Chapter 20: Priesthood Organization

"Chapter 20: Priesthood Organization," Part Six: The Church of Jesus Christ, ()


How can a man obtain the authority to do our Father in Heaven’s work?

When a Man Has the Priesthood, He Can Act for Our Father in Heaven

The priesthood is the authority our Father in Heaven gives to worthy men and boys to do His work on the earth. He gave this authority to Jesus. Jesus has given this authority to men on earth. Men and boys who have the priesthood represent our Father in Heaven and Jesus. They can do things other men and boys cannot do. They can be missionaries and teach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They can bless sick people. They can do sacred works in the Church.

Jesus has told us the way for a man to give the priesthood to another man or a boy. A man who holds the priesthood puts his hands on the head of the man or boy. He then gives the priesthood to him in the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority of the priesthood he holds.

Only a man or boy who obeys Jesus’ commandments can receive the priesthood. Jesus will allow men and boys to do His work only if they obey His commandments.

There is no greater person on earth than a man or boy who uses the priesthood in the proper way.

Discussion

  • What is the priesthood?

  • Who can receive the priesthood?

The Priesthood Is Divided into Two Parts

The two parts of the priesthood are the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood is sometimes called the lesser priesthood. The Melchizedek Priesthood is sometimes called the greater priesthood.

Aaronic Priesthood

The Aaronic Priesthood is named after Aaron, the brother of Moses, the prophet. Aaron was a leader at the time of Moses.

A man or a boy who is at least 12 years old can hold the Aaronic Priesthood. Men and boys who have the Aaronic Priesthood can teach people. Some who have the Aaronic Priesthood can baptize people. They help people remember Jesus. They can help people in many ways.

Melchizedek Priesthood

The Melchizedek Priesthood is named after a man called Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a very righteous man who had the priesthood. He lived in the time of Abraham. He was a high priest. Before the priesthood was named after him, it was called the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. The name of the priesthood was changed to Melchizedek to prevent people from using the name of God too much.

A man must be at least 18 years old to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood have power to give blessings to others. Jesus reveals to them the things that they need to know and say in giving these blessings.

Discussion

  • What are the two priesthoods in the Church?

Each Priesthood Has Different Offices and Authority

When a person receives the priesthood, he is ordained to an office in the priesthood. Both the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood have several offices. Each one has special duties.

Men and boys who have the Aaronic Priesthood and have been ordained to the office of priest in this priesthood have the power to do these things:

  1. 1.

    Teach the gospel.

  2. 2.

    Baptize.

  3. 3.

    Prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament.*

  4. 4.

    Assist those who have the Melchizedek Priesthood in visiting and helping the members of the Church.

  5. 5.

    Give the Aaronic Priesthood to others.

Men who have the Melchizedek Priesthood have the authority to do these things:

  1. 1.

    Lead the Church.

  2. 2.

    Preach the gospel.

  3. 3.

    Give the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  4. 4.

    Give special blessings.

  5. 5.

    Give babies a name and a blessing.

  6. 6.

    Heal the sick.

  7. 7.

    Give the priesthood to others.

  8. 8.

    Do all the things that men and boys who have the Aaronic Priesthood can do.

Discussion

  • What do those who have the Melchizedek Priesthood have the authority to do?

  • What do those who have the Aaronic Priesthood have the authority to do?

The Offices of the Aaronic Priesthood and Their Duties

The offices of the Aaronic Priesthood are deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop.

Deacon

A male member of the Church may receive the priesthood and be ordained a deacon if he is at least 12 years old. He must obey the commandments of Jesus and the rules of the Church.

These are the duties of a deacon:

  1. 1.

    Pass the sacrament.

  2. 2.

    Help his leaders.

  3. 3.

    Help teachers in the Aaronic Priesthood to perform their duties when assigned.

A deacon cannot give the priesthood to another person. He cannot baptize anyone. He cannot bless the sacrament.

Teacher

A male member of the Church may receive the priesthood and be ordained a teacher if he is at least 14 years old. He must obey the commandments of Jesus and the rules of the Church.

These are the duties of a teacher:

  1. 1.

    Watch over the members of the Church, helping them fulfill their physical and spiritual needs.

  2. 2.

    Help the members to obey Jesus’ commandments.

  3. 3.

    Help those who have the Melchizedek Priesthood by visiting families with them and helping them teach these families to obey the commandments of Jesus.

  4. 4.

    Prepare the sacrament.

  5. 5.

    When necessary, do all the things the deacon does.

A teacher cannot give the priesthood to another person. He also cannot baptize anyone. He cannot bless the sacrament.

Priest

A male member of the Church may receive the priesthood and be ordained a priest if he is at least 16 years old. He must obey the commandments of Jesus and the rules of the Church.

These are the duties of a priest:

  1. 1.

    Teach the gospel.

  2. 2.

    Encourage members to obey the commandments of Jesus.

  3. 3.

    Baptize.

  4. 4.

    Bless the sacrament.

  5. 5.

    Ordain other deacons, teachers, and priests.

  6. 6.

    Lead meetings when there is no one in the meeting who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood.

A priest can do all the things that the teacher and deacon do. He cannot ordain anyone to the office of bishop or to any of the offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Bishop

A bishop is the leader of a ward.

