Was the Priesthood Restored through Joseph Smith?

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The Authority for this Analytical View

Brigham Young said:  “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”  Journal of Discourses, 17:46

Apostle Orson Pratt:  “...convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.”  The Seer, pages 15-16

When was the Priesthood Restored?

            David Whitmer, who was a friend of Joseph Smith and one of his witnesses for the Book of Mormon, wrote some revealing information about the restoration of the priesthood:

“This matter of ‘priesthood,’ since the days of Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling block of the Latter Day Saints.  Priesthood means authority; and authority is the word we should use.  I do not think the word priesthood is mentioned in the New Covenant of the Book of Mormon.  Authority is the word we used for the first two years in the Church of Christ, and lineal priesthood of the old law being in the church, all originated in the mind of Sydney Rigdon.  He explained these things to Brother Joseph in his way, out of the old Scriptures, and got Brother Joseph to inquire, etc.  He would inquire, and as mouthpiece speak out the revelations just as they had it fixed in their hearts.  As I have said before, according to the desires of the heart, the inspiration comes, but it may be the spirit of man that gives it...This is the way the High Priests and the ‘priesthood’ as you have it, was introduced into the Church of Christ almost two years after its beginning - and after we had baptized and confirmed about two thousand souls into the church.”  (An Address to All Believers In Christ, by David Whitmer, page 64)

            David Whitmer also make known that early revelations, purported to be from God, were later altered and changed by inserting the priesthood doctrine into them.

“You have changed the revelations from the way they were first given and as they are today in the Book of Commandments, to support the error of Brother Joseph in taking upon himself the office of Seer to the church.  You have changed the revelations to support the error of high priests.  You have changed the revelations to support the error of a President of the high priesthood, high counselors, etc.  You have altered the revelations to support you in going beyond the plain teachings of Christ in the new covenant part of the Book of Mormon.”  Ibid., Pg. 49

            In order to see what changed in revelations David Whitmer was speaking of; it would be necessary to compare the original 1833 Book of Commandments with the present day Doctrine and Covenants.  This is not so difficult, since the 1833 Book of Commandments has been republished by both the Mormon Church in Utah and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Independence, MO) and can be found in many Ward libraries or Institutes of Religion.

Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.) Section 2 - this section is not found in the Book of Commandments.  The fact that it was missing from the 1833 Book of Commandments indicates a pretentious revelation after the fact, to make it appear that Smith received an early revelation on it.

D. & C. Section 5 - verse 17 is not found in the book of Commandments.  This verse predicts the coming priesthood, which if it was not in the original revelation, it was conveniently added to make it appear that God spoke early about the priesthood.  (The subheading under Section 5 in the 1973 edition of D & C gives Section 13 as a cross reference to the ordination; showing this refers to the coming priesthood.)

D. & C. Section 7 – verse 5 was altered and verses 6 and 7 were added since 1833.  These verses speak of Peter, James, and John possessing the keys of the ministry, which then was passed to Joseph Smith.

D. & C. Section 13 - this entire section is not found in the 1833 Book of Commandments.  The date heading this revelation, May 15, 1829, makes an early date for the Aaronic Priesthood.  This is what Whitmer said never occurred.  This section was not published in the Doctrine and Covenants until 1876. 

D. & C. Section 20 – verse 64 was altered and verses 65 through 67 were added since the 1833 edition.  This section gives instructions concerning the ordination of church president and high priesthood.

D. & C. Section 27 – verse 5 was altered and verses 6 through 13 and 15 through 17 were added since 1833.  All of these verses support the new priesthood that Whitmer said did not exist while he was in the leadership of the church.

What Does the Bible Say?

            The biblical purpose of the Aaronic Priesthood was to offer sacrifices for the atonement for sin (Hebrews 5:1-3, Leviticus 17:11).  Jesus  put an end to his by offered himself as the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 7:27 and 9:11-14).  Therefore, we need not daily offer blood sacrifices, as the high priests, or Aaronic Priests did; for Jesus did it once for all when he offered up himself.  The Aaronic priesthood is no longer needed and was abolished at the cross of Christ (Hebrews 7:27).  Aaronic priests were not part of the New Testament Church and never will be, since Jesus put an end to their work.

              Jesus set aside the imperfect Aaronic priesthood through His cross and established himself as a high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:11-18).  Jesus continues forever in this role and has an unchangeable priesthood (Hebrews 7:24).  In the Greek New Testament, this word “unchangeable” (aparabatos) means, unchangeable, inviolate and untransferable.  None else can have the Melchizedek priesthood, because Jesus didn’t transfer it or pass it on.  He holds it permanently.  No Mormon can succeed Jesus in this position because Jesus has not, nor ever will, vacate this office which he alone holds.

            Dear Mormon friend, a careful perusal of the evidence indicates there is no historical support for the restoration of the priesthood in Mormon journals, diaries, letters nor printed matter prior to October, 1834.  It does not precede the church in 1829 as Smith later wrote by changing the Book of Commandments.  If such an important event which took place, why was there no mention of it, and why did David Whitmer say that it was later added, and again, why was it later slipped into the Doctrine and Covenants?  Why would John the Baptist restore the Aaronic Priesthood when it was abolished at the cross?  Why would Peter, James, and John restore the Melchizedek Priesthood when they were aware, as the book of Hebrews tells us, that Jesus alone holds it?

            Jesus became our high priest (Hebrews 2:17) and is the only one who qualifies for the Melchizedek Priesthood.  No one can hold it but Jesus Christ. ?  Please don’t settle for an alternative to what Jesus really offers us.  Have you accepted the only High Priest, Jesus, and made him the Savior and Lord of your life

Copyright 2000, Kurt Van Gorden  
If you have any questions, or you want further information, write:

             Kurt Van Gorden of Jude 3 Missions
PO Box 780, Victorville, CA 92393-0780


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