John 17 and D&C 84

It was noted during study group last Friday that D&C 84:36-38 sounds a lot like Christ’s intercessory prayer as recorded in John 17. It appears to me as I read it this morning that there isn’t one particular verse or part of John 17 that sounds exactly like D&C 84, but that the general language is similar. What’s different in D&C 84 is the several-step progression from servants to Christ to the Father to eternal life. (Also, D&C 132 quotes John 17:3, but changes “eternal life” to “eternal lives.”)


The verses that sound the most similar to me are:

8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.


Still love this quotation…

“It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening [family devotional and together time]…These are the very practices that help take away stress.”
–Linda Reeves

Similarity in Matt 18, D&C 84, and Alma 13 — “those who receive”

I think the logic of Matthew 18 is similar to D&C 84 and Alma 13. In all three cases, there are two ways to receive God’s kingdom. You can become someone, or you can receive that someone:

Matthew 18:

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

D&C 84:

35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

 36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

 37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

 38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

Alma 13:

12 Now [those priests], after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many [priests], who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

 13 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.

(and) 6 And thus [those priests] being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest

A few notes from Study Group on D&C 84:39

  • The words “oath” and “covenant” from D&C 84:39 are clearly drawn from Hebrews, as any one in Joseph’s time would have recognized.
  • Note that God made oath and covenant, that it’s His (D&C 84:40). Not actually a covenant we make with God! This is one sided when it is made, and then we are told/asked to receive it.
  • D&C 132:22-25 are very worth looking at, as well as JST Genesis 14!
  • The language of confirmed is related to oaths and covenants in Bible.
  • Where else does “oath and covenant” come up together, as a phrase? In the Book of Mormon! But it always means oaths and covenants of robbers, bad secret society. Is the priesthood meant to be thought of as the “good” secret society? The one that counters the bad?
  • The consequence for breaking an oath or covenant in a bad secret society is usually death! Severe consequence. D&C 84:41 is also severe.
  • Interesting that it’s not about this life, as D&C 132 talks about (hard time this life, ok in next)
  • The good secret society. It is a fundamental change in how we relate to other people. [Tangent here about how even when we as Latter-day Saints don’t understand all that this gospel is or how deep and wonderful the covenants are, there is still a change in how we relate to others. There are all sorts of “fringe benefits”that come even from the watered-down version of things. And the real vision is still buried in there, still being carried along by the church members even though we don’t realize it.
  • Now, some notes/thoughts from what Don shared with us:
  • “According to” usually means we’re referring to something just talked about, or to something clearly established. This “accords” with that previous thing.
  • This seems to accord with Hebrews, which refers back to Psalms
  • But also, look at Gen 14 “order of the covenant” also “oath by himself”
  • JST Hebrews was worked on only 7 months earlier, and Joseph had just gone back through it about this time. So not only would the audience have thought about Hebrews, Joseph was thinking about Hebrews a lot during this time
  • Some sort of “everlasting covenant” talked about in stories of David and others but Hebrews might be only place in NT (Heb 13:20).
  • The JST of Hebrews 9 changes testament to covenant
  • JST Hebrews 7:19 adds “without an oath” Law was administered without an oath
  • JST Deut 10:2 adds “save words of everlasting covenant of priesthood” (second tablets did not have words of the covenant)
  • So with JST changes, Deut says law did not have words of covenant, and Hebrews says law did not have oath
  • D&C 84:25 God took Moses and priesthood out from them (=took words of covenant & no oath?)
  • Similar to 1 Ne 13 – took plain and precious from gospel, even many covenants. Then took from book.
  • D&C 132:19 – what is “it”?  everlasting covenant (later in 19: as hath been sealed upon their heads)
  • b/c everlasting covenant from JST Gen 14 = godhood, this makes sense.
  • D&C 132:19 and JST Gen 14 both use principalities and powers
  • D&C 84:42 “by mine own voice” also in JST Gen 14:29 and Hebrews (and Alma 13 – called)
  • Oaths – Hebrews talks about Abraham’s oath, and Christ’s priesthood oath
  • “confirm” talked about in Hebrews 7 and D&C 84:39-42
  • D&C 132:59 by mine own voice Aaron Hebrews also says called of God
  • back to covenants taken out: Covenant given to Adam etc, then missing until Abraham, then missing until Moses, then missing until Christ, then missing until Joseph Smith
  • covenant is received, as we emphasized earlier. Given by God, oath made by God. Receive covenant, receive oath, over and over. Alma 13, God ordains. God calls. D&C 84:40, D&C 66:  , D&C 132:27.
  • Consequences come after that is clear D&C 132:27, D&C 84:41
  • In 1831 office of high priest given, thought of as sealing lots of things, even sealing up to eternal life
  • D&C 84 was in 1832 developed, but think context of sealing up to eternal life
  • Joseph Smith’s later discourses, Moses’s people won’t accept last stage the gift of eternal life. Why did they reject? don’t know. D&C 84 says same thing didn’t want to enter God’s rest, see face to face. See discourses maybe March 1844
  • Receive everlasting covenant, not obey everlasting covenant.
  • Joseph Smith’s creativity with everything (laws on polygamy, etc.) may reflect his position of receiving this higher law and power, like Nephi (in Helaman), Enoch, etc. They had power to move rivers, mountains, create famines, etc.
  • did Joseph’s confidence come from lost 116 pages? God has many ways of doing His work, He is wise, I can’t ruin it, in for the ride

Oath & Covenant, which belongeth

I’m still perplexed by D&C 84:39 and what exactly this oath & covenant is. The language is so wonderfully elusive. It simply says that what comes before it is “according to” this oath and covenant, and then that this oath and covenant “belongs” to the priesthood.

