Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 39 (D&C 106–108)
Learning to Preside in Righteousness
● D&C 106:4–5 The Second Coming will be a surprise to the wicked, but not to righteous Saints.
● D&C 106:8 Warren Cowdery was appointed to preside “if he continue to be a faithful witness.” Unfortunately, he did not remain faithful. He eventually went to Kirtland, Ohio, and was given a job in the printing office, later becoming the editor of the Messenger and Advocate. In the apostasy of 1837 he became associated with such dissidents in Kirtland as Warren Parrish, John F. Boynton, Leonard Rich, Luke Johnson, and Stephen Burnett. Warren Cowdery, like some others at the time, grew rebellious against the Prophet and fell away from the Church.
● D&C 107 On March 28, 1835, the Twelve Apostles met in council, feeling a need to confess that they had not realized the importance of their calling to that degree that they should have, and that they had been light-minded and vain. For all these things they asked the forgiveness of Heavenly Father. The Prophet Joseph inquired of the Lord and received the first 58 verses of D&C 107, (except for verses 53–55, which are part of a blessing Joseph Smith gave his father on 18 December 1833). The other items contained in this revelation were revealed at different times.1
TWO ORDERS OF THE PRIESTHOOD
The Greater Priesthood
● D&C 107:1–5 The higher priesthood is called the Melchizedek priesthood.
● D&C 107:5–9, 18–19
— v. 5 Other Church offices are only appendages to it.
— v. 8 The right of presidency.
— v. 8 The right to administer in spiritual things.
— v. 9 The right to officiate in all offices of the church .
— vv. 18–19 The right to have the heavens opened and commune with God.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The Melchizedek High Priesthood was no other than the Priesthood of the Son of God . . . There are certain ordinances which belong to the Priesthood, from which flow certain results; and the Presidents or Presidency are over the Church; and revelations of the mind and will of God to the Church, are to come through the Presidency. This is the order of heaven, and the power and privilege of this Priesthood.”2
The Lesser Priesthood
● D&C 107:14, 20, 68
— v. 14 Is an appendage to the greater priesthood.
— v. 14 Administers outward ordinances.
— v. 15 The Bishopric presides over this priesthood.
— v. 20 The right to the ministry of angels.
— vv. 68–74 Administers in temporal affairs.
PRESIDING QUORUMS IN THE CHURCH
The First Presidency
● D&C 107:9, 22, 91–92
— v. 22 They are to be “upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the Church.”
President Harold B. Lee said, “All members of the First Presidency and the Twelve are regularly sustained as ‘prophets, seers, and revelators,’ as you have done today. This means that any one of the apostles, so chosen and ordained, could preside over the Church if he were ‘chosen by the body [meaning the entire Quorum of the Twelve], appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church,’ . . . on one condition . . . that he was the senior member, or the president, of that body. (D&C 107:22).”3
— D&C 81 The original members of the First Presidency were Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams.
— D&C 90:6
— D&C 102:3
The Quorum of Twelve Apostles
● D&C 107:23–40, 58–67
— v. 23 They are special witnesses for Christ.
— v. 35 They open door to Gentiles and Jews.
— v. 33, 58 They build up and regulate the Church.
— v. 39–40 They ordain “evangelical ministers” (patriarchs).
— The original Twelve Apostles in this dispensation were:
1. Lyman E. Johnson 7. William E. McLellin,
2. Brigham Young 8. John F. Boynton,
3. Heber C. Kimball 9. Orson Pratt,
4. Orson Hyde 10. William Smith,
5. David W. Patten 11. Thomas [B.] Marsh,
6. Luke S. Johnson 12. Parley P. Pratt
● D&C 107:25–26, 34, 97
— v. 25, 97 Preach the gospel.
— v. 25, 97 Are especial witnesses.
— v. 34 Build up and regulate the Church under direction of the Twelve.
— v. 38 Assist the Twelve in all their duties.
— D&C 124:140 Seventies generally are called to preach the gospel and not to preside,
— D&C 107:34 but the First Quorum of the Seventy has an additional assignment to assist the Twelve in “building up” and “regulating” the
— From 1941 to 1975 Brethren were called as Assistants to the Twelve until the need was sufficient to justify again organizing the First Quorum of the Seventy.4
THE ORDER OF SUCCESSION EXPLAINED
● D&C 107:22–26 These verses explain how and when these various quorums have authority to preside over the Church.
— A Quorum is a legal term that defines when a body has authority to act. In the absence of a quorum (as when the President of the Church dies) the authority of that quorum is dissolved and the quorum of apostles presides.
Smith and Sjodahl explained, “There can never be two or three quorums of equal authority at the same time; therefore in the revelation where it reads that the Twelve Apostles form a quorum equal in authority with the First Presidency and that the Seventies form a quorum equal in authority with the Twelve, it should be understood that this condition of equality could prevail only when the ranking quorum is no longer in existence, through death or otherwise. When the First Presidency becomes disorganized on the death of the President, then the Apostles become the presiding quorum, or council, of the Church with all the power to organize again the First Presidency, when they fall back again as the second ranking quorum of the Church. So with the Seventies, they would become equal only on the condition that the first two quorums ceased to exist. In regard to the Seventies, this provision, of course, concerns the first quorum of the Seventies.”5
PRIESTHOOD QUORUMS AND COUNCILS
● Following the organization of the Church in 1830, the Lord gradually revealed priesthood offices, quorums, and councils as needed to provide leadership for the growth of the Church.
