The Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 106 on November 25, 1834. In this revelation the Lord called Warren Cowdery to preside over the Church in Freedom, New York, and the surrounding communities. The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 107 was recorded in 1835, but the Lord gave certain parts of it to Joseph Smith at different times. At about the time the revelation was recorded, members of the recently organized Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were preparing to depart on missions. This is the first of three lessons on Doctrine and Covenants 107.
Think of a time when a new bishop or branch president has been called. How do you think that person felt?
In 1834 the Church experienced significant growth in the community of Freedom, New York, a little less than 200 miles (approximately 322 kilometers) from Kirtland, Ohio. The Lord called a priesthood leader to preside over the members there. Read Doctrine and Covenants 106:1 to discover whom the Lord appointed to preside.
Warren Cowdery was Oliver Cowdery’s older brother. When Warren Cowdery received the calling to serve as a presiding high priest, his 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. Read Doctrine and Covenants 106:2–3, looking for what the Lord asked Brother Cowdery to do as he presided over the Church members in the area of Freedom, New York.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 106:6, and find what Warren Cowdery had done that led to joy in heaven. As you read, note that a scepter is a staff carried by royalty. It is a symbol of authority. In this verse the phrase “bowed to my scepter” refers to Brother Cowdery humbling himself before God’s power, and the phrase “separated himself from the crafts of men” likely refers to Brother Cowdery removing himself from vain and unrighteous activities.
Consider what you can do to humble yourself before God and separate yourself from unrighteous activities.
In Doctrine and Covenants 106:7–8, we read the Lord’s counsel to Warren Cowdery and His promise to bless Warren for following that counsel. Read these verses, and summarize the Lord’s promise by filling in the following blanks: If we ourselves before the Lord, then He will have mercy on us, us up, and give us .
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
In what ways does the Lord lift up those who humble themselves before Him?
When have you seen someone be lifted up because they were humble before the Lord?
Try to guess which Old Testament prophet is described in the following paragraph:
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).
What was the Melchizedek Priesthood called before Melchizedek’s day?
Consider marking the two reasons the members of the Church in ancient days called this priesthood after Melchizedek.
You may also consider marking the following doctrinal statement in Doctrine and Covenants 107:3: The Melchizedek Priesthood is after the order of the Son of God.
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how this doctrine should be demonstrated in the lives of priesthood holders: “When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He [Jesus Christ] would do if He were present” (“The Power of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 7).
You may want to write this explanation in your scriptures near Doctrine and Covenants 107:3.
In your scripture study journal, write about a time when you have seen someone exercise the priesthood properly by doing what Jesus Christ would do.
Without the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Church would not exist. Search Doctrine and Covenants 107:5, 8–9, looking for words or phrases that teach how the Melchizedek Priesthood relates to Church organizations such as Primary, Sunday School, Young Men, Young Women, and Relief Society. (Doctrine and Covenants 107:8 is a scripture mastery verse. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can identify it easily.)
Notice in verse 5 that these organizations are called appendages. An appendage is a part of a body, such as an arm or a leg.
In order to understand the right and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, refer to Doctrine and Covenants 107:8 to complete the following statement: The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of , power and authority over , and the authority to administer in things.
“Administer[ing] in spiritual things” includes administering blessings, ordinances, and covenants.
In your scripture study journal, write about a time when you were blessed through the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. You might write about a time you received a blessing, participated in an ordinance, or made a covenant.
The “Presidency of the High Priesthood,” mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 107:9, is the First Presidency. Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:10, looking for who has the right to officiate under the direction of the First Presidency.
Stake presidencies and bishoprics are examples of high priests officiating in their own standing under the direction of the First Presidency.
Doctrine and Covenants 107:15–17 refers to the Presiding Bishop of the Church. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“This is the office which Aaron held anciently; the right to it is hereditary; it descends from worthy father to worthy son. … But in the absence of a revelation to the President of the Church, designating the lineage and person to hold this high position of bishopric and Levitical presidency, the First Presidency chooses ‘a high priest of the Melchizedek Priesthood’ to hold the office. In this event two counselors are also called to serve in the Presiding Bishopric. (D. & C. 68:14–21; 107:15–17, 68–78.)
“As a holder of the keys of presidency over the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church and thus over all other bishops, the Presiding Bishop is one of the General Authorities of the Church. He sits as a judge in Israel, is responsible for many of the temporal concerns of the kingdom (D. & C. 107:68–74), receives consecrations for the care of the Lord’s poor (D. & C. 42:31–33; 51:5, 12–13), and is called to travel and preach as an aid to building up the kingdom. (D. & C. 84:112–116)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 592).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:18, and mark the following doctrinal statement: The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church.
