Doctrine and Covenants 84:19-24, Keys and Priesthood Robes

19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

The word key is intriguing in relation to priesthood is intriguing. Priesthood “holdeth the key.” This leads me to reflect on the “keys” held in our hands and pockets on a daily basis. Without the right keys, there is no dependable access into the spaces in which we live, travel, and attend to life and so many of its joys and responsibilities. A lost key is an obvious stalemate we remedy as soon as possible.

Of course, urgent efforts to regain keys depend upon my recognizing when a key is out of our possession, such as a key to a new apartment I have yet to move into, my misplaced car key in the morning, or a broken mailbox key when bills are expected.

Yet, what if there are additional locks and keys I am ignorant of? What if I have misplaced, or am actually oblivious to keys that would reshape patterns of life?—like a mysterious PO box addressed in my name, an unknown ancestral home, or a forgotten chest in Grandma’s attic. Messages, treasures, and relationships are left undiscovered. To me this seems analogous to what was experienced by the descendents of Moses and Aaron. It is tragic that they lost keys for generations that left them spiritually impoverished relative to the precious covenants and knowledge they could have enjoyed.

Question: What might be included in the “mysteries of the kingdom”? How are these mysteries unlocked; what does this look like in real life?

Some thoughts: In terms of discovering the “mysteries” of earthly kingdoms (human culture, nature, etc), we require keys to facilitate many of our learning experiences. I think of three basic kinds of objects key under lock and key: 1) Keys open pathways/gates (such as garden paths, hikes, and even roads). 2) Keys open containers/receptacles with information and archives inside, such as a filing cabinet (I think of my own cedar chest, which I fill with handmade things from Grandmothers and family history documents). 3) Keys also open buildings and other spaces designated for us to connect, work, learn, and socialize with other.

There are multitude of ways physical keys provide access to knowledge, relationships, and experiences. Relative to this, I imagine that tongue cannot tell the full extent of the learning experiences and joys to be opened by the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. I believe that many of the experiences of endowed members are related to the revelatory power of these keys in ways we do not yet fully understand.

20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

Question: Are the ordinances “the mysteries of the kingdom?” I take this first part, “Therefore, in the ordinances thereof,” to mean that the ordinances are opened with the key of priesthood, and are thus that ordinances are identified as the mysteries referred to in verse 19. This verse challenges what I just suggested about the mysteries being very inclusive to many kinds of spiritual and learning experiences. Should “the mysteries of God” and “the knowledge of God” be precisely defined as that which is revealed and conferred in the administration of gospel ordinances?

The ordinances are prescriptive for life and salvation. But are there non-prescriptive ways outside the ordinances themselves God’s mysteries are unlocked specifically through the Melchezidek priesthood, and if how are the keys working and unlocking knowledge of God and His mysteries in our lives? Do faithful women who have received the ordinances of the gospel unlock God’s mysteries on a regular basis?

21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

Question: What is the “power of godliness” and how is it manifest to us while in our mortal bodies through the priesthood?

Some thoughts: I’ve been pondering how there are many undertones surrounding connections between pure, never ending, all-enduring love and God’s priesthood in this revelation. The power of godliness is manifest through the Lord’s discouragement-immune efforts to sanctify human beings and provide opportunities for them to know him, understand precious truths from the past, and to help past generations to be redeemed. After centuries, the Lord is still mindful of peoples, and mercifully restoring their rights to be near him. God’s perfect love is directly manifest in the ordinances through cleansing power, expressions of forgiveness, and precious promises of eternal joy, righteousness, relationships, health, and life.

22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

I once heard a former temple president of the Taipei Taiwan mission share how “falling down” experiences are part of Buddhist traditions. When sacred, superior beings unexpectedly appear, humans fall down (this reminds me of the falling down that occurs to King Lamoni and his household and Ammon in Alma 19-20). He went on to suggest that perhaps one reason why we need to practice being embraced by God and passing into His presence repeatedly in the temple is so that when we do enter His presence, we will stand without falling.

