Notes to: The Priesthood of Elijah, Church of the First Born, Kingdom of God and Other Terms Not Understood For the Past 100 years

These are the notes to “The Priesthood of Elijah, Church of the First Born, Kingdom of God and Other Terms Not Understood For the Past 100 years” by Drew Briney

The article is very foot note heavy, and in an attempt to make checking references easier, we have put the foot notes in this separate “article” so that you can open in a new tab and go back and forth without losing your spot in the article.



Of particular interest here is the fact that priesthood associated with the second anointing has been referred to as the Fullness of the Priesthood, the Priesthood of Elijah, the High Priesthood, the Patriarchal Priesthood, and its holders have been referred to as Kings and Priests and Apostles of Jesus Christ while other apostles have been referred to merely as apostles or apostles of Joseph Smith, etc. This presents interpretational challenges because a “high priest” may refer to a stake president or an elder who has had his second anointings. “Patriarchal priesthood” may refer to the priesthood held by a stake patriarch or it may refer to a King and a Priest. Even the term “apostle” is somewhat ambiguous as it may refer to a seventy or someone who has received the fullness of the apostleship through the second anointing. In most instances, the context of a statement can help us to flush out these interpretational challenges.

However, there are many statements that are challenging to pin down the author’s precise intent. Sources for each of these claims are found throughout this chapter. Generally speaking, all of these claims are fully addressed in the following seminal works (not in any particular order): Toscano, Paul James, Seeking the Fulness of the Priesthood: The Oath and Covenant of the Melchizedek Priesthood: An Exegesis, Sunstone Magazine, (September 1987)(Hereinafter, Seeking the Fulness of the Priesthood); Buerger, David John, The Fulness of the Priesthood: The Second Anointing in Latter-day Saint Theology and Practice, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 16 (Signature Books: 1983); Anderson, Devery S. and Bergera, Gary James, Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed 1842-1845: A Documentary History, (Signature Books: 2005); Origins; Ehat’s Thesis; The Holy Order. As concerning the claim that the Patriarchal Priesthood is connected with the endowment, see WJS, 297, 303, 312


Willard Richard’s Diary (8/9/1844) as cited in Joseph’s Quorum of Anointed, 83 (Joseph’s presence “superseded the necessity of carrying out a perfect operation … of the several Quorums”); JD 8:197-98 (Brigham Young knew that a first presidency should be organized after Joseph’s martyrdom but also “knew the people were not prepared for it” so he waited to reorganize the first presidency); JD 10:20 (10/6/1862)(not one “fully organized branch” in the Church); see also JD 9:269-70; Abraham H. Cannon’s Journal (12/2/1895)(Moses Thatcher prevented John Taylor’s ordination to become a “Prophet, Priest, and King” in the Council of Fifty for almost five years) as cited in The Council of Fifty and Its Members, 17; Journal History of the Church (9/13/1898)(first presidency was not organized quickly enough because of a lack of harmony among the Twelve); Id., (11/10/1901) (Twelve acting as presidency of the Church “was not only cumbersome, but was not fully perfect in the order of the holy priesthood”; although President Joseph F. Smith was “perfectly clear” that the patriarch should be presented before the Twelve, “it was decided not to make any change at present”); Conference Reports (11/10/1901)(Joseph F. Smith preached: “We have not always carried out strictly the order of the priesthood; we have varied from it to some extent; but we hope in due time that, by the promptings of the holy spirit, we will be led up into the exact channel and course that the Lord has marked out for us to pursue. … we will not make any change at present”). See also John Henry Smith Journal (4/6/1902); MS 63:801-02 and endnote 6 in chapter 3. Brigham Young reorganized stakes throughout the Church in 1877. CHC 5:507-08; JD 19:232. Wilford Woodruff claimed that the apostles would be set in order when Christ comes. Abraham H. Cannon’s Journal (4/2/1891).


See also D&C 76:67, 71, 94, 102; 77:11; 78:21; 93:22; 107:19.


JD 8:154. This doctrine was taught into the 1920s. See Smith, Joseph Fielding, Doctrines of Salvation, (Bookcraft: 1956), 3:130 ff.


