Lesson 14: The Kirtland Temple and Priesthood Keys

“Lesson 14: The Kirtland Temple and Priesthood Keys,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Manual (2015)

“Lesson 14,” Teacher Manual

Lesson 14

The Kirtland Temple and Priesthood Keys


After nearly three years of struggle and financial sacrifice, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated on March 27, 1836. Miraculous occurrences accompanied the dedication, and one week later, heavenly messengers restored priesthood keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. These keys are a distinguishing feature of the Church and have blessed millions of people who have gathered into the Church.

Background Reading

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 109:1–28

The Saints sacrificed to build the Kirtland Temple

Show students a picture of the Kirtland Temple (see Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 117; see also Explain that the Saints labored and sacrificed for almost three years to build the Kirtland Temple. In doing so, they witnessed the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that if they would keep His commandments, they would “have power to build it” (D&C 95:11). Nearly 1,000 people attended the temple dedication, held on March 27, 1836. The dedicatory prayer, which Joseph Smith received by revelation, is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 109.

Invite a couple of students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 109:1–5. Encourage the class to follow along, noting especially the phrases that describe the Saints’ sacrifices to build the temple. Then ask the following questions:

  • What phrases did Joseph Smith use to describe the Saints’ sacrifices?

To help students further understand the sacrifices made by the Saints, ask a student to read the following summary aloud:

Between June 1833 and March 1836, men and women worked side by side to construct and complete the house of the Lord. Some did masonry work, others hauled rock, others spun yarn and knit clothes for workers, and some worked on the curtains for the house of the Lord. They did all this “that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people” (D&C 109:5). Some Latter-day Saints, like John Tanner, gave much of their wealth for the building of the temple. In all, the temple may have cost as much as 40,000 U.S. dollars to build—a very large sum for that time. Despite the cost and sacrifice, the Saints were faithful in their labors to obey this commandment of the Lord (see D&C 95:11). The Kirtland Temple was a labor of love and an exercise in obedience, sacrifice, and faith.

  • What sacrifices are we required to make today in order to enjoy the blessings of the temple?

  • What blessings come into our lives as we sacrifice to perform the Lord’s work?

To help answer this question, display the following statement by Sister Carol B. Thomas of the Young Women General Presidency. Ask a student to read it aloud:

Carol B. Thomas


“Sacrifice is an amazing principle. As we willingly give our time and talents and all that we possess, it becomes one of our truest forms of worship. It can develop within us a profound love for each other and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Through sacrifice our hearts can be changed; we live closer to the Spirit and have less of an appetite for things of the world” (“Sacrifice: An Eternal Investment,” Ensign, May 2001, 64).

Invite students to silently read Doctrine and Covenants 109:12–13 and 20–21, looking for how the sacred nature of the temple is suggested in this prayer. Ask students to share what stood out to them most in these verses.

Tell students that in the dedicatory prayer, Joseph Smith petitioned the Lord for specific blessings. Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 109:12–15, 22–28. Encourage the class to follow along and look for blessings that can come to those who worthily worship in the temple. You may want to suggest that students mark important words and phrases that stand out to them. Then discuss the following questions:

  • Of the blessings you identified, which one has the most meaning to you? Why?

  • What doctrine or principle can we learn from these verses? (Make sure students identify the following principle: As we faithfully worship in the temple, we can receive greater protection and power against the wickedness of the world.)

Display the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:

Elder David A. Bednar

“Please consider [Doctrine and Covenants 109:24–28] in light of the current raging of the adversary and … our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and the blessing of protection promised to those who honorably hold a name and standing in the holy temple. Significantly, these covenant blessings are to all generations and for all eternity. I invite you to study repeatedly and ponder prayerfully the implications of these scriptures in your life and for your family.

“We should not be surprised by Satan’s efforts to thwart or discredit temple worship and work. The devil despises the purity in and the power of the Lord’s house. And the protection available to each of us in and through temple ordinances and covenants stands as a great obstacle to the evil designs of Lucifer” (“Honorably Hold a Name and Standing,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 99–100).

  • How have you felt an increase in spiritual power as a result of worshipping in the temple?

Invite students to ponder what they might do to receive more of the blessings promised to those who faithfully worship in the temple. Remind students that as they ponder the scriptures and words of the prophets, their hearts and minds will be more open to inspiration from the Lord.

Doctrine and Covenants 110

Jesus Christ, Moses, Elijah, and Elias appeared in the Kirtland Temple

Explain that God rewarded the Saints’ sacrifice to build the Kirtland Temple with an outpouring of spiritual manifestations on the days surrounding the dedication. Time permitting, share briefly a few of the accounts found in chapter 13 (“Glorious Days in Kirtland, 1834–36”) of Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. (Church Educational System manual, 2003), specifically in the section titled “A Pentecostal Season” (pages 164–67). Tell students that perhaps the most significant of those events occurred on April 3, 1836, one week following the temple dedication.

Invite a student to read aloud the section heading to Doctrine and Covenants 110, and invite the rest of the class to follow along. Then ask the following:

  • To whom was this vision given? What had Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery been doing before this vision occurred?

Explain to the students that the first ten verses of Doctrine and Covenants 110 consist of a glorious vision given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery of the Savior, who appeared to them to declare His acceptance of the Kirtland Temple. Invite students to read these verses silently while looking for important truths regarding both the Savior and the temple. After sufficient time, ask the following:

  • What in these verses is meaningful to you? Why?

  • According to verse 6, the Savior declared, “Let the hearts of all my people rejoice.” Why do you think the Saints had reason to rejoice at that time?

Explain that after the vision of the Savior ended, a series of visions followed. In these visions, Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared one by one to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Write the following on the board:

Moses: Doctrine and Covenants 110:11

Elias: Doctrine and Covenants 110:12

Elijah: Doctrine and Covenants 110:13–15

Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one of the names on the board. Invite students to study the corresponding scripture passage to learn about the specific priesthood keys that were restored. After sufficient time, invite students to share what they found.

The following explanations can provide students with a deeper understanding of what they have read. Invite a student to read each statement aloud after you discuss its corresponding scripture passage:

Moses: The keys of the gathering of Israel give the authority to direct the preaching of the gospel to the four corners of the earth. “It is appropriate that Moses, who first led God’s children to the land of their inheritance, would be the one to commit the keys of the gathering of Israel to the restored Church” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 82, footnote 28).

Elias: “A man called Elias apparently lived in mortality in the days of Abraham, who committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland (Ohio) Temple on April 3, 1836” (Bible Dictionary, “Elias”). “Elias [brought] back ‘the gospel of Abraham,’ the great Abrahamic covenant whereby the faithful receive promises of eternal increase, promises that through celestial marriage their eternal posterity shall be as numerous as the sands upon the seashore or as the stars in heaven for multitude” (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Keys of the Kingdom,” Ensign, May 1983, 22).

Elijah: “This sealing power bestowed upon Elijah, is the power which binds husbands and wives, and children to parents for time and eternity. It is the binding power existing in every Gospel ordinance. … It is by this power that all the ordinances pertaining to salvation are bound, or sealed, and it was the mission of Elijah to come, and restore it” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Elijah the Prophet and His Mission [1957], 5).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 110:16 aloud, and encourage students to follow along. Ask students to identify what was committed to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery at that time (“keys of this dispensation”). Then ask the following:

  • According to verse 16, what can we know because these keys have been restored? (The Second Coming is near.)

  • Keeping in mind verse 16, why did the keys restored by Moses, Elias, and Elijah need to be restored before the “great and dreadful day of the Lord”?

  • How have you been blessed by the restoration of these priesthood keys? (After student responses, summarize the importance of the restoration of these keys by stating this principle: The keys of missionary work, eternal families, and temple work help us prepare ourselves and the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.)

Display the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“The priesthood of God, with its keys, its ordinances, its divine origin and ability to bind in heaven what is bound on earth, is as indispensable to the true Church of God as it is unique to it and … without it there would be no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (“Our Most Distinguishing Feature,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 43).

Share how your life has been blessed because these priesthood keys have been restored. Testify that the keys of the priesthood are a distinguishing feature of the Church; they separate The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from every other church on the earth.

Student Readings