Verse 22 sheds light on the endowment. Being enrobed in the priesthood makes our safe passage into the veil possible. This leads me into thoughts about how charity and priesthood are somewhat synonymous when we cross reference scriptural passages. We are to clothe ourselves with charity as with a mantle (D&C 88:125), imagery similar to putting on the robes of priesthood. Charity, like priesthood, is also something that is promised to endure with us forever (Moroni 7:47). It seems to me that to be clothed fully in priesthood is to be fully clothed in charity. We learn in Doctrine and Covenants 121 that the doctrines of the priesthood distill upon us as we let our “bowels be filled with charity toward all men” (see vs. 41-45)

23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

A softened heart and wiliness to embrace the truth that we need the priesthood to become clean and spiritually worthy seem to be the basic things the Lord needs of us. A contrite heart and willingness to “observe covenants by sacrifice” are what make us fully acceptable before God, and qualify us to embark on the journey to sanctification (D&C 97:8).

It is interesting that the Lord’s presence is to the unsanctified is a place of great intensity, danger, and unrest (even death), while to the sanctified, it is promised as the quintessential form of rest.

Another possible question: How do we experience the Lord’s rest while in the wilderness in our lives? How do we enter his rest before being fully sanctified and within his presence?

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21 Comments

Filed under D&C 84

21 responses to “Doctrine and Covenants 84:19-24, Keys and Priesthood Robes

  1. This comment will only address your first question (in part because that’s what I’ve left myself time for tonight, and in part because it gave me a lot to think about!).

    First, the idea of “holding” keys really struck me. It’s not that the priesthoodis the key. It holds the key. I don’t have much more to say about that yet but I want to keep my finger on that.

    I liked all your thoughts on keys. “Dependable access” was a fantastic word choice. What better way to describe a priesthood order? Any individual can cross the boundaries of earth and heaven whenever God decides to let them do so. But what the priesthood order and prophet-figures like Moses or Abraham or Joseph give us is “dependable access.” And I guess that’s because they actually hold a key (rather than only accessing heaven when they are surprised by a glorious visitor in their bedroom at 2 am).

    Further, I was thinking about how we mortals have keys precisely because we are not always in those places that mean the most to us. We are not always at home, at the office, in a car, etc., and so we use a key to seal them up when we are not there or using it. Does that bear on this at all? If we were always home, then we would not need a key to keep someone out or to welcome someone in. Likewise, perhaps prophets (etc.) are those who are not dwelling in heaven yet, and so need a key to enter and allow others to enter.

    Finally, I also really liked the “forgotten chest in Grandma’s attic.” The concept of something belonging to us, yet without the key to open and receive it, is a perfect way to think about this, Candice! So many nice images in your post (and I’m only through the first question!). This helps me think about those who are literal descendants and have a “legal” right to priesthood power, and yet need those with keys to authorize them to use their priesthood power. They basically have a locked chest which legally belongs to them, but they can’t open it and use it without the right key. Beautiful.

    I look forward to reading more and hope to get to it soon. Thanks for the post Candice!

  2. Candice

    Karen, thank you for these thoughts! This idea about the fact that we need keys because we are not always there at home, etc., and not everyone should enter seems really valuable to me in light of priesthood keys. Our errands as disciples– missionary work, visiting other saints, family history and temple work require physical journeys and leaving home. We continually go back and forth between home and the wilderness, and this is made possible and safe by the blessings and protection of priesthood and authority. Nephi and his brothers took a journey into the wilderness, and then were sent back home for and errand, then journeyed back to their father’s tent, and then went on a long journey to create a new home. Nephi’s faith was such that he did access the revelation and strength he needed to symbolically “open” (as if with keys from the Lord) each of the following spaces: Laban’s house and records, his father’s tent, the wilderness, and then the promised land. You could say discipleship is designed to fulfill both our longing for home, and adventure!

    The idea of travelling/moving with priesthood keys also works on the spiritual level of how our souls makes journeys through repentance and learning. Keys unlock repentance and the virtues of Christ. Here’s a small example of a something I experienced a little bit like a “key.” I was recently reading when Moroni teaches that all who are true followers of Christ are and will be bestowed with charity, the pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:48). For me, this unlocked how charity does not fail in that it is promised to all disciples, and will not fail to arrive and fill our souls.

    The idea of keeping people out with keys suggest the need for spiritual protection and safeguarding. I think of how the temple garment both protects us and is key to approaching the Lord’s presence.

  3. jennywebb

    Candice, you’ve got a lot of great imagery here—and I like the ways you’ve tied that imagery to direct questions.

    Thinking about the priesthood as holding “the key of the mysteries of the kingdom” which is equated with “the key of the knowledge of God”: I’m wondering what happens if we flip the emphasis of these phrases? By that, I mean, it seems like we’re reading “the key of the mysteries of the kingdom” as a key that somehow opens the mysteries of the kingdom. But what if we read that first “of” as *from* or *of a part of*? So it’s a key that is constituted by the mysteries, rather than opening the mysteries? Or a key constituted by the knowledge of God, rather than opening the knowledge of God? How would this reading affect the relationship of the key to the priesthood?

    Verse 19 gives two roles to the priesthood: administering the gospel and holding the keys. We commonly refer to these keys as the priesthood keys (meaning that they belong to the priesthood), but I’m not convinced that this verse, at least, supports this interpretation. (I’m also not doing a great job making this coherent, in part because I’m still mulling things over in my head. Sorry!)

    I think what I’m trying to say is that there’s a difference between saying that the priesthood holds [i.e., wields] a key that opens (for example) the knowledge of God and saying that the priesthood holds [i.e., receives] a key *from* the knowledge of God. In the second inflection, we’re not at all clear what they key opens (and conversely, the priesthood is correspondingly about humility and reception rather than an active turning).

    I think it’s worth pushing our ideas of what these keys are further, in part because I think it makes a real difference to how we read the connection between the priesthood and the first action given to the priesthood in verse 19: administering the gospel. If we have a more “active” understanding of what it means to hold the key, then administering the gospel also reflects that “active” orientation: holding, turning, unlocking, opening, etc. But if we have a more “passive/receptive” understanding of what it means to hold the key (to hold then is more like to bear with, to receive, perhaps even to guard or protect? but in terms of a staying with rather than a pushing out), then administering the gospel again also reflects that more “passive/receptive” orientation.

    I’m still definitely mulling this all over, but I’m excited we’re here, because I feel like our discourse about “keys” generally seems to assume that we know and understand what we’re talking about. But I, at least, nearly always feel less secure that I understand what Joseph was getting at through his use of the term “key” in connection with the priesthood.

    More soon! Thank you Candice for providing great material to think and work through these verses with!

    • With a little more time tonight, I’m working more carefully through your comment, Jenny. I’m thinking about your idea that maybe “it’s a key that is constituted by the mysteries, rather than opening the mysteries?” In other words, perhaps the mysteries are the very thing which opens something or someplace? That’s an intriguing reading! I think that’s definitely worth riddling out some more!

      I think I am in agreement that it’s totally possible to read verse 19 as saying that this key is separate from the priesthood; it isn’t a key of the priesthood. Rather, God has chosen to assign that key to the greater priesthood. At least, that’s how I’m reading it right now. 🙂

      I think that is an important beginning point to think about keys. A while back, I began a chart of all the different kinds of keys talked about in the scriptures. I couldn’t believe how many different and specific keys there were! Key of the bottomless pit, key of the house of David, keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim, and so on. I think it’s significant that Joseph Smith talked about all those with keys returning them to Christ. I think that fits with Candice’s imagery quite well: Christ dwells in Heaven and has sovereignty over every aspect of this earth’s existence, but He chooses to give keys to some of His disciples so they can go into the world and bring others to His kingdom. In other words, the keys aren’t things the priesthood order has by virtue of being the priesthood order, keys are specific assignments God chooses to give to certain people or orders of people for a certain task. Those keys can be given to other people and in the end will be turned in. In that sense, I like the idea that God is active and the priesthood members are passive; priesthood keys are received assignments.

      However, I’m still mulling over most of the active vs. passive ideas you’ve brought up, Jenny — I’ll have to keep thinking and get back to that soon!

      • jennywebb

        Karen, that’s really helpful to think of keys as specific assignments. Pushing it further (and returning to the original language of verse 19), we could then read “the key of the mysteries of the kingdom” and “the key of the knowledge of God” in the following way:

        1. The mysteries of the kingdom constitute a key. When the mysteries of the kingdom are received by an individual through ordinance/covenant, as part of that proces, said individual receives specific assignments. Specific assignments are specific not in terms of necessarily being personalized, but rather in terms of having a specific telos.

        2. The knowledge of God constitutes a key. When the knowledge of God (and I think this works for both “knowing God” and “knowing what God knows”) is received by an individual through ordinance/covenant, as part of that process, said individual receives specific assignments. Etc.

        I don’t know if this is too convoluted; it might be too forced to be any good. Thinking …

  4. I’m very excited to think through “keys” as well Jenny!

    There are three parts of verse 19: “greater priesthood,” “the gospel,” and the “key of the mysteries of the kingdom.” I think a lot of what follows is determined by how we see the relationship between these terms, so I’m trying to look at the following verses to help me see if these are three separate terms or whether they can be equated or grouped. I think the “thereof” in verse 20 is a first clue.

    Verse 20 has this phrase “in the ordinances thereof” — but I think it is unclear what the “thereof” referring back to. It could be referring back to any of the three terms from verse 19. Are we talking about the ordinances of the greater priesthood? The ordinances of the gospel? Or the ordinances of the mysteries of the kingdom? I think Candice’s reading favors the last of these options, and I like how that follows an older meaning of the word “mystery” as a sacred right.

    The word “and” in verse 21 gives me another clue. It says, “without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood.” That “and” inclines me to see ordinances and priesthood as separate (though here it is “authority of the priesthood,” which might make things more complicated than I’m realizing right now). If the ordinances were connected directly to the priesthood, I think it would say “ordinances of the priesthood” or “the priesthood and the ordinances thereof” to match the language of verses 19-20. The fact that there is an “and” makes me inclined to separate ordinances and priesthood.

    But that leaves open both the possibility that the ordinances are of the gospel or that the ordinances are of the mysteries.

    The “therefore” of verse 20 is my last clue. The word “therefore” implies a cause and effect; whatever is contained in verse 19 results in something. It’s like the elements of verse 19 combine in some chemical reaction and the result is “the power of godliness is manifest.” That word “therefore” strongly inclines me against seeing the power of godliness as being directly associated with any one element of verse 19. I think I would read things this way: The greater priesthood both administers the gospel and holds the keys to the mysteries of the kingdom, and therefore the power of godliness is made manifest.

    I think from here, I can’t quite say why, but I’m inclined to say that the ordinances are ordinances of the gospel. Then the idea is that the ordinances of the gospel are administered by the greater priesthood, and when that greater priesthood is also given the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom, then those ordinances result in the power of godliness being manifest?

    I have some further thoughts on keys of the mysteries that I’ll throw in here before I have to stop to get kids breakfast —

    The words “keys of the mysteries of the kingdom” are followed-up by the words “even the key of the knowledge of God.” The mysteries are simply that which gives knowledge of God? Or, is this a specification: of all the mysteries, the specific one given through this key is the knowledge of God?

    I find it interesting that later, it says that Moses’s people could not “endure [God’s] presence,” and therefore God “swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness.” Could we read this as saying that Moses’s people could not endure the “knowledge of God,” and therefore could not enter “the kingdom”? Is the knowledge of God necessary for entry into the kingdom? Is it a first key given so that we can receive more of the mysteries of the kingdom?

    Obviously just some half-baked thoughts this morning. Thanks for the conversation and I hope to get more time to work on it soon!

    • jennywebb

      Karen, I think that I agree with your reading of “ordinances” here–we often speak casually of things like “priesthood ordinances” or “temple ordinances,” but I think such designations are potentially problematic because they link the ordinance to the context in which they occur and subtly encourage that context to become seen as provenance. But the true provenance of any true ordinance is going to be God, no? So all ordinances, no matter the context they occur in, are actually ordinances of the gospel–ordinances that result from making and keeping covenants with God.

  5. I’m finally weighing in! I’m sorry for such a long delay. Thanks, Candice, for a really lovely post. I’ll echo Jenny and commend your imagery–it was thought-provoking and really lovely all around.

    My comments are all really brief responses to various ideas that have emerged in the conversation thus far, so I think I’ll combine them all into one comment here for the sake of simplicity.