“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” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 2.1.1). A jurisdiction is a geographic area where certain people have authority. For example, a bishop’s jurisdiction is his ward.
In Doctrine and Covenants 107:8–9, 18, we read about the power, authority, and order of the Melchizedek Priesthood. This right of presidency is associated with the keys of the priesthood. The term “keys of the priesthood” is used in at least three ways: keys bestowed upon the Apostles, keys of presidency, and a general use of “priesthood keys.”
Keys bestowed upon the Apostles. Those who are ordained Apostles are given (1) the apostolic keys, or the keys of the kingdom—the power and authority to preside over the Church and kingdom of God on the earth (see D&C 27:12–13); (2) the keys of the gathering of Israel, or missionary work (see D&C 110:11); (3) the keys of the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham and the restoration of all things (see D&C 110:12; see also D&C 27:6–7); and (4) the keys of the sealing power (see D&C 110:13–15). Only Apostles have these priesthood keys; they are not given to others.
“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” (Handbook 2, 2.1.1).
The keys of presidency. “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” (Handbook 2, 2.1.1).
Upon receiving these priesthood keys, a priesthood leader has the authority to serve as a presiding officer. For example, a bishop serves as the presiding high priest in a ward and also as the president of the Aaronic Priesthood for the ward. Priesthood leaders who receive keys also are given the right to special gifts or power, such as discernment. For example, a bishop serves as a common judge and receives the spiritual capacity to help members who need counsel with important personal problems, including serious transgressions.
“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, 2.1.1).
General use of “priesthood keys.” The general use of the term “priesthood keys” or “keys of the priesthood” can be understood as rights belonging to and available to priesthood leaders or, in many cases, to members in general. These rights must be defined in their respective contexts. For example, the keys of the ministering of angels are available to all Aaronic Priesthood holders by right (see D&C 13:1). The keys of the mysteries of the kingdom (see D&C 84:19–20; 128:14) are available in the temple. The keys of salvation are the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel and are provided to the seeker of truth and righteousness. Each of these keys must be qualified for and sought after for them to be manifest in the life of the individual.
In Doctrine and Covenants 107:19, we read about some of the blessings that come through the Melchizedek Priesthood. Read this verse, and identify those blessings.
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained the importance of the Melchizedek Priesthood in accessing blessings: “The Melchisedek 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).
All members of the Church can receive the blessings associated with the Melchizedek Priesthood. These blessings are available to all who receive the ordinances of the temple and remain faithful to their covenants.
Think of someone you know who holds the Aaronic Priesthood. Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:13–14, 20, looking for what the Lord said about the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood.
Based on what you have learned from these verses, complete the following statement: The Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of and administering in outward ordinances.
What ordinance is mentioned in verse 20? What other ordinances are administered by the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood?
“These ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood are … vital to the ministering of angels.
“‘The word “angel” is used in the scriptures for any heavenly being bearing God’s message’ (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, sel. Jerreld L. Newquist , 54). The scriptures recite numerous instances where an angel appeared personally. … When I was young, I thought such personal appearances were the only meaning of the ministering of angels. As a young holder of the Aaronic Priesthood, I did not think I would see an angel, and I wondered what such appearances had to do with the Aaronic Priesthood.
“But the ministering of angels can also be unseen. Angelic messages can be delivered by a voice or merely by thoughts or feelings communicated to the mind. …
“… Most angelic communications are felt or heard rather than seen.
“In general, the blessings of spiritual companionship and communication are only available to those who are clean. … Through the Aaronic Priesthood ordinances of baptism and the sacrament, we are cleansed of our sins and promised that if we keep our covenants we will always have His Spirit to be with us. I believe that promise not only refers to the Holy Ghost but also to the ministering of angels, for ‘angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ’ (2 Ne. 32:3). So it is that those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood open the door for all Church members who worthily partake of the sacrament to enjoy the companionship of the Spirit of the Lord and the ministering of angels” (“The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 38–39).
In your scripture study journal, write about how you have been blessed through the Aaronic Priesthood. (You may want to think about your baptism and your experiences partaking of the sacrament.)
Write each of the following priesthood offices under its correct heading in the following chart: elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, Apostle, deacon, teacher, priest, bishop. (Two priesthood offices, Apostle and bishop, have already been inserted in their correct places.)
You will refer to this chart during the next two lessons as you learn more about priesthood offices.
To become more familiar with Doctrine and Covenants 107:8, read the first word, “The,” aloud. Then read the first two words aloud: “The Melchizedek.” Continue this pattern until you have read the entire verse. Close your scriptures, and try to recite the entire verse from memory. If you cannot, open your scriptures again and repeat the process. In your scripture study journal, record when you completed this assignment.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: