The right of dominion over the creation belonged to God. God gave that right to Adam and Eve. It does not automatically transfer to all their descendants. It was transferred from Adam to his first appointed heir, Seth. (Cain would have been the first heir, but because he rebelled, he lost his position. To prevent that loss, Cain slew the next heir, Abel, but it did not accomplish the ambition. Cain was, ultimately, replaced by Seth.) Seth was given the right belonging to the first Father, Adam, and through him down generations to Enos; then to his son, Cainan; and his son, Mahalalel; and his son, Jared; and his son, Enoch; and his son, Methuselah; and his son, Lamech; and his son, Noah; and his son, Shem, who was given the new name of Melchizedek. This right is called the “patriarchal priesthood” — it is the right to hold dominion over the world as the steward, father, or patriarch over all creation (see T&C 154:9–20).1Joseph Smith explained that there are different portions or degrees of priesthood.2 “The Melchizedek priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. The second priesthood is Patriarchal authority. Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this Priesthood. The third is what is called Levitical priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath and covenant. The holy ghost is God’s messenger to administer in all those priesthoods” (TPJS, 323).3 “Joseph never clarified he ranked these three from top, to middle, to bottom. It is possible he spoke of the middle first, then top next, and then the bottom (Levitical). We view the Patriarchal Priesthood as the highest because the Priesthood beginning with Adam was a single Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God.”4 The Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood is an association with angels. The Melchizedek is an association with the Son of God. The Patriarchal is an association with the Father and makes one a son of God.5 There are three levels of priesthood. There are three members of the Godhead. There is a different member of the Godhead associated with the three levels of salvation, the three levels of Divine ministration, and correspondingly, the three levels of priesthood. There is a priesthood that belongs to the Telestial order (or the world where we presently live). There is a priesthood that belongs to the Terrestrial order (or this world in its paradisiacal state during the Millennium). There is a priesthood that belongs to the Celestial order (or the final redeemed state which men hope to inherit in the Father’s Kingdom). T&C 69 sets out these conditions of glory, and one can associate a level of priesthood with each. Doing so gives one a better grasp of the idea of fullness of the Priesthood. “The Patriarchal Priesthood is not defined in scripture. The most important point is that there is priesthood which exists, but is not contained within or conferred by [a] church. It comes from one source — the Father. To receive that, read The Tenth Parable6 and you will have a description of how it unfolds.” The Son is necessarily involved. He is the gatekeeper; He alone decides if a person is going to qualify. When the Son takes it as His work to bring a person before the Father, His ministry can take many years and is designed to cure what is wrong, fix all that is broken, and remove all that is impure in the candidate. Only when the Son can vouch for the individual is he brought before the Father. It is the Father who confers and ordains a man to the highest priesthood.7 Patriarchal Priesthood is obtained by meeting God in His temple, not merely in a ceremony on earth. In the last days, this priesthood will again be called the Holy Priesthood after the Son of God. The Priesthood at the end of the world will be a mirror image of what was in the beginning.8
1 “All or Nothing, 4,” Nov 2, 2016, blog post.
2 TPJS, 180–181; WJS, 59; T&C 140:2.
3 WJS, 244–245; JSP, Journals Vol. 3:86–87.
4 Preserving the Restoration, 185.
5 Preserving the Restoration, 180.
6 Ten Parables, 93.
7 “Fullness of Priesthood,” Jan. 2, 2012, blog post.
8 Preserving the Restoration, 193.