Deacons then and now

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Despite having a priesthood organization that resembles that of the New Testament church, the latter day church sometimes receives criticism for any perceived changes between then and now. For example, biblical fundamentalists contrast instructions in the pastoral letters that deacons should be husbands of one wife to the current LDS practice of ordaining twelve year old boys.  I am open to hearing arguments of whether that means at least one one wife, exactly one wife, or at most one wife and what the implications are for widowers, divorcees, polygamists, and celibates.

Even Mormon history is susceptible to such critiques as the priesthood has developed to accommodate growth, reassess appropriate qualifications, and delegate duties. David Whitmer was an early such critic, attributing the 1831 introduction [1]  of the offices of bishop and deacon to Sidney Rigdon’s Campbellite [2] influence. The 1830 church, in his view, was patterned after the three offices found in the Book of Mormon [3], that of  elder, priest, and teacher. It is difficult to provide an adequate summary of Whitmer’s later views, but perhaps a general observation will serve, namely that he was opposed to developments that contributed towards a hierarchical organization (such as the 1831 endowment that elevated some elders to the  high priesthood [4]). 

One recurring pattern I see in my study of ancient and modern priesthood is  that when two offices or priesthoods are given overlapping responsibilities, it can create rivalries and turf wars. Some modern scripture was given that anticipates some of these problems. Consider, for example D&C 20 which gives both elders and priests the right to administer the sacrament. I read such passages  in terms of who should preside over or decide who administers the sacrament when only representatives from those two offices are present. The ordinance of the sacrament is equally valid whether a priest or elder actually performs it, the important thing is to remove contention by having a clear hierarchy.

On the other hand, there have been historically been two schools of thought on who should be preferred to actually administer the sacrament if Aaronic priests and MP holders are present. The old school believed that having higher authorities perform the responsibilities gave the sacrament greater dignity. But this was killing off the AP who were stuck only with the most uninspiring tasks like building clean-up. The new school stressed the AP’s role as a training priesthood for young men and for higher authorities to delegate more tasks downward so they can concentrate on their duties that don’t overlap with the AP. Some fascinating history can be found in William G. Hartley’s article From Men to Boys, which contains about everything I would want to say about modern deacons and a rationale for departing from scriptural formulas on age requirements [5]. Please forgive my roundabout way of introducing the article, but ideas about deacons often have to be extracted from studying dynamics between higher offices. The lowly office of deacon doesn’t get a lot of literary or scholarly attention.
A study of deacons might more properly begin by proposing definitions and tackling developments in chronological order starting in the New Testament. So somewhat belatedly, let me use Kevin Barney’s definition:

The English word deacon is simply a transliteration of the Greek noun diakonos, which is derived from the verb diakoneo (a compound of the preposition dia and the verb akoneo). The basic meaning of the verb is to serve, to minister, especially in the sense of to provide the necessities of life. So this verb would be used when talking about one who serves food and drink at table, for instance. It is very appropriate to describe one who passes the emblems of the sacrament. The word can be used in a nontechnical sense, simply one who serves, or in the technical sense of one who holds the priesthood office of a deacon.

One can divide New Testament writing into an early stage and a late stage. Acts contains some useful historical information, but scholars typically call attention to Luke harmonizing early developments in light of later ones. Paul’s letters have also been sorted into early and later periods. It has been noticed that early sources present a threefold ministry of apostles, prophets, and teachers (1 Cor. 12:28-29, Acts 13:1). Later sources expand to a fivefold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists (sub-apostolic missionaries?), pastors (presbyter-bishops?), and teachers (Eph. 4:11, 20:17,28 note that “presbyter” is interchangeable with “elder” and “bishop” is interchangeable with “overseer” and Luke may be anachronistically harmonizing elders with bishops. [6]). It is interesting that these lists are presented in greatest to least order as are lists of names in the New Testament. So Acts 13, using the pigeonhole principle, presents Barnabus as a “prophet” and Paul as merely a “teacher.” Acts presents Paul as someone who slowly arose in the ranks under Jerusalem based authorities, despite what Rob Bowman sees in Paul’s letters, mainly that early on Paul claimed to be an apostle equal and independent of the Twelve [7].

It is a outside the scope of this blog to try to figure out if and where the seventy, patriarchs, Aaronic priests, or Mechizedek high priests fit into the threefold or fivefold schema. Feel free to speculate in the comments. A deacon was primarily considered a bishop’s helper, so we have to consider the adapting role of a bishop in early Christianity to understand deacons. Nibley, in Apostles and Bishops, provides a useful classification that might correspond roughly with our division of responsibilities we see between the Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthood, although these categories should not be taken as mutually exclusive.

This classification is between traveling and stationary authorities (p. 19-21), especially drawing from the Didache(and the analysis done by influential scholar Adolf von Harnack), a document contemporary with some of the later New Testament writings. (I lean towards the scholarly consensus that date the final version of letters to Timothy and Titus very much after Paul’s death, even though that puts me somewhat in unorthodox territory.) The Didache clearly shows travelling prophets and apostles as the superiors of local bishops and elders[8]. However it provides tests that local officials can submit to “wandering prophets” to determine their legitimacy. Another test is given in John’s contemporaneous epistles, which ironically may have been used–inappropriately of course –when a local official would no longer receive John.

With apologies to Scott Petersen, one might amend his book’s title to “Where have all the traveling prophets gone?” A traditional explanation has been that apostles and prophets were merely supposed to lay the foundation of the Church, and founding time eventually expired [9]. The apostolic charge of missionary work given in Matthew 28:19 became regarded as sufficiently accomplished[10]. Historically we see the role of general leadership being absorbed by letter writing campaigns led by bishops of secularly prominent cities and local bishops meeting in territorial councils. In voicing his suspicion that leadership of the church passed from travelling authorities to stationary ones is an historical dark spot, Nibley foreshadowed his future studies [11] about “When the Lights Went Out.”

A relatively recent scholar, David Horrell [12], noted that nobody since Harnack has tried to explain the transition in any detail. He utilized a household development model for the rise of bishops that Nibley did not. Basically this model has bishops arising out of the family patriarchs that often hosted church services. Early Christians were frequently cast out of synagogues, and initially having no dedicated buildings of their own, were forced to meet in the homes of the more wealthy patrons. These wealthy patriarchs would naturally be called to positions of responsibility and leadership in the local church. The qualifications for bishops and deacons in Timothy and Titus resemble “household codes” or societal rules for running a respectable household in a community.

These codes tended to further elevate the position of the hosting male leader in comparison to his wife, children, servants, slaves, and guests. One sees the hint of a class warfare problem that could emerge between wealthy local leaders and the poor travelling leaders that depended upon (and could be accused of abusing in the Didache) a host’s generosity. Horrell’s model also has the benefit of explaining the decline in prominence of women in the early church. Women like Junia and Priscilla were mentioned in the same breath as evangelizing apostles, but the pastoral letters effectively silenced such activity. You heard it here first, but the a priori rejection of female prophetic ability seems to have been an early sign of the apostasy.

The main idea I want to get across is that the pastoral letters impose the same requirements on deacons as they do on bishops. Furthermore, these requirements regarding marriage were cultural expediencies and not necessarily regarded as revelation. According to Helmut Koester, a factor in the canonization of Paul’s (and deutero-Pauline) writings was the political stability they ensured and not any claim to inspiration (which was often detrimental for canon selection, consider the controversy over the book of Revelation, for instance) [13].

Much more can be said about the development of the office of a deacon drawing on patristic sources, Nibley, and other scholars. However, I have already greatly exceeded the length of an ideal blog entry (3 paragraphs and the truth!).

Notes and References 

[1] Recommended treatments of early Mormon priesthood developments are John Tvedtnes’ Organize My Kingdom and Gregory Prince’s Power from on High.

[2] For a good introduction to Campbellite restoration thought see Kevin Barney in A Tale of Two Restorations:

[3]  One might profitably ask why there was a difference in the priesthood organization in between the old world and the new world in ancient times.

In the new world, some Nephites held the Melchizedek Priesthood (MP) from the time of Lehi to the Nephi that was contemporary with Jesus. One could make the argument that the Nephites, who were not descendants of Aaron or Levi, only ever held the MP.  When the Book of Mormon talks about priests and teachers, it is probably describing MP priests and teachers before and after Christ’s appearance. To read further about Book of Mormon priesthood concepts, see Dan Peterson’s article

In the Old World it is apparent that nobody was considered to hold the MP in the time immediately before Christ. I recently wrote a piece that I hope will appear in Mormon Times, answering the related question of when Christ was ordained to the priesthood. The gist of my response was that Christ was expected to restore that missing authority especially in light of Hebrews 5. Putting these examples together, one might say that in the presence of the MP, the AP might seem to be optional or unnecessary. Still there might be good reasons in the NT and in our modern dispensation for keeping the AP around for practical reasons:

  1. Together the two priesthoods teach sound organizational principles, exalting the spiritual over the temporal.
  2. The AP can act like a training priesthood for the MP.
  3. During a transistion period the AP can act like a forerunner for the restoration of the MP much like John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.
  4. In times of partial apostasy, the Lord may choose to leave a lesser priesthood functioning while removing the MP from a more active role.

The last point  this was arguably the impetus behind ordaining Aaron to begin with, due to the rebellion at Mount Sinai.  A second century writing, The Shepherd of Hermas, describes the diminishing of Christ’s church, albeit in allegorical terms. Nibley argues that after apostles died out, the would be successors (the bishops) were  primarily considered Aaronic in nature in his book Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity.  Even in our dispensation Bishops have strong temporal duties and ties to the AP, even though they have also been given MP responsibilities and are not primarily identified as a descendent of Aaron or Levi.  After Moses set up the AP,  the MP was not entirely taken from Israel.  For example, I regard Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, and Lehi as MP holders. It appears that MP holders and AP holders at times in the OT had somewhat of rivalry (see the Two High Priesthoods by David Larsen  [parts 1,2,3] for details. 

So I would speculate that it would not have made much sense for Christ to give the Nephites the AP as well, because they did not inherit a strong AP tradition to begin with and couldn’t wait to scrap parts of the Law of Moses. The Jerusalem converts had a stronger attachment to the Law of Moses and retaining the AP probably made for a smother transistion. As a restoration of all things, it makes sense for our dispensation to inherit from both traditions, even though things have been adapted for our needs.

[4] See John Tvedtnes in The Evolution of the Term “Priesthood” for a good response to David Whitmer. Above, I infer Whitmer’s position on bishops and deacons from his reaction to high priests.

[5] I also like how Louis Midgley addressed these issues in a response to an inquiry to the FAIR list. He wrote:

But there is another side to this issue. I believe that when I teach in or for the Church, I am functioning as a Teacher. When I tidy up the chapel or set up or take down chairs tables, shovel snow, serve food at a dinner or a host of other similar or related things, I am acting as a Deacon. Much if noteven most of what gets done in the typical LDS congregation–Branch or Ward and also Stake–is Aaronic Priesthood stuff. We should always keep in mind that a Bishop is essentially in charge of the Aaronic Priesthood. His role as watchman on the tower is to keep an eye on all those basic things that threaten and afflict the community of Saints, and most of these are matters of serving tables, teaching and blessing others in various ways–hence Aaronic priesthood stuff. I do not believe that here below we ever really outgrow those basic and pedestrian commissions except by our own omissions.
In addition, in order for the proper training of our dispositions–that is, the formation of certain secondary though essential virtues–we must all start at an early age. Hence we all need to begin with very basic, easy, routine, familiar things and then work up to those matters that involve the mysteries of true holiness.
The movement towards ordaining young kids to the Priesthood was driven, it seems to me, by the need to get the attention of young boys and train them for basic service in the Kingdom and ready them as much as possible to serve teach and bless. If there is something anomalous about young boys being Deacons, one need also look at have tens of thousands of young fellows trying hard to be Elders by carrying that name in the world as missionaries.
There is even something stunning about identifying ourselves as Saints, since many in the Church hardly begin to qualify for that exalted title. So much of what we do can be described as now, but also not quite yet–that is, we are striving for something always beyond our reach. This is, perhaps, why one of the three Christian virtues is hope, which points us to the future in anticipation of wonders we can now hardly grasp.

[6] Such commentary on Acts 20 can be found in many sources. See for instance Catholic scholar Francis A. Sullivan, From Apostles to Bishops (2001) p. 64

Needless to say, this speech was composed by Luke, who in this respect followed the practice of ancient historians. In it, Paul warns his hearers about what will happen in the future, when he is no longer with them. Written some twenty-five years after Paul’s death, this more likely reflects the situation ofthe writer’s time than of Paul’s. For this reason, scholars bdieve that it tells us more about local ministry in Pauline churches during the subapostolic period than about the church of Paul’s own time.

[7] I began a critique of Bowman’s series against Mormon interpretations of priesthood activity in the New Testament in an earlier post Bowman on Ordination. See the link there in to see Bowman’s actual positions. I really don’t have much to say about his take on Paul other than to re-assert Griggs’ position, which I can easily find support (and differences of opinion as well) for among non-Mormon scholars.

[8] For an alternative view of the Didache see John Meier, Antioch and Rome (1984) p. 81-84. His position is that by the time the document was written, the big cities like Antioch were already self sufficient upon local leaders and that the instructions in the Didache applied only to rural areas.

[9] I would like to quote an articulate argument on this, not because my fellow Mormons will agree, but in hopes that it will raise the bar in discussions that take place with other Christians. On p. 24, Sullivan (2001) writes:

 The role of the Twelve as symnbolizing the twelve patriarchs of Israel meant that they had a unique role to play, precisely as a group of twelve, in the very origin of the church. This called for the choice of a twelfth man to take the place of Judas, prior to Pentecost so that on that day Peter “stood up with the Eleven” (Acts 2:14) when he gave his first witness to the risen Christ. On the other hand, some years later, when James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John was put to death by Herod (Acts 12:2), there was no question of again completing the number of the Twelve. By then the initial “foundation time” was completed.

[10] Nibley(2005) had a little bit of fun with an argument that the apostles almost instantaneously fulfilled their Great Commission on p. 7

[Giovanni Battista Pighi] quotes John Chrysostom to prove this, forgetting the worried conclusion that Chrysostom draws from this interesting premise: “If that is so, then the end should have come long ago, since it was explicitly stated that when the apostles had once preached to all nations, then would the end come.” Chrysostom’s only possible conclusion, which he swallows with a wry face, is that the apostles cannot have accomplished their mission after all, since the church is still on the earth.

[11] The Editor’s Postscript to Nibley’s book does a great job tying in this early study to his later work.  See page 40 and 85-86 for Nibley’s discussion of the lights going out when a “traveling apostalate” ceased to exist.

[12] David Horrell, Leadership Patterns and the Development of Ideology in Early Christianity  Sociology of Religion v58 p323-41 Winter ’97

The focus of this paper is the distinction between two forms of leadership which also contrast and conflict in important ways in early Christianity, namely itinerant leadership and resident leadership (that is, leadership from those who are located in a particular community, over which they exercise leadership). I will argue that there are important distinctions to be drawn between these two patterns of leadership, that in general it is legitimate to speak of a development or transformation from itinerant to resident leadership in early Christianity, that there is evidence which reflects the tensions and difficulties which the diverse patterns of leadership caused, and that the transference of power from itinerant to resident leadership is a sociologically significant transformation which may be
connected with the development of more socially conservative patterns of ethical instruction (especially the “household codes.”)

[13]Helmut Koester, “Writings and the Spirit: Authority and Politics in Ancient Christianity,” HTR 84 (1991)353-72. While I am not entirely comfortable with Koester’s views, I am comfortable with calling the marriage requirement for deacons a cultural or political preference.

101 thoughts on “Deacons then and now

  1. cinepro

    I am continually nagged by the often alien description of the early LDS offices and responsibilities in the D&C. Over the last 180 years, it seems the offices have been totally changed from their revealed purpose and responsibilities, with the names staying the same so we can feel like something has been preserved. If we haven’t been able to preserve even the 19th century version of these offices, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for a more ancient congruity.

    Just reading D&C 107:33-38 makes a big, cartoon-style question mark appear over my head as I wonder which Church was being described back then. The last time an apostle came to our stake, he really seemed to think he was in charge.

  2. Keller Post author

    Good observation about section 107. Clearly since 1835 there has been revealed changes that elevated the Twelve (the traveling high council) above the seventy or stake standing high councils. I follow the Esplin/Ehat model for how the Twelve even surpassed a disorganized First Presidency, whose surviving members did not have all the keys and ordinances the Twelve possessed. As Brigham proclaimed at Sydney Rigdon’s trial, not all revelations that substantially reorganized the priesthood hierarchy have been written down. So I am somewhat amused, as well, by attempts to “liken” antiquated material in section 107 in our day by those who are unaware of the historical background.

  3. Theodore Brandley

    cinepro & Keller

    Unless I misunderstand what you are both saying, it appears that you have a different interpretation of D&C 107:33-38 than do I. Verse 33 states that the “Twelve” officiate “under the direction of the First Presidency.” Verse 34 states that the Seventy act “under the direction of the Twelve.” Is not this precisely the way it works today?

    In verse 36 it states that “the standing high councils, at the stakes of Zion form a quorum equal in authority in the affairs of the church, in all their decisions, to the quorum of the presidency, or the traveling high council.” This is exactly the way it works today. The decisions of the stake high council are just as binding upon the members of the stake as are the decisions of the First Presidency or of the Quorum of the Twelve. It does not imply that a stake high council can make decisions for another stake, nor does it imply that a stake council can overrule the Twelve or the First Presidency, as they serve under their direction. Were do you see a difference between what is laid out in the verses you cite and the way it is organized today?

  4. Keller


    The biggest difference between 1835 and now is that stake high councils did not answer to the Twelve. In fact the Twelve originally had no authority in organized stakes at all! Their authority was only recognized out in the mission field. Standing and travelling high councils were equal in the sense that they both had original jurisdiction over their assigned areas. The First Presidency always had (final) appellate jurisdiction over all areas.

    Also in 1835 the First Presidency–which doubled as the stake presidency over Kirtland–and the presidency over Zion (D. and J. Whitmer and W. W. Phelps) were considered as the Council of Presidents (a super-quorum to coin a term), and as such they were the leading council of the church. Which is why these men experienced the Kirtland endowment before any other quorum. When David Whitmer was installed as President over Zion in mid 1834 he was also appointed the #2 man in the church and to be Joseph Smith’s successor. Oliver Cowdery’s installment as Assistant [Associate]President arguably returned him to the #2 position in Dec. 1834. Both Whitmer and Cowdery were clearly higher ranking than the Twelve in 1835 because they took the lead in calling and ordaining the Twelve and Oliver gave them their original charge.

    There was a role reversal when the Zion presidency apostasized and the Twelve were asked to provide temporary leadership in 1837 before Joseph could staighten things out. However the ascendency of the Twelve to become Joseph’s sucessors went through other developments and twists and turns. One could say as a quorum, they magnified their calling, whereas a lot of stake presidents, high councils, and First Presidency counselors did not.

    This info is all in the Tvedtnes book in footnote 1 above if you are interested. The rest is more or less my own commentary and historically informed interpretation.

    The stake high council could become an equal quorum to the First Presidency when they met together and formed a super-quorum and transacted stake business together. This is sort of what happens when the President dies and the First Presidency dissolves and the remaining members temporarily form a super-quorum with the Twelve.

    The point being that there was less of a hierarchy then than there is now. The leading quorums were equal in authority because Joseph Smith was like an honorary president of every quorum [a chief apostle to the apostles, a first elder to the elders, the man with the most inspired counsel to the high (and medium 🙂 ) councils, etc.] and frequently sat in on them, micro-managed them, and provided on-the-job training; it was his omni-present participation that blurred the distinction between original and final jurisdiction.

  5. Theodore Brandley

    The biggest difference between 1835 and now is that stake high councils did not answer to the Twelve. In fact the Twelve originally had no authority in organized stakes at all!

    And yet 107:33 clearly states that the Twelve are a “presiding” High Council to “officiate,” under the First Presidency, and to “regulate all the affairs” of the church in all nations. So, understandably, it took some time for the members of the church to bring the organization in line with the revelations. Case in point is the evolving changes in the Seventy to what we have today, which now more closely matches the revelations than previously. It is also probable that the offices of the Aaronic Priesthood will in the future be expanded in their various responsibilities in temporal affairs when the fullness of the Law of Consecration is reinstated.

  6. Keller

    I would agree that the Twelve progressed towards the role that you interpret for them in section 107. But again I must point out that the historical evidence shows that is not how the Saints in 1835 interpretted those passages in practice. They understood “the nations” as the areas for missionary work and “the affairs” as missionary affairs (to the “Gentiles” and the “Jews”) like appointing officers in branches outside organized stakes.

    A case can be made that it gets it backwards to say that offices gradually came into conformity to original revelations. Rather if you scrutinize the differences between the 1833 Book of Commandments and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants you will see it was the revelatory texts were adapted to account for new priesthood developments. See Robert Woodford’s material or the Saintswithouthalos site for more details. That suggests to me, that (following Joseph’s example) the Doctrine and Covenants could have been updated reflect post 1835 changes. As it were, it took the brethren several decades to do one such obvious update, the inclusion of D&C 132 and then the removal of the original article on marriage.

    While I would agree with you that the office of the Seventy has become closer, in recent times, to matching the original revelations; I would say that the office originally matched the revelation and then drifted away from them. One of the first things, Brigham Young did was to call a lot of missionaries and seventies despite them being tied up in organizing an exodus from Nauvoo, because standing officials like Nauvoo Stake President Marks and the Nauvoo High Council were seen as relatively more independent (compared to the Seventy) from the Twelve. B.H. Roberts also saw the and wrote about the developments in the office of the Seventy that he felt (correctly in my view) deviated from the original interpretations.

    My money would be on “the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” (which opens the possibility the Aaronic Priesthood shall “be taken again from the earth” in D&C 13) happening before any major change occurs, if any, to how we live the law of consecration. (My take on the the latter being reinstated follows my opinion about temples in Jackson County, since it is clear that the underlying purpose for the Law of Consecration can be satisfied or fulfilled in–its fullness even–in other ways. IIRC, James Talmage may have thought about decanonizing economic sections from the D&C.)

  7. Theodore Brandley

    It would appear that the Sons of Levi will not make this offering until after the coming of the Lord (D&C 45:51-53), whereas the New Jerusalem is to be established prior to His coming (Moses 7:62-63), and upon the principles of the Law of Consecration. The main reason cited by the Lord that the Saints were driven from Jackson County is that they were “not united according to the union required by the law of the Celestial Kingdom.” Then He added that Zion (the New Jerusalem) cannot be established “unless it is by the principles of the law of the Celestial Kingdom” (D&C 105:3-5). There is considerable evidence that this law is economic as well as spiritual. Capitalism may be OK for a telestial world but it has too many inequities and conflicts for a celestial world. The phrase “eternal competition” sounds more like Star Wars than the Kingdom of God. I don’t see how the Law of Consecration can be fulfilled without involving economic factors.

  8. Keller

    I usually like trying to find a common ground with those who so generously donate their time and energy into these discussions. I appreciate getting some of my unorthodox views challenged.

    I believe that the Law of Consecration can be practiced regardless of what secular economic systems is being practiced. The underlying purpose of the LoC is that we dedicate are our all to building up the Kingdom and to take care of the poor among us. It does not mean that we need to hold all material possessions in common (which was a point rejected by Joseph Smith). So whatever external ecclesiastical or political programs have been instituted (taxes, tithing, charitable donations, capitalism, socialism) we as individuals can fully live by the LoC.

    As far as how the eternities operate, very little has been revealed. It is clear that there will still be inequities in intelligence, spiritual gifts, social connections, talents, etc. We will all we progressing at our own pace. I would hope that whatever economic principles and programs are practiced in the Celestial Kingdom will be far more advanced than the ones revealed to Joseph Smith. The law of the Celestial Kingdom would seem to be more along the lines of obeying whatever law God gives us that is adapted to whatever changing (time-sensitive) needs we have.

    I will freely confess that the above is highly speculative.

    As I outlined in the comments of my other post, I believe Pres. Hinckley to be saying that Zion/New Jerusalem has already been established in Salt Lake City (although the actual place doesn’t matter). Yes, I respect other interpretations. If what I understand of Hinckley’s position is the case, then it would follow that we are already living the LoC satisfactorily.

    I do not think there is much of a point or need to revert back to the pre-1835 understanding/implementation of Aaronic Priesthood. I hope we never go back to requiring deacons to be husbands of one wife, or requiring circumcision as a sign of the everlasting covenant, animal sacrifices, or even plural mariage. I realize that others have more imagination than I do that social conditions will someday match 1830’s Mormonism and the “need” might return. I can’t but help consider such a hypothetical development as retrogressive. Such a position shows a profound loyality to canonized texts, but I see a real avoidance in accepting continuing revelation (living prophets trump dead ones) for which we do not always have a scripture text for. It sets people up for a fall when they reconstruct history and see that various priesthood developments do not always toe either past or curent interpretation of the revelations.

  9. Theodore Brandley

    You are right that the Law of Consecration can be practiced here and now no matter what economic system the saints may be living under. But now we can only practice it in preparation for the time when we can fully live it. Now we can only take care of the poor. Under the fullness of the Law there will be no poor (Moses 7:8). “…in your temporal things you shall be equal” (D&C 70:14) “…if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things” (D&C 78:6). “And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties…” (D&C 82:17). The only way this can be achieved is by having all things in common.

    After the ancient saints in Jerusalem had spent forty days with the resurrected Savior they had all thing common (Acts 2:44; 4:32). The early saints in America were commanded by the Savior to have all things in common (3 Nephi 26:19-20; 4 Nephi 1:3), and it was the means by which they established a Zion society that lasted 165 years. The deterioration of this most perfect society began when they ceased to have all things in common (4 Nephi 1:25). The Zion of Enoch was established under these principles and there “was no poor among them’ (Moses 7:18). This same Zion of Enoch is to return and dwell with the Latter-day Saints on the earth (Moses 7:63). The people of Enoch cannot come and dwell with us until we are living the same Zion standards that they are living.

    We are living in the dispensation when all things are to be restored. This must also include the law to have all things common among us. As you mentioned, it is reported that Joseph Smith did not agree with the Saints having all things in common. However, the subsequent living prophet, Brigham Young, “trumped” Joseph on this point and established communities that did. Nevertheless, all of the attempts of the Latter-day Saints to live this order failed. So, what was difference in the way the Ancient Saints organized their community, or in what way were they different from us, that they were able to succeed in establishing Zion societies and we have not been?

    Concerning the Aaronic Priesthood, Joseph Smith’s plan for the New Jerusalem included twelve temples for the use of the Aaronic Priesthood. Three of these temples were for Presiding Bishopric, three for the priests, three for the teachers, and three for the deacons ( HC 1:359). We may safely assume that these temples were not just for training how to bless and pass the sacrament (as important as that is).

    My reading of the scriptures indicates that the living prophets of the future will trump the living prophets of today and reinstate the fullness of the Law of Consecration that we too may build a Zion society in preparation for the coming of the Lord.

  10. Keller

    Thanks for sharing those ideas. Brigham’s system was not any more based on having all things in common than Joseph’s was. The wikipedia article on the United Order gives fairly decent coverage of that. The system was clear about giving people control or stewardship over property.

    I think it is fine to hold that future prophets will trump present ones. But, in general, I would suggest that for us the current leaders trump both past prophets and whatever we imagine future prophets will do. I hesitate to form any kind of apologetic that assumes facts that are not in evidence and will likely never will be. We can judge past prophets and their policies by their fruits (or lack thereof) that were produced and thank God that their learning experiences have blessed our current leaders with greater wisdom than their predecessors had.

  11. Theodore Brandley

    I speaking on temporal affairs, President Young stated,“Will the time ever come that we can commence and organize this people as a family? It will. Do we know how? Yes; what was lacking in these revelations from Joseph to enable us to do so was revealed to me” (JD 11:326). Brigham Young also said that Orderville, was the most near right to all those who had made the attempt [to live the United Order]. Orderville was based on the principle of having all things in common and was the longest lasting of the United Order communities.

    You are absolutely correct that we follow the living prophets! It is also interesting to contemplate the future. The Lord gives us prophecy concerning the future that we may prepare for it.

  12. Theodore Brandley

    The system was clear about giving people control or stewardship over property.

    Indeed! That is one of the great things about the Law of Consecration and Stewardship. First, by consecrating “all things” to the Lord we are recognizing that all things are His. “I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine” (D&C 104:14-15). Second, we are called to be stewards over portions of that property. “Behold, all these properties are mine… And if the properties are mine, then ye are stewards; otherwise ye are no stewards. But, verily I say unto you, I have appointed unto you to be stewards over mine house, even stewards indeed” (D&C 104:55-57).

    Socialism and Communism are some of Satan’s counterfeits for the Lord’s Law of Consecration and Stewardship. They are organized and controlled by political leaders at the top. The economic law of the Lord is organized and controlled by the members in the wards, as inspired by the Lord and presided over by the bishop, and by the common consent of the members.

    Which brings us back to the Aaronic Priesthood. The office of a bishop, and of the presiding bishop, are offices in the Aaronic Priesthood, and they preside over temporal affairs. It is doubtful that the Aaronic Priesthood, with these offices, will ever be taken from the earth as long as there are temporal affairs. Oliver Cowdery’s recollection of the words of John the Baptist are slightly different than Joseph’s (D&C 13:1). Oliver recorded that the Aaronic Priesthood “shall remain upon the earth, that the sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” The fact the Church continues to include this version of the Second Elder of the Church in the footnotes of Joseph Smith—History, is an indication that the issue is not yet settled in the minds of the Brethren. It is probable that we have not yet seen or even imagined the ultimate responsibilities of priests, teachers and deacons.

  13. cinepro

    Regarding the Law of Consecration, it should be remembered that the original (1831) implementation required the participants to cede ownership by deeding their property to the Church. That proved untenable when people later chose to opt out of the community, so later models allowed people to retain ownership of their property.

    This blogger has some really snazzy visuals that show the different LoC implementations.

  14. Theodore Brandley

    The early Saints of this dispensation tried many forms of consecration but could not seem to get any of them to work. It was mainly the failure to keep his covenant of consecration that caused Oliver Cowdery to apostatize from the Church. The awful penalty of being delivered to the buffetings of Satan is mentioned five times in the D&C. One time the penalty is prescribed for breaking the covenant of eternal marriage. The other four times it is for breaking the covenant of consecration. The Lord takes that covenant very seriously.

  15. cinepro

    FWIW, here’s how Van Wagoner lays out the charges against Cowdery in his excommunication trial:

    1838 Excommunicated in Far West, Missouri, for (1) persecuting the brethren by urging on vexatious lawsuits against them; (2) accusing Joseph Smith of adultery; (3) not attending meetings; (4) not being governed by ecclesiastical authority in temporal matters (charge withdrawn); (5) selling land in Jackson County against the wishes of Joseph Smith (charge withdrawn); (6) sending an insulting letter to Thomas B. Marsh (charge withdrawn); (7) leaving [p.76] his calling to practice law; (8) being in the “bogus business”; (9) dishonestly keeping notes that had been paid.

  16. Pingback: Aaronic Priesthood Question - LDS Mormon Forums

  17. Regan Grandy

    I wish to be in contact with Theodore Brandley about a family history matter–unrelated to the topic being discussed here. I know of no other way, at this time, of contacting him. (To alleviate spam, I will not leave my email address here, but I can be contacted on Facebook under Regan Grandy.)

  18. onika

    I think the offices of the priesthood in the NT were patterned after those in the OT. Compare seventies in Num. 11: 16, 24-25 to those in Luke 10: 1, 17. The transition between the two was in the formation of the Sanhedrin.

    The governments of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were based on a system of Jewish kings, prophets, the legal authority of the court of the Sanhedrin and the ritual authority of priesthood. Members of the Sanhedrin had to receive their semicha (“ordination”) derived in an uninterrupted line of transmission from Moses, yet rather than being referred to as “rabbis” they were more frequently called judges (dayanim) akin to the Shoftim or “Judges” as in the Book of Judges.

    The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel. In total there were 71 members. The Great Sanhedrin was made up of a Chief/Prince/Leader called Nasi (at some times this position may have been held by the Kohen Gadol or the High Priest),…

    The term Sanhedrin is Greek and dates from the Hellenistic period, but the concept is one that goes back to the Bible. In the Torah, God commands Moses to “Assemble for Me [“Espah-Li”] seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the people’s elders and officers, and you shall take them to the Tent of Meeting, and they shall stand there with you.” (Numbers 11:16)

    Further, God commanded Moses to lay hands on Joshua son of Nun.[4] It is from this point, classical Rabbinic tradition holds, the Sanhedrin began: with seventy elders, headed by Moses, for a total of seventy-one.

    Like Moses, and later Aaron, as the high priest over seventy elders, the Sanhedrin had its high priest over seventy rabbis (judges, sages, teachers), and Paul describes Christ as the “great high priest”, who called seventy.

    The deacons are similar in their role to the Levites who served in the temple, and the bishops would serve the role of priests who were also judges.

    The High Priest is Christ. This is why there is no mention of the members in the early church being called high priests. Jesus was the last one. Just read the book of Hebrews. The duty of the high priest was to make intercession/atonement for the congregation/church. He’s saying that they don’t need a high priest to offer animal sacrifice to make atonement any more because Christ has made the last sacrifice.

  19. onika

    Heb. 5:
    5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

    When did God say he was his son? When he was baptized.

    Why did Jesus need the Melchizedek priesthood? Because he was not of the tribe of Levi or a descendent of Aaron, and could not inherit it.

    Heb. 7:
    11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
    12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
    14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

    20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:
    21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.

    According to Jewish tradition, Melchizedek was Shem and the first person in the Torah to be called a Kohen. The priesthood was passed from father to firstborn son (patriarchal order). When Esau sold his birthright, the priesthood went with it. Before Israel was brought out of Egypt, the Lord told Moses to sanctify the firstborn of man and beast to the Lord (Exodus 13:2, 15). I suppose this includes those seventy elders Moses took with him to see God. This meant they were made priests after the order of Melchizedek. When the Israelites sinned with the Golden calf, the priesthood was then given to the tribe of Levi. The priesthood (role of priest) stayed with the descendents of Aaron, (the firstborns being high priests) and the other Levites were given less important duties serving in the temple. However, when the Messiah comes, the priesthood will revert back to the way it was originally intended, with the worthy first born of all tribes (Melchizedek priesthood). (

    The only difference I see between the Aaronic priesthood and the Melchizedek priesthood is who has it (Aaron’s descendents versus the firstborn of each tribe) and how it is received (oath instead of inheritance), so why would we have to have both at the same time? It seems to me the Melchizedek priesthood is sufficient and Aaronic is not a prerequisite (besides the fact that it is only for the descendents of Aaron), and since animal sacrifices are no longer required, the function of the high priest in our church has been limited to a judge.

  20. Keller

    Excellent information Onika. When I piece together information about the priesthood after Moses, I suspect that it underwent major developments between Moses and Christ. The succession claims from Moses to the Rabbis (there is some debate on whether the sages used that term at the time of Christ)seem to me to have the some of the same problems associated with them that we see in claims of apostolic succession. Both ordination chains are susceptible to criticism that they amount to ad hoc innovations as one party attempts to control power and eliminate heresy.

    The claims are interesting, but it is important to track down what supporting evidence they have. I looked into semikah in my Bowman on Ordination post, but I did not do much to evaluate the First temple period. I think some new offices and organization can be traced to the time of Ezra, who could be regarded as the first bishop or overseer. That helps explain Nibley’s observations on why the later Christian office of bishop seems to borrow heavily on Gentile conventions.

    As for Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, currently I rely much on David Larsen’s Two High Priesthoods

  21. onika

    I forgot to point out that these scriptures seem to be saying that there is only one last high priest under the order of Melchizedek, who is Christ:

    Hebrews 7:
    23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:
    24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
    25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
    26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
    27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
    28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

    He’s saying they don’t need the Aaronic high priests anymore to make intercession yearly for them because Christ’s superior sacrifice is effective eternally. Therefore, there is no need for any other/more high priests.

  22. onika

    Hebrews 9:
    24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
    25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
    26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

  23. onika

    Hebrews 10:
    19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
    20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
    21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

  24. onika

    1 Peter 2:
    5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

    Christ is the high priest who accepts our spiritual sacrifices.

  25. Keller

    Count me as dubious that the Early christians read Hebrews as arguing there was no more need for living High Priests. I agree that a Melchizedek high priest has a higher rank than an Aaronic one, especially an Aaronic high priest that performed obsolete sacrifices. Yes, Jesus is the ultimate High Priest but it doesn’t follow that he would be the last (in terms of mortal successors). I view him as restoring the superior Melchizedek office, while keeping aspects of both the AP and the restored MP. The presiding bishop is the best analog to the pre-Christian dispensations Aaronic High Priest as head of the lesser priesthood. Bishops later identified their role (on a local level) played up the parallels between them and the AHPs (for example see Nibley’s analysis especially on Clement’s letter.)

    On the other hand sometimes the early Christians keyed on priesthood authority that distinguished MHPs from AHPs and claimed MHP powers as well. So I have noted in my latest thread that Barry Bickmore sees the ECF references to persisting High Priests connected to bishops as MHPs. Both James and John are seen as High Priests by Eusebius. What kind is unclear, but James especially, was seen in some of the same king/priest light that Jesus was. I will probably take a bolder stand on Nibley’s and Bickmore’s position later and I have been in correspondence with David Larsen and John Tvedtnes to try and sort things out.

    I also have skimmed an essay written in a compilation edited by Everett Ferguson which uses some of quotations that Mormon authors (and Margaret Barker) have pointed out to document the persistence of High Priests past Christ’s death. But true the Protestant paradigm, J.L. Garrett highlights ECFs bridging a transition from a single, ritual-performing High Priest to a High-Priesthood that Christ shares with his adopted heirs (interpreted as all believers).

  26. Theodore Brandley


    My interpretation of the scriptures you quote is that the sacrifice of the perfect High Priest will end the sacrifice of the shedding of blood by the imperfect high priests. I do not share your conclusion that there will never be any more high priests, nor any need for any more high priests.

    However, if your conclusion is the correct, then it can only mean that there will not be a need for any more high priests after the order of Aaron, the lesser priesthood (noting that there is no more office of high priest in the lesser priesthood).

    Paul made this priesthood order distinction concerning the offices of the high priest in the following verses:

    Hebrews 5:9-10
    9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
    10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

    Notice that Jesus was called “an” high priest, not “the” high priest, which implies that there are other high priests after the order of Melchisedec.

    Hebrews 6:20
    20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, [even] Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

    If Jesus was made a high priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec, then Melchisedec must also be a high priest forever. Also, it notes that He is the “forerunner” for us, implying that we may also be high priests forever.


  27. Keller

    Thanks for bringing up 1 Peter 2. It contains a key text used by the ECFs (Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Melito of Sardis, Origen are among the patristic texts that Baptist scholar Garrett pointed out.) to justify the persistence of Melchizedek High Priests.

    9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

    >Christ is the high priest who accepts our spiritual sacrifices.

    Right and the early Christians viewed subsequent High Priests as acting in Christ’s name (as his authorized delegates– I am laying aside whether their authority claims were legit), even as it relates to accepting spiritual sacrifices in his behalf.

  28. onika

    Keller and Theodore,

    He calls Christ THE High Priest:

    Hebrews 3:
    1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

    I think the royal priesthood he’s talking about refers to priests and not high priests. When you think of priests you think of Aaronic priesthood. Is it possible that priests could have Melchizedek priesthood since they are not of the lineage of Aaron? High Priests, under the order of Melchizedek, are the first born (Exodus 13: 2, 15). High Priests made atonement on behalf of others. Priests serve in other capacities.

    Comparing the role of priests to high priests:
    Hebrews 9:
    6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
    7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

    He calls the saints priests. They will rule with him over the earth in the millenium (service, but not atonement).

    Rev. 1:
    6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

    Rev. 5:
    10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

    Rev. 20:
    6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

    I consent that it is possible that they all could be high priests since they are acting as kings and called sons of God.

  29. onika

    If you compare the role of the king (elohim/judge/ruler) in the OT he did make atonement, but not in the same way as the priest. He made atonement by punishing the wicked and setting things right, executing justice:

    2 Samuel 21:
    3 Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord?
    4 And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.

    Numbers 25:
    7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
    8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
    11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
    12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
    13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

  30. Keller

    >He calls Christ THE High Priest

    Speaking as a moderator: Let’s remember that we all read the scriptures through different lens so cutting and pasting lengthy scripture chains like no one has seen them is not really that helpful. It is generally sufficient to just indicate the scripture references and allow those interested to look up the passages if they are curious.

    In terms of Christ being The [only] High Priest it seems to me that we can easily come up with counter examples we both agree on. I am sure that we can also agree he is The [ultimate] High Priest like we do him being The [ultimate] Apostle. We appear also to be in agreement that Christ is not The [only Melchizedek] High Priest and that he is superior to any past or Present Aaronic High Priest. We also seem to agree that the nature of required sacrifices appropriate to the pre-Christian era and the post Christian have changed, although we may not agree on particulars. As Barrett demonstrates the ECFs eventually connected their ritual sacraments as the spiritual equivalent of the High Priestly sacrifices.

    While we disagree on whether He is The [chronologically last Melchizedek] Priest most the argument presented in the negative, if used consistently, would rule out chronologically prior Melchizedek High Priests such as, well, Melchizedek. David Larsen’s easily accessible SANE conference video is indispensible towards understanding pre-Christian MHPs. I do not want to reinvent the wheel, but I realize you can only lead a horse to water.

    The primary difference between an AHP and an MHP is that the latter is a king AND priest the former was (at least initially) the king’s priest. In other words, the MHP was a royal priest which is the words used in Peter. One can also tie Peter discussion about royal priests being foundation stones which is a clear reference to the Twelve apostles being set up as phylarchs and tribal princes that I address at length in my post about apostolic foundations.

    Here is an analogy that can be used for past and present MHPs that has the benefit of being consistent:

    Think of an actor playing a character in a movie. Other actors can play the same character in a different movie. A High Priest can be said to be performing the role of the Great High Priest. Special dress and ritual cleansing helps set a High Priest apart to better emulate Christ. The High Priests in the OT on special occasion wore the name Yahweh to make it clear who he was a representative of. In this analogy there one could say there is one High Priest but multiple people authorized at different times to performing the role of which is ultimately Christs.

    Another analogy is a High Priest acts as a mediator, much like Christ mediates between man and God. A High Priest is authorized to act for Christ in some key activities that require a high level of divine approval. The Urim and Thummin was a symbol of a High Priests ability to receive revelation from God, which potentially enhances his ability to mediate. A High Priest has been delegated to act in Christ’s name, to do some things as a stand in for Christ when Christ is not physically present.

    So one can argue that the types of Christians they run with are merely priests and not High Priests. But to me that is the same as stating that they have no one that can act for God at a level equal to the apostles or, say, Melchizedek; no one that can receive normative revelation from God; no one truly takes upon themselves the name of Christ, and no one that can be a joint-heir with Christ as a king and priest, no one can say they “have overcome” (to claim the associated blessings for such scattered throughout Revelation, which borrow from elements associated with High Priests ). That type of Christianity (though a strawman) is unappealing to me.

  31. Keller

    Regarding how Melchizedek High Priests enacted atonement, Methodist scholar Margaret Barker’s The Great High Priest is essential. Try googling “Yom Kippur” or “Day of Atonement”

  32. onika

    Yes, I am familiar with the Day of Atonement. This is how I came to understand how the atonement works. I wrote a long blog about it and would like to send it to you. How do I do that? The High Priests who acted in the OT were Aaronic. Before Moses there is no mention of atonement being made by Noah, Abraham, or Melchizedek, just offering sacrifices, of which there were many types. Jesus is the only one called a Melchizedek priest who makes atonement. I can tell you it isn’t substitution or ranson theory. He is making atonement for the group (church) and only atoning for unintentional sins if you compare him strictly to the role of the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

    Sorry for posting so much scripture. I just thought it would be easier to read and I don’t know how to make a reference link.

  33. onika

    That is a good explanation of the difference between Aaronic high priests and Melchizedek high priests; one is the king’s priest, and the other is a king-priest.

  34. onika

    There is still the difference between the MP of the OT and those of the NT. The former are first born and the latter are everyone. Does that mean they become God’s first born when they become his adopted sons?

  35. onika

    That must be it since they are joint heirs with Christ. Contrast that doctrine with that of the OT. Only the Messiah is the king priest and heir of the kingdom and the rest of us are his subjects and receive a piece of land in Canaan.

  36. Theodore Brandley


    That is because there is so much of the OT missing. Consider the following passage that should have been included in the OT:

    Abraham 1:2
    “I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.”

    This was of the order of Melchizedek because it was Melchizedek that gave him the priesthood, and it was prior to the existence of the Aaronic Priesthood.


  37. onika


    I always thought Melchizedek gave Abraham the priesthood too, but then I realized he built an alter (sacrifices?) and called upon the name of the Lord, and the Lord appeared to him long before the incident with Melchizedek. Wouldn’t this be an indicator that he already had the priesthood?

    Also, Abraham could not have been the first born if you do the math on the age of his father when his father started having children (70 yrs.), the age of his father when he died (205 yrs.), and his age when he left Haran (75 yrs.). If Abraham was the oldest he should have been 135 yrs.

    I was just thinking this morning about another difference between the OT and NT; in the OT the righteous are blessed in this life with safety from their enemies, health, wealth, prosperity; in other words heaven on earth in this life. In the NT it is quite the contrary; they should expect persecution from their enemies, hardships and trials in this life, and the reward of prosperity comes in the next life, in heaven. In other words this life is awful and worthless, but if we endure it we will be rewarded. Quite a different view on life, I would say gnostic. Which is right? Our church seems to say both, but that doesn’t really work because good people can be poor and have bad things happen to them.

  38. Theodore Brandley


    The Lord appeared to Saul and to Joseph Smith before they had the Melchizedek priesthood as well. It is not known exactly when Abraham received Priesthood from Melchizedek but when the Lord appeared to him the second time, at Haran before he went to Canaan and Egypt, He spoke to him as if he already had the Priesthood (Abraham 2:11). It was after this appearance that Abraham built the alter and offered sacrifice. It is quite probable that Melchizedek was in Haran during the time Abraham stayed there and ordained Abraham at that time. The incident later recorded in the OT was when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek was after Abraham had returned from Egypt (Genesis 14:20). Abraham had the Urim and Thummim before he went to Egypt so he certainly had the Priesthood before then.

    I don’t know of any scripture that indicates that only the first-born can have the Priesthood. Abraham was probably not the firstborn as he and his brother, Nahor, both married about the same time, and Nahor took for his wife the daughter of another brother, Haran. So Haran was probably older than both Abraham and Nahor. Haran was dead by then so perhaps Abraham was then the oldest living. We don’t know how many other siblings there may have been (Abraham 2:1-2).

    I was just thinking this morning about another difference between the OT and NT; in the OT the righteous are blessed in this life with safety from their enemies, health, wealth, prosperity; in other words heaven on earth in this life. In the NT it is quite the contrary…

    That depends on where you focus in both Testaments. Job was a “perfect man” and highly blessed but went through as much trial and tribulation as anyone could imagine. Think of some of the trials of Jeremiah and Elijah. Isaiah was sawed in half. In the New Testament Joseph of Arimathea was a righteous rich man as was the member who owned the “upper room” where the Last Supper was held.

    Whether in the Old Testament, the New Testament or in our day, the Gospel does not give anyone immunity from trials and tribulation but is a resource for us when we pass through these difficulties. Even those people who are blessed with prosperity have serious trials. For some, having wealth may be their biggest trial.

    Job, of the Old Testament, is the perfect symbolic example for us. After he had passed through all of his trials he was blessed with double of everything. The message is that the righteous will be more than compensated for all pain and sorrow. If you confine all existence to this life then things are not fair and there is no justice. But God is loving and just. Trust Him to the end.


  39. onika


    Here’s the scripture about the firstborn. Also, in Exodus 13.

    Abraham 1:

    2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
    3 It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.
    4 I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.

  40. Theodore Brandley


    …even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.

    In context, Abraham explains what he meant here as the firstborn was Adam, our first father. Normally, the firstborn had the authority and the responsibility of leadership, or the right to preside over the family or tribe, but the Melchizedek Priesthood was never restricted to just the firstborn.


  41. Theodore Brandley


    My apologies and a slight correction:

    It appears that the Lord may have given only the firstborn of each family the Melchizedek Priesthood between the time of the Passover and the time of their rebellion at Sinai (Numbers 3: 12-13) Keep in mind that this is when Moses first restored the Gospel to the family of Israel and they were quite immature in it.


  42. Keller

    I think being the first born might have had more to do with who the presiding MP was prior to Abraham. In the days when there was less separation of church and state, priesthood was delegated top-down, following delegated chains of command like the government. In other words, the MP was fairly exclusive (likely being reserved for upper, noble class), but it was important for each participating nation to have a presiding priest, (A High[est] Priest, if you will).

    However when nations split up like they did after the tower of Babel or among the sons of Noah, then it was necessary for each to have its own presiding priests over each nation. So each of Noah’s sons, could claim a legitimate line of authority from him. I agree that Abraham’s line comes from Shem (and that Melchizedek may be an other name for Shem), yet Shem wasn’t the first born of Noah. I also think it is possible for a nation’s priests (including the High[est] Priest) to apostasize (or be overruled by revelation), default on their priesthood, and leaving it open for the presiding priestly succession to follow other than the first born lines. So some of the intrigues about birthright manipulation are interesting in this respect.

    In sum, I compare presiding priest succession to kingly succession and note that a lot of similar problems can surface in both, when the general ideal is succession by first born. The Roman emperors usually adopted their appointed successors as sons. You can’t always guarantee the first born is the most competent replacement. We see jockeying for position among Abraham’s, Isaac’s, Israel’s, David’s, and Lehi’s sons for rank.

    Switching to the first temple period, and some points that I have learned from Margaret Barker and David Larsen (who runs a blog called Heavenly Ascents) about how the AP was a lesser priesthood compared to the AP. I am playing fast and loose here, but I think the following (which can be difficult to nail down, I don’t even understand all the sources and arguments) can help give a fuller perspective than just what can be figured out from the Bible alone.

    1) The MHP was the only one who received an anointing. IIRC, there are counter-examples in the OT. But Barker believes that there was a rivalry between the MP and AP, with the AP getting the upper hand in the 2nd Temple period and to the victor, goes the privilege of keeping the records. In this view,the AHP usurped some of the role of the MHP. The significance of this? Anointing can refer to the kingly nature of the Melchizedek priest or anointing is a symbol for the reception of the Holy Ghost (or Wisdom). Some of the early Christians explored the latter view in their writings and I think it reinforces the idea that the MP was a more Spirit(ual) priesthood and the AP was a more temporal (routinized, mundane) priesthood.

    2) The MHP was the original officiator on the Day of Atonement.

    3) The AHP merely carried the Urim and Thummim, the MHP/king is the only one recorded as actually using it to get revelation.

    4) Clement of Alexandria tied the role of the High Priest as a receiver of a gnostic endowment. Whether this esoteric knowledge comes in the form of a visionary heavenly ascent or temple ritual re-enacting one I can’t say. The Melchizedek High Priest was initiated as a royal son of God and even a member of the divine council. I don’t see this concept being extended much to Aaronic High Priests.

  43. Keller Post author

    There are a lot of interesting case studies that can be brought up about priesthood succession. One is Moses to Joshua and Aaron.

    While Moses was alive he seems to have everything going for him that a Melchizedek High Priest ideally does. He was the

    (1) national head of state (the king, if you will),
    (2) experienced a heavenly ascent identifying him as a royal son of God (Moses 1),
    (3)was the Chief priest/ritual mediator
    (4)was the chief teacher/law giver/law interpreter/judge

    When he was alive, Aaron was the chief assistant in regards to (3) and Joshua was the chief assistant in regards to (4).

    That dichotomy is also reflected in the Nephite Melchizedek priesthood where the most mentioned offices/functions are teacher and priest. For the Nephites, the role of (1) was assumed by the king until Mosiah’s led Alma’s reforms led to separation of a stately head (Chief Judge) and church head (High Priest) each with their own (sometimes overlapping) hierarchy.

    So when it comes to divine authority, I think Aaron exemplified ritual/sacrificial functioning aspects of the priesthood. The rabbis/Sanhedrin/synagogues/scribes came to exemplify the teaching/judging aspects of the priesthood. Sometimes it is hard to associate teaching as a priesthood function. That is why LDS definitions usually start with the priesthood as “the power and authority to act in the name of God” which covers both categories.

  44. Keller Post author

    I wanted to tack on some speculation about Moses. It is important to note that he was more at home with his in-laws(Jethro and the Midianites) than he was with the Israelites or Levites. After his death, it was Aaron’s descendents and not Moses’ that became the tribal head of the Levites. The Midianites tagged along and settle with Israel in the Holy Land. They crop up in Israel’s history as the Rechabites with their own priesthood. Later rabbis argued that they had held the Aaronic priesthood because they inter-married with Levites. However, I think it is more likely the reverse is true because Jethro and the Midianites had the priesthood (presumably Melchizedek) before Moses and Moses married into Jethro’s line. So the rabbi’s position seems to be an Aaronic tail wagging the Melchizedek dog.

    That helps me put section 84’s mention that the MP would be removed from Israel’s mist in perspective with the Bible account that Moses talked God into not destroying Israel and creating a nation just out of Moses’ descendents. Putting these ideas together, I think the MP remained with Moses and Jethro’s clan while Israel became more dominated by the Aaronic. But the Rechabites were like resident aliens in Israel so they had to submit to the host ruling party, driving Melchizedek Priests among Midianite/Moses’ descendents to frequently take a lower profile role when Aaronic Priests dominated the religious scene.

  45. Theodore Brandley


    Interesting stuff!

    One slight exception: I don’t think that the MP was ever “reserved for upper, noble class” although it may have appeared that way to those who did not have it. The MP was reserved for a righteous class. I think the Lord has always wanted every worthy male to hold the MP. When Moses first led the Israelites to Mount Sinai the Lord told Moses to say to the Children of Israel, “if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant…ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Ex 19:5-6).

    As you have pointed out the right to preside usually followed a patriarchal line and was usually, but not always, the firstborn.

    There are different kinds of anointing in the OT. The sons of Aaron were anointed, the Tabernacle was anointed, and Jacob anointed the stone pillow when he dedicated Mt. Moriah to be the temple site. Kings, as you have pointed out, were almost always anointed, which ties in with the anointing in the Temple.

    When the Lord took away the MP from Israel that also took away the authority to bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost. In lieu of this gift the Lord gave them the Law of Carnal Commandments with all the reoccurring rituals to remind them of the coming sacrifice of the Son of God. I find it interesting that Jesus did not restore Gift of the Holy Ghost to Israel until after His atoning sacrifice, which fulfilled the Law of Moses.

  46. onika

    This is a little off topic, but I was wondering about some things:

    Jesus seems to be saying the Messiah doesn’t have to be the seed of David (since, according to his genealogy, he would not be the seed of David through his father’s line, which was required to be heir to the throne).

    Mark 12:
     35 ¶ And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?
      36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
      37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

    The following scripture says the right of king shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes, so the scepter will depart from Judah when Shiloh comes and he does not have to come from Judah. Also, the people will gather to him.

    Genesis 49:
    10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

    It goes on to say (my interpretation) that Joseph is blessed more than all his other brothers. It sounds like the Messiah/Shiloh (and possibly other kings) will come from Joseph because of the words “branches, arms, shepherd, stone, crown”.

    22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
    23 The archers have sorely grieved him and shot at him, and hated him:
    24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
    25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
    26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

    Moses blessed the tribe of Joseph prophesying:

    Deuteronomy 33:
    17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth…

    Horns may refer to kingdoms, power. If Joseph has the birthright (which includes the Melchizedek priesthood) why doesn’t the Messiah come from him?

    1 Chron. 5:
      1 Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.
      2 For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s:)

  47. Theodore Brandley

    onika, you said:

    Jesus seems to be saying the Messiah doesn’t have to be the seed of David (since, according to his genealogy, he would not be the seed of David through his father’s line, which was required to be heir to the throne).

    Your interpretation Of Mark 12:35-37 may not be correct. It was well known among the Jews that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David. This was confirmed by the angel Gabriel when he told Mary, “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:31-32)

    Gabriel here noted that Jesus would be the son of the Father and also the son of David. He was the son of David through his mother, and also through his legally adoptive father Joseph. As the firstborn son of Joseph’s wife Mary, Jesus was legal heir of Joseph even if Joseph was not the biological father. Joseph was a direct descendant of David, and was rightful heir to the throne of David. Unfortunately Rome had appointed someone else at that time.

    The scribes in Jerusalem at that time didn’t quite understand this. That is why Jesus put the question to them that you have pointed out in Mark 12:35-37. I re-quote it here with my own translations in [ ]:

    35 And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ [Messiah] is the Son of David?
    36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord [Father] said to my Lord [Jehovah/Messiah], Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
    37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

    The Jews of Jerusalem did not understand that the Messiah was to the son of the Father as well as the son of David. The Messiah was to be Jehovah, who was the firstborn spirit son of the Father, and was also to be only begotten so of the Father in the flesh. The common people who Jesus had been teaching knew this and understood it.

    Your interpretation of Genesis 49:10 may also be incorrect.

    10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

    The word shilo in Hebrew means “he to which it rightfully belongs to.” In other words the kings of Judah will reign until He to whom the kingdom really belongs to shall come. Judah maintained her kings, even through the Babylonian captivity, until the time when Jesus was born.

    The Messiah was to come through the Tribe of Judah, but the birthright of Israel, or the right to leadership (under the Messiah), was to be the Tribe of Joseph.


  48. onika


    I’ve always interpreted these scriptures the way you did, but I wanted to show how they could be interpreted differently. Why should the Messiah come from Judah? He was not the righteous one of the twelve, Joseph was. Joseph would have been the one to receive the Melchizedek priesthood, since he had the birthright, just like Isaac received the Melchizedek priesthood when he bought Esau’s birthright. Something’s fishy. By the way I found a website by Jews whose mission is to gather Israel, and they say there are two Messiah’s; one from Judah to teach the law, the other from Joseph to gather the lost tribes. Interesting…

    The other idea is that one messiah comes from Judah and the other from Levi (maybe John the Baptist?):

  49. onika

    Everyone says the Messiah is the son of David. Jesus points out David calls the Messiah Lord. Jesus isn’t asking how the Messiah is David’s Lord; he is asking how the Messiah/Lord is David’s son, as if he weren’t, or as if they shouldn’t call him David’s son even though the OT calls him that. He is saying the Messiah is God’s son, not David’s.

  50. Theodore Brandley


    I disagree with your interpretation of Mark 12:35-37. If the Angel Gabriel told Mary that the Messiah would be the son of David, that’s good enough for me (Luke 1:32). Jesus said, “I came unto my own.” This implies a close, pre-mortal relationship with the Jews. It was planned long before He was born.

    There are two grand priesthood governing offices. One is the King and the other is the Priest. The King line was to come through Judah and the Priest line to come through Joseph. That is why there was promised a Messiah ben Judah and a Messiah ben Joseph. Jesus was the Messiah ben Judah and Joseph Smith was the Messiah ben Joseph. Joseph was called to restore the Gospel to the earth. It is Joseph’s responsibility to rouse up Judah before the coming of the Millennium. If we don’t there won’t be a Millennium.

    D&C 98:16-17
    16 Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children;
    17 And again, the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets, and the prophets unto the Jews; lest I come and smite the whole earth with a curse, and all flesh be consumed before me.

    The prophets are the Priests. They have to turn the hearts of the Jews to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ or there will be no Millennium.

    Gen 49:9
    9 Judah [is] a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

    The Lord is the lion. Judah is His son. The prey of a lion is his food. The food of the Lord is the bread of life, or the Gospel. Judah went away from the Gospel and lay down on the job of carrying it to the rest of the world. In the last days who shall rouse him up? Joseph!


  51. onika

    Keller, Thank you for that very interesting link. I was not aware of these other ancient writings that confirm my theory. I wonder why they think Messiah ben Joseph is the suffering servant. Jews today believe the suffering servant is the nation of Israel because the previous chapters say Israel is God’s servant. So, “he” suffers because of the wickedness of his people.

    Theodore, you should read it.
    I am sceptical about the genealogy of Jesus in the NT. Maybe the writers made it up. Maybe Jesus really is a descendent of Joseph–not just his father named Joseph, but the son of Israel. I’ve been reading on googlebooks parts of a book called “Jesus, Last of the Pharaohs”. This guy has a theory that the patriarchs were Hyksos pharaohs, there were two exoduses, and the Joseph having the birthright meant he was to be the next pharaoh, but they were kicked out of Egypt before that could happen and he had to be smuggled back in. Anyway, he gets to the part about Jesus being the next pharaoh down the line, and that is why his parents went to Egypt, and Herod felt so threatened. I don’t know yet if he has linked him to be a direct descendent of Joseph. But, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was married to a Levite, and people usually married within their tribe so they wouldn’t lose their land inheritance, so maybe Elizabeth was a Levite and so was Mary. Also, he points out many reasons why Abraham on down were royalty, which I had thought of previous to reading this:

    Abraham was told kings would come out of him (I don’t think it was just in the spiritual sense).

    They kept genalogy (something the common people didn’t do).

    He was entertained by the pharaoh. I don’t think every visitor to Egypt got to do that.

    Pharaoh wanted to mary his “sister”. Why would he do that if she didn’t have some high status?

    Her name means princess.

    They married close relatives like the Egyptian pharaohs did.

    Egypt mourned over Jacob’s and Joseph’s deaths, they were mummified, and Pharaoh’s house escorted the Israelites to Canaan to bury Jacobs body.

    Joseph had to tell his brothers to SAY they were shepherds. Why would he have to tell them that unless they were NOT shepherds? (This is different than what the author says.)

    Abraham had an army, gold, etc. and was very wealthy.

    My theory is a little different than the guy who wrote the book. (He thinks they were in Egypt since Adam; I think Adam to Abraham were royalty in Mespotamia.) I think Nahor was older so he inherited Terah’s land, and Abraham just inherited people, cattle, and gold, so he had to leave to get his own land, unless the land was divided and his portion was in Canaan. Notice he travels and everywhere he stops he builds an altar and God tells him all the land he can see is his, like marking his territory. The war he fought when he rescued Lot sounds similar to one that Hammurabi fought. Hammurabi was an ally to these similar sounding countries. Then he turned on them and defeated them and expanded his kingdom. Did you know that Hammurabi is read wrong and is really Abraham?

  52. onika

    The DNA linage of the modern Jews is predominantly M89 the same as that of the Arabs, with the Levites or Cohen clan being of M35 linage and therefore of Egyptian origin.

  53. Theodore Brandley


    Interesting stuff. I am almost illiterate on DNA but it would be very reasonable for Egyptian DNA to be found in the Cohens and the Levites. Their ancestors lived in Egypt for about 400 years. And very reasonable for many modern Jews to have a close DNA to Arabs. They also lived together for hundreds of years. Of course knowing what DNA of these lines looked like two or three thousand years ago compared to what they look like now I think is another matter. Also if you go back only about ten generations everyone has about 1,000 direct ancestors and each one of them could have slightly different origins, so I suppose one could find whatever one was looking for, if it was still there.

    It is quite reasonable that Jesus, through his mother or adoptive father, could very well be of Judah and of Joseph. The genealogy in Matthew traces Joseph’s royal line but there are any number of other lines to follow.


  54. onika


    I read part of your paper and you seem to be under the impression that Joseph Smith is a descendent of Lehi’s son Joseph, but I don’t think the scripture is saying that, just that he came from Jacob’s son Joseph; that’s why he can be from Ephraim instead of Mannaseh. The Israelites travelled up north from Assyria and settled parts of Europe and became the Vikings.

  55. Theodore Brandley


    3 And now, Joseph, my last-born, whom I have brought out of the wilderness of mine afflictions, may the Lord bless thee forever, for thy seed shall not utterly be destroyed.
    4 For behold, thou art the fruit of my loins; and I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt. And great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph. (2 Nephi 3:3-4),

    The seed of Joseph, son of Lehi, would not utterly be destroyed because he was a descendent of Joseph of Egypt, and the Lord had made some great covenants with Joseph of Egypt. The scripture goes on to explain what the most significant promise was.

    22 And now, behold, my son Joseph, after this manner did my father of old prophesy.
    23 Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book.
    24 And there shall rise up one mighty among them [among the seed of Joseph, son of Lehi], who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren.
    25 And now, blessed art thou, Joseph. Behold, thou art little; wherefore hearken unto the words of thy brother, Nephi, and it shall be done unto thee even according to the words which I have spoken. Remember the words of thy dying father. Amen. (2 Nephi 3:22-25, editorial comments added)

    The scripture is clear that the choice seer of the restoration would be a descendant of Joseph, son of Lehi. That is what the message of the dying Lehi to his son Joseph was all about. The reason that Lehi’s son Joseph was so blessed is because this choice seer, Joseph of the restoration, would be of his seed. The Prophet Joseph Smith was to be a descendant of Joseph, son of Lehi.

    Although there are different speculations, it is not know where the Vikings originated from. Their earliest archaeological remains are found in Greenland and Iceland.


  56. onika

    Aha! I have read it both ways and imagined that if that were the case then the choice seer would have to be a Lamanite since all the Nephites were mixed with them if they weren’t killed. But does the phrase “there shall rise up one mighty among them” have to mean that he is born of them? Maybe it just means that he will be made known to them as he rises to prominence and power”among them” because he is going to teach them.

  57. onika

    If their earliest remains are in Greenland and Iceland then they very well could have come from the mainland of North America. I’ve never heard this theory before and it doesn’t say anything about it in the Book of Mormon does it? Are you the first one to think of it?

  58. Theodore Brandley

    onika said:

    If their earliest remains are in Greenland and Iceland then they very well could have come from the mainland of North America. I’ve never heard this theory before and it doesn’t say anything about it in the Book of Mormon does it? Are you the first one to think of it?

    Your prior thoughts on this scripture have been the common interpretation of it because all of the Nephites had been destroyed, and Joseph Smith did not have Lamanite ancestry. However, taken in context it is clear that the main theme of the blessing from the dying Lehi is that the choice seer would be a descendant of Joseph, son of Lehi.

    This brings us back to the information provided in the Book of Mormon about Hagoth (Alma 63:5-8), which I mentioned in the Gospel Doctrine thread July 18th, 2009 at 5:16 pm . In the North American setting for the Book of Mormon laid out in my thesis, Hagoth launched his large ships into the Atlantic Ocean at the north end of Chesapeake Bay, which is the sea on west side of the narrow neck of the Delmarva Peninsula. In addition to being an artisan in the building of ships he was obviously very inquisitive as to what lay across long distances of Ocean. Why else would he build such “exceedingly large” ships? He would have known from the record of Ether that the Jaredites had come from a land across the east sea and he may have been seeking to find that land. Twice in the above mentioned scripture it says that they took “much provisions.” This also indicates that they were planning a long voyage and not just moving further north on the continent. Hagoth also would have known from the record of Ether the design of the Jaredite ships. The design given in the original Book of Ether was probably more detailed than what we have in Nephi’s abridgement. It is also probable that Nephites found remains of Jaredite ships that survived the destruction and desolation.

    The record informs us that in 55 BC several large ships, with many Nephites and many provisions, sailed northward from the Atlantic Coast and were lost to the history of the Nephites. Mormon recounted this historical event 400 years later. If these lost Nephites had remained somewhere on the continent their descendents should have been known by that time. Therefore, either they left the continent and landed elsewhere, or they were drowned at sea. It is not likely that all of the ships would be lost at sea so we may assume that the majority of them landed elsewhere. Additionally, if these Nephites who sailed away in the ships of Hagoth were not going to have any meaning for our day, why did the Lord inspire Mormon to even mention them?

    When sailing the Atlantic northward away from the North American Continent, the first two inhabitable landings, are Greenland and Iceland. These are also the lands where the earliest archaeological remains of the Vikings are found. The Vikings later conquered and settled much of Northern Europe and the northern British Isles, and particularly the area of Joseph Smith’s ancestry. There is considerable evidence that Joseph Smith descended from the Vikings, as has probably every president of the Church since, including our present prophet Thomas S Monson. My theory is that they are all Nephites. Most of the early converts to the Church, may also be Nephites, as well as their descendants.

    This is a theory that I developed after I came to the conclusion that Hagoth sailed into the North Atlantic, not the Pacific, as has been traditionally thought. There is considerable evidence to support this theory including a similarity in ship design, swords, armament, mound building, and racial profile.


  59. Theodore Brandley

    Typo correction:

    In paragraph two the book of Ether was Moroni’s abridgement not Nephi’s.

  60. onika

    I always thought Hagoth sailed to the Polynesian islands. I agree that the book of Mormon takes place primarily in North America, especially since Joseph Smith lived there (if he made it up). But anyway, I noticed from paintings of various Indian tribes that certain ones from North America look very European vs. Mongolian. Polynesians look like they are part African as do the Aborigines in New Zealand.

  61. Theodore Brandley

    I’m sure that the Polynesians are descendants of Lehi, but Hagoth probably never saw the Pacific Ocean.

  62. onika

    I have reread the chapter several times and I think it could be interpreted either way. It definitely says Lehi’s son Joseph’s seed will be preserved and be taught, and the seer would be a descendent of Joseph, Jacob’s son. That is all that is really clear in the promise.

    2 Nephi 3:
    18 And the Lord said unto me also: I will raise up unto the fruit of thy loins; and I will make for him a spokesman. And I, behold, I will give unto him that he shall write the writing of the fruit of thy loins, unto the fruit of thy loins; and the spokesman of thy loins shall declare it.

    Who is Joseph’s spokesman?

  63. Theodore Brandley

    D&C 100:9-11
    9 And it is expedient in me that you, my servant Sidney, should be a spokesman unto this people; yea, verily, I will ordain you unto this calling, even to be a spokesman unto my servant Joseph.
    10 And I will give unto him power to be mighty in testimony.
    11 And I will give unto thee power to be mighty in expounding all scriptures, that thou mayest be a spokesman unto him, and he shall be a revelator unto thee, that thou mayest know the certainty of all things pertaining to the things of my kingdom on the earth.

  64. Theodore Brandley

    The Jaredites lived in the Land Desolation, the southern border of which was where Hagoth launched his ships (Alma 63:5). The Jaredites had built a great city near there (Ether 10:20).

  65. onika

    So the Jaredites were in the north-eastern part of North America. I would have thought they would be in South America because of all the archeological evidence pointing to Mesopotamia. Please refer to my post at:

    Gospel Doctrine Apologetics: D&C Lesson 27 July 17th, 2009 at 10:03 pm.

  66. onika


    I read that the Mongols came from Mespotamia, and I always had the theory (from my mother) that the Jaredites went east from Mesopotamia to Asia (China) before coming to America, and that some of them dropped off in Asia instead of coming to America becoming the Mongolian people. Well, if the Mongolians are the ancestors of the Jaredites, then most of the Lamanites are part Jaredite. Maybe they built the ziggurats and weren’t all killed off. What do you think?

  67. Theodore Brandley


    The theory that the Jaredites went east across Asia comes from the supposition that they landed on the west coast of America. The text of the Book of Mormon however indicates that they landed on the east coast of North America. I don’t know if you read my reasoning on the route of their journey, derived from the text of the Book of Mormon, under the heading “The Journey of the Jaredites.”

    I think the Mongolians came a long time after the Jaredites and there is some indication that they may be Israelites.

  68. onika

    O.k. Theodore, now I have a couple of questions:

    Are you saying the land divided (in the days of Peleg) where the Pacific ocean is? So the Atlantic is older and was always there?

    Are you saying the Jaredites sailed upstream from the caspian Sea? Is that possible?

  69. Theodore Brandley


    The scriptural evidence is that the Atlantic Ocean has always been the divider of the land mass since the days of Adam. Eden was “eastward” on the land mass (Moses 3:8), and Adam’s grandson, Enos, moved the people of God from the place that Adam dwelt, in Missouri, to the “land of Cainan, a journey from the east sea” Moses 6:17,41-42). The land division in the days of Peleg would have been on the west of America, near the “boundaries of the everlasting hills (D&C 133:23-31). Not that the Pacific Ocean was not there, but there would have been a connection between America and Asia, perhaps in the area of the Bering Straits, Bering Sea, and or the Aleutian Islands.

    It is not that the continents drifted apart but that the land sunk. We learn from the following scripture that the land will be lifted or “cast up” again, to prepare the way for the return of the Lost Tribes to the area of the “boundaries of the Everlasting Hills.”

    D&C 133:23-32
    23 He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land;
    24 And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided.
    25 And the Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh.
    26 And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.
    27 And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.
    28 Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,
    29 And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.
    30 And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.
    31 And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.
    32 And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.

    There is some question as to whether this event is to occur prior to or after the coming of the Lord. There are two pieces of evidence that indicate the Lost Tribes will return prior to the coming of the Lord. First, in verse 28 above it refers to the “enemies” of the Tribes becoming a “prey unto them.” This is war language and wars are supposed to cease after the coming of the Lord. Second, Moses gave Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the keys of “the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north” (D&C 110:11). Those keys are held by the prophets today. When the Lord returns, all of the keys of the Priesthood will be given back to Jesus Christ because he will be the presiding authority during the Millennium. So, why would Moses give keys to the prophets today that are not going to be utilized until after they are given back to the Savior?

    More later on the Jaredites journey.

  70. Theodore Brandley

    onika you said,

    Are you saying the Jaredites sailed upstream from the caspian Sea? Is that possible?

    The Jaredites left Babel and traveled overland northward into a valley called Nimrod. From there the Lord guided them to a sea where they built barges (see Ether 2). The most logical route north from Babel would have been to go up the Diyala River Valley into what is now northern Iran. This valley has been an important trade route through the centuries. Continuing north leads into the valley of Lake Urmia which is about 100 miles south of Mount Ararat and would be a probable location for the Valley of Nimrod. From there the Lord directed them through the wilderness to the shores of a sea where they built barges. This would be the Caspian Sea, about 170 miles east of the Valley of Nimrod. The Mediterranean Sea was west of Babel, rather than north. The Black Sea was much farther from Babel, across the high mountains of Turkey.

    A barge is generally a vessel that is pushed or pulled through the water. This indicates that they rowed or oared these vessels rather than being propelled by sail. These vessels did not have a top on them like the later vessels they built, which is evidenced by the fact that there was no concern about lighting them, ventilating them, or being able to see to steer them.

    And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord. (Ether 2:6)

    Notice that the Jaredites crossed “many waters” in these barges, and had to be continually directed by the Lord in doing so. An interesting thing about the Caspian Sea is that the largest and longest river in Europe empties into the north end of it. The Volga River goes from the Caspian Sea all the way through the heart of present day Russia. It is unlikely that the Lord would have the Jaredites build barges just to cross the Caspian Sea. It would have taken less time to walk around the southern end of the sea than to build vessels to cross it. The likeliest scenario is that the Jaredites rowed to the north end of the Caspian Sea, and then up the full length of the Volga to its source in the Valdai Hills of Russia. That would put the Jaredites only 200 miles from the Baltic Sea.

    To get from the Volga River to the west coast of Norway they could have gone overland for 200 miles and built new ships on the Baltic Shore. However, their most likely course of action was to portage their lightweight ships for about 15 miles, from the Volga River to the Western Dvina River (Daugava), which flows into the Baltic Sea near Riga, Latvia. The Vikings portaged their Longships between these two rivers for three centuries and there is considerable similarity between the Viking Longships and the description of the Jaredite barges. From the head of the Dvina they could row their vessels down the river, then through the Baltic to the western shore of the Scandinavian Peninsula.


  71. onika


    I should have told you that I read what you quoted above.

    “An interesting thing about the Caspian Sea is that the largest and longest river in Europe empties into the north end of it.”

    Doesn’t that mean they had to sail upstream? Are you saying they could because they had oars?

  72. Theodore Brandley


    Yes they would have had oars or paddles. A barge is a vessel that is pushed or pulled, rather than being propelled by sail. The Volga is 2300 miles long but only has and elevation drop of 800 feet along its entire length. It is almost like a 2300 mile-long lake.

  73. onika

    Where do you think the four parting rivers are (from the garden of Eden) if they’re not the ones in Mesopotamia? Cainan is by the sea east, so east of Eden; Cain dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden; Canaan is north of the valley of Shum. Where do you think these places are?

  74. Theodore Brandley


    I don’t know. I haven’t really pondered these questions. Dr. Milton R. Hunter suggested that the river was the Mississippi and the four “heads” were its four main tributaries. (see Pearl of Great Price Commentary, 1948, p. 108). A variation of this is suggested by Dr. Eric N. Skousen (see Earth In The Beginning p. 201).

  75. onika

    Before I spout off anymore, I want you to know that I believe in life after death because of an experience my friend had. I’m not sure about the nature of God, whether just Natural Law, a group or society of spirits united in upholding Natural Law (Democracy), or one of those spirits being far more advanced and intelligent than the rest and the responsibility lying solely upon him to uphold Natural Law (Monarchy).

    The scribes of the OT wrote from their point of view, from the middle east. They name the rivers they assume the reader is familiar with, especially the Euphrates. The four rivers part before the Persian Gulf and empty into it, so maybe Eden was where the Persian Gulf is. I don’t think it’s north west of this area because that’s where the heads of the rivers are.

    Genesis 2:
    10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

    Please read what I wrote about the Sons of God in “Forays amongst the disaffected”.

    What I didn’t add was that the scripture could also mean sons of gods (elohim). If that is the case these gods would be the fallen angels The book of Enoch talks about who gave men advanced knowledge of metallurgy, writing, astronomy, etc., the stuff the Sumerians claim was given to them by their gods who came from the planet Nibiru. Yes, this is all recorded in their writings. These “gods” could just be an advanced human civilization that made the Sumerians their vassals; some think aliens from another planet; or maybe they are evil spirits who gave knowledge in exchange for the people’s loyalty/worship. This is how monolatry became polytheism.

    Some people say the scriptures don’t say the blacks are descendents of Cain, but they do:

    Moses 7:
    8 For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.

    12 And it came to pass that Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Canaan, to repent;

    22 And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.

    The people of Canaan must be the seed of Cain.

    Abraham 1:
    21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.
    22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.

    Wouldn’t all of Ham’s children be black, or at least brown? But they weren’t.

    If Cain went east of Eden he could have gone to Persia, or India, or China. If the mark was something his progeny inherited, maybe it’s the Mongolian spot.

    I really think the god talking to Cain is not the true God. Why is he protecting him when he deserves to be executed? I think the mark was maybe a tattoo or brand to show Cain now belonged to this god, and was his servant. Cain was making a covenant with this god. Slaves were branded or tattooed. The god was offering him protection if he served him.

  76. Theodore Brandley

    onika you wrote;

    The scribes of the OT wrote from their point of view, from the middle east.

    That may be true to a certain extent, but an explicit exception is the 1st Book of Moses, or Genesis. We learn from Moses 1:2 that God dictated Genesis to Moses and Moses wrote what God said. Since the Book of Moses came by revelation to Joseph Smith, then in order to know if that is in fact true, one must know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. The only way one can know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God is to ask God, with a sincere heart and with real intent.

    Once one has received direct revelation confirming that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, then many questions are answered more definitively.


  77. onika

    Ok, suppose the scribes transcribed Moses’ original writings incorrectly and left out lots of parts, and Joseph Smith received the correct version. There are still too many things that need to be corrected.

    For example the ages of the patriarchs are allusions to astrology. Nimrod, the mighty Hunter before the Lord, is the God of the constellation of Orion (the hunter). Another name for him is Ptah or Osiris, the craftsman. The Masons revere him. He is the first mason after the flood. Cain was the first mason before the flood (he built the first city). God confounded the languages so they could not have one world government. The Book of Genesis sounds like it was written by Masons. The original Jewish religion was after the Masonic order. Another description would be Jewish gnosticism.

  78. onika

    “Three star positions by which the ancients kept track of the calendar may be used to set a date for the formation of the myth giving a result in agreement with dates suggested on other grounds. These positions were the following:

    “Heliacal Rising: when a star makes its first seasonal appearance on the eastern horizon just before dawn.

    “Culmination: when a star stands on the zenith meridian. After its heliacal rising, a star rises a little earlier each night until, halfway into its season of visibility, it is up all night. It then culminates at midnight. The nonsetting circumpolar stars can culminate, either low in the north (inferior) or overhead (superior).

    “Heliacal Setting: when a setting star makes its last seasonal appearance on the western horizon just after sunset.”

  79. onika

    The ages of the patriarchs are right in line with the star cycles. It cannot be coincidence.

    More about the nature of God:

    If God were a majority of the spirits, then if the majority were bad, justice would not be upheld.

    If God is a monarch, then still the majority would have to be good and united with God for God to even be God, unless we don’t have free will, which is what Evangelists believe. In other words, if we have free will then no one forces us to worship God, and if no one worshiped God, he would not be God except to himself.

    If God is Natural Law, the consequences of our actions judge us, and if our spirits live on then we have to face the same people we offended in this life and try to reconcile with them, just like we would here. If we love others and make friends here, we will have the same friends in the next life.

  80. Theodore Brandley

    If God is a monarch, then still the majority would have to be good and united with God for God to even be God, unless we don’t have free will, which is what Evangelists believe. In other words, if we have free will then no one forces us to worship God, and if no one worshiped God, he would not be God except to himself.

    There may be a few flaws in the above reasoning. If God is the monarch of all and the creator of all, he does not require a majority to worship Him in order to retain his standing as God. He is still the monarch over them whether they believe it or not. If no one worshipped him, like in the days of Noah, He would simply take them out of the mortal world and give some others an opportunity to worship Him, and thereby achieve the eternal joy for which they were created.

  81. onika


    “Every knee will bow…” implies that all will worship him, besides the fact that even though they are in another kingdom, they will not be sinning anymore. Either they are forcibly changed, or they are no longer deceived and cannot deceive anyone because everyone knows they know. They would have to say the sun isn’t shining when it obviously is. This implies that everyone who sins is deceived. I believe that because we are self-interested we always make choices we believe are in our self-interest, so if we make a bad choice, or one with negative consequences, it is because we are deceived. So, why does one have to be damned for eternity? Why can’t we just be damned until we repent, and still progress? We must believe in Christ so we will do what he requires of us (baptism, etc.), but what about people who live very good lives and don’t believe in Jesus? They might feel good about it because it sounds good, but they can’t really believe it’s the truth for whatever various reasons, and not because they don’t want to keep the commandments. Really, belief isn’t enough; knowledge is needed. If everyone had knowledge, no one would be deceived.

  82. Theodore Brandley


    You have raised some good points and questions.

    Mortality is the stage of our life where we individually determine the type of life we want for eternity. The reason that there is a veil over our memories and our knowledge of God, is so that we can learn to exercise faith. Faith is the principle of all action and the principle on which the power of God is exercised. Through our experiences in this life, and in the subsequent Spirit World, each one can then determine where and how we want to live our lives throughout all eternity. Self interest and choice is primary, but we are all different and not everyone will choose the same level. There are three degrees of happiness. When the knowledge is gained and the deceiving influence of Satan is removed, everyone will choose the level of happiness that will fit them the best.

    All three kingdoms are kingdoms of glory and happiness. There are different levels of law and commitment for each kingdom. For example the economic law of the Celestial Kingdom is the Law of Consecration and Stewardship. Most people are not going to want to live that law. Alma says that we will be “our own judges” (Alma 14:7), and that each one of us will be raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good (Alma 41:5). When every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that His judgment is just (Mosiah 27:31). The following poem by Carol Lynn Pearson sums it up quite nicely:


    I don’t fret
    As to where
    My soul will
    Be assigned—
    Weather I’ll find
    Me with the Celestial
    Or not quite

    It’s simple:
    Water meets
    It’s own level—
    So shall I.

  83. onika

    Thank you for attempting to resolve my concerns. My friend said from her experience we judge ourselves, but hopefully we can be fair about it. Sometimes people are too harsh on them selves and sometimes not harsh enough. Come to think about it, we must judge ourselves all the time already.

    I look at it this way; if a person doesn’t want to live the law of consecration (if that is a true law of happiness) then it is because he is deceived and thinks it won’t make him happy. But you seem to be saying it won’t make him happy, that we have different requirements for happiness, so the goal of missionaries is to find those who would be happy living the law of the celestial kingdom. But then it can’t be greater happiness but different happiness, and if we all wanted to become like God in the premortal existence then we must all want the same happiness. I think the reason people choose a path of lesser happiness is because they are deceived, they don’t know anything better. It’s like a poor person living in a third world country who appears happy, and maybe they are, but when his rich friend in America invites him to his house to visit, and he swims in his pool, and rides his horses, and eats lots of yummy food, he realizes there is more happiness available.

    And what is the difference between the Terrestrial Kingdom and the Telestial if no one is sinning? They would be living the same kind of lives, just receiving less glory or portion of God’s spirit (so less love?). And what’s the difference, for that matter, between those of the lower two degrees of the Celestial kingdom and the Terrestrial kingdom? They all can’t have children. No one can have children except those of the highest degree, and I’m sure there are many good people who would go to the Terr. because they’re not LDS who are great parents and love kids. So, when you look at it that way there really are only two choices, heaven and hell.

    And if Telestial people are happy in this life when they’re sinning, then how will they be happy in the next life when they’re not allowed to sin? And if they’re not happy in this life does that mean they don’t want to be happy? No, it just means they are deceived and think their way of life brings happiness. Why can’t God say in the next life, “you, an imperfect being, have made some irrational choices that weren’t in your self-interest, and here is how you could do better”? More likely he would let us see and figure out for ourselves objectively how we could do better. Besides, there are lots of scriptures that say we won’t be happy unless we achieve the highest.

    Here’s another example; I listen to this Christian radio station and I have born again Christian relatives and friends, and they have just as high moral standards as LDS (they would probably say higher since they don’t believe in polygamy), and they sound like LDS, and they talk about God answering their prayers, and faith, and it’s all the same. They are so committed they would probably never convert to the LDS religion. They believe families will be together in the next life (though probably not married because of the scripture in the NT). Why would they be excluded from the Celestial Kingdom, when they clearly could and would obey the laws of it, just because they don’t accept a certain religion called LDS? Why can’t God set them straight in the spirit world, if he won’t here, and say “this is the right one”? Why do they have to just take someone else’s word for it?

    But you will probably say God does tell them through the Holy Ghost (a feeling) and so they really know and they’re rejecting knowledge. But I don’t think they know just because they feel; I think feelings can bring about beliefs, but not knowledge. I believe because of my feelings, but maybe that’s because I’ve been taught all my life and it’s just engrained in me. If I look at it objectively without feeling, I am less like to believe. I don’t see why they have to contradict when God made us rational beings so that we could survive. Faith has to be based on something rational. I have faith that the yeast will rise the bread because my friends tried it, or it has worked for me before, but my faith is in vain if the yeast is too old, or the temperature too hot or cold, etc. As far as commandments go, faith works very well because they are based on Natural Laws. But someone may have faith that he will be saved if he becomes a Jehovah Witness, because it sounds good to him and he may have strong feelings about it, enough to go proselyte. If he is wrong, then his faith isn’t based on true laws. And how is he to know if it is based on true laws? That is where the studying part comes in.

  84. Theodore Brandley

    onika says:

    It’s like a poor person living in a third world country who appears happy, and maybe they are, but when his rich friend in America invites him to his house to visit, and he swims in his pool, and rides his horses, and eats lots of yummy food, he realizes there is more happiness available.

    But then he finds out that there are some strict community covenants that he must abide by if he wants to live there, which he doesn’t want to follow. And then he finds out that he feels uncomfortable around the neighbors. He then realizes that he was happier where he lived before.

  85. onika

    But he will still have those restrictions, so the only reason I see for him not wanting to be there is if he doesn’t want to be married to someone he is romantically in love with, have children which are an expression and extension of himself and his love for wife(ves), and create worlds.

  86. Theodore Brandley

    Not so. Every kingdom has its laws which must be obeyed if you are going to live there, but there are different laws for different kingdoms.

    D&C 88:21-24
    21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
    22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
    23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
    24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

    Besides, one can live in the Celestial Kingdom without being married. One must be married in order to inherit the highest degree within the Celestial Kingdom, which is referred to as exaltation.

  87. onika

    The law of Christ would be baptism. Baptism is a covenant to keep commandments. Death is the consequence of breaking the covenant, hence the need for atonement from someone else–to avoid death. The Terr. and Tel. people still have to obey the ten commandments in the next life; they just haven’t made covenants to do so. So what is the difference? They are forced to obey and covenant makers aren’t? But, really we are because the consequence is death. We just happen to know the consequence and the others don’t.

  88. onika

    Theodore said:
    “Besides, one can live in the Celestial Kingdom without being married. One must be married in order to inherit the highest degree within the Celestial Kingdom, which is referred to as exaltation.”

    But what is the difference between Celestial Kingdom without marriage and Terrestrial Kingdom? (Besides less glory, God’s spirit, love.) They’re all Hell compared to exaltation.

  89. Theodore Brandley

    The death you are speaking about is a spiritual death, or separation from God. Those of the Celestial Kingdom will enjoy the presence of the Father; those in the Terrestrial the presence of the Son but not the Father; and those in the Telestial the guidance of the Holy Ghost only. All will be taught the consequences of not keeping the commandments of God; if not in mortality then in the subsequent Spirit World.

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