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Chapter 42: Doctrine and Covenants 106–108
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“Chapter 42: Doctrine and Covenants 106–108,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)

“Chapter 42,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual

Chapter 42

Doctrine and Covenants 106–8

Introduction and Timeline

On November 25, 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 106. In this revelation the Lord called Warren A. Cowdery, an older brother of Oliver Cowdery and a recent convert to the Church, to preside over the growing number of Saints in Freedom, New York, and the surrounding area. The Lord also promised Warren great blessings for his faithful service.

The Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 as the newly called members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were preparing to serve missions in the eastern United States. The revelation was recorded in 1835, but portions of it were received in 1831. This revelation contains the Lord’s instructions concerning the priesthood and Church governance.

On December 26, 1835, Lyman Sherman acted on a spiritual impression to ask the Prophet Joseph Smith for direction regarding his duty. In response, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 108, in which the Lord forgave Lyman, promised him blessings according to his faithfulness, and gave him counsel.

June 3–6, 1831

The first individuals were ordained to the High Priesthood at a Church conference held in Kirtland, Ohio.

November 11, 1831

A portion of Doctrine and Covenants 107 was received.

May–July 1834

The Prophet Joseph Smith led Zion’s Camp to Missouri to help the persecuted Saints.

November 25, 1834

Doctrine and Covenants 106 was received.

February 14, 1835

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were called.

February 28, 1835

Lyman Sherman was called as a President of the Seventy.

March–early May 1835

Other portions of Doctrine and Covenants 107 were dictated.

February 28–March 1, 1835

More than 50 men were designated to serve as Seventies.

December 26, 1835

Doctrine and Covenants 108 was received.

Doctrine and Covenants 106: Additional Historical Background

Warren Cowdery lived in Freedom, New York, with his wife, Patience, and their eight children. Though Warren had heard about the Book of Mormon through his younger brother Oliver Cowdery around 1830, he did not get baptized at that time. In March 1834, when the Prophet Joseph Smith and Parley P. Pratt were traveling in western New York recruiting volunteers for Zion’s Camp, they stayed at Warren and Patience’s home. While there they preached to several large crowds and baptized Warren and Patience’s neighbor Heman Hyde. (See Lisa Olsen Tait, “Warren Cowdery,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg [2016], 219, or history.lds.org.) The following month, when Elder Pratt visited the area again, he noted, “A large church had been gathered during my absence, consisting of some forty members or more, principally through the labors of my brother Orson” (Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. [1938], 113).

Sometime between May and September of 1834, Warren and Patience Cowdery were baptized (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834–September 1835, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2016], 180). In a letter to his brother Oliver, Warren wrote of the opposition the Saints in Freedom endured from their non-believing neighbors. He acknowledged that he had received “some manifestations of divine approbation” of the Lord as he continued attending the branch in Freedom. Yet, he wrote, “I have a thousand times wished I could have that evidence that you have had” (in Tait, “Warren Cowdery,” 220, or history.lds.org).

“Warren also expressed a desire for ‘a preacher of our order’ to come into the Freedom area, someone who would ‘do us good, by strengthening and building us up in the most holy faith’” (Tait, “Warren Cowdery,” 220, or history.lds.org). In a letter to his brother Oliver in October 1834, he expressed his willingness to be “useful in the vineyard of the Lord” and asked Oliver to “enquire what is the will of the Lord concerning me” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834–September 1835, 180). The following month, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 106, in which the Lord expressed His will for Warren Cowdery to be a preacher to strengthen the members and build up the Church in that area.

Church History Maps: The New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Area of the United States

Doctrine and Covenants 106

The Lord calls Warren A. Cowdery as “a presiding high priest” and promises him blessings for his service

Doctrine and Covenants 106:1. “A presiding high priest”

The Lord called Warren A. Cowdery to serve as “a presiding high priest over [the Lord’s] church, in the land of Freedom and the regions round about” (D&C 106:1). This means he was appointed to be the presiding priesthood leader in that particular geographical area.

