On the 27th of August 1843, Joseph Smith gave a sermon on the Three Grand Orders of the Priesthood. In that sermon, he ordered them as follows from the lowest to the highest:
Despite the clarity with which he taught this doctrine, the corporate LDS church and others continue to essentially teach that the highest form of the priesthood is the patriarchal priesthood — associated with the sealing ordinances in the temples and their connection to celestial polygamy. In other words, patriarchs such as Abraham received an even higher form of priesthood than the Melchizedek priesthood when they entered into what the church calls the “new and everlasting covenant” of marriage. Denver Snuffer also makes this argument in his talk given in Orem, Utah on priesthood on Novemeber 2, 2013.
The reason it was so important to debunk Section 132 of the D&C as a true revelation in my last post was because the justification for this great inversion rests primarily on the doctrines taught in that section.
The great patriarchs of olden times, including Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and many others were evangelists (meaning “missionaries”) of the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph himself said that “an evangelist is a patriarch” (TPJS pg 38-39) which the church has interpreted to mean the man ordained in each stake to give patriarchal blessing. This has caused confusion in the minds of many.
Instead the scriptures describe an evangelist as one who has the priesthood to minister the gospel unto the inhabitants of the earth. It is a lineal priesthood that is passed down from father to son, and thus inferior to the Melchizedek priesthood that is confirmed upon those who are called by God’s voice out of heaven and is “without father and mother” (in other words, not a lineal priesthood). This is not to say that the great patriarch / evangelists did not ultimately receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. The distinction is that they first had the patriarchal priesthood by lineal descent and right, and may later have received the highest priesthood of Melchizedek.
Regarding the patriarchal priesthood, D&C 107:39-41 explains:
“It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers, as they shall be designated unto them by revelation–The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made. This order was instituted inthe days of Adam, and came down by lineage…”
This scripture also makes clear that not every male member in the church should be ordained unto this priesthood, only those of the chosen seed as revealed to the Twelve by revelation.
The use of the term “evangelist” to refer to a ministry is very consistent with the New Testament in which Philip is referred to as an evangelist (Acts 21:8) and Timothy is exhorted by Paul to do the work of an evangelist and make full proof of thy ministry (2 Tim 3:5). Additionally, Ephesians 4:11-12, refers to the Lord giving the church “some evangelists” for the “work of the ministry.”
Few members of the church own a book by Fred C. Collier entitled “Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is not cheap to purchase but has some real gems therein including the following two excerpts related to patriarchal priesthood:
“Therefore, verily thus sayeth the Lord you God, I appoint these Twelve that they should be equal in their ministry and in their portion, and in their evangelical rights...” (November 3, 1835 pg 79)
“…in his [Joseph Smith] hands shall the Urim and Thummim remain and the holy ministry and the keys of the evangelical priesthood, also for an everlasting priesthood forever, even the patriarchal: for behold, he is the first patriarch in the last days. He shall sit in the great assembly and general council of patriarchs, and execute the will and commandment under the direction of the Ancient of Days…” (September 22, 1835 pg 77, from a revelatory patriarchal blessing given by Oliver Cowdery)
In both of these revelations you can see a direct link between the patriarchal priesthood and a ministry. This same connection is made in the Book of Abraham relating to his priesthood and ministry.
I have puposed to make of thee [Abraham] a minister to bear my name in a strage land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice. (Abr 2:6)
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations; And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee , as their father; And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal. (Abr 2:9-11)
Wow! This was quite an epiphany for me. The Abrahamic Covenant is all about the seed of Abraham who bear this ministry (the tidings of the gospel) and thus are instrumental in providing the blessings of the gospel to the inhabitants of the earth who hearken to their voice.
I suggest that anyone who is serious about understanding about the three priesthoods invest 75 mins. to watch the video produced by Watcher entitled
He brings great insight to a very confusing subject, and does it with scripture and historical record. Do yourself a favor and watch it if you haven’t already.
Understanding the patriarchal priesthood provides a key to knowledge about the our current state and the meaning of the phrase from Malachi “turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to the fathers.” We will address that in greater depth in our next installment.