Lesson 8

The Restoration of the Priesthood

“Lesson 8: The Restoration of the Priesthood,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual (1999), 41–47


To increase class members’ appreciation for the restoration of the priesthood, to encourage brethren to magnify their offices and callings inthe priesthood, and to help all members enjoy more fully the blessings of the priesthood.


  1. Prayerfully study the following scriptures and other materials:

    1. Doctrine and Covenants 13; 20:38–67; 27:12–13; 84:6–30; 107:1–20; 110:11–16; Joseph Smith—History 1:66–73.

    2. Oliver Cowdery’s account of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, in the footnote to Joseph Smith—History 1:71.

    3. Our Heritage, pages 11–14.

  2. Review the material for this lesson in the Class Member Study Guide (35686). Plan ways to refer to the material during the lesson.

  3. To gain a greater understanding of historical events related to the doctrine in this lesson, consider reviewing the following:

    1. “Oliver Cowdery’s Gift.”

    2. “Ministry of Joseph Smith: The Restoration of Priesthood Authority.”

    3. Additional historical material for this lesson.

  4. If the picture Melchizedek Priesthood Restoration is available (62371; Gospel Art Picture Kit 408), prepare to use it during the lesson.

  5. If you use the attention activity, bring an assortment of keys to class.

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Hold up several keys.

  • What are the purposes of these keys?

Write Priesthood on the chalkboard. Explain that in the Church we often refer to priesthood keys.

  • What are the purposes of priesthood keys?

Explain that priesthood keys authorize priesthood holders to preside over and direct the Church within a jurisdiction, such as a stake, ward, or quorum. Presiding priesthood leaders receive these keys when they are set apart. All offices in the priesthood and organizations in the Church function under the direction of these presiding authorities. This lesson is about the restoration of the priesthood and its keys.

Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Definition and purpose of the priesthood

Explain that the priesthood is one of the main themes in the Doctrine and Covenants. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord gave many revelations that add greatly to our understanding of the keys, offices, organization, ordinances, duties, and blessings of the priesthood. These revelations provide guidance in using the priesthood to move forward God’s work on the earth.

  • What is the priesthood? (The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. It is the power by which He created and governs the heavens and the earth. It is also the power by which He redeems and exalts His children. He gives a portion of His priesthood power and authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern His kingdom on earth.)

  • Why is it important to have the priesthood on the earth? (Answers could include that the priesthood authorizes men to act for God in blessing His children and helping them prepare for exaltation.)

  • What are some ways in which priesthood holders act on behalf of God to bless His children? (See selected verses from D&C 20:38–55; 107:8–12, 23, 35.) How have you been blessed through the service of priesthood holders?

  • What influence has the priesthood had on you? How have you seen the power of the priesthood manifested in your life?

  • How has the priesthood blessed and strengthened your family? How can you make the influence and power of the priesthood more effective in your life and for your family?

2. The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

Teach and discuss Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72; D&C 13; 84:26–27; 107:20. Explain that the Aaronic Priesthood “is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood” (D&C 107:14).

  • How was the Aaronic Priesthood restored to the earth in the latter days? (See Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72 and Our Heritage, pages 11–13; see also D&C 13. Point out that the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood was the first bestowal of divine authority in this dispensation.)

  • (For priesthood holders) How did you feel when you received the Aaronic Priesthood?

    You may want to review Oliver Cowdery’s feelings about receiving the Aaronic Priesthood (see the footnote to Joseph Smith—History 1:71). You may also want to share the following thoughts from Elder James E. Talmage, who served in the Quorum of the Twelve, about how his ordination to the office of deacon affected him:

    “As soon as I had been ordained, a feeling came to me such as I have never been able to fully describe. It seemed scarcely possible, that I, a little boy, could be so honored of God as to be called to the priesthood. … I felt strong in the thought that I belonged to the Lord, and that he would assist me in whatever was required of me.

    “The effect of my ordination … entered into all the affairs of my boyish life. … When at play on the school grounds, and perhaps tempted to take unfair advantage in the game, when in the midst of a dispute with a playmate, I would remember, and the thought would be as effective as though spoken aloud—‘I am a deacon; and it is not right that a deacon should act in this way.’ On examination days, when it seemed easy for me to copy some other boy’s work … , I would say in my mind, ‘It would be more wicked for me to do that than it is for them, because I am a deacon’” (Incidents from the Lives of Our Church Leaders [deacons instruction manual, 1914], 135–36).

  • How can boys and young men prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood? How can parents, grandparents, and others help boys and young men prepare to receive the priesthood? How can others help instill within boys and young men a deep appreciation for the priesthood?

