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Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

by Michael K. Young

Among the most important covenants is the oath and covenant of the priesthood, a set of mutual promises between God and those who receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Doctrine and Covenants 84:33-42 states the obligations involved, affirming the rewards that will be given to those who faithfully discharge their oath, and confirming the consequences of breaking this covenant.

The priesthood holder's first responsibility is to receive in good faith and with honest intent both the Aaronic and the Melchizedek priesthoods. The covenant then obligates that priesthood holder to magnify his callings by fulfilling all the responsibilities associated with the office, teaching the word of God, and laboring with all his might to advance the purposes of the Lord (see Magnifying One's Calling; cf. Jacob 1:19). The priesthood holder is required to "obtain a knowledge of the gospel…[and] to render service—service in carrying the restored gospel, with all the blessings of the priesthood, to the peoples of the earth; and service in comforting, strengthening, and perfecting the lives of one another and all the Saints of God" (Romney, p. 43).

God then promises that those who fulfill their part of the agreement will be "sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies," will become "the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham" and members of "the church and kingdom, and the elect of God," and will receive the Father's kingdom, and, thus, "all" that the "Father hath shall be given unto" them (D&C 84:33-38). Latter-day Saints see in the first of these promises a change that purifies not only the minds of worthy priesthood holders, but also their bodies, until they are enlivened and strengthened to minister among the nations of the earth. Those who keep this covenant are then counted among those in the Celestial Kingdom, "into whose hand the Father has given all things—they are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory; …they are gods, even the sons of God" (D&C 76:55-58).

This oath and covenant of the priesthood also carries a severe warning. The Lord has stated that anyone who breaks this covenant and "altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come" (D&C 84:41).

Ancient prophets received the priesthood by oath and covenant. Latter-day Saints understand several Old and New Testament covenantal texts to refer to the oath and covenant by which the priesthood has been received through all generations (e.g., Num. 25:13; 1 Chr. 16:15-17; Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:20-21, 28). Enoch, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all others who received the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ have obtained the priesthood after the order of the Son of God in a covenant-based relationship with the Lord (e.g., JST Gen. 13:13; 14:27-30). In this way, the priesthood has been transmitted to man since the beginning of time with an eternal obligation and unfailing promise, both of which the Lord communicates through the sacred medium of an oath and a covenant.


Asay, Carlos E. "The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood." Ensign 15 (Nov. 1985):43-45.

Brown, Hugh B. "Participation: The Way to Salvation." IE 66 (June 1963):506-507.

Kimball, Spencer W. "Becoming Pure in Heart." Ensign 15 (Mar. 1985):2-5.

Monson, Thomas S. First British Area General Conference Report, pp. 142-46. Salt Lake City, 1972.

Romney, Marion G. "The Oath and Covenant Which Belongeth to the Priesthood." Ensign 2 (July 1972):43-45.



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Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

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