8. “The Restoration of the Priesthood”

The Need for Priesthood to Be Restored

“Restoration of the Priesthood,” LDS.org
Because of the Restoration, the teachings and ordinances necessary for salvation are available to all people. Includes a timeline of events surrounding the restoration of the priesthood.

“Priesthood,” Richard G. Ellsworth, Melvin J. Luthy, Latter-day Saint Essentials: Readings from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Jesus Christ is the great High Priest of God; Christ is therefore the source of all true priesthood authority and power on this earth. Man does not take such priesthood power unto himself; it must be conferred by God through his servants.

Events of the Restoration

“Priesthood Restoration Site,” LDS.org
Photos and an interactive map of the place where the Aaronic Priesthood was restored.

Race and the Priesthood

“Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood,” Edward L. Kimball, BYU Studies, Vol. 47, no. 2
This is the story of how President Kimball “gave a great deal of thought, a great deal of prayer” to the restrictions placed upon black Church members and held many discussions about the issue prior to receiving the revelation granting priesthood and temple blessings to blacks in June 1978.

Joseph Smith’s Accounts of Priesthood Restoration

Joseph Smith, History, circa 1832, page 1

Joseph Smith, History, circa June 1839-circa 1841 [Draft 2], pages 17-18 and pages 26-27

Joseph Smith, History, circa June-October 1839 [Draft 1], pages 7-8

Additional resources:

Opening the Heavens: The Restoration of the Priesthood (2nd edition, 2017), by Brian Q. Cannon and BYU Studies Staff, can be purchased as a PDF (this chapter only) for $5.00 or an ebook (this chapter only) for $4.99.  The print book is available for $21.95 and as an ebook (full book) at Deseret Bookshelf ($19.95) or Amazon Kindle ($11.99).

Here are seventy-one early Church documents that recount all the known direct statements from the first twenty years of Church history specifically concerning the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods. The collection includes excerpts of revelations, statements by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and accounts by contemporaries of Joseph and Oliver up to the time of Cowdery’s death in 1850. These statements help to reveal early Church members’ understanding of the restoration of the priesthood and show how they described the priesthood restoration to others.

The introduction explains that while the historical record is clear on the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, the date of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood is uncertain. Clues from the documents and surrounding events suggest that the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored around the end of May 1829, but that dating remains speculative. The documents strongly show that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery repeatedly testified that they received power from on high to perform ordinances, first from John the Baptist and then from Peter, James, and John.

Opening the Heavens: The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (2nd edition, 2017), by John W. Welch, can be purchased as a PDF (this chapter only) for $5.00 or an ebook (this chapter only) for $4.99.  The print book is available for $21.95 and as an ebook (full book) at Deseret Bookshelf ($19.95) or Amazon Kindle ($11.99).

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had likely translated as far as 3 Nephi by May 15, 1829, when the Aaronic Priesthood was restored. Presumably, as they read of Jesus giving the disciples the power to baptize in 3 Nephi 11, they recognized the need for that power for themselves. Thus they “went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates” (Joseph Smith-History 1:68).