  • What authority and blessings were restored with the Aaronic Priesthood? (See D&C 13; 84:26–27; 107:20. Use the following information to develop this discussion. Write the headings on the chalkboard.)

D&C 1384:26107:20The keys of the ministering of angels (; ; )

  • What does it mean to hold “the keys of the ministering of angels”? (D&C 13).

    President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “That means, as I interpret it, that if you live worthy of the priesthood, you have the right to receive and enjoy the very power of heavenly beings to guide you, to protect you, to bless you” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 64; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 45).

    Explain that the ministering of angels can occur through personal appearances and “can also be unseen. Angelic messages can be delivered by a voice or merely by thoughts or feelings communicated to the mind. … Most angelic communications are felt or heard rather than seen” (Dallin H. Oaks, in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 39).

  • Through the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, the ministering of angels is available to all Church members, not just to priesthood holders. How can we receive the ministering of angels? (See Moroni 7:35–37 and the following quotation.)

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the relationship between partaking of the sacrament and receiving the ministering of angels:

    “Through the Aaronic Priesthood ordinances of baptism and the sacrament, we are cleansed of our sins and promised that if we keep our covenants we will always have His Spirit to be with us. I believe that promise not only refers to the Holy Ghost but also to the ministering of angels, for ‘angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ’ (2 Nephi 32:3). So it is that those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood open the door for all Church members who worthily partake of the sacrament to enjoy the companionship of the Spirit of the Lord and the ministering of angels” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 39).

You may want to review two or three scriptural passages about the ministering of angels. These passages include 3 Nephi 7:18; 3 Nephi 17:23–24; Moroni 7:25, 29–31; and D&C 84:88.

D&C 1384:26–27107:20The keys of repentance and baptism (; ; )

Explain that repentance and baptism are also called the “preparatory gospel” (D&C 84:26–27). This is because repentance and baptism help us prepare to receive the greater blessings that are administered through the Melchizedek Priesthood, such as the gift of the Holy Ghost and temple ordinances.

  • Point out that John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized people in preparing the way for the Savior (Matthew 3:1–6, 11). How can Aaronic Priesthood holders in our day preach repentance? (Answers could include through home teaching, missionary work, testimony bearing, and fellowshipping.) How can Aaronic Priesthood holders participate in the ordinance of baptism? (Under the direction of the bishop, worthy priests may perform baptisms and serve as witnesses at baptisms.)

    Invite brethren who have baptized someone to share their feelings about being able to perform that ordinance.

  • In addition to baptism, Aaronic Priesthood holders may officiate in the ordinance of the sacrament. How is the sacrament related to repentance and baptism?

    Invite brethren to share how they felt when they prepared, blessed, or passed the sacrament for the first time. Or ask parents to share their feelings when their sons have prepared, blessed, or passed the sacrament.

    Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve said: “We ask you young men of the Aaronic Priesthood to prepare and bless and pass these emblems of the Savior’s sacrifice worthily and reverently. What a stunning privilege and sacred trust given at such a remarkably young age! I can think of no higher compliment heaven could pay you. We do love you. Live your best and look your best when you participate in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 89; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 68).

Pennsylvania. Susquehanna Co. Susquehanna River

Susquehanna River. The Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods were restored on the banks of this river in 1829 (D&C 13; 128:20).

3. The restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood

Teach and discuss D&C 27:12–13; 84:19–22; 107:1–12, 18–19. Explain that the Melchizedek Priesthood is the greater priesthood. Associated with it are all the authority, knowledge, and covenants that are necessary for the exaltation of God’s children.

  • How was the Melchizedek Priesthood restored to the earth in the latter days? (Display the picture Melchizedek Priesthood Restoration. Explain that some weeks after John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood, Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood. An account of this experience is not included in the Doctrine and Covenants, but references to it can be found in the heading to D&C 13; 27:12–13; 128:20; and Our Heritage, page 14.)

  • What authority and blessings were restored with the Melchizedek Priesthood? (See D&C 84:19–22; 107:8–12, 18–19; 110:11–16. Use the following information to develop this discussion. Write the headings on the chalkboard.)

D&C 84:19Authority to administer the gospel of Jesus Christ ()

  • What does it mean that the Melchizedek Priesthood includes the authority to administer the gospel of Jesus Christ? (See D&C 84:19. Answers could include that the Melchizedek Priesthood includes the authority to govern the Church, preach the gospel, and administer the ordinances of salvation.)

D&C 107:18“The keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church” ()

  • What are some of the spiritual blessings that come to us through the Melchizedek Priesthood? (See D&C 84:19–22; 107:18–19. Answers could include those listed below. Discuss the meaning of each blessing and its application in class members’ lives.)

    1. Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom and knowledge of God (D&C 84:19; 107:19; this knowledge comes through the gift of the Holy Ghost).

    2. The power of godliness, which is manifested through the ordinances of the gospel (D&C 84:20–21). How do priesthood ordinances make “the power of godliness” manifest in our lives? Invite class members to share experiences in which they have felt “the power of godliness” manifested through the ordinances of the gospel.

    3. The opportunity to see, commune with, and enjoy the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ (D&C 84:22; 107:19).

  • What are some ways that Melchizedek Priesthood holders should be spiritual leaders in their homes?

D&C 107:8–9The right of presidency ()

Explain that the right of presidency is the right to preside in the Church. The President of the Church is the only person on earth who may use (or authorize another person to use) the keys of the priesthood for governing the entire Church. He authorizes the following priesthood leaders to hold the keys that are necessary for presiding in their callings: temple presidents, mission presidents, stake presidents, bishops, district presidents, branch presidents, and quorum presidents.

D&C 110:11–16The keys of the gathering of Israel, the gospel of the dispensation of Abraham, and the sealing power ()

Explain that these keys were restored by Moses, Elias, and Elijah in the Kirtland Temple in 1836. They will be discussed in lesson 18.

4. Blessings of the priesthood for all people

Explain that although only worthy male members of the Church hold the priesthood, everyone may partake of its blessings.

  • How are women blessed by the priesthood? How are children blessed by the priesthood? (Review some of the blessings of the priesthood that women and children may receive during their lives. Emphasize that although women and children do not hold the priesthood, they are continually blessed by it. For help in answering these questions, you may want to refer to The Latter-day Saint Woman, Part A, chapters 12 and 13 [31113].)

  • How can those who do not have faithful priesthood holders in their homes receive the blessings of the priesthood? (Answers could include through home teachers, priesthood leaders, and extended family members.) Invite class members to tell of experiences when they have received the blessings of the priesthood from priesthood holders who do not live in their home.

  • How can we show our appreciation for the blessings of the priesthood?


Testify that the priesthood and its keys have been restored. Priesthood holders hold the authority to direct God’s work on earth and to act for Him in blessing His children and helping them prepare for exaltation. Emphasize that the blessings of the priesthood are available to all. Encourage class members to seek these blessings.

Additional Teaching Ideas

You may want to use one or both of the following ideas to supplement the suggested lesson outline.

1. Priesthood offices, quorums, and duties

The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith important instructions about the offices of the priesthood, the duties of each office, and the quorums into which priesthood holders are organized. You may want to review some of these instructions as they are outlined in the following chart:

Aaronic Priesthood





D&C 20:57–59; 84:111

D&C 107:85


D&C 20:53–59; 84:111

D&C 107:86


D&C 20:46–52

D&C 107:87–88


D&C 107:13–17, 68, 71–72, 87–88


Melchizedek Priesthood





D&C 20:38–45; 42:43–44; 43:15–16; 107:11–12

D&C 107:89; 124:137

High priest

D&C 107:10, 12, 17

D&C 124:133, 136


D&C 124:91–93, 124



D&C 107:25, 34, 38, 97

D&C 107:25–26; 107:93–96; 124:138–39


D&C 27:12–13; 107:23, 33, 35, 39, 58; 112:30–32; 124:128

D&C 107:23–24

Display a picture of the Salt Lake Temple (62433; Gospel Art Picture Kit 502). Point out that the spires on the east end of the temple are higher than those on the west end. Note also that there are five sets of windows on the east spires and four sets of windows on the west spires. Explain that this design was intended to represent the priesthood, with the Melchizedek Priesthood and its five offices represented by the east spires and the Aaronic Priesthood and its four offices represented by the west spires.

2. “Restoration of the Priesthood” video presentation

If Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Presentations (53912) is available, consider showing “Restoration of the Priesthood,” an eight-minute segment, to give historical background for the second section of the lesson.

3. Women and the priesthood

The following material is provided to help you address questions class members may have about women and the priesthood. This topic should not be the focus of this lesson.

  1. Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women

  2. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 49–52.

  3. “Blessings of the Priesthood for All: An Inseparable Connection with the Priesthood,” chapter 8 in Daughters in My Kingdom, 124–43.

4. Race and the priesthood

The following material is provided to help you answer questions class members may have about race and the priesthood. This topic is addressed in more detail in lesson 42, “Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets.” It should not be the focus of this lesson.

  1. Race and the Priesthood

  2. “Witnessing the Faithfulness”