By Cordell and Janice Vail

22 Feb 2004

Copyright 2004 by Cordell Vail, all rights reserved

A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail

Priesthood Authority

Rea asked me a question and I thought it would be worth sharing the answer with everyone:

Uncle Cordell

I have a question. I thought of this while preparing for Seminary, and couldn't find an answer, and just hoped that none of the students would ask. Frequently when I think of things while studying, and come up with an answer, someone asks and I am glad I thought of an answer beforehand! It was my understanding that the kings in Israel did not have priesthood authority, otherwise, Saul wouldn't have been punished for making an offering without Samuel, and the other one toward the end that I can't think of his name right now. So why was Solomon the one to offer the dedicatory prayer for his temple? What priesthood authority did he (and David, or the others, for that matter) have? We actually talked about it a couple of weeks ago, and I am still wondering.


There are two that I have always tried to be careful to take note of in studying the gospel. The first is to be very aware of the difference between a Church Policy and a gospel Doctrine. A policy is something that can be changed by revelation. For years people thought that the Blacks not holding the priesthood was a "DOCTRINE" then we found out it was just a "POLICY" because President Kimball received a revelation to change it. So as we talk about priesthood authority it is very important to not get set in our ways thinking we know something is "DOCTRINE" and can not be changed in a different time or dispensation that it was in another time.

The second is to be careful that we are not ASSUMING things to be so that are not necessarily so.

With that we can begin to answer the above question, "What priesthood authority did the Kings of the Old Testament have?'

First of all we have to understand Aaronic priesthood in that day.

After Moses and Aaron, only those who were direct descendents of Levi could hold the Aaronic priesthood and only direct descendents of Aaron could be high priests in the Aaronic priesthood. This was the case clear down to the time of Christ. So none of the Kings could hold the Aaronic Priesthood. Even Joshua could not hold it because he was an Ephrimite. But Joshua as the Prophet held the Melchizedek priesthood as did all the prophets from Adam to Christ. But the kings did not hold the Melchizedek priesthood either. So that is why you see the Prophet anointing the king to be king. That is why the Prophet selected the king and anointed him. That is why when David and Solomon took other wives, Samuel the Prophet gave them to them. They did not just take them (at least at first) and after when they did just take them then it became a sin.

So there was a very strict adherence to the laws of the priesthood in those days.

But now for the question. Show me anywhere even in our day where it says that the person dedicating the temple (or your home for that matter) has to hold the priesthood (Aaronic or Melchizedek). Read even the current dedication of temples in our day and you will see that it is strictly prayer language. Show me where President Hinckley ever says "BY THE POWER AND AUTHORITY IN ME VESTED", or "BY THE POWER OF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD I DEDICATE THIS BUILDING". It is just a prayer. So is this a DOCTRINE or a POLICY? I would assume it is not a doctrine. It would appear that the "POLICY" or "TRADITION" is that the prayer be read by the leader of the church or someone he designates. But I can find no where that it says it is a DOCTRINE that it can only be read by someone holding the priesthood. So I assume we were assuming here that you had to have the priesthood to dedicate a temple. I am assuming that in that day, Samuel the Prophet told Solomon to read the dedicatory prayer.

Now one other related matter while we are on the subject of priesthood power just to get you thinking further. We know that after Moses only Levites could hold the Aaronic priesthood. The Nephites were descendents of Joseph not Levi so the Nephit prophets could not have Aaronic (at least not before Christ). But we know they did hold priesthood power. Alma baptized for example. But you will notice a very clear lack of mention of any temple ordinances in the Book of Mormon. No mention of sealing of couples for time and eternity or calling and election or new names or no mention of baptism for the dead or... (well the New Testament is full of it). Have you ever wondered why?

Only one man can hold the sealing power on the earth at a time (is that a policy or a doctrine). At the time Peter was on the earth he held that power so Nephi in the New World could not.
Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.42 - p.43
I have said that only one man at a time on the earth holds the keys of this sealing power of the priesthood, but he may, and does, delegate power to others, and they officiate under his direction in the temples of the Lord. No man can officiate in these sealing ordinances until he receives the authority to do so by being set apart by the one who holds the keys, notwithstanding he may hold the priesthood.

We see that Peter had that power given to him (and thus the New Testament is full of references to temple work):
Matthew 16:18-19
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

But.... (and again here we go assuming again now. ... ) how do you know that is the power to marry in the temple it is talking about. If only one man can hold the keys to that power (even though he may delegate them to others), how do you explain that power being given to the Nephite Prophets then as shown in these verses:

Nephi son of Lehi had it:

2 Nephi 33:15
For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.

Nephi son of Nephi, son of Helaman the Nephite disciple, (and we will talk about why he could not be an "APOSTLE" some other time) had it at the same time Peter in Jerusalem had it:
Helaman 10:7
Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

And Joseph Smith received that same sealing power but there again he was the only one on the earth to hold it so we see him teaching about temple work.

D&C 132:46
46 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.

So if the Nephite prophets could seal in heaven and on earth, why couldn't they marry for time and eternity if they married someone?

So that should leave you all something more to ponder.... more questions than answers. That is what makes us grow in the gospel. STUDYING.... So you answer the rest of those questions you have now and share the answers you find with the rest of us.

NOTE: Nothing in any of these Sunday Sermons is intended to represent the official doctrines of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are strictly instructions and teachings from Cordell and Janice Vail to their family.

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