Doctrine and Covenants 106:4–8. “The children of light”

Both the Savior and the Apostle Paul compared the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the unexpected arrival of a thief (see Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2–5). In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 106, the Lord counseled, “Gird up your loins,” meaning to prepare to do the Lord’s work, “that you may be the children of light, and that day [the Lord’s Second Coming] shall not overtake you as a thief” (D&C 106:5). “Children of light” live in such a way that they are prepared for the Savior’s Second Coming at all times.

Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy taught:

“To become children of light means to reject the power of the adversary and to choose daily to follow the Light of Christ.

“The phrase ‘children of light’ describes a people in whom the light of the gospel shines brightly. It describes a people who seek the light and are drawn to that which is virtuous, clean, and pure. There is an expectation that children of light are alert and watchful—not sleeping, in a spiritual sense, when they should be awake (see 2 Nephi 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:5–8). Children of light do not sit passively in darkness; they have the courage to stand up and stand out. When the adversary comes looming, children of light know when to fight back, when to say no, and when to simply walk away. …

“You don’t have to wait until you are perfect before you can be a light to the world. Becoming children of light is a process, much like the process of conversion. …

“As children of light, we have the obligation of making this world a holier and happier place for our having lived in it” (“Becoming Children of Light,” Ensign, Aug. 2014, 67, 69).

Warren Cowdery took his first steps in becoming one of the children of light when he “bowed to [the Lord’s] scepter” (D&C 106:6). A scepter is a rod or staff that symbolizes a ruler’s authority and power. By being baptized, Warren submitted to the authority and will of the King of heaven and covenanted to “[separate] himself from the crafts of men,” or the unrighteousness of the world (see D&C 106:6). With his calling to be “a presiding high priest over [the Lord’s] church, in the land of Freedom[, New York,] and the regions round about” (D&C 106:1), Warren received instruction to “[seek] diligently the kingdom of heaven,” to “humble himself,” and to be “a faithful witness and a light unto the church” (D&C 106:3, 7–8). If he did so, the Lord promised to “lift him up” and “give him grace and assurance” (D&C 106:7–8). The Lord will similarly bless us as we humble ourselves before Him and “continue to be a faithful witness and a light unto the church,” and we also will receive the crown He has “prepared … in the mansions of [His] Father” (D&C 106:8).

New York. Cattaraugus Co. Freedom

The Prophet Joseph Smith and Parley P. Pratt preached the restored gospel in Freedom Township, New York, and called Warren Cowdery to preside over a branch of approximately 70 people.

Warren Cowdery accepted the Lord’s counsel given in this revelation and served as the “presiding high priest” (D&C 106:1) in Freedom, New York, for at least a year. After moving to Ohio, Warren worked in the Church’s publishing office in Kirland, where he served as a clerk for the Prophet Joseph Smith, helped record the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, and kept other records (see Tait, “Warren Cowdery,” 222, or history.lds.org).

Doctrine and Covenants 107: Additional Historical Background

As He did with many truths of the restored gospel, the Lord revealed the pattern of priesthood organization and Church governance “line upon line” (D&C 98:12). Originally titled “On Priesthood,” the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 adds to and clarifies earlier revelations on priesthood offices, responsibilities, and organization (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834–September 1835, 308–9; see also D&C 2084).

Most of the portion of the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107:60–100 was dictated by the Prophet Joseph Smith on November 11, 1831 (see D&C 107, section heading). This revelation was addressed to “the church of Christ in the land of Zion” (D&C 107:59), and it provided clarification regarding “the High Priesthood” (D&C 107:64). The first high priests in this dispensation were ordained at a Church conference held in June 1831 (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, ed. Michael Hubbard MacKay and others [2013], 317).

The beginning portion of the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 was dictated sometime between March and early May of 1835 as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles prepared for their first missions as Apostles. As part of the continuing unfolding of priesthood organization, the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in this dispensation were called on February 14, 1835. The following month, “[the Prophet Joseph Smith] and the Twelve Apostles decided that because of ‘the many pressing requests from the eastern churches,’ the apostles would conduct a series of conferences in the eastern United States … ‘for the purpose of regulating all things necessary’ for the welfare of the branches of the church in those areas” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834–September 1835, 308; spelling standardized). The Prophet Joseph Smith likely delivered it in the presence of those who were preparing to depart May 3, 1835, on their first mission as a quorum. Doctrine and Covenants 107 contains this “new material from the instruction to the Twelve, which [was] combined with an updated version of the November 1831 revelation on priesthood councils into a single section” (Joseph F. Darowski and James Goldberg, “Restoring the Ancient Order,” in McBride and Goldberg, Revelations in Context, 212, or history.lds.org).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:1–20

The Lord teaches about the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Aaronic Priesthood

Doctrine and Covenants 107:1–6. “There are, in the church, two priesthoods”

The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 refers to the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the Levitical Priesthood, as “two priesthoods” and “two divisions or grand heads” (D&C 107:1, 6). It is later clarified in this revelation that the Aaronic Priesthood is “an appendage to,” or a part of, the Melchizedek Priesthood (D&C 107:14). The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) explained the relationship between the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Aaronic Priesthood:

“Although there are two Priesthoods, yet the Melchizedek Priesthood comprehends the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood, and is the grand head, and holds the highest authority which pertains to the Priesthood. …

“… All other Priesthoods are only parts, ramifications, powers and blessings belonging to the same, and are held, controlled and directed by it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 108).

On another occasion, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “all priesthood is Melchizedek; but there are different portions or degrees of it” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 109). Thus, the power, authority, and offices of the Aaronic Priesthood (see D&C 107:14–15, 17) are not separate and distinct from the Melchizedek Priesthood. They make up a part of the whole priesthood of God.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:3–4. “The Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God”

Melchizedek was the great high priest and king of Salem, or Jerusalem (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:25–40 [in the Bible appendix]; Hebrews 7:1–3, 15–17; Alma 13:17–19). Before the days of Melchizedek, “[the priesthood] was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God” (D&C 107:3), indicating that Jesus Christ is the true source of all priesthood authority and power on earth. However, “out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name,” the name was changed and “called … after Melchizedek” (D&C 107:4).

Melchizedek Blesses Abram

Melchizedek Blesses Abram, by Walter Rane. “Why the first [priesthood] is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest” (D&C 107:2).

The fact that “the Holy Priesthood” was called “after the Order of the Son of God” (D&C 107:3) suggests that priesthood holders are to walk in holiness and use the authority and power of the priesthood as Jesus Christ would. The Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of Hebrews 7:3 teaches that “all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God” (Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 7:3 [in the Bible appendix]). President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles acknowledged this: “Priesthood is the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He [Jesus Christ] would do if He were present” (“The Power of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 7).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:5. “All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood”

An appendage is something that is attached to or part of a greater whole. The phrase “this priesthood” in Doctrine and Covenants 107:5 refers to the Melchizedek Priesthood. President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) taught that “there is no office growing out of this priesthood that is or can be greater than the priesthood itself. It is from the priesthood that the office derives its authority and power. No office gives authority to the priesthood. No office adds to the power of the priesthood. But all offices in the Church derive their power, their virtue, their authority from the priesthood” (cited by Joseph Fielding Smith, in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith [2013], 166).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that callings given to women in the Church are also appendages to the priesthood:

“Since the scriptures state that ‘all other authorities [and] offices in the church are appendages to this [Melchizedek] priesthood’ (D&C 107:5), all that is done under the direction of those priesthood keys is done with priesthood authority.

“How does this apply to women? In an address to the Relief Society, President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said this: ‘While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, it has not been conferred upon them, that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority. … A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord. They have authority given unto them to do some great and wonderful things, sacred unto the Lord, and binding just as thoroughly as are the blessings that are given by the men who hold the Priesthood’ [Joseph Fielding Smith, ‘Relief Society—an Aid to the Priesthood,’ Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1959, 4)]. …

“We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties” (“The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 50–51).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:8–10. “The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency”

The “right of presidency” (D&C 107:8) is the right to preside over and direct the work of the Lord. President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught:

“While all men hold the priesthood who are ordained to any office, yet there are special, or directing, authorities, bestowed upon those who are called to preside. These authorities are called keys.

