Melchizedek priesthood

Melchizedek priesthood

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Melchizedek priesthood'
Start a new discussion about 'Melchizedek priesthood'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Melchizedek priesthood is the greater of the two (or sometimes three) orders of priesthood recognized in Mormonism
Mormonism
Mormonism is the religion practiced by Mormons, and is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in the 1820s as a form of Christian primitivism. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself...

. The others are the Aaronic priesthood and the rarely recognized Patriarchal priesthood
Patriarchal Priesthood
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the patriarchal priesthood is sometimes understood as one of types or "orders" of priesthood. The two commonly known orders are the Aaronic priesthood and the Melchizedek priesthood. The patriarchal priesthood should not be confused with the...

. The Melchizedek priesthood is also referred to as the high priesthood of the holy order of God and the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God, or simply as the high priesthood.

In Mormonism, unlike most other Christian denominations, the Melchizedek priesthood is thought to be held by unextraordinary mortals and not solely by either pre-Aaronic priests such as Melchizedek
Melchizedek
Melchizedek or Malki Tzedek translated as "my king righteous") is a king and priest mentioned during the Abram narrative in the 14th chapter of the Book of Genesis....

, or Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 alone, as most Christians interpret the Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

. According to Joseph Smith, Jr., the name of this priesthood became Melchizedek
Melchizedek
Melchizedek or Malki Tzedek translated as "my king righteous") is a king and priest mentioned during the Abram narrative in the 14th chapter of the Book of Genesis....

 "because Melchizedek was such a great high priest" and "to avoid the too frequent repetition" of the "name of the Supreme Being". Smith taught that this priesthood was on the earth since Adam received it and conferred it upon his sons Abel and Seth
Seth
Seth , in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is the third listed son of Adam and Eve and brother of Cain and Abel, who are the only other of their children mentioned by name...

, and it was conferred successively upon the early biblical patriarchs. Through it Enoch
Enoch (ancestor of Noah)
Enoch is a figure in the Generations of Adam. Enoch is described as Adam's greatx4 grandson , the son of Jared, the father of Methuselah, and the great-grandfather of Noah...

 led his people to become so righteous and obedient that they qualified to be translated as the City of Enoch. Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

 held this priesthood, as did Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

, and Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

, and it remained on earth until the time of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, who received it "under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro" and it would have been given to the Israelites if they had been worthy of it and had not "hardened their hearts".

Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood


For the Aaronic priesthood, Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery
Oliver Cowdery
Oliver H. P. Cowdery was, with Joseph Smith, Jr., an important participant in the formative period of the Latter Day Saint movement between 1829 and 1836, becoming one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon's golden plates, one of the first Latter Day Saint apostles, and the Second Elder of...

 had said they were visited by John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

, who laid his hands on their head and gave them the priesthood. Unlike this restoration, however, which Smith described in detail and gave an exact date when it happened, Smith never gave a description of any vision in which he saw an angel separately confer the Melchizedek priesthood. However, by the turn of the 20th century, Latter Day Saint theologians believed that such a separate ordination by angels had occurred prior to the organization of the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830. This was largely because the early church organization contained the office of elder, which at least by 1835 was considered an office of the Melchizedek priesthood. As evidence for such a pre-organization angellic conferral, writers referred to a revelation in which Smith said he heard "The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!" Thus, most Mormons suppose that Smith and Cowdery were visited by the three angels in 1829 and that they conferred the Melchizedek priesthood in the same way John the Baptist had conferred the Aaronic priesthood.

However, the official church history, supervised or written by Smith, states that "the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood was manifested and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders" during a General Conference in early June 1831. When Smith's official history was first published in 1902, the compiler B.H. Roberts thought that this was a mistake, because it would not be consistent with the common Mormon belief that the priesthood had been conferred prior to the church's founding in 1830.

However, some recent Mormon historians accept Smith's history as correct and consistent with other historical records showing that other Mormons present at the conference dated the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood to 1831. This conference had been a very significant event in the early church history, coming soon after the conversion of Sidney Rigdon
Sidney Rigdon
Sidney Rigdon was a leader during the early history of the Latter Day Saint movement.-Baptist background:...

