Inspired by this other question which asks about how there are quite a few priests in the Mormon church.

In my case most (if not all) of the Mormons that I have met all had a lapel that identified them as an "elder" (which, according to this Wikipedia article seems to be a different position than "priest").

Also this other question seems to indicate that an LDS ward (congregation) can also have quite a few elders.

  1. Is "elder" a separate official position from "priest" and if so, how are they different?
  2. Are these two positions mutually exclusive or can a person be officially both?
  • Elders hold a higher order Priesthood, or the Melchizedek Priesthood while priests hold the Aaronic or preparatory Priesthood.
    – JBaczuk
    Feb 2, 2018 at 5:42

2 Answers 2


Elder is an official position different from that of a priest. It should be noted that every most elders are also a priest (they are still a priest after becoming an elder). A priest is usually ordained an elder after 1 year or when the priest turns 18, if all gos wells.

The office of priest is an office in the Aaronic Priesthood. The office of elder is an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood (which is an extension of the Aaronic Priesthood).

Here are the duties of a priest (D&C 20:46-52)

46 The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament,

47 And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.

48 And he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons.

49 And he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present;

50 But when there is an elder present, he is only to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize,

51 And visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.

52 In all these duties the priest is to assist the elder if occasion requires.

Here are the duties of an elder (D&C 20:38-45)

38 The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ—An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize;

39 And to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons;

40 And to administer bread and wine—the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ—

41 And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures;

42 And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church;

43 And to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost;

44 And to take the lead of all meetings.

45 The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God.

A worthy priest can baptize, confer the Aaronic priesthood and ordain men to offices in the Aaronic priesthood and participate in any position in the sacrament.

A worthy elder can bestow the gift of the holy ghost (after someone is baptized), confer the Melchizedek priesthood, ordain men to the office of elder in the Melchizedek priesthood, give priesthood blessings and consecrate and/or dedicate oil, graves, and homes, as well as do anything a priest can do.

They are both are bound by the Covenant of the Priesthood. Elders are also bound the oath.

Also certain elders use the term "Elder" as a title (for example, general authorities and missionaries). Most elders do not though, but are still elders.

  • @Joshua well, that's what I meant when I said "can do anything a priest can do" unless you meant the aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood separate from the offices. Feb 2, 2018 at 18:34
  • 1
    @Joshua Okay, I think its fixed now. Feb 3, 2018 at 3:18
  • Do you have a source for the claim that every elder is also a priest? A person can be ordained an elder without having ever been a priest (this is less common for the living, but is standard practice when doing work for the dead). Also, the link in your answer for Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood contradicts your statement that the oath and covenant of the priesthood apply to both Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. Feb 4, 2018 at 7:40
  • @SamuelBradshaw, hmm, I couldn't find a source. I thought that being an elder automatically included being a priest (in the same way that the Aaronic Priesthood is a subset of the Melchizedek Priesthood), but I couldn't find a source. Feb 5, 2018 at 0:27

Elder is an office in the priesthood and also a title. Men who hold the office of elder are not addressed as "Elder" unless they are serving in some sort of full-time capacity or are set apart for a special calling like an area or general authority. The missionaries you meet have name tags for convenience, and since they are full-time and set apart for a special priesthood calling, they are called Elder and then their name.

Elders are a separate office from priest. There are two priesthoods: Aaronic and Melchizedek. The Aaronic priesthood is sometimes called the lower priesthood. It is the priesthood that was conferred upon Moses and that was had upon the Israelites. Its primary duties relate tothe physical care of the church. Priest is the highest office in the Aaronic priesthood, which carries all the responsibilities of the lower offices too. (Actually, "Bishop" might be the highest office in the Aaronic priesthood, but a Bishop is currently only ordained to lead a congregation and to minister to their temporal needs and give counsel, etc. This one is an odd office because, well, maybe better suited for another question...)

Elder is the most common office held in the Melchizedek priesthood. It's duties are spiritual, but also comprises all those of the Aaronic priesthood if no Aaronic priesthood holder is present. Elders can give blessings of comfort and counsel, as well as healing. The Melchizedek priesthood was held by the apostles during and shortly after Christ's ministry.

Again, I'm mobile, but if you want elaboration or clarification or references just let me know! It'll be good study practice...

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