“[Priesthood] keys are the right of presidency; they are the power and authority to govern and direct all of the Lord’s affairs on earth. Those who hold them have power to govern and control the manner in which all others may serve in the priesthood” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith [2013], 153).

General Conference, April 2014

The scriptures refer to the First Presidency as “the Presidency of the High Priesthood” (see D&C 107:8–10).

The “Presidency of the High Priesthood,” meaning the First Presidency of the Church, “have a right to officiate in all the offices in the church” (D&C 107:9). This Presidency holds all the keys of the kingdom and, therefore, presides and “has power and authority over all the offices [and officers] in the church in all ages of the world” (D&C 107:8; see also D&C 81:2). Under the direction of the First Presidency, high priests called to presiding offices, such as bishop or stake president, have the right to “officiate,” or preside locally, in their wards and stakes (see D&C 107:10, 17).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:13–15, 20. “The Priesthood of Aaron”

The Bible Dictionary explains that “as a result of the failure of the Israelites 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 also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations’ (D&C 84:18) to administer it. This priesthood was of lesser power and authority than the priesthood of Melchizedek” (“Aaronic Priesthood”). The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 uses the terms Aaronic and Levitical to describe this lesser priesthood (see D&C 107:1, 6), but “there are some specific differences in the offices existing within the Levitical Priesthood.” Aaron and his sons were from the tribe of Levi, and “the lesser priesthood was conferred only upon men of the tribe of Levi.” Furthermore, “within the tribe, only Aaron and his sons could hold the office of priest,” and the office of high priest could only be filled by the firstborn male descendants of Aaron. In ancient Israel, the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood “was used to administer the outward ordinances, particularly as characterized by the ceremonies of the law of Moses” (Bible Dictionary, “Aaronic Priesthood”). In the Church today, “the outward ordinances” of the Aaronic Priesthood include the ordinances of baptism and the sacrament, for the remission of sins (see D&C 107:20; see also 84:26–27).

Presiding Bishopric. 2015

The Presiding Bishopric is the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood throughout the Church (see D&C 107:13–15, 20).

The statement “the bishopric is the presidency of this priesthood” (D&C 107:15) refers to the responsibility of bishops and their counselors to preside over those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood. “The Presiding Bishopric is the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood throughout the Church. The Presiding Bishop and his two counselors also serve under the direction of the First Presidency to administer the temporal affairs of the Church” (“Presiding Bishopric,” LDS.org; see also Guide to the Scriptures, “Presiding Bishop,” scriptures.lds.org). Local bishops serve as the president of the Aaronic Priesthood in their respective wards.

For an explanation of the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 13:1 and Doctrine and Covenants 84:26–30 in this manual.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:15–17. “A literal descendant of Aaron”

For an explanation of Doctrine and Covenants 107:15–17, see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 68:14–21 in this manual.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:18–19. The Melchizedek Priesthood holds “the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church”

Through the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, “all the spiritual blessings of the church” are made available to God’s children (D&C 107:18). These spiritual blessings include the saving ordinances of the gospel administered through the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood: confirmation and the gift of the Holy Ghost, ordination of men to the Melchizedek Priesthood, the temple endowment, and the sealing ordinance, which binds families for eternity.

In addition to these blessings, the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 describes other spiritual blessings that come through the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The phrase “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (D&C 107:19) refers to “spiritual truths known only by revelation” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Mysteries of God,” scriptures.lds.org; see also D&C 84:19).

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

“[The Melchizedek Priesthood] is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation, and every important matter is revealed from heaven.

“… It is the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing His glory at the beginning of the creation of this earth, and through which He has continued to reveal Himself to the children of men to the present time, and through which He will make known His purposes to the end of time” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 108–9).