, who believed that Mormon missionaries lacked the necessary power to adequately preach the gospel. Thus, in January 1831, Smith issued a revelation where he wrote that after Mormons relocated to Kirtland
Kirtland, Ohio
Kirtland is a city in Lake County, Ohio, USA. The population was 6,670 at the 2000 census. Kirtland is famous for being the early headquarters of the Latter Day Saint movement.-Origins of Kirtland:...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, they would "be endowed with power from on high" and "sent forth". In a revelation given to an individual, Smith assured the man that "at the conference meeting he [would] be ordained unto power from on high". One of Smith's associates that was present at the conference expressed the view that this ordination "consisted [of] the endowment--it being a new order--and bestowed authority", and later that year, an early convert who had left the church claimed that many of the Saints "have been ordained to the High Priesthood, or the order of Melchizedek; and profess to be endowed with the same power as the ancient apostles were". In 1835, the historical record was muddled a bit when the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants
Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a part of the open scriptural canon of several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement...

 altered pre-1831 revelations to make a distinction between the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, and to classify the offices of elder and apostle as part of the Melchizedek priesthood.

The Melchizedek priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest Latter Day Saint
Latter Day Saint movement
The Latter Day Saint movement is a group of independent churches tracing their origin to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 14 million members...

 denomination, the Melchizedek priesthood is one of two governing priesthoods, which is typically given as a matter of course to worthy male members 18 years and older. Though typically adult men do not receive this priesthood until they have belonged to the church for at least one year, this is not a hard and fast rule and a man may be given this priesthood as soon as local church leaders feel that he is prepared. Ordination is based on the recipient's age and worthiness and does not require any specific training or aptitude. A candidate for this ordination is interviewed and often counseled to study the 84th, 107th, and 121st sections of the Doctrine and Covenants
Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a part of the open scriptural canon of several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement...

 to begin to understand the oath and covenant of the priesthood, the covenant a person makes with God when he receives the Melchizedek priesthood. The candidate is also usually asked to stand in a gathering of the members of the church to be publicly accepted as being worthy of ordination. For male Latter-day Saints, receiving the Melchizedek priesthood is considered to be a saving ordinance of the gospel.

Shortly after the establishment of the Church, the ordination of blacks
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 was prohibited. Following a revelation to then-Church president Spencer W. Kimball
Spencer W. Kimball
Spencer Woolley Kimball was the twelfth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1973 until his death in 1985.-Ancestry:...

, the Church lifted the prohibition in 1978.

An important purpose of giving the Melchizedek priesthood to every adult Latter-day Saint man is to allow fathers and husbands to be able to give priesthood blessing
Priesthood blessing
A priesthood blessing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a "prayer for healing, comfort or counsel given by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, who lays his hands on the head of the person receiving the blessing." Priesthood blessings are considered to be non-saving ordinances by...

s of healing, comfort, counsel, and strength to their children and wives, and to preside over the family unit in a righteous manner. Many LDS fathers give a priesthood blessing to their children before the start of each new school year or before an important life event such as marriage. Each Melchizedek priesthood bearer, regardless of priesthood office, is encouraged to give priesthood blessings when called upon by others.

Offices of the Melchizedek priesthood in the LDS Church


In the LDS Church, there are five offices within the Melchizedek priesthood. Although the holders of the different priesthood offices hold the same Melchizedek priesthood, their assigned rights and responsibilities vary according to their priesthood office.
Office Minimum requirement to be ordained to office Rights and responsibilities
Apostle Married holder of the Melchizedek priesthood "Special witnesses" of Jesus Christ
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 who hold the rights to officiate in all responsibilities and duties of the priesthood, including the sealing power
Sealing power
In Mormonism, the sealing power is the means whereby all "covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations" attain "efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead." All things that are not sealed by this power...

