Aaronic Priesthood

In the Church today, worthy male members may receive the Aaronic Priesthood beginning at age 12. These young men, typically ages 12–17, receive many opportunities to participate in sacred priesthood ordinances and give service. As they worthily fulfill their duties, they act in the name of the Lord to help others receive the blessings of the gospel.

Additional Information

As the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he found mention of baptism for the remission of sins. On May 15, 1829, he and his scribe Oliver Cowdery went into the woods to inquire of the Lord concerning baptism. As they prayed, “a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light.” This messenger was John the Baptist, the prophet who had baptized Jesus Christ centuries earlier. John the Baptist, now a resurrected being, laid his hands on Joseph and on Oliver and conferred upon each of them the Aaronic Priesthood, which had been taken from the earth during the Great Apostasy. With this authority, Joseph and Oliver were able to baptize one another. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:68-72.)

The offices of the Aaronic Priesthood are bishop, priest, teacher, and deacon. With the authorization of the presiding priesthood leader (usually the bishop or branch president), deacons pass the sacrament. They help the bishop or branch president watch over Church members by giving service and assisting with temporal matters such as gathering fast offerings. Teachers may perform all the duties of deacons, and they also receive other opportunities to serve. They prepare the sacramental bread and water and serve as home teachers. Priests may perform all the duties of deacons and teachers. With the authorization of the presiding priesthood leader, they may also bless the sacrament, baptize, and ordain others to the offices of priest, teacher, and deacon.

The Aaronic Priesthood is “an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood” (D&C 107:14). It is often called the preparatory priesthood. As a priesthood holder serves in the Aaronic Priesthood, he prepares to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, to receive the blessings of the temple, to serve a full-time mission, to be a loving husband and father, and to continue in lifelong service to the Lord.

See also Melchizedek Priesthood; Priesthood

—See True to the Faith (2004), 3–4

Prophetic Teachings

  • “A Worldwide Priesthood”

    This article was adapted from “Priesthood Restored” (Ensign, Apr. 2004), 18. Around the world, members of the Aaronic Priesthood perform their duties for their wards and branches. As they learn their responsibilities, they are being prepared to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  • “The Aaronic Priesthood: What’s So Great about It”

    From an address delivered in the priesthood commemoration satellite broadcast, May 7, 1989. You know that administering the sacrament is a sacred privilege. But are you aware of the other marvelous blessings the Aaronic Priesthood offers, such as protection and guidance by heavenly messengers?

  • “True Sentinels”

  • “The Priesthood of Aaron”

  • “The Aaronic Priesthood”

  • “Priesthood Power”

    Adapted from an October 1999 general conference address. The Aaronic Priesthood isn’t a gift; it’s an honor. It is a call to serve others.

  • “Fulfilling Our Duty to God”

    I promise you that your achievement of the Duty to God Award will provide you with a living testimony that will sustain you throughout your life.

  • “Our Duty to God”

    Holding the priesthood and doing your duty to God is not only a very serious responsibility but also a remarkable privilege.

  • “Honoring the Priesthood”

    Priesthood isn’t something we take off during the week and put on for Sunday. It is a 24-7 privilege and blessing—that is, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • “Your Sacred Duty”

    Adapted from an October 1998 general conference address. The ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood are vital to all of us. How well do you understand them?

  • ““Behold the Man””

    Our vision of you and your work looks beyond the outward appearance of a boy and sees instead a bearer of the holy priesthood outfitted with its attendant powers, duties, and blessings.

  • “What the Aaronic Priesthood Means to You”

    Adapted from an address given at the Aaronic Priesthood commemoration fireside, May 3, 1992. The Lord sees you as you are inside—full of wonderful potential. The priesthood helps shape and mold you to fulfill his vision for you.

Additional Study Materials