"Upon you my fellow
servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron,
which holds the keys of the ministering of angels,"1 the ancient prophet
John the Baptist announced on May 15, 1829, when sent by God
to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery at Harmony, Pennsylvania.
Weeks later, Peter,
James, and John, who possess "the keys of the kingdom, and
of the dispensation of the fulness of times,"2 appeared to Joseph
and Oliver and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood. Now the
fulness of the gospel could be restored, the Church of Jesus
Christ could be organized to "roll forth,"3 and all the ordinances necessary for the
salvation of God's children could be performed—including
bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Because priesthood keys were
restored to Joseph Smith, all of God's children can receive
the ordinances of salvation such as baptism
administered by those called of God to act and
speak in His name.
1. D&C 13:1.
2. D&C 128:20.
3. D&C 65:2.
Priesthood of Aaron
The Aaronic Priesthood deals with the temporal and outward ordinances of the law and the gospel. It holds the keys of the ministering of angels, of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism. The Aaronic Priesthood was restored to the earth in this dispensation on May 15, 1829. John the Baptist conferred it on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on the banks of the Susquehanna River, near Harmony, Pennsylvania (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Aaronic Priesthood," 7–8).
The Melchizedek Priesthood is the higher or greater priesthood. It includes the keys of the spiritual blessings of the Church. Through the ordinances of the higher priesthood, the power of godliness is made manifest to men (see D&C 84:18–25; 107:18–21). The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the president of the high or Melchizedek Priesthood, and he holds all the keys that pertain to the kingdom of God on the earth (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Melchizedek Priesthood," 161–62).
Sacred rites and ceremonies. Ordinances consist of acts that have spiritual meanings, such as covenants with the Lord (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Ordinances," 184–85).
Keys are the rights of presidency, or the power given to man by God to direct, control, and govern God's priesthood on earth. Priesthood holders called to positions of presidency receive keys from those in authority over them. Priesthood holders use the priesthood only within the limits outlined by those who hold the keys. The President of the Church holds all priesthood keys (see D&C 107:65–67, 91–92; 132:7; The Guide to the Scriptures, "Keys of the Priesthood," 141).
The Priesthood of God Returns to the Earth
Learn more about Joseph's roles as a priesthood leader.
Learn more about where Joseph and Oliver received the Aaronic Priesthood.
Read an article about the importance of the priesthood.