. Apostles direct the calling of patriarchs and may ordain persons to all other offices and callings in the church. The President of the Church must be an apostle.
Seventy Holder of the Melchizedek priesthood "Especial witnesses" of Jesus Christ
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

; called to preach the gospel to the world; work under the direction of apostles; may be general
General authority
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , a general authority is a member of certain leadership organizations who are given administrative and ecclesiastical authority over the church...

 or area authorities
Patriarch Married holder of the Melchizedek priesthood; normally at least 55 years old Gives patriarchal blessing
Patriarchal blessing
In the Latter Day Saint movement, a patriarchal blessing is a blessing or ordinance given by a patriarch to a church member. Patriarchal blessings are modeled after the blessing given by Jacob to each of his sons prior to his death...

s to Latter-day Saints
High Priest Holder of the Melchizedek priesthood Responsible for the spiritual welfare of the Latter-day Saints; may serve in a bishopric, stake presidency, high council, or temple presidency
Temple President
Temple president is a priesthood leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A temple president's primary responsibility is to supervise the affairs of an LDS temple in both an administrative and spiritual capacity....

 and may serve as a mission president
Mission president
Mission president is a priesthood leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . A mission president presides over a mission and the missionaries serving in the mission...

; may ordain other High Priests and Elders
Elder Priest in the Aaronic priesthood; at least 18 years old Confer the gift of the Holy Ghost
Gift of the Holy Ghost
In the Latter Day Saint movement, Confirmation , is an ordinance essential for salvation. It involves the laying on of hands and is performed after baptism. Through confirmation, the initiate becomes an official member of the church and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost...

; give blessings by the laying on of hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

; ordain other Elders; all rights of the Aaronic priesthood

Quorums of the Melchizedek priesthood in the LDS Church


Holders of priesthood offices are organized into quorums. The quorums are a brotherhood where members of the quorum assist each other, teach one another, and delegate particular responsibilities to individuals or committees. Often members of the church who do not maintain the standards and people who are not members of the church are invited to participate in the quorum to enjoy the brotherhood and support, although they may not be given certain quorum responsibilities.
Priesthood office Name of quorum Maximum number in quorum and notes
Apostle Quorum of the Twelve Apostles 12; other apostles may be in Quorum of First Presidency
First Presidency (LDS Church)
The First Presidency is the presiding or governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . It is composed of the President of the Church and his counselors. The First Presidency currently consists of President Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors, Henry B...

or in no quorum
Seventy Quorums of the Seventy
Quorums of the Seventy
Seventy is a priesthood office in the Melchizedek priesthood of several denominations within the Latter Day Saint movement, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...


(currently numbered First through Eighth)
70; some are quorums of general authorities; others are quorums of area authorities
Patriarch No quorum organization Patriarchs meet with the local group of high priests
High Priest High Priests Quorum (stake)
High Priests Group (ward)
No maximum; each quorum is divided into multiple groups; no quorum exists in districts
District (LDS Church)
A district of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a geographical administrative unit composed of a number of congregations called branches. A district is a subdivision of a mission of the church and in many ways is analogous to a stake of the church. The leader of a district is the...

 of the church
Elder Elders Quorum 96; adult males without the priesthood and adult holders of the Aaronic priesthood are invited to attend Elders Quorum


In order to be called to the Aaronic priesthood office of bishop, a man must hold the Melchizedek priesthood and be a high priest.

Presidencies


Each quorum and organizational unit in the church has a presidency attached to it. A presidency is usually composed of three members: the president and two counselors. Typically, a president is selected and he chooses the two counselors whom he would like to serve with him. On very rare occasions there may be only one counselor or three counselors. Usually, a secretary is also called by the president to serve, but he is not considered a part of the presidency. Each of the counselors is given a precedence, for instance, "first counselor" and "second counselor".

The two exceptions to these general rules are the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which is presided by a single president
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a priesthood calling in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . In general, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve is the most senior Apostle in the church, aside from the President of the Church...

, and the Presidency of the Seventy
Quorums of the Seventy
Seventy is a priesthood office in the Melchizedek priesthood of several denominations within the Latter Day Saint movement, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

, which consists of seven presidents equal in authority.