The quote in context reads as follows:


This people here are the people of God. Here, in the Territory of Deseret, is the kingdom of God, and here are all the officers pertaining to that kingdom; and here is an organization that is organized after the order of God, and it is organized after the order of the Church of the First Born.

Let me explain what the church of the First Born is. It is the first Church that ever was raised up upon this earth; that is, the first born Church. That is what I mean; and when God our Father organized that Church, He organized it just as His Father organized the Church on the earth where He dwelt; and that same order is organized here in the City of Great Salt Lake; and it is that order that Joseph Smith the Prophet of God organized in the beginning in Kirtland, Ohio. Brother Brigham Young, myself, and others were present when that was done; and when those officers received their endowments, they were together in one place. They were organized, and received their endowments and blessings, and those keys were placed upon them, and that kingdom will stand for ever. JD 5:129


See The Holy Order, Ehat’s Thesis, and Joseph’s Quorum of Anointed for a thorough discussion of the activities of this organization. In the latter source, we find that the Quorum of Anointed met to discuss a number of Church related business issues. Joseph’s Quorum of Anointed, 11 (see also HC 5:44-45). Ehat’s Thesis discusses their activities on pages 13 (missionaries should stop preaching politics), 149 (organizing western expedition parties), 151-52 (the Twelve were concurrently involved in the western expedition), and 233-34 (they kept separate minutes for sixty-six meetings). Heber C. Kimball’s journal provides us with a number of instances as well. See entries for (7/3/1845; 10/11/1845; & 10/27/1845).


JD 8:154; 5:130.


HC 2:430-31; 5:1-2. Apart from Joseph Smith, these nine masons included Hyrum

Smith; Heber C. Kimball; Newel K. Whitney; William Law; Willard Richards; George

Miller; Brigham Young; William Marks; and James Adams.


I spent the day … instructing them in the principles and order of the Priesthood, attending to washings, anointings, endowments and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so on to the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood, setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days, and all those plans and principles by which any one is enabled to secure the fullness of those blessing which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn, and come up and abide in the presence of the Eloheim in the eternal worlds. In this council was instituted the ancient order of things for the first time in these last days.

HC 5:1-2

At least four of these men left accounts of this event: Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young, Willard Richards, and George Miller. Ehat’s Thesis, 28-29; Joseph’s Quorum of Anointed, 7-9. None of these accounts add anything significant to the question at hand but it is interesting to note that Miller’s account informs us that these ordinances were performed after several of them returned from missions in England and inaccurately claims that Joseph “conferred on [them] Patriarchal Priesthood.” On July 1, 1855, a letter written by Miller was published in James J. Strang’s newspaper claiming that Mormons received “an endowment of patriarchal priesthood under the hands of the twelve apostles” in Nauvoo. Origins, 308. See also TPJS, 326. His failure to distinguish between the first and second endowments was apparently the source of his error.

Also of interest is an entry in the Millennial Star in 1847 where we are informed that apostles are all “presidents in all the world without other ordinations.” MS 9:324. With no further explanation from the historical record as to why these nine men were called “presidents,” the possibility that they had been ordained apostles is open to question. If they were so ordained, we here have further instances of secret ordinations because not all of these men were recognized as apostles at this time. If they were not so ordained, we must question what these men were presidents of – if not presidents of some quorum within the Church of the Firstborn.


HC 5:409. These were not proxy endowments for the dead. It may be that this second receipt of the first endowment may have been more complete or more perfect than the one they received on May 4, 1842.


JOSEPH SMITH 5/26/1843

I met in counsel in the upper room [Red Brick Store], with my Brother Hyrum, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Judge James Adams, Bishop Newel K. Whitney, and William Law, and gave them their endowments and also instructions in the priesthood on the new and everlasting covenant, &c. -HC 5:409; see also 412


As cited in Seeking the Fulness of the Priesthood, 35


The names of William Law and William Marks were stricken from the official Church historical record. Heber C. Kimball viewed apostasy after belonging to the Church of the Firstborn as a condition worse than death:

HEBER C. KIMBALL 12/21/1845

About four years ago next May, nine persons were admitted into the Holy Order. Five are now living — B. Young — W. Richards — George Miller — N.K. Whitney & H.C. Kimball. Two are dead [Hyrum Smith and James Adams] and two are worse than dead [William Law and William Marks who apostatized]. Heber C. Kimball Journal; see also TPJS, 357-58; JD 5:595 (7/26/1857) for a very brief review of the teaching that apostates will be eternally dissolute to native element.


JD 1:134. The paraphrasing of Joseph’s words is from George Q. Cannon.


Here exists a contradiction because Joseph Smith, after restoring the temple endowment to nine trusted masons, announced:


Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah … I have done what king Solomon, King Hiram, and Hiram Abbif could not do; I have set up the kingdom no more to be thrown down forever nor never to be given to another people.

Dimick B. Huntington Statement, 19


JOSEPH SMITH 5/12/1844

I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. -HC 6:365


See the timelines at the end of this chapter.


JD 2:310, 317 (7/8/1855).

Far from being the same organization, President Wells indicated that the kingdom had not been placed into the hands of the saints as late as the year 1882:

DANIEL H. WELLS 10/6/1882

[I]t depends, in a great measure, upon the people themselves, as to how soon the kingdom spoken of by Daniel shall be given into the hands of the Saints of God.

JD 23:305


HC 7:382.


Brigham Young was not accosting the saints for improper usage of these terms – he also used these terms rather loosely and was probably a major impetus behind the saints’ loose usage of “the kingdom of God” when referring to the Church. It seems very likely that this technically incorrect merging of these terms began early in Church history when the distinction was not well articulated. However, it was well articulated by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo and many of the brethren held very articulate and consistent understandings of the distinction between the Church and the kingdom of God. Brigham’s casual usage of kingdom rhetoric to refer to the Church after the martyrdom appears to have been part of his effort to unite the Church behind the Twelve during the succession crisis. Thus, it seems that Brigham Young’s casual merging of these concepts after the martyrdom is most likely the causation of the retrogression of distinguishing the kingdom from the Church.


JD 17:156 (8/9/1975); see also JD 5:129-30; Juvenile Instructor 31:140. These statements are interesting in context of chapter 3 as well. The reader who is especially interested in this distinction may wish to reread chapter 3 – the quotes within that chapter are much more interesting within this paradigmatic context.


As cited in Origins, 121.


See also JD 5:23.


Later in the same King Follett discourse, Joseph taught that the “power of Elijah is

sufficient to make our calling and election sure.” TPJS, 338.


See also JD 2:309-10; DN (8/29/1874).


This is particularly interesting and important to note in context of the revealed title of the Council of Fifty, which includes a reference to the keys of the kingdom.


The Kingdom of God and His Laws, with the Keys and power thereof, and judgment in the hands of His servants, Ahman Christ. UPR 1:95; see also Joseph F. Smith Minutes of the Council of Fifty as cited in Ehat, Andrew F., It Seems Like Heaven Began on Earth: Joseph Smith and The Constitution of the Kingdom of God, BYU Studies, (BYU University Press: 1980), 20:254.



Verily, I say unto you, that the wisdom of man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my holy priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness by reason of the anointing. Mss, C.H.O. as cited in Anderson, Temporal and Spiritual Bondage, 14


In this context, consider Joseph Smith’ teaching that women would receive the keys of the kingdom of God: WJS 116-17. Observe also that women were not allowed to be members of the Council of Fifty so they could not have been receiving keys of the kingdom in connection with the Council of Fifty – and since women similarly do not receive keys of the priesthood within the LDS Church, this must be referring to keys of the kingdom associated with the Church of the Firstborn.


As cited in Ehat’s Thesis, 203. Spelling standardized.


See WWJ (10/8/1866) where Brigham Young claims that Joseph gave Brigham the authority to perform sealings when Joseph was dead and that nobody else was to have that authority. Considering the fact that Joseph set apart his son to succeed him as the President of the Church, it is clear that Joseph viewed these keys as separate. See also JD 1:133 where Brigham taught that Joseph was president of the Church by voice of the people but that Joseph “held the keys of the Priesthood, independent of their voice.” Most members of the LDS Church are aware that the principle of common consent is more theoretical than pragmatic – a dissenting voice against any of the apostles will more likely be met with discipline than it will be met with serious consideration of the objection. However, in the early Church, this was not the case – the principle of common consent was very seriously considered and enforced – which makes Brigham’s statement above more important than many modern, mainstream saints may realize. For a fairly well known example, see Collier, Fred C., The Trial of Sidney Rigdon, Doctrine of the Priesthood, (Collier’s Publishing Co.: 1990) 7:50-58 (Sidney Rigdon was sustained as a counselor to Joseph Smith over Joseph’s objections); Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding, 155-57 as cited in Ehat’s Thesis, 226 (“It seems that Joseph had not looked upon Rigdon as his Councilor for a long time … Joseph said he had carried him till he was sick of it.”); WJS, 243 (Joseph, “in the name of the Lord withdrew the hand of fellowship from [Sidney Rigdon] and put it to the vote of the people.”).


WJS, 245. When Joseph Fielding Smith compiled Joseph’s teachings on this day, he summarized these teachings by declaring that the “Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives.” TPJS 322-23. This of course is another distinction between the priesthood and the Church – the priesthood is a theocracy, operating within the kingdom of God; the Church is run by common consent. D&C 26:2.


WJS, 246.


Ehat’s Thesis, 92, 95; see also Buerger’s entire article, The Fulness of the Priesthood.


Sessions, Gene A., Mormon Thunder: A Documentary History of Jedediah Morgan Grant, (University of Illinois Press: 1982), 174.


WWJ 4:118. See also JD 6:320; MS 16:442.


Origins, 120.


If Heber C. Kimball’s quote is here read to refer to the LDS Church, there are a number of issues that would need to be reconciled. The first is that there is no recognized “order of the Church of the First Born” within the modern LDS Church. The second is that these “officers” Heber C. Kimball was referring to had received their second endowments whereas it is very likely that many modern apostles have not received their second endowments because they are no longer considered necessary for exaltation. See Buerger, David John, Fulness of the Priesthood: The Second Anointing in the Latter-day Saint Theology and Practice, 16(1) Dialogue (Spring 1983). See also Buerger, David John, Mysteries of Godliness, (Signature Books: 2002). Buerger has aptly pointed out that the historical record demonstrates that not all members of the Twelve have received their second anointings. Fulness of the Priesthood, 41.


Autobiography of Benjamin F. Johnson, 94, Church Historical Department, as cited in The Holy Order, 6.


The Council of Fifty and Its Members, 5, referring to the journals of Franklin D. Richards and John Henry Smith (6/27/1882). This is true unless “the Church” was intended to refer to the Church of the Firstborn, in which case the journal entries should be interpreted the same as Benjamin F. Johnson’s statement.


Autumn Leaves 1:200 as cited in Origins 206 (endnote 107)(5/–/1888). Bathsheba similarly remembered that Joseph preached that the keys of the kingdom were for the purpose of detecting “everything false.” As quoted in Ehat’s Thesis, 31.


This is the consistent undercurrent of his article, The Council of Fifty and Its Members.


WWJ 5:549 tells us that Brigham Young was the president of the kingdom of God as well as the president of the Church.


As a tangential note, there is a fundamentalist Mormon organization that goes by the title “Church of the Firstborn.” The author is in no way arguing that this particular organization holds higher priesthood keys than the LDS Church – that would be outside the scope of this article. The author is only here referring to the Church of the Firstborn as used in the scriptures and throughout the historical record.


TPJS, 318 (7/23/1843). See also WJS, 234. For dates of these other ordinations, see the timeline at the end of the chapter. The reader may wish to observe thatthis language is reminiscent of the language used in temple anointing ceremonies.


HC 5:510.


HC 5:527 and WWJ 2:271 (8/6/1843). Because several men had been ordained as apostles at that time, the apostleship held by those men could not have included the fullness of the priesthood.


Wilford Woodruff may have made this connection. See WWJ (4/7/1889) where he claims that the president of the Church is the “highest office ever conferred upon any man in the flesh.” Wilford Woodruff was ordained a king and a priest in Nauvoo.


T&S 5:663. See also JD 1:133 where Brigham taught that Joseph was president of the Church by voice of the people but that Joseph “held the keys of the Priesthood, independent of their voice.” This similarly implies that keys held within the Church are distinguishable from the “keys of the Priesthood.” An unsigned affidavit of nine of the Twelve apostles also indicated that the Holy Order was a “quorum of high Priests” to which the Twelve belonged. See Joseph’s Quorum of Anointed, 77.

Sidney Rigdon only received “a small portion” of the temple ordinances (the first endowment). T&S 5:638, 666-67; JD 2:32. Consider also that, in accordance with D&C 90:6, Sidney Rigdon was “equal with [Joseph Smith] in holding the keys of this last kingdom” on March 18, 1833 (see also HC 1:329-331; 2:417; see also D&C 124:94-95 where Hyrum receives similar ordination). Ehat noted that “only twenty men alive at that time had received the anointings of the fullness of the priesthood. Perhaps this bit of exaggeration was intended to confuse the enemies of the Church.” Ehat’s Thesis, 227.


D&C 107:23; HC 5:410-11.

49 WWJ (4/7/1852); (8/15/1847); 4:118; 5:477 (highest authority in the Church and in the kingdom); UPR 79:77-78; JD 1:134-35; 2:310; 6:320; 19:124; MS 16:442.


Unless “office of authority” is different than “office,” Joseph Smith apparently disagreed with Brigham Young on this point. As outlined above, Joseph claimed that the “patriarchal office is the highest office in the church.” Holding to the teachings of the Doctrine and Covenants more strictly than the LDS Church did in Utah, Joseph’s administration recognized that the calling of the Twelve was to be “travelling ministers” in places outside of the jurisdiction of the Church. This had temporarily changed by Brigham Young’s time and thus the discrepancy may be understood by this change in priesthood administration. Brigham Young later admitted that it was out of order for the quorum of the twelve to administer in the Church rather than travelling abroad to preach to the gentiles. “Office of authority” may very well suggest the distinction made earlier. While a patriarch may be the highest office within the Church, that does not preclude another priesthood office (viz., an apostle) from having greater priesthood authority by virtue of membership in another organization.


While the conclusion is ultimately correct, it is illogical to base this conclusion on the evidence directly under consideration. Reflect upon the following, illogical argument with the same structure as the one found in the main text:

An alligator is a reptile. A > C An apostle holds all keys. A > C

An iguana is a reptile. B > C A K&P holds all keys. B > C

An alligator is an iguana. A = B An apostle is a K&P. A = B

If avoided once, this logical fallacy can appear more alluring if repeated. Consider again: An alligator is green. A > C An alligator has a tail. A > C

An iguana is a green. B > C An iguana has a tail. B > C

An alligator is an iguana. A = B An alligator is an iguana. A = B

While obvious in the reptilian argument, subtle distinctions found in the presentation of similar syllogisms found in the statements made by the early brethren make it more likely that this common logical fallacy will be made by some readers if those statements are not read very carefully. Nevertheless, the more repetitions of these syllogisms that are made, the more likely it is that the two nouns (alligator & iguana – or – apostle & king and priest) are actually synonymous terms.


John D. Lee similarly explained the authority of a king and a priest:


I was among the first to receive my washings and anointings, and even received my second anointing, which made me an equal in the order of the Priesthood, with the right and authority to build up the kingdom in all the earth, and power to fill any vacancy that might occur. I have officiated in all the different branches, from the highest to the lowest.

Mormonism Unveiled, 169

Note also that although the second anointing is given without any Church approval, knowledge, or vote, the power conferred in that second anointing includes the authority to build the kingdom – without public ordination. See also TPJS, 337; HC 7:235; WWJ (8/8/1844 & 8/14/1847); JD 1:134–35; Diary of Heber C. Kimball (12/26/1845); Conference Reports, 58-59 (4/–/1970); D&C 107:1-10; 84:63-64; 124:95, 97.

53 Letter to Sidney Rigdon (1/28/1845).

54 Ehat’s Thesis, 201-02. He concluded: “thus, any apostleship they [Rigdon and Amasa Lyman] might have received, they did not have the fullness of it.”

55 Whether Wilford Woodruff was here referring to high priests as having an apostleship – the same as he says elders have a portion of the apostleship – or whether he was here referring to the “high priesthood” that is equated with the fullness of the apostleship is not clear from the context. The former interpretation makes sense as the list of various apostleships appears to be organized in a descending order.

56 See also RLDSCH 1:546.

Minor edits for article form made by Ezra Taylor

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