These are the duties of a bishop (a branch president has similar responsibilities in a branch):

  1. 1.

    Lead the Aaronic Priesthood holders in his ward.

  2. 2.

    Lead the quorum of priests in his ward.

  3. 3.

    Preside over (lead) the ward.

  4. 4.

    Judge the worthiness of members of the Church for certain blessings and privileges.

  5. 5.

    Counsel members of his ward when they ask for spiritual guidance or when he feels they need counseling.

  6. 6.

    Help members of the Church get food, clothing, and other things in an emergency.

  7. 7.

    Receive and take care of money and other things that people give to the Church.

The President of the Church directs presidents of stakes to ordain men to be bishops.

Discussion

  • What are the duties of the deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop?

The Offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood and Their Duties

The offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood are elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, and Apostle. Each of these offices has specific duties.

Elder

  1. 1.

    Baptize.

  2. 2.

    Give the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  3. 3.

    Conduct meetings.

  4. 4.

    Preside over meetings when there is no high priest present.

  5. 5.

    Preach the gospel.

  6. 6.

    Bless the sick.

  7. 7.

    Bless babies.

  8. 8.

    Give the priesthood to others and ordain them to the offices of elder, priest, teacher, or deacon.

  9. 9.

    When necessary, do all the duties of a priest, teacher, or deacon.

High Priest

The main duty of a high priest is to be a leader over the people in the Church and to be in charge of spiritual things. A high priest may also do any of the duties of an elder, priest, teacher, or deacon when necessary.

Patriarch

A patriarch is a high priest who gives special blessings to members of the Church. These blessings are called patriarchal blessings. Patriarchal blessings help the members understand the things Jesus wants them to do.

Seventy

Seventies are special witnesses of Jesus Christ to the world. They work under the direction of the Apostles in building up the Church.

Apostle

An Apostle is a special witness for Jesus Christ to all the world. The Apostles direct the affairs of the Church throughout the world. Each Apostle has all the authority of the priesthood. But only the President of the Church, who is also an Apostle, can use all the authority of the priesthood. The other Apostles use their authority only as the President of the Church directs them to.

The Keys of the Priesthood Are the Authority to Direct the Use of the Priesthood

The priesthood is the authority to act in the name of Jesus and to lead us back to our Heavenly Father. The exercise of priesthood authority is governed by those who hold its keys. These keys are the right to preside over and direct the Church within a jurisdiction. The Lord Jesus Christ holds all the keys of the priesthood. He has given His Apostles the keys that are necessary for governing His Church. Only the senior Apostle, the President of the Church, may use (or authorize another person to use) these keys for governing the entire Church. The President of the Church authorizes presidents of temples, missions, stakes, and districts; bishops and branch presidents; and quorum presidents to hold the priesthood keys they need to preside.

Priesthood holders have the authority to do some things without special permission. For example, men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood may bless the sick and as husbands and fathers may bless their families. However, other things require permission from those who hold the necessary keys. For example, a priest has the authority to baptize. But he cannot baptize anyone until the bishop or branch president permits him to do so. The bishop or branch president holds the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood in that unit of the Church.

Discussion

  • What are the keys of the priesthood?

Priesthood Holders Are Organized into Quorums

Men and boys who have the same office of the priesthood are organized into groups. These groups are called quorums. In the Aaronic Priesthood there are deacons quorums, teachers quorums, and priests quorums. In the Melchizedek Priesthood there are elders quorums and high priests quorums.

When a man or a boy is ordained to an office in the priesthood, he becomes a member of the quorum of the priesthood consisting of those who hold that same office. He remains in that quorum until he is ordained to another office. Quorum leaders teach and help each member of the quorum.

Quorum of Deacons

The deacons quorum may have up to 12 deacons. If there are more than 12 deacons in a ward, another quorum of deacons may be formed. The deacons quorum has a president and two counselors.

Quorum of Teachers

The teachers quorum may have up to 24 teachers. If there are more than 24 teachers in a ward, another quorum of teachers may be formed. The teachers quorum has a president and two counselors.

Quorum of Priests

The priests quorum consists of up to 48 priests. The president of the priests quorum is the bishop or branch president. He appoints two priests from the quorum to be his assistants.

Quorum of Elders

The elders quorum may have any number of elders up to 96, and it includes all the elders living in a ward. If there are more than 96 elders, another quorum of elders may be organized. Men who have not yet received the Melchizedek Priesthood may meet with the elders for learning, social activities, and work assignments.

A president and two counselors lead the elders quorum.

Quorum of High Priests

A high priests quorum includes all the high priests in a stake. The president of the stake and his two counselors lead the high priests quorum. Normally the high priests in each ward form a high priests group, presided over by a group leader.

Discussion

  • What is a quorum?

  • How many members make up a quorum of deacons, teachers, priests, elders, high priests?

  • How can the members of a quorum help each other?

References

When a Man Has the Priesthood, He Can Act for Our Father in Heaven

The Priesthood Is Divided into Two Parts

Each Priesthood Has Different Offices and Authority

The Offices of the Aaronic Priesthood and Their Duties

The Offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood and Their Duties

The Keys of the Priesthood Are the Authority to Direct the Use of the Priesthood

Priesthood Holders Are Organized into Quorums