In my latest reflections on this verse, I’ve been thinking through Hebrew’s assertion that the Aaronic priesthood does not need to be received with an oath and the Melchizedek priesthood does. If that is the case, then I think the language of “belonging” to the priesthood probably means that an oath & covenant is associated or belongs or is necessary for the Melchizedek priesthood. (That would also mean that “priesthood” here means Melchizedek priesthood.)

What I’ve gathered from the Hebrews Interpretation commentary is that that author is setting up a comparison between Christ as a Melchizedek figure and the current temple priesthood as Aaronic/Levitical. The Aaronic priesthood performs outward rituals that aren’t lasting (they need to be repeated) and their priesthood doesn’t go with them into the grave. But Christ, as a Melchizedek figure, performs rituals that are lasting (that only need to be performed once) and His priesthood does extend past the grave. The reason that last point is important is because when we extend past the grave, He is there as our priest to guide us back to the Father Himself.

The Interpretation commentary isn’t, of course, thinking of Melchizedek priesthood as a Mormon would. We don’t think of Christ and Melchizedek as uniquely holding the Melchizedek priesthood. The commentary gives the sense that Christ, as eternally holding the priesthood, was the last priest necessary. If He still holds it and officiates for us, why would any new priests be necessary? That’s what happens in the Aaronic priesthood, not the Melchizedek.

So, I’ve got to work around that idea when I read D&C 84. I think the section agrees with a lot of what the book of Hebrews says about Aaronic versus Melchizedek priesthood. Except, that Moses and others also had the Melchizedek priesthood. And, also, that they “sought diligently” to use that authority to bring their people into the presence of God while on earth, and not only when they passed beyond into the heavens.

When those are combined, what do we make of D&C 84:39? The previous verses talk about coming into the presence of God and receiving what God has. This sounds similar to what Hebrews says Christ can do because He is a high priest forever. (Because He is still our priest after death, He can take us to God Himself in the true temple — that is, in Heaven.) If that idea is what D&C 84 has in mind, then this idea is being applied to any person with Melchizedek priesthood. Those who receive God’s servants who have this priesthood can also enter into God’s presence. And this promise is according to oath & covenant of the priesthood, which promises this priesthood will last forever.


Alma 12/13/14 themes


12:21 Antionah asks “what does the scripture mean, which saith…”

13:1 “I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests” (can’t literally remember the event; must refer to event as recorded in their scriptures)

13:20 “Behold the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.”

14:1 “many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures”

14:8 “and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also”

Faith/repentance/holy works/state to act

12:30 “and this he made known unto them according to their faith and repentance and their holy works.”

12:31 “being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good–“

12:32 “God gave unto them commandments…that they should no do evil”

13:3 “on account of their exceeding faith and good works”

13:3 “in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceeding great faith”

13:10 “and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish”

13:18 “Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people…”


12:31 “he gave commandments unto men, they having first transgressed the first commandments…”

12:32 “Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil”

12:37 “that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us in these his second commandments”

13:1 “to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children” / “ordained priests…to teach these things” (=commandments?)

13:6 “called…ordained…to teach his commandments”


12:21 “God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden”

12:19 “he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory”

13:22 “and the voice of the Lord, by the mouth of angels, doth declare it unto all nations”

13:24 “angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land”

13:25 “we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angles, of his coming”

13:26 “And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming”


13:3 “being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God”

13:7 “this high priesthood…being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things”

(also maybe talk of prepared and plans, such as 12:30,33, 13:3, 13:5)

-Not really a theme per se, but it would be curious to look at this whole story as Alma subtly trying to say that their leaders are oppressing them in the way they are teaching the people. Note that the leaders seem to be using the scriptures to teach (12:21) but by 14:8 the leaders are burning the scriptures. A scripturally literate people seem to be a threat to their leadership. Or you could say that the power of interpretation of scripture is on display here!

Hypothetical Situation: What if there were a book called something like “Recent Discourses on Priesthood”?

If a book were to be published containing discourses on priesthood from the past ten years of General Conference and BYU addresses, what would be included?

My first thought is that they would mostly be Sister Beck and Dallin H. Oaks! Here are the talks that come to mind:

Elder Oaks (2005): Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church:

Elder Oaks (2014): The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood:

Elder Oaks (2010): Two Lines of Communication:

Sister Beck (2012): Why We Are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies:

Sister Beck (2012): Opening Session of BYU’s Women’s Conference:

Sister Beck (2010): Our Spiritual Gifts and Connection to the Priesthood – Episode 7:

What else comes to your mind?


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