    First, to Jenny’s idea that “of” could mean something like “constituted by”–So. Fun. That’s a really productive way of breaking us out of the typical interpretation of these verses. I’m not entirely sold on it, though, simply because it leaves us with no clue what the key is opening (as you point out) and leaves me at a kind of dead end in terms of thinking further about these verses. I’m also not entirely sure that it jives with the way Joseph spoke about keys.

    In fact, what I want to play with is the idea that we think of keys here less in terms of metal rods that open doors and more in terms of an “answer key” to a test–something like a cipher. D&C 129:9 leads me in that direction, anyway. Does that open up any new possibilities?

    Second, to Karen’s important point about the “and” in v. 21, and how this may suggest that the “ordinances thereof” probably refers to the mysteries or the gospel and not the priesthood: I love it, but I’m not sold. I can’t get away from the grammar here, and I just don’t see how “thereof” could point to anything other than the subject of the passage, which is “this greater priesthood” (v. 19). If that’s the case (and I’m still not entirely sure about this–I’m not terribly good at grammar…), we may want to think about why v. 21 mentions “the priesthood” as a whole and not just “the greater priesthood” we’re talking about in this passage. That is, perhaps v. 21 ought to read something like “without the ordinances of the greater priesthood, and the authority of the priesthood [as a whole?], the power of godliness is not manifest…”

    Also: what’s up with the “power of godliness?” Do v. 22-24 define this as seeing God’s face (the “For” at the beginning of v. 22 might lead in that direction)? If so, how might we think about the tension between the noun-adverb-noun of God-ly-ness as opposed to the simple noun “God” in the following verse? The fact that this “power” is only “manifest” to men rather than given to them, or some such thing, suggests that the power belongs to God. But then why call it the “power of godliness” instead of simply “the power of God?” Etc.

    And perhaps I’ll have further questions in the future. It might just take me a month to get them posted! 🙂

    • jennywebb

      Man, Kim, we can’t seem to sell you anything! 🙂 Seriously though, I agree that reading key as some sort of “answer key” is a productive way to look at the text. For example, verse 19 (“key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God”) very much lends itself to this type of reading, given the epistemological themes.

      I’m just going to throw it out there though that I’m not giving up completely on the “of” as “constituted by” reading. I certainly don’t think it’s the one and only way to read things here (in fact, I think it would be an error to read it solely in those terms), but I do think that it’s worthwhile to keep in mind. We obviously don’t have any clear, cut and dried definition of what a “key” is. We know something about its identity (what it’s related to), and we know something about its orientation (what it answers to). So I think it’s still possible that, for example, the key of they mysteries of the kingdom could be a thing constituted by or from the mysteries of the kingdom itself, and thus *able* to serve as the “answer key” that then “unlocks” these very mysteries.

      In other words, I want to keep that possibility open because it allows for a theme Joseph brings up again and again: uniting heaven and earth (i.e., sealing).

      Say, hypothetically, the only way to understand A while living in B is to bring at least a bit of A into B itself (B + A = A; something that holds if A is infinite). The trick is figuring out how to name A while in B (A exceeds B’s nominal categories). So Joseph tends to rely on a combination of symbolism, ritual, and translation (in the broad sense) in order to attempt to bridge the gap. (See D&C 128, for example.)

      Thus, in his discussion of priesthood keys here, I see him following this same pattern: identify something (“the key of the mysteries of the kingdom”) and then lay alongside it an additional identity that allows for itself to be read as synonymous with the first item (“the key of the knowledge of God”). Given this linguistic patterning and its resonance with his patterns of repetition (his repetition of the same thing with a difference), I think Joseph is trying to figure out how to talk about something that is precisely not temporal, but eternal (I know, I know, of course priesthood as the power of God is not temporal—we *know* that, but don’t always take into consideration how this effects our ability to talk about / understand it). And give Joseph’s evolving understanding of how to unite heaven and earth (through sealing), I think it’s worth leaving the possibility for the “constituted by” reading in place, precisely because it would be *through* such constitution that the priesthood keys would then be able to function as some sort of “answer key.”

      Sorry this is incredibly convoluted … still thinking (obviously!) about all of this!

      • That helped a lot Jenny. You’ve got a very strong reading here and I’m just trying to make my brain catch on all the way. The idea of B+A=A, because A is infinite, helped a lot! I’m going to work back through your comment again now. Thanks for the careful work here!

        • The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary has some definitions that might be very helpful for thinking this idea more:

          “6. An index, or that which serves to explain a cypher. Hence,

          7. That which serves to explain any thing difficult to be understood.”

          There are more definitions too of course but these ones seemed particularly close to what Jenny and Kim have been working on. An index in a book, or even a key on a map, is something that takes parts of the book or map and then organizes them in a way that helps you understand the book or map as a whole. Is that a helpful way to think about this Jenny?

          Also, this definition caught my attention:
          “5 In music, the key or key note, is the fundamental note or tone, to which the whole piece is accommodated, and with which it usually begins and always ends.”

          Would that open up any interesting possibilities? Is the priesthood the key note in any sense? What about the sealing power of the priesthood, which, as Jenny pointed out, is something Joseph re-explains and repeats in various ways. Is that binding power the essence of the priesthood, and could that binding power be the key-note of the mysteries of the kingdom?

          And in what other ways could this definition be helpful?

          (I’m going to pass on the OED definitions via email this morning, too)

      • Actually, I think you’ve managed to sell me on this. “Of” = “constituted by” is an incredibly productive reading. It just took me thinking of “keys” differently before I was on board. I love this comment! I think we’re on to something.

  6. Kim, your reference to D&C 129:9 has got me on a hunt — I’m going to go through references to keys, seal, mysteries, and so forth and think this one through. I had never thought to read key that way in any other spot but D&C 129, but I’m going to explore that idea thoroughly!

    Also, I’ve also been struck by the question: why “godliness” instead of just “power of God”? What is godliness, exactly? Candice your thoughts on charity helped open some ideas for me, because I’ve never really been able to put some content to that word before. As we go forward, we probably ought to pay close attention to 2 Timothy 3:5 (“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”) as well as JS-H 1:19.

    I’ll go get searching on keys for a bit!

    • jennywebb

      Karen, “godliness” versus “power of God” is exactly the question we should be asking here, no? What does it mean to say that the ordinances of the priesthood manifest the power of godliness?

      That priesthood ordinances, when performed, display godliness?
      That they show how powerful godliness is?
      That they themselves somehow demonstrate or embody godliness?
      That they prove / validate the power of godliness?

      How are all these changed if we replace “power of godliness” with “power of God”?

      I think the focus shifts from God to man somewhere in here. That is, if we use the phrase “the power of God,” then the priesthood ordinances tell us more about God, however we parse the phrase: we see his power performed, we see how powerful he is, etc.

      But the phrase “the power of godliness” lets us shift the focus to the ways in which we, as human beings, can be like God. The priesthood ordinances then show us our potential godliness, our potential to act, say, and do the things God would?

      • I think this sentence is right on, Jenny, and for me the beginning place to go further: But the phrase “the power of godliness” lets us shift the focus to the ways in which we, as human beings, can be like God.

        When I looked around scripture, the word “godliness” is often included in a list of attributes we should be working on, such as in D&C 4:6. But it isn’t even the crowning attribute, just one of them in a list! So it seems like it has had this vague idea of “do the things God would do” — as if all we’re saying is “be good and help people and don’t sin.” 🙂 So I think perhaps this verse in D&C 84:19 is trying to break that word out of its usual place and do something more with it. And I think that we have to think a lot about what the Restoration adds to our knowledge of who God is, what He does, etc., and then think about what it means to act like God.

        And we have to ask all those questions you listed Jenny, about what it means to say that the ordinances of the priesthood manifest the power of godliness.

    • jennywebb

      One more thought. I’ve been trying to think about the right way to phrase this. Basically, one reading of “the power of godliness” that I think is viable is “the power to be like God” One of the reasons we are born and obtain bodies is so that we can learn to use the bodies to be like God. And one way to do that is, of course, to procreate. So are there ways the priesthood ordinances manifest/reveal/make apparent this power? Sure—again, we run into sealing: an ordinance designed to literally create family bonds that remain valid in eternity. But that’s just one specific ordinance. Are there ways all priesthood ordinances manifest this power? Do priesthood ordinances function as some sort of typological symbol that reveal something to us about what this power means?

      • I was thinking something similar… I was thinking that the priesthood ordinances in the temple reveal to us much about who God is, what His plan is, where we fit into that plan, etc. The ordinances of the endowment and sealing are basically there to teach us “knowledge of God” (about God Himself) and then how to be godly (our covenants in the temple teach us the “how”?).

        • jennywebb

          Right, exactly. I’d add in initiatory, baptism, and confirmation into the mix too. The more I attend to the temple, the more convinced I am that the knowledge being driven home is precisely our embodiedness—our physical presence and participation in ritual. If the temple contains the priesthood ordinances par excellence, then it appears to be saying that embodiment is in some way essential to priesthood.

          Caveat: Pre-mortal Christ creates world by power of priesthood along with others therefore embodiment cannot be a prerequisite to priesthood of course. But the two are certainly more intertwined than I think we normally pay attention to. We make a mistake when we think of God’s power (priesthood) as transcending the physical earth—it’s much more likely, given what we’re seeing and learning in the temple, that God’s power is in excess of the physical earth—it’s *more* physical, *more* embodied, etc.

          • That’s a nice point, Jenny, that we usually talk about God’s power transcending the physical instead of working with or saturating or quickening the physical. If we wanted to, I think we could play around with the idea that even in the case of creation, priesthood was linked to physical matter. Of course the creation itself was physical, for one. But in addition, the temple drama shows the Father giving the assignment to create to Christ and Adam. Following in the steps of Sister Beck and Elder Oaks, we could say that the Father (who was embodied) gave a priesthood assignment to two men who didn’t yet have bodies, and therefore authorized them to use priesthood power (that perhaps they didn’t possess themselves?). Just something to play around with, but I thought it was worth mentioning since I’m really struck by these ideas! 🙂

  7. I’ve been thinking this morning about the connection between the power of godliness and beholding God’s face. These thoughts took me to Moses 1:2, which says, “And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.” There’s something similar between power of godliness and God’s glory here. But what is it?

    D&C 84:22 says, “For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” Does the “this” mean power of godliness? If it does, then the power of godliness is what allows us to see the face of God like the glory of God in Moses 1. Or, if the “this” means the ordinances and authority of the priesthood, then it seems the power of godliness is equated with seeing the face of God; that is, verse 22 is restating verse 21. (Then “ordinances and authority” would be related to glory in some way??)Thoughts?

    (Also, to further connect Moses 1 and D&C 84, Moses 1:5 says, “Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.” What connection might this have to D&C 84:24? “But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.” Meaning, I assume, that entering into his rest means no longer remaining in the flesh on the earth? Like Enoch’s city?)

  8. Hey all! I know we’re all busy with moves & graduations & health & kids, etc. I’m just going to add some thoughts here for whenever we’re all ready to pick up the pace again on the blog —

    Even though it doesn’t take into account all of our thoughts and comments, here is the picture I’m getting of these verses:

    Because of the keys of the greater priesthood, the ordinances of the greater priesthood manifest the power of godliness — that is, they manifest why it is so powerful to become godly. In Christianity generally, people know they should become godly, and that becoming like God will bless them in the judgement day, but the power of that godly state for life here and now isn’t clear. That is, without the priesthood authority and ordinances, “the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.” “For,” says verse 22, “without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” Is that the power of godliness? The ability to see the face of God and live? Perhaps. That would mean we could reread the previous verses as saying, “Without the authority and ordinances of the greater priesthood, no person can understand the powerful blessing that comes with becoming godly — that is, no person can see God face to face.” Verse 23 says that Moses wanted his people to behold the face of God, and so he “sought diligently to sanctify his people.” “Sanctify” here, I think, we could read as “becoming godly.” Moses sought diligently to teach his people to be godly, so that they could see the face of God. But that blessing was only even a possibility because Moses could administer the gospel, and had the authority and ordinances of the greater priesthood.

    (All of this reminds me of our discussions of the role of high priests like Alma and Melchizedek in Alma 13, and their potential to sanctify a whole people and build a Zion city.)

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