Unit 6: Day 2, Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–67

    “Unit 6: Day 2, Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–67,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)

    “Unit 6: Day 2,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide

    Unit 6: Day 2

    Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–67


    The organization of the Church on April 6, 1830, provided the means for priesthood ordinances to be administered to Heavenly Father’s children throughout the world in the latter days. Previous to the organization of the Church, the Lord began revealing the duties of offices in the priesthood to the Prophet Joseph Smith as early as the summer of 1829. Doctrine and Covenants 20 sets forth many of these duties and instructs priesthood holders in administering ordinances and watching over and ministering to the members of the Church.

    Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–59

    The duties of priesthood offices are set forth

    How would you answer if someone asked, “Who is the minister of your church?” As you study Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–67, think about how you would answer this question.

    1. journal icon
      Copy the following titles and references into your scripture study journal. Then read these scriptures, and list the duties of the priesthood offices under the appropriate heading in your journal. It may help you to know that the term “elder” in these verses refers to all Melchizedek Priesthood holders.


      (D&C 20:38–45)


      (D&C 20:46–52)

      Teachers and Deacons

      (D&C 20:53–59)

      After you’ve written the duties under the appropriate headings, underline the differences you notice between the duties of an elder, a priest, a teacher, and a deacon. Circle the similarities.

    Now that you have studied a little about priesthood duties, in the following chart, draw lines from the priesthood office to the duties those priesthood holders have the authority to perform:


    Authority to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost


    Authority to administer (bless) the sacrament


    Authority to ordain a deacon


    Authority to teach

    Answers to this matching activity are found at the end of this lesson. Notice that the higher offices of the priesthood include the duties and authority of the lesser offices.

    1. journal icon
      In your scripture study journal, write a principle that summarizes the responsibility of all priesthood holders.

    Compare your principle with the following principle: All priesthood holders have the responsibility to administer ordinances and to watch over members of the Church and minister to them. You may want to write this truth in the margin of your scriptures near Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–59.

    preparing the sacrament

    To help you understand more about the responsibility of all priesthood holders to watch over and minister to members of the Church, read Doctrine and Covenants 20:53–54, 59, and identify ways the Lord directed priesthood holders to minster to and strengthen members of the Church. You may want to mark what you find. What are some ways that an Aaronic Priesthood holder can “watch over the church … and be with and strengthen them”?

    The duties of Aaronic Priesthood holders go beyond administering ordinances. Ponder the following scenarios, and consider the ways the priesthood holders are performing their duty to invite others to come unto Christ and the ways they are not:

    • After an Aaronic Priesthood holder helps in administering the sacrament in sacrament meeting, he goes to Sunday School and treats the teacher and other class members rudely.

    • A young priesthood holder returns from home teaching and begins sharing sensitive or personal information about those he home taught.

    • A group of priesthood holders meets for a service project and begins teasing and making fun of a fellow quorum member.

    1. journal icon
      Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why is it important for priesthood holders to know that their duties include more than simply administering ordinances?

    Richard G. Scott

    You might want to write the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the margin of your scriptures or in your scripture study journal: “The purpose of priesthood authority is to give, to serve, to lift, to inspire” (“Honor the Priesthood and Use It Well,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 46).

    help with gardening

    Think about when you have seen young men in your ward or branch honor their priesthood by watching over, serving, lifting, inspiring, or strengthening others. If you are a priesthood holder, consider writing a goal that will help you faithfully administer the ordinances and watch over and strengthen the Church.

    Doctrine and Covenants 20:60–67

    Guidelines on priesthood ordinations are given

    Aaronic Priesthood ordination

    Have you experienced or seen a priesthood ordination? Think about the feelings you had as you were ordained or witnessed someone else being ordained.

    Read Doctrine and Covenants 20:60, and identify the power the person performing the ordination should use in addition to the priesthood. According to this verse, what power should direct a priesthood holder as he exercises the priesthood?

    How does a priesthood holder ensure that he performs his duties with this power? President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained where a priesthood holder’s power comes from:

    President Boyd K. Packer

    “Your authority comes through your ordination; your power comes through obedience and worthiness.

    “Power in the priesthood comes from doing your duty in ordinary things: attending meetings, accepting assignments, reading the scriptures, keeping the Word of Wisdom.

    “President Woodruff said: ‘I traveled thousands of miles and preached the Gospel as a Priest, and, as I have said to congregations before, the Lord sustained me and made manifest His power in the defense of my life as much while I held that office as He has done while I have held the office of an Apostle. The Lord sustains any man that holds a portion of the Priesthood, whether he is a Priest, an Elder, a Seventy, or an Apostle, if he magnifies his calling and does his duty’” (“The Unseen Power,” New Era, May 2007, 7; see also “The Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 32–33).

    If you are a young man, prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you do to invite the power of the Holy Ghost to accompany you as you perform your current and future priesthood duties. If you are a young woman, consider how you might help the young men in their efforts to obtain the Spirit in their lives and in their priesthood service.

    Read Doctrine and Covenants 20:65. From what you learn in this verse, why do we raise our arms in Church to show a sustaining vote? The commandment for the Church to publicly offer a sustaining vote came from the Lord.

    What does it mean to raise your arm and show a sustaining vote of another? Elder Loren C. Dunn, who was a member of the Seventy, explained the responsibilities that accompany the sustaining process:

    Elder Loren C. Dunn

    “When we sustain officers, we are given the opportunity of sustaining those whom the Lord has already called by revelation. …

    “The Lord, then, gives us the opportunity to sustain the action of a divine calling and in effect express ourselves if for any reason we may feel otherwise.

    “To sustain is to make the action binding on ourselves and to commit ourselves to support those people whom we have sustained. When a person goes through the sacred act of raising his arm to the square, he should remember, with soberness, that which he has done and commence to act in harmony with his sustaining vote both in public and in private” (“We Are Called of God,” Ensign, July 1972, 43).

    sustaining in sacrament meeting

    Have you ever been in a sacrament meeting when the congregation sustained a young man to be ordained to an office in the Aaronic Priesthood? Did the congregation raise their hands? How could a young man’s experience of seeing others sustain his ordination help him fulfill his responsibilities?

    1. journal icon
      In your scripture study journal, write a few sentences explaining why you are thankful for priesthood authority. Share what you have written with one of your parents or Church leaders, a sibling, or a friend. Ask that person to share with you his or her feelings about the meaning of the priesthood.

    2. journal icon
      Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

      I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–67 and completed this lesson on (date).

      Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: