“There are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic” (D&C 107:1). The Melchizedek Priesthood, which is “after the Order of the Son of God” (D&C 107:3), is the greater of these. It “holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church” (D&C 107:8). It also holds “the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church” (D&C 107:18). It is named after a great high priest who lived during the time of the prophet Abraham (see D&C 107:2–4; see also Alma 13:14–19).The offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood are Apostle, Seventy, patriarch, high priest, and elder. The President of the High Priesthood is the President of the Church (see D&C 107:64–66). (Gospel Topics – Melchizedek Priesthood)
In 1829 Christ’s apostles, Peter, James and of the highest order of the priesthood, all keys were restored to the earth. The Great Apostasy was officially over and the priesthood was once again on the earth.
There are several offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood and we’ll go over each one now:
Prophet ? The senior Apostle is the prophet, seer, revelator and President of the High Priesthood and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He, and he alone, may exercise the full keys of the priesthood of God. He receives revelation for the entire world, although, often, only Church members pay attention. He is the mouthpiece of the Lord and as such, has the authority to act in His name in all places and in all things. The living prophet of the Church is Gordon B. Hinckley. God has not left us alone.
Apostle ? An Apostle is one who is sent forth unto the world as a special witness of Jesus Christ. At this very time, we have 15 such men who hold the office of Apostle. The job of an apostle, other than the most important one, which is to be a special witness of Christ, is to administer the affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world and to expound on revelation received by the prophet. Each Apostle holds all the keys of the kingdom, but only the senior Apostle, the prophet, can exercise all the keys. The living Apostles are: Elder Boyd K. Packer, Elder L. Tom Perry, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Elder Richard G. Scott, Elder Robert D. Hales, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, and Elder Quentin L. Cook. Each member of the First Presidency is also an Apostle, Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson and Henry B. Eyring.
Seventy ? A Seventy is called under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Seventies administer missionary work, genealogy and numerous other affairs of the Church directly under the First Presidency and Apostles. Seventies may be released at some point in their lives and receive emeritus status.
Patriarch ? The office of Patriarch is held on the stake level to give patriarchal blessings to the worthy members of the Church. These blessings are personal revelation to each member of the Church to guide them throughout their lives.
Prophet, Apostle and Patriarch are callings for life. If the Patriarch becomes too aged or infirm to complete his duties, someone else may be called as a Patriarch to fulfill the responsibilities of that office.
High Priest ? High Priests are the officiators of the church. They hold callings such as stake president, bishop, patriarch, mission presidents, etc. They have a separate quorum from the Elders and attend to different responsibilities, which includes caring for the widowed and orphaned.
Elder ? Elders are ordained to this office at the age of 18 or later. Their responsibilities are to baptize, confirm members of the Church and give the gift of the Holy Ghost, administer the sacrament, give blessings of comfort and healing, and watch over the Church.
Each worthy man in the Church holds one of these offices in the priesthood, or one of the offices in the Aaronic Priesthood.
Men in the Church must be worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders in order to receive the temple endowment and be sealed to their families for eternity. They have the authority to administer to the sick and give special blessings to family members and others. With the authorization of presiding priesthood leaders, they can bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost and ordain other worthy men to offices in the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods.
When a man receives the Melchizedek Priesthood, he enters into the oath and covenant of the priesthood. He covenants to be faithful, magnify his calling, “give diligent heed to the words of eternal life,” and “live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” Those who keep this covenant will be sanctified by the Spirit and receive “all that [the] Father hath.” (See D&C 84:33–44.) (Gospel Topics – Melchizedek Priesthood)
What a special gift God has granted us in the priesthood. His Church is organized in such a fashion that great efficiency is possible, and revelation to each, within their stewardships, is available. Joseph Smith, Jr. was assassinated, but not before he was able to have restored on his shoulders, and then bestow upon the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, all the keys of the kingdom of God.
Upon the completion of this teaching and ordaining, Joseph rolled his shoulders as if a massive weight had been lifted. He said, in essence, “Now all the keys are bestowed upon the twelve. No matter what happens to me, the kingdom of God will never be taken from the earth again.”
Father Abraham recognized the value of this grand key as he recounted his experience: “I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, … and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.” (James E. Faust, “The Key of the Knowledge of God,” Ensign, Nov 2004, 52)