Literal descendants of Aaron have a legal right to Aaronic priesthood:

"No man has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this priesthood, except he be a literal descendant of Aaron." (D&C 107:16)

If a literal descendant of Aaron were to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints–supposing they could trace their lineage–would they need to be ordained with the Aaronic Priesthood, or would the church recognize their legal right to it?

  • 2
    +1 for a great question! I don't have an answer with sources to back up an answer, but in my opinion as a member of the LDS church, yes, the church would recognize the legal right to the Aaronic Priesthood. The scripture you point out is what I would point you to for an answer if you asked this without the passage
    – staples
    Nov 6, 2014 at 15:32
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    Should probably clarify that "this office" in the scripture you quoted is specifically talking about bishops.
    – user23
    Nov 6, 2014 at 19:39
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    Seeing that any worthy man can/will nowadays receive the aaronic priesthood, and that a hypothetical unworthy descendant of Aaron is probably still unworthy of the priesthood, I would say the question makes more sense if you ask about the office of the bishop (of which it is talked of here). Note also that it is the bishop that holds the keys of the aaronic priesthood and in absence of a literal descendant of Aaron, the bishop needs to be a high priest (office in the melchizedek priesthood). A literal descendant could be bishop without the melchizidek priesthood.
    – kutschkem
    Nov 19, 2014 at 11:16
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    "unworthy descendant of Aaron is probably still unworthy of the priesthood" How do you know? It's their birthright, they are born with the priesthood.
    – ShemSeger
    Nov 19, 2014 at 14:42
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    @JustinY - Does that mean a Levite would have the legal right to be the Bishop of whatever ward he joined?
    – ShemSeger
    Nov 19, 2014 at 14:44

3 Answers 3


D&C 107:16 is part doctrine, part prophesy.

The administration of the Aaronic Priesthood doesn't operate by lineage now, but it will one day.

Although the Aaronic Priesthood is conferred in the Church today without restriction to the lineage of Aaron, the keys of this priesthood rightly belong to the firstborn of the seed of Aaron, and in the restoration of all things the office of bishop (president of the priests) will once again be conferred on one of that lineage, as it is designated by revelation to the president of the Church (D&C 84:14–21; 107:13–17).

Bible Dictionary, Aaronic Priesthood

This is part of the more general "Restoration of the Gospel", following the apostasy of the Original Church.

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Acts 3:20-21 (emphasis added)

While this restitution/restoration is often ascribed to events in the 1830s -- like the formation of the LDS Church -- it actually began long before then, and is not yet over.


There are a lot of rumors and unsupported assumption surrounding this topic. Here's what we actually know.

The office to which a literal decendant of Aaron is entitled is that of Presiding Bishop. It has nothing to do with the office of Bishop over any given Ward. The calling (of Presiding Bishop) comes through the First Presidency, not through the office of Patriarch normally associated with declaring lineage. The only thing that the rumors got right was that the individual need not call counsellors. "Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:259."

As for holding the Aaronic priesthood, a decendant of Aaron would still have to be ordained. He isn't born with the priesthood. By birth he has the right to the priesthood, not the priesthood itself. To date we have not had any such decendant of Aaron identified and set apart but we believe it will happen.


My experience is the church does not acknowledge the literal sons of Aaron at all. My husband is a literal son of Aaron and keeps his covenants with God; yet, this has not granted him his legal right (D&C107:76) so far.


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