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From my understanding, LDS teach that Aaron appeared to Joseph Smith and reestablished the Aaronic priesthood.

The two divisions of priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the Aaronic and the Melchizedek. -source-

The Aaronic priesthood was handed down by bloodline.

And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office. Exo 30:30

In addition, the book of Hebrews speaks of the necessity of the Aaronic priesthood as not needed any longer. Things changed.

If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. Heb 7:11-12

In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Heb 8:13

So, given the Aaronic priesthood was handed down generationally by bloodline and has ended (vanished), how do LDS explain their Aaronic priesthood?

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    What needs explanation, specifically, is that Joseph and Oliver then baptized each other and ordained each other to the Aaronic Priesthood How could the first one (whichever it was) ordain anyone before he, himself, was ordained ? Nor could it be done simultaneously because then, neither was ordained and neither could ordain another. I wonder if there is more detail available that I have not yet been told of.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 23 at 15:26
  • @NigelJ think you may have meant this as a comment to my answer, have updated my answer to address this
    – depperm
    Mar 23 at 17:01

1 Answer 1

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the Aaronic Priesthood was restored not by Aaron but John the Baptist

In answer to their prayer, John the Baptist, under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood, saying, “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, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (Doctrine and Covenants 13:1). Following John’s instructions, Joseph and Oliver then baptized each other and ordained each other to the Aaronic Priesthood (see Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72.)


To explain Joseph and Oliver then baptized each other and ordained each other: When Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic priesthood, it was conferred upon them slightly different than we practice today. John the Baptist conferred the priesthood upon them, but he did not ordain them to an office. Rather, they were given all the keys of that priesthood, not only the ones pertaining to an office. You may also notice that while the Aaronic priesthood was restored on May 15, 1829, the office of priest as we know it was not fully defined until April of 1830.

So, the authority to baptize each other was given to them when they received all of the rights, powers, and authorities of the Aaronic priesthood. It wasn’t until later that the offices were defined that limit the authority of a person to exercise that priesthood.1


The Aaronic priesthood is prepatory priesthood to Melchizedek.

The Aaronic Priesthood is “an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:14). As a priesthood holder serves in the Aaronic Priesthood, he prepares to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, to receive the blessings of the temple, to serve a full-time mission, to be a loving husband and father, and to continue in lifelong service to the Lord.

Hebrews 7 is about superiority of Melchizedek priesthood, not that Aaronic as not needed:

The Melchizedek Priesthood brings exaltation and administers the gospel—It is received with an oath and covenant—The superiority of the Melchizedek Priesthood over the Aaronic Priesthood is explained—Salvation comes through the intercession of Christ.

Hebrews 8:13 is talking about the passing away of the law of Moses not the Aaronic Priesthood.

See Also:

1 The Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, Conferring the Priesthood and Ordaining to an Office (See #3 and 4, second list)

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