The counselors serve under the direction of the president and share in his responsibilities. The president may assign each counselor to handle certain areas of responsibility. The president bears the sole burden of being the final arbiter of decisions, but he is advised to receive advice from the his counselors and pay close attention to their opinions and insights.

When the president is released, the counselors are also released.

Priesthood leadership callings


In addition to the regular offices of the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood, there are other leadership callings within the priesthood. The table below lists these other priesthood leadership callings and the table below it shows how the various callings are organized within the hierarchy of the Church.
Leadership calling Minimum qualifications Rights and responsibilities
President of the Church and
counselor in the First Presidency
First Presidency (LDS Church)
The First Presidency is the presiding or governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . It is composed of the President of the Church and his counselors. The First Presidency currently consists of President Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors, Henry B...

President must be an apostle;
counselors must be high priests
Preside over and direct the entire church
Area President and counselors All must be Seventies or apostles Preside over and direct a geographical region ("area") of the church
Stake President and counselors All must be high priests Preside over and direct a stake
Stake (Mormonism)
A stake is an administrative unit composed of multiple congregations in denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement. A stake is approximately comparable to a diocese in the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations...

 of the church
Stake high councilors Must be high priests Assist the stake presidency in governing the stake
Stake (Mormonism)
A stake is an administrative unit composed of multiple congregations in denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement. A stake is approximately comparable to a diocese in the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations...

Mission president
Mission president
Mission president is a priesthood leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . A mission president presides over a mission and the missionaries serving in the mission...

and counselors
Mission president
Mission president
Mission president is a priesthood leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . A mission president presides over a mission and the missionaries serving in the mission...

 must be high priest;
counselors must hold Melchizedek priesthood
Preside over and direct a mission
Mission (LDS Church)
A mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a geographical administrative area to which church missionaries are assigned. Almost all areas of the world are within the boundaries of an LDS Church mission, whether or not Mormon missionaries live or proselytize in the area...

 of the church and the full-time missionaries
Mormon missionary
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most active modern practitioners of missionary work, with over 52,000 full-time missionaries worldwide, as of the end of 2010...

 in the mission
District President and counselors All must hold Melchizedek priesthood Preside over and direct a district of a mission
Mission (LDS Church)
A mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a geographical administrative area to which church missionaries are assigned. Almost all areas of the world are within the boundaries of an LDS Church mission, whether or not Mormon missionaries live or proselytize in the area...

Temple president
Temple President
Temple president is a priesthood leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A temple president's primary responsibility is to supervise the affairs of an LDS temple in both an administrative and spiritual capacity....

and counselors
All must be high priests Preside over and direct the operation of a temple
Temple (LDS Church)
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , a temple is a building dedicated to be a House of the Lord, and they are considered by Church members to be the most sacred structures on earth. Upon completion, temples are usually open to the public for a short period of time...


Church hierarchy summary












Jesus Christ
General Authorities
The First Presidency
First Presidency (LDS Church)
The First Presidency is the presiding or governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . It is composed of the President of the Church and his counselors. The First Presidency currently consists of President Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors, Henry B...

:
The President and Prophet of the Church, 1st Counselor and 2nd Counselor
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is one of the governing bodies in the church hierarchy...

:
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a priesthood calling in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . In general, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve is the most senior Apostle in the church, aside from the President of the Church...

 and eleven other Apostles
Quorums of the Seventy
Quorums of the Seventy
Seventy is a priesthood office in the Melchizedek priesthood of several denominations within the Latter Day Saint movement, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...


The Seven Presidents of the Seventy and several dozen Seventies


First Quorum of the SeventySecond Quorum of the Seventy
Area Presidencies:
Presidents and 1st and 2nd Counselors are filled by Seventies
Local Authorities
Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Quorums of the Seventy (Area Seventies)Temple Presidencies
Stake Presidencies and High CouncilsMission Presidencies
Ward Bishoprics or Branch PresidenciesElder QuorumsHigh Priest Groups
Deacon QuorumsTeacher QuorumsPriest Quorums