In April 1835 the recently ordained members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were in Kirtland, Ohio, preparing to depart on their first quorum mission. Before they left, the Prophet Joseph Smith shared with them some of the revelations he had received that are now contained in Doctrine and Covenants 107. This is the second of three lessons that cover this section. In this portion of the revelation, the Lord outlined the duties of the presiding quorums of the Church: the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy.
Think about a time when someone has supported, sustained, defended, or encouraged you. What difference did it make having someone help you in this way?
In the scriptures, to uphold someone means that we support, sustain, defend, or encourage that person. Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–22, looking for whom the Lord said Church members should uphold.
According to verse 22, how do we uphold the First Presidency? Answer the question by completing the following statement: The First Presidency is upheld by the , , and of the Church. You may want to mark the words or phrases that teach this truth. (Note that in verse 22, the phrase “chosen by the body” does not mean that Church members select those who serve in the First Presidency. It refers to Church members’ willingness to sustain those leaders.)
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do you think it means to uphold the First Presidency by our confidence, faith, and prayers?
From your experience, how are we blessed as we support and sustain the First Presidency?
What do you learn from Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–22 about the First Presidency?
As you read the following statement from President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, underline what he said we can do to sustain, or uphold, our Church leaders:
“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).
Think about what you are currently doing to uphold the First Presidency and other Church leaders. In what ways can you better support, sustain, defend, or encourage them?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:23, looking for what the Lord said about the duties of the Twelve Apostles. What are the Twelve Apostles called to be?
You may want to mark the words or phrases in your scriptures that teach the following truth: Apostles are special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world.
What do you think it means that the Apostles are special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ?
The President of the Church is the senior Apostle on the earth, and 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.
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 , 1).
In your scripture study journal, write about how you have felt and what you have learned when you have listened to or read the witnesses, or testimonies, of the Apostles. (It may be helpful to review some past general conference talks of the Apostles in Church magazines.)
Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:24, looking for what the Lord said about the authority and power of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
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 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 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 Twelve, the senior living Apostle is then authorized to exercise all of the keys of the priesthood.
Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“When one Church President passes away, how is a new President selected?
“In 1835 the Lord gave a revelation on this matter that provides for orderly succession. The revelation states that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a body equal in authority to the First Presidency. (See D&C 107:24.) That means that when the President of the Church dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the Quorum of the Twelve automatically becomes the presiding body of the Church. That pattern was established with the death of the Church’s first President, Joseph Smith. …
“This divinely revealed procedure for installing a new First Presidency of the Church—revelation from the Lord and sustaining by the people—has been followed to our present day. The First Presidency is to be ‘upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church.’ (D&C 107:22.)” (“A Prophet Chosen of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1986, 8).
In addition to explaining the duties of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Lord also revealed the duties of the Seventy. Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:25, looking for what the Lord said about their duties.
You may want to mark the words or phrases in verse 25 that teach the following truth: The Seventy are called to preach the gospel and to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in all the world.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:26, looking for what the Lord said about the authority of the quorum of the Seventy.
Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy taught about the authority of the Seventy: “The Seventy do not receive additional priesthood keys, but with each assignment they receive from the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, they are delegated authority to accomplish the assignment given” (“The Quorums of the Seventy,” Ensign, Aug. 2005, 48–49).
The following statements may help you understand the relationship between the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy:
“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 , 2.1.1).
Although the Lord said that the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy are “equal in authority” (D&C 107:24, 26), the First Presidency presides over the others. The Quorum of the First Presidency consists of the President of the Church and usually two counselors. The counselors are most often, but not always, selected from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These “three Presiding High Priests … form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church” (D&C 107:22). Upon them rests the responsibility of directing the kingdom of God on the earth (see D&C 90:12–16). The Lord emphasized the significance of the First Presidency when He declared, “Whosoever receiveth me, receiveth those, the First Presidency, whom I have sent, whom I have made counselors for my name’s sake unto you” (D&C 112:20).
As explained earlier in this lesson, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles becomes the presiding quorum in the Church only when a President of the Church dies. When a new President of the Church and his counselors are set apart, the First Presidency once again becomes the presiding quorum.
In speaking of the First Presidency, President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared: “Thank God for the presidency. Like [three mountain] peaks, they stand with nothing above them but the heavens. They need our sustaining vote. It is sometimes lonely in those lofty callings of leadership—for their calling is not to please man, but to please the Lord. God bless these three great and good men” (“The Spirit Beareth Record,” Ensign, June 1971, 87).
Think about a time when you had to make a decision as part of a group. What was your experience like?
How do groups of people generally make decisions? How do you think these decision-making processes compare to how the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy make decisions?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:27–32, looking for what the Lord taught about how the presiding quorums of the Church are to make decisions. You may want to mark phrases that help you understand how these quorums make decisions.
According to these verses, how are the decisions of the presiding quorums made?
You may want to write the following doctrinal statement in your scriptures near these verses: Decisions of the presiding quorums of the Church are made in unity and righteousness.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
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?
What are the qualities listed in Doctrine and Covenants 107:30 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 in unity and righteousness?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:33–35, looking for the following truths:
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.
In your scripture study journal, write some specific things you will do to uphold (support, sustain, defend, and encourage) the Lord’s chosen servants and better follow their counsel.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–38 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: