Priesthood is the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. Through the priesthood we receive the ordinances of salvation as well as blessings of healing, comfort, and counsel.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by Jesus Christ through apostles and prophets. These are righteous men who are called of God and given the priesthood. Anciently Christ ordained His Apostles and gave them the priesthood. That authority was lost when the people rejected the gospel and killed Christ and the Apostles.
Priesthood authority was restored in 1829 when John the Baptist appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. He laid his hands on their heads and conferred on them the Aaronic Priesthood (see D&C 13). A short time later, Peter, James, and John of the original Twelve Apostles laid their hands on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood, which Peter, James, and John had received from Jesus Christ (see D&C 27:12–13).
A man can receive priesthood authority only by proper ordination by the laying on of hands by one who has the authority. A man who receives the priesthood is given a marvelous opportunity. He enters a covenant to fulfill sacred duties, serve others, and help build up the Church. He must have a desire to serve God and must be ordained to this power (see D&C 4:3; 63:57). It is also necessary for priesthood holders to perform sacred ordinances, such as baptism and confirmation. When priesthood authority is used worthily, the power of God is manifest. Priesthood power can be used only in righteousness, love, and patience.
All priesthood comes from God. There are two priesthoods in the Church: the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood administers ordinances such as baptism and the sacrament. Worthy males ages 12 and over receive the Aaronic Priesthood soon after baptism and confirmation.
Worthy adult males will eventually receive the Melchizedek, or higher, Priesthood. Members of the Church receive many spiritual and temporal blessings through the power of this priesthood. Worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders can confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, ordain others to the priesthood as assigned, anoint the sick with consecrated oil, and give blessings of healing and comfort. Worthy husbands and fathers who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood can give their spouses, children, and other family members special blessings. Home teachers visit the homes of Church members and care for those individuals and families. Bishops and stake presidents are judges in the Church. They have the authority to help Saints who have sinned to repent and enjoy the full blessings of Church membership. They interview people to ensure their worthiness to enter the temple.