D&C 107:33-39

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Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 107 > Verses 107:33-39
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Relationship to Section 107. The relationship of Verses 107:33-39 to the rest of Section 107 is discussed at D&C 107.


Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 107:33-39 include:


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  • D&C 107:39. Here the Lord introduces the office of patriarch, calling those to be ordained to the office, however, "evangelical ministers." Juxtaposed with the lengthy explanation of "this order of the priesthood" that begins with the next verse and continues through verse 57, the title seems odd--and for a number of reasons. The following verses suggest a single line of patriarchs, whereas the commandment in this verse suggests that a number of different patriarchs are to be called in different places. Further, the following verses suggest the most ancient, Old Testament setting for the office, whereas the title "evangelical ministers" has a decisively New Testament flavor (not least because "evangelical" derives from Greek). Finally, though in the following verses it is clear that the patriarchs were part of a more complex covenantal situation (see especially verse 40), the "evangelical ministers" to be called are to be called quite simply "by revelation." In short, the lengthy explanation of the most ancient order of patriarchs seems more to frustrate than to ground this verse (verse 39).
However, that the lengthy explanation turns almost immediately to Adam, in whom "this order was instituted" (verse 41), is quite suggestive: the New Testament flavor of "evangelical ministers" might just imply that in the Second Adam, the order has been made new, has been taken up into the logic of charity, has been opened up so that all might become "literal descendants of the chosen seed" through adoptions as sons (in the Son). In other words, the difference between the office named in verse 39 and the office described at length in verses 40-57 should be felt. The priesthood after the order of the father (the "patriarchal" order), once so perfectly exclusive, has been made "available" through the equally "available" priesthood after the order of the Son (from son to father) that Jesus Christ liberated through atonement. The purpose, then, of the lengthy description of the "original" patriarchal order might be at least twofold: on the one hand, the passage establishes the erstwhile exclusivity of a priesthood order now opened up through the available effects of the atonement; on the other hand, the passage deals at length with the meaning and possibilities of the office that remain, even though the possibility of receiving the order has changed.
The subsequent history of the office of Patriarch may validate this understanding as the lineal descendants of a single family (Joseph Smith, Sr.) served as Presiding Patriarch to the Church until Eldred G. Smith was given emeritus status in 1979. The recent teachings of President Boyd K. Packer indicate that a patriarch acts in a prophetic role (Oct. 2002 General Conference). Although not sustained as such (perhaps non-sustained callings provides food for thought in another vein altogether), stake patriarchs act in a prophetic capacity for their stake,just as the Presiding Patriarch was explicitly sustained as a prophet seer and revelator. The trend toward making the prophetic role available to each stake suggests that the role may extend to the more fundamental units of the church until each household ideally has a patriarch acting in the role of prophet for the family unit. Although speculative, this trajectory validates the textual description of the patriarchal order and the Second Adam opening history back toward the original patriarchal order, thus dividing and uniting history simultaneously.

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  • D&C 107:33-35. How do these verses clarify the relations between the three presiding quorums of the Church?
  • D&C 107:33-35. What does it mean to say that the Presidency and the Seventy should build up and regulate all the affairs of the church “first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews” (verses 33-34)?
  • D&C 107:33-35. What does it mean to us that the gospel is to be proclaimed by the Twelve “first unto the Gentiles and then unto the Jews”?
  • D&C 107:39. Given the understanding of the Twelve in this revelation as a traveling high council, how should the relationship between the Twelve and the "evangelical ministers" or patriarchs be understood?
  • D&C 107:39. How should the word "evangelical" be read here? What precendent might there have been for this language? How might it be connected with the phrase "preacher of righteousness" (cf. Moses 6:23; 2 Pet 2:5)?


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