|          Home          |          About          |          Reviews          |          Contact          |



Biblical Framework

The Priesthood
The priesthood is the power and authority of God. God has delegated this power and authority to certain men at certain times. At the time of Abram (before he became Abraham), there was a priesthood which ministered in bread and wine, performed blessings, and managed tithing (Genesis 14:18-20). Later the Lord introduced the Levitical priesthood and referred to it as an “everlasting priesthood” (Exodus 40:15 and Numbers 25:13).

The Priesthood and the Apostles
The priesthood was well established during the time of the apostles. Peter spoke of “a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5) and “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).

The Levitical Priesthood—The Priesthood of Aaron
The Levitical Priesthood, also known as the Aaronic Priesthood (or the Priesthood of Aaron), was in place during the time of Christ; however, it was not possible for man to reach his spiritual potential (perfection in Christ) through the Levitical Priesthood alone. A greater priesthood, the Melchizedek Priesthood, was necessary (Hebrews 7:11-12).

The Melchizedek Priesthood and Christ
Jesus Christ is the great eternal priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7:15-17). The Savior is referred to in the New Testament as the “high priest” in the Melchizedek Priesthood (Hebrews 5:5-10, Hebrews 6:20, and Hebrews 8:1)—the high priest of an “unchangeable priesthood” (Hebrews 7:24-26). Jesus Christ is a “merciful and faithful high priest” like unto his brethren (Hebrews 2:17). He set the ecclesiastical example for all men to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood (Hebrews 5:1) as part of the “profession” of ministry in the Lord and Savior (Hebrews 3:1).

Ordination and Setting Apart
It is an honor to hold the priesthood, and those who do so must be called of God and set apart, just as Aaron was set apart by the Lord through his servant Moses (Hebrews 5:4). The ordination and setting apart of a priesthood holder is accomplished by the laying on of hands by those in authority (Numbers 27:18-19). This method of ordination and setting apart was continued by Christ and his apostles.

Priesthood Power and Authority
While God may grant anyone the opportunity to perform healings and other ministerial duties through the gifts of the spirit (1 Corinthians 12:28 and 1 Corinthians 12:9), priesthood holders are set apart specifically to do so as part of their spiritual and ecclesiastical calling. Acting for the Lord on earth, priesthood holders cast out devils and lay hands upon the sick to heal (Mark 16:17-18), often using the ordinance of anointing with oil (James 5:14). Following the example of Jesus in ordaining his apostles, priesthood holders are given “power and authority” to minister in the name of the Lord (Luke 9:1-2).

Priesthood Qualifications
The Lord requires faith and worthiness in the men he calls to the priesthood. The Lord uses the foolish and weak things of the world to accomplish his work (1 Corinthians 1:27). There are instances in the scriptures where specific requirements have been given to hold an office in the priesthood. For example, Paul provided counsel to Titus about elders who are married (an “elder” is an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood). Paul said that elders are only to have one wife and faithful children (Titus 1:5-6). Paul also gave specific counsel to Timothy on the requirements of a bishop (an office in the Aaronic Priesthood, but an office typically held by Melchizedek Priesthood holders as high priests), ensuring the individual was faithful and worthy to serve (1 Timothy 3;1-7).

Mormon Doctrinal Clarification

Priesthood Power and Authority
By the power of the priesthood, God created the heavens and the earth and maintains the universe in its perfect order. Through the power of the priesthood, the Lord achieves his purpose, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Priesthood authority is required to perform ordinances such as baptism, confirmation, blessing and passing the sacrament, administering to the sick, giving special blessings, and administering temple ordinances.

A Capacity, Not a Person
The priesthood is a capacity, not a person or group of people. It is “held” and “exercised” by men on whom it is properly conferred. Women share in the spiritual blessings of the priesthood, but are not burdened by the ecclesiastical duties of the priesthood. The efficacy of the priesthood in any given circumstance depends on the faith and worthiness of the priesthood holder, the recipient of priestly ministrations, and the will of the Lord.

There was a priesthood on the earth long before Christ came in the flesh. While modern day scriptures teach of a priesthood during the time of Adam, the first biblical reference appears in Genesis 14:18, where Melchizedek, king of Salem, is identified as “the priest of the most high God.”

The Levitical priesthood, also known as the priesthood of Aaron or the Aaronic Priesthood, was introduced shortly after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 28:1). The Levitical priesthood was passed on by lineage to members of the tribe of Levi. Moses and Aaron were members of this tribe and held this priesthood. Men who held this priesthood in the time of Moses were responsible for administrating the Mosaic Law and the tabernacle sacrifice ceremonies.

Jesus and the Priesthood
The Levitical Priesthood was on the earth when Jesus was born. During his public ministry, Jesus ordained apostles to lead his church. He gave them the authority and power to perform miracles and act in his name (Mark 3:13-15 and John 15:16). By this means and with his fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, Christ established the “Royal Priesthood,” which came to be known as the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood remained, but as a preparatory priesthood, a lesser included priesthood, leading to the Melchizedek Priesthood.

The Priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Today the priesthood is divided into the Aaronic Priesthood (the lesser priesthood) and the Melchizedek Priesthood (the greater priesthood). The Aaronic Priesthood is sometimes referred to as the “preparatory priesthood” and is an appendage to the Melchizedek Priesthood.

A bishop presides over a ward, the basic congregational unit of the Church except where congregations are quite small. If a congregation is too small to constitute a ward, it is called a branch and is presided over by a branch president. (With a few exceptions, references to wards in this book include branches, and references to bishops include branch presidents.)

The offices within the Aaronic Priesthood include deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop. The Aaronic Priesthood is organized into a deacons quorum (usually young men twelve and thirteen), teachers quorum (usually young men fourteen and fifteen), and priests quorum (usually young men sixteen and older). The bishop of the ward is also president of the Priests Quorum.

Offices within the Melchizedek Priesthood include elder, high priest, patriarch (i.e. evangelist), seventy, and Apostle. The Melchizedek Priesthood within each ward is organized into an elders quorum and a high priest group. The high priest group is part of a stake-wide high priest quorum. The stake president is president of this quorum. An elders quorum president is called by the stake president to preside over the elders quorum in each ward. The bishop of each ward, as the local presiding high priest, supervises both the high priest group and the elders quorum at the ward level. All wards (local congregations) in a stake are presided over by the stake president.

The priesthood is available to all worthy male members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The priesthood is passed from one priesthood holder to another by the laying on of hands by one having the authority to confer the priesthood. It is not passed on as a birthright or by lineage. There are no academic or professional requirements to hold the priesthood, nor are there any such requirements to hold any leadership position within the Church. However, readiness for any leadership calling takes into account reliable evidence of such readiness, and this evidence can include educational and professional achievements. Spiritual worthiness, however, remains the fundamental requirement.

See chapter13 in The Biblical Roots of Mormonism for a more comprehensive explanation, scriptural references and commentary on the Priesthood

See the Sword SeriesTM paper Priesthood and Ministry for a summary

|   CatholicLDSchristianity.com     FindYourChristianity.com    EricShuster.com    Sitemap   |   Privacy   |   Contact    Twitter   |   facebook   |   YouTube   |


© 2013 Eric Shuster. All Rights Reserved.