— Aaronic Priesthood 1829, May 5 (D&C 13)
— Melchizedek Priesthood 1829, May/June (D&C 128:20)
— Apostles, elders, priests, teachers, deacons 1830, April (D&C 20:38–60)
— Bishops 1831, Feb. 4 (D&C 41:9–10)
— High priests 1831, June (D&C 52 heading)
— First Presidency 1833, Mar. 18 (D&C 81; 90)
— Patriarch 1833, Dec. 18 (Teachings, 38–39)
— High council and Stake Presidency 1834, Feb. 17 (D&C 102)
— Quorum of the Twelve Apostles 1835, Feb. 18 (D&C 107:23–24)
— First Quorum of the Seventy 1835, Feb. 28 (D&C 107:25–26, 93–97)
● In our day the Lord continues to give revelations about the organization and responsibilities of the priesthood to guide the growth of the Church.
— One example of this is the calling of Area Authority Seventies and the accompanying organization of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy in 1997.
PRINCIPLES OF COUNCILS
● D&C 107:27–31, 85 The Lord’s way of decision-making.
President M. Russell Ballard said, “I know councils are the Lord’s way and that He created all things in the universe through a heavenly council.”6
● D&C 107:32 A general assembly of councils. Sometimes a matter may be brought before “a general assembly of the several quorums”—the combined assembly of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the First Quorum of the Seventy, who are the “spiritual authorities of the church.”
The Importance of Unity in Councils
President Lorenzo Snow said, “Here are my counselors. We are one. We are united. . . . And here we have twelve men sitting in front with us Twelve Apostles. There are many of these that you know. . . . We are united together. We do not quarrel with each other. We do not slander one another, but we go where counsel requires and we are heart and soul. together. What for? Not to make ourselves rich, not to make ourselves wealthy, but to see what we can accomplish in the interests of the people, and we are laboring continually to see what we can do. We come together every week and we talk about what we can do for the people.”7
● D&C 107:39–52 The Patriarchal order was established from Adam to Noah.
● D&C 107:53–57 Adam-ondi-Ahman is where the Lord appeared to the Saints anciently.
● D&C 107:85–98 Priesthood presidents govern their respective quorums.
— vv. 85–89 Specifies the sizes for certain quorums, the number of quorum members doubling with progression to the next quorum:
■ Deacons (12 to a quorum)
■ Teachers (24 to a quorum)
■ Priests (48 to a quorum)
■ Elders (96 to a quorum)
■ Seventy and Twelve reflect the numbers for these quorums.
● D&C 107:99–100 Every man is responsible to learn his duty and act in the office to which he has been appointed “in all diligence.”
D&C 43:15–16 Those who are slow to do their duty or who have to be commanded in all things are not considered to be worthy.
● D&C 108:3 The importance of keeping our covenants, including priesthood covenants.
President Brigham Young said, “All that the Lord requires of us is strict obedience to the laws of life. All the sacrifice that the Lord asks of his people is strict obedience to our own covenants that we have made with our God, and that is to serve him with an undivided heart.”8
● D&C 108:7 “Strengthening our brethren” is an essential part of our priesthood duties.
PRIESTHOOD ORDINATION, KEYS (AUTHORITY), AND POWER
Our lesson this week includes two quotes about priesthood authority (see below), so a brief explanation of the difference between priesthood ordination, authority, and power seems important.
● Priesthood Ordination occurs when hands are laid upon the head and the priesthood conferred. This is reserved for righteous males according to the order of heaven.
● Priesthood Keys (Authority) is the commission or right to exercise priesthood duties under the direction of an ordained priesthood leader who holds keys, such as a quorum president, bishop, stake president, or general authority. This right is automatic in the case of presiding over a family, but most other actions require an assignment or approval from a priesthood leader. One example is that of a bishop in the church. To be a bishop requires priesthood ordination since this is a priesthood office. But this ordination does not automatically confer the right to preside over a congregation. That requires being set apart. After a bishop is released he remains a bishop by ordination but he has no authority to preside. That requires priesthood authority. Priesthood authority may be exercised by any worthy member of the Church, male or female, and does not require priesthood ordination.
President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.”9
● Priesthood Power is obtained through righteousness. One may be ordained and even given authority to perform priesthood functions, but whether there will be any power in what he or she does is determined by whether they are worthy. Priesthood power does not reside in a person. It comes from heaven and can be handled by someone “only upon the principles of righteousness” (D&C 121:36). “That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that [person]” (D&C 121:37).
President M. Russell Ballard said, “Our Father in Heaven is generous with His power. All men and all women have access to this power for help in their lives. All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord and who honor those covenants are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, to commune with God, to receive the fulness if the gospel, and, ultimately, to become heirs alongside Jesus Christ of all our Father has.”10
1. History of the Church, 2:210; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 38–39.
2. History of the Church, 2:477.
3. In Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 123.
4. Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 10; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 9.
5. D&C Commentary, 700.
6. “Family Councils,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 63.
7. In Conference Report, Oct. 1900, 5.
8. In Journal of Discourses, 18:246.
9. “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 51.
10. “Men and Women in the Work of the Lord,” New Era, Apr. 2014, 4–5.