The Aaronic Priesthood

Sacrament meeting, Charlotte 3rd Ward
15 May 1994

John the Baptist ordains the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the lesser priesthood on the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania, 15 May 1829. (See Doctrine and Covenants 13.)
John the Baptist ordains the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the lesser priesthood on the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania, 15 May 1829. (See Doctrine and Covenants 13.)

The priesthood is the power and authority of our Heavenly Father. We must have the priesthood to act in the name of God when performing sacred ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism, confirmation, administration of the sacrament, and temple marriage. The priesthood is divided into two parts: (1) the Melchizedek Priesthood; and (2) the Aaronic Priesthood. Today I will be talking about the Aaronic Priesthood.

There are three quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood: (1) the deacons quorum; (2) the teachers quorum; and (3) the priests quorum. The deacons quorum consists of up to 12 deacons. The presidency of the deacons quorum is called by the bishop from among the quorum members. The teachers quorum consists of up to 24 teachers. The presidency of the teachers quorum is called by the bishop from among the quorum members. The priests quorum consists of up to 48 priests. It is presided over by the bishop of the ward to which the quorum belongs. Whenever the number specified for a quorum is exceeded, the quorum may be divided.

Now I will talk somewhat about the history of the Aaronic Priesthood.

In Doctrine and Covenants 84:18 we read: “And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.” Because the Israelites failed to observe the gospel law administered by Moses under the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Lord gave an additional law of performances and ordinances and confirmed a priesthood upon Aaron. We get the name for the lesser priesthood, Aaronic, from the name Aaron.

The Aaronic Priesthood continued “with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel” from Aaron until John the Baptist, who was a priest in the Aaronic order, and by this authority he prepared the way for and baptized Jesus. Nineteen centuries later this same John was sent from heaven as a resurrected being to confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. This was done on 15 May 1829, 165 years ago this very day, near Harmony, Pennsylvania, along the banks of the Susquehanna River. At that time John outlined some of the duties, privileges, and limitations of the priesthood, specifying that the Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministry of angels and can perform baptisms by water, but has not the authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Although the Aaronic Priesthood is conferred in the Church today without restriction to the lineage of Aaron, the keys of this priesthood rightly belong to the firstborn of the seed of Aaron, and in the restoration of all things the office of bishop (president of the priests) will once again be conferred on one of that lineage, as it is designated by revelation to the president of the Church.

The Lord has promised great blessings to righteous priesthood holders who use the priesthood to bless others.


This article appeared on page 23 of Issue 13 | January 2014.

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