthood” (Gospel Truth,1:255).

Doctrine and Covenants 90:6—Counselors in the First Presidency “Accounted as Equal”

The First Presidency is the highest quorum in the Church and presides over all the affairs of the Church. Counselors in the First Presidency can do everything the President can do—as if the President himself were doing it. However, they serve under the direction of the President and act under his direction and consent. As the Prophet Joseph Smith testified: “The Twelve are not subject to any other than the First Presidency, … and where I [the President of the Church] am not, there is no First Presidency over the Twelve” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,105–6). In other words, when the President of the Church dies, the counselors in the First Presidency no longer preside over the Church.

Doctrine and Covenants 90:13—“The Translation of the Prophets”

Doctrine and Covenants 90:13refers to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of the King James Version of the Bible (the Joseph Smith Translation), which he was working on.

Doctrine and Covenants 90:28–31—Vienna Jaques

The Lord invited Sister Vienna Jaques to go to the land of Zion and receive an inheritance. He also said that she should be given money to cover the expense of moving. She needed the money because she had consecrated all of her wealth to the Church shortly after her baptism. After this revelation, Sister Jaques went to Jackson County, Missouri, and received land, but persecutions forced her to leave and move to northern Missouri. She was a true and faithful member who served in many unpublicized ways. At the age of 60, she drove her own wagon across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley . She died at the age of 96. In her obituary it was written that “she was true to her covenants and esteemed the restoration of the Gospel as a priceless treasure” (“In Memoriam: Vienna Jaques,”Woman’s Exponent,March 1, 1884, 152).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 90.

Activity A iconThe Keys of the Kingdom

  1. 1.

    According toDoctrine and Covenants 90:1–6, what keys were given to the Prophet Joseph Smith?

  2. 2.

    Who else received this authority?

  3. 3.

    Name the men who hold these keys on earth today.

  4. 4.

    Summarize in one sentence the important truth taught in verse 5.

Activity B iconIn Your Own Words

  1. 1.

    Write whatDoctrine and Covenants 90:4–5means to you.

  2. 2.

    Write about a time when you felt strong in what could have been a difficult time because you didnottreat lightly the oracles of God. If you cannot think of a time, ask a family member, Church leader, or friend to share with you an experience he or she had. Summarize it in your notebook.

Activity C iconDuties and Responsibilities

  1. 1.

    According toDoctrine and Covenants 90:13–18, what are the duties and responsibilities of the First Presidency?

  2. 2.

    Which of those duties and responsibilities might also apply to the president of a Young Women class or Aaronic Priesthood quorum? For each duty and responsibility that would not apply, explain why.