As individuals receive the saving ordinances of the gospel and faithfully keep the associated covenants, they will eventually be blessed “to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (D&C 107:19). The “church of the Firstborn” has reference to the faithful sons and daughters of God who receive their exaltation in the celestial kingdom (see D&C 76:94–95; 93:21–22). To “commune” with them is to have fellowship with exalted Saints in the celestial kingdom of God. The ultimate blessing that comes through the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood is the enjoyment of living in the presence of the Father and the Son (see D&C 84:19–22).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–38

The Lord outlines the duties and responsibilities of the presiding quorums of the Church

Doctrine and Covenants 107:22. “Three Presiding High Priests”

President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) explained that the instructions in Doctrine and Covenants 107:22 regarding the “three Presiding High Priests” refer to the appointment and sustaining of members of the First Presidency:

“The Lord specified four requisites in the establishment of the First Presidency. …

“First, it was requisite that there be three presiding high priests.

“Second, they were to be chosen by the body (which [is] the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

“Third, they must be appointed and ordained by the same body—the Quorum of the Twelve.

“Fourth, they must be upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayers of the Church” (“May the Kingdom of God Go Forth,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, 23).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:23, 33. “Special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world”

The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 refers to the newly organized Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as “traveling councilors” and “a Traveling Presiding High Council” (D&C 107:23, 33). These titles distinguished their role and responsibility from that of the standing high councils organized in Ohio and Missouri. The Twelve Apostles were to travel throughout the world, proclaiming the gospel as “special witnesses of the name of Christ” and “regulat[ing] all the affairs of [the Church] in all nations” (D&C 107:23, 33).

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 2015

The members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (D&C 107:23)

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught what it means for Apostles to be special witnesses of the name of Christ: “The role of an Apostle today is the same as it was anciently (see Acts 1:22; 4:33). Our commission is to go into all the world and proclaim ‘Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ (see Mark 16:15; 1 Corinthians 2:2). An Apostle is a missionary and a special witness of the name of Christ. The ‘name of Christ’ refers to the totality of the Savior’s mission, death, and resurrection—His authority, His doctrine, and His unique qualifications as the Son of God to be our Redeemer and our Savior. As special witnesses of the name of Christ, we bear testimony of the reality, divinity, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His infinite and eternal Atonement, and His gospel” (“Special Witnesses of the Name of Christ,” The Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel, vol. 12, no. 2 [2011], 1).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–26. “They form a quorum, equal in authority”

Some have misunderstood the wording of Doctrine and Covenants 107:21–26 and assumed that there are three distinct but equal governing quorums in the Church: the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Quorums of the Seventy. However, the Lord made clear that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles acts “under the direction of the Presidency of the Church” (D&C 107:33) and that the Quorums of the Seventy “act … under the direction of the Twelve” (D&C 107:34).

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), after quoting from Doctrine and Covenants 107:24, 26, taught: “The question arises, How can they [the three quorums] be equal in authority? Speaking to this question, President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) taught: ‘I want here to correct an impression that has grown up to some extent among the people, and that is, that the Twelve Apostles possess equal authority with the First Presidency in the Church. This is correct when there is no other Presidency but the Twelve Apostles; but so long as there are three presiding Elders who possess the presiding authority in the Church, the authority of the Twelve Apostles is not equal to theirs. If it were so, there would be two equal authorities and two equal quorums in the Priesthood, running parallel, and that could not be, because there must be a head’ (Elders’ Journal, Nov. 1, 1906, 43).

“Likewise, the Seventy, who serve under the direction of the Twelve, would become equal in authority only in the event that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve were somehow destroyed” (“The Quorum of the First Presidency,” Ensign, Dec. 2005, 47).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:25, 34, 93–97. The Seventy

The Gospel of Luke records that the Savior “appointed other seventy” in addition to the Twelve Apostles to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and prepare the way before Him (see Luke 10:1–16). As part of the latter-day Restoration of the gospel, men were first called to the office of Seventy in February and March of 1835 (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834–September 1835, 255), “according to the vision showing the order of the Seventy” that the Prophet Joseph Smith had received (see D&C 107:93). Members of the Seventy today are “called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses [of Jesus Christ] unto the Gentiles and in all the world” (D&C 107:25).

“The Seventy serve in the name of the Lord under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Seventy,” scriptures.lds.org). They “act in the name of the Lord … in building up the church and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations” (D&C 107:34; see also D&C 107:97). The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “The Seventies are to constitute traveling quorums, to go into all the earth, whithersoever the Twelve Apostles shall call them” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 142). The Presidents of the Quorums of the Seventy receive priesthood keys to preside over the quorums. The other members of the Seventy do not receive priesthood keys, but they do receive delegated authority to accomplish the work assigned to them.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:27–32. “Every decision made … must be by … unanimous voice”

The presiding quorums of the Church are to make “every decision … by unanimous voice” and “in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity” (D&C 107:27, 30). When they do this, they have the promise that “they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord” (D&C 107:31), meaning they will be inspired to know the Lord’s will. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the process of reaching a unified agreement: “Can you imagine how the Spirit needs to move upon 15 men to bring about unanimity? These 15 men have varied educational and professional backgrounds, with differing opinions about many things. Trust me! These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached! They are committed to see that the Lord’s will truly will be done” (“Sustaining the Prophets,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 75).

Elder David A. Bednar also shared his testimony of the unity achieved through the power of the Holy Ghost: “Serving with these representatives of the Lord, I have come to know their greatest desire is to discern and do the will of our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. As we counsel together, inspiration has been received and decisions have been made that reflect a degree of light and truth far beyond human intelligence, reasoning, and experience. As we work together in unity on perplexing problems, our collective understanding of an issue has been enlarged in marvelous ways by the power of the Holy Ghost” (“Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 129).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:39–57

The Lord reveals the patriarchal nature of the Melchizedek Priesthood

Doctrine and Covenants 107:39. “It is the duty of the Twelve … to ordain evangelical ministers … by revelation”

One of the duties of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is to appoint “evangelical ministers … by revelation” (D&C 107:39). These evangelical ministers are also referred to in scripture as “evangelists” (see Ephesians 4:11). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “An evangelist is a Patriarch. … Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessing unto his sons” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 140).

Patriarchal blessings

Patriarch is an ordained office in the Melchizedek Priesthood (see D&C 107:39).

The office of patriarch is an ordained office in the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the Church today, patriarchs are called and ordained by stake presidents, acting under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to give patriarchal blessings to Church members. A patriarchal blessing contains the Lord’s counsel to the person receiving the blessing and declares that person’s lineage in the house of Israel.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:40–56. “The order of this priesthood”

“The order of this priesthood” has reference to the patriarchal order of the priesthood, which was “handed down from father to son” (D&C 107:40). President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “The priesthood which prevailed from Adam to Moses was the Patriarchal Order, yet it was only a part of the Melchizedek Priesthood. All of the ancient patriarchs were high priests” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie [1955], 3:104).

Adam was the first patriarch and was responsible for blessing his posterity and helping them live righteously. Before his death, Adam assembled “the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing” (D&C 107:53). At this meeting “the Lord appeared unto them, and … administered comfort unto Adam” and blessed him, and Adam “predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation” (D&C 107:54–56). Sometime before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, a similar meeting will be held in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman (see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–14 and Doctrine and Covenants 116 in this manual).

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that Adam blessed his posterity because “he wanted to bring them into the presence of God” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 105).

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught that Adam brought his posterity into God’s presence by administering the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood:

“How did Adam bring his descendants into the presence of the Lord?

“The answer: Adam and his descendants entered into the priesthood order of God. Today we would say they went to the House of the Lord and received their blessings.

“The order of priesthood spoken of in the scriptures is sometimes referred to as the patriarchal order because it came down from father to son.

“But this order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and woman enter into a covenant with God—just as did Adam and Eve—to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality.

“If a couple are true to their covenants, they are entitled to the blessing of the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. These covenants today can only be entered into by going to the House of the Lord.

“Adam followed this order and brought his posterity into the presence of God. He is the great example for us to follow” (“What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple,” Ensign, Aug. 1985, 9).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:58–98

The Lord outlines the duties of priesthood quorums and quorum presidents

Doctrine and Covenants 107:71–75. The office of bishop

The Lord outlined two main responsibilities of a bishop—to administer the “temporal” affairs of the Church and “to be a judge in Israel” (see D&C 107:71–72). A bishop’s duties to oversee the temporal affairs of a ward include receiving the funds of the Church in the form of tithing, fast offerings, and other donations and seeking out the poor and needy and caring for them (see D&C 72:10–12).

As a judge in Israel, a bishop also has the responsibility to determine his ward members’ individual worthiness. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained ways in which a bishop serves as a judge in Israel: “The bishop is the judge and the shepherd who has the power of discernment and the right to revelation and inspiration for the guidance of the flock. He is responsible for holding worthiness interviews in order to authorize attendance at the temple, callings to ward positions, ordinations to priesthood offices, and the callings of missionaries. He administers formal and informal discipline for violation of the laws of the Church, and he counsels and helps members avoid the necessity for discipline” (“Bishop, Help!” Ensign, May 1997, 22).

For more information about the duties of a bishop, see also the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 72:9–19 in this manual.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:99–100. “Let every man learn his duty, and to act … in all diligence”

The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 concludes with a charge to each priesthood leader and priesthood holder to “learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence” (D&C 107:99). Only by fulfilling their priesthood duties, which include helping others gain salvation, can priesthood holders be approved and “be counted worthy to stand” of the Lord (D&C 107:100).

Speaking to priesthood holders, President Thomas S. Monson taught:

“The priesthood is not so much a gift as it is a commission to serve, a privilege to lift, and an opportunity to bless the lives of others.

“With these opportunities come responsibilities and duties. I love and cherish the noble word duty and all that it implies. …

“We have been taught the specific duties of the priesthood which we hold, whether it be the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood. I urge you to contemplate those duties and then do all within your power to fulfill them. In order to do so, each must be worthy. Let us have ready hands, clean hands, and willing hands, that we may participate in providing what our Heavenly Father would have others receive from Him. If we are not worthy, it is possible to lose the power of the priesthood; and if we lose it, we have lost the essence of exaltation. Let us be worthy to serve. …

“Brethren, the world is in need of our help. Are we doing all we should? Do we remember the words of President John Taylor: ‘If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty’? [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor (2001), 164]. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. The blessings of eternity await you” (“Willing and Worthy to Serve,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 66–67, 69).

Doctrine and Covenants 108: Additional Historical Background

Lyman Sherman was a personal friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He and his wife, Delcena, along with other family members, joined the Church in January 1832 in New York. The following year, Lyman moved his family to Kirtland, Ohio. Lyman was a faithful member of the Church who served in Zion’s Camp and was called as one of the seven Presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy. In January 1839, Lyman was called to fill a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but he died before receiving the Prophet Joseph Smith’s letter about his new calling. (See Lisa Olsen Tait, “‘Wrought Upon’ to Seek a Revelation,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg [2016], 225–27, or history.lds.org.)

In a journal entry for December 26, 1835, the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded: “Lyman Sherman … requested to have the word of the Lord through me, [saying,] ‘I have been wrought upon to make known to you my feelings and desires and was promised that I should have a revelation which should make known my duty’” (The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, ed. Dean C. Jessee and others [2008], 137; capitalization and punctuation standardized). In response, the Prophet called upon the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 108.

Doctrine and Covenants 108

The Lord’s counsel to Lyman Sherman

Doctrine and Covenants 108:4–6. “Wait patiently until the solemn assembly”

For an explanation of the solemn assembly referred to in Doctrine and Covenants 108:4, see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 88:70–76 in this manual.

Doctrine and Covenants 108:7. “Strengthen your brethren in all your conversation”

In Doctrine and Covenants 108:7, the word conversation refers to a person’s conduct or behavior as well as what he or she says and teaches. Thus, the Lord admonished Lyman Sherman to “strengthen [his] brethren” by his example, as well as “in all [his] prayers [and] in all [his] exhortations,” or teachings (D&C 108:7).

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that Church members have the responsibility to help strengthen others:

“In your associations one with another, build and strengthen one another. …

“It is a responsibility divinely laid upon us to bear one another’s burdens, to strengthen one another, to encourage one another, to lift one another, to look for the good in one another, and to emphasize that good” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 45).