“The Sons of the Prophets”
2 Kings 2:15
15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“The School of the Prophets is not something new to this dispensation. In ancient Israel, especially in the days of Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha, we hear of the activities of this school. We can read in 1 Samuel 10 that after Samuel had anointed Saul to be king of Israel, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, and he joined a company of the sons of the prophets, and he prophesied. In 2 Kings 2, we read of the School of the Prophets, the sons of the prophets. We read about them at the time that Elijah was taken into heaven; they had followed Elijah and after he was taken away they followed Elisha. Then we read, ‘And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood to view afar off: and they two [Elijah and Elisha] stood by Jordan’ (2 Kings 2:7). These sons of the prophets discovered that the power of Elijah was upon Elisha; and so, after Elijah was taken, they followed Elisha. It seems, to me, quite evident that there were a number of very choice young men who followed these two great prophets and were taught by them.
“We read of the sons of the prophets in other parts of our scriptures, how certain of these young prophets were sent with special missions to anoint and to bless certain individuals. Now, the influence is very strong. It seems to me at least, that these young men who were called the sons of the prophets were not Levites. You know the Lord took away Moses and the higher priesthood, the Melchizedek Priesthood, from Israel and left with them the Aaronic Priesthood and the carnal law. And so the sons of Aaron became the priests of the people and ministered to them, looked after their wants—but in their restricted way, because as the Lord has pointed out in Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants, they were subject to the preparatory gospel of faith, repentance, and baptism, and they had no power to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. There were other things, too, that they could not do; and so the Lord had to keep someone with the Melchizedek Priesthood, although it was not scattered among the tribes of Israel. Most of those who held the higher priesthood were not of the tribe of Levi. Some were, but others came from other tribes. These prophets gathered around them choice young men and taught them, instructed them; and they followed in the footsteps of these prophets and became known as the sons of the prophets. It was a group of these young men who followed Elijah, and who followed Elisha, and who were present on the occasion when Saul was anointed king of Israel.
“Now, all of the Melchizedek Priesthood was not given to everyone. It was confined to a select few. Of these few that were some who came out of the other tribes of Israel, who followed the prophets, and, by their faith and understanding, became prophets themselves. Just how many of them were given the authority to officiate in the higher ordinances, the Lord has not revealed. It was only by special appointment that this priesthood was given to any of the prophets.
“These students of Elisha and Elijah, and a few others, were chosen, then, by revelation and commissioned, at least many of them, to anoint and to bless; and they were sent to deliver prophetic messages from time to time. The object with which the school was organized in this dispensation is plainly stated in the revelation found in Section 88. None could join except he were clean from the blood of this generation, and the only way he could be cleansed was to be obedient to the covenants of the gospel and to labor in behalf of his fellows for their salvation. Thus, the preaching of the gospel was by a requirement made of those who desired to join this school, the School of the Prophets.”
(Seek Ye Earnestly , 194–96.)