“Power” or “Authority”

In the church we have a regular system for ordination to give someone priesthood authority.  It requires the candidate to be interviewed, found worthy, recommended by the presiding authorities (Bishop or Stake President) to a congregation who sustains the ordination before it is performed.  The ordination takes place by the laying on of hands, is recorded, and a certificate is issued to the one ordained.
In contrast, the Lord’s ordination among the Nephites required only His word to be spoken, and power was conferred:
“And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.” (3 Ne. 11: 20-22)


It is interesting that the word used in His conferral of priestly right was “power” and not “authority.”  Consider the difference.  Consider what it means for the Lord to speak unto a man and tell him that he has “power” from the Lord.
Is there a difference between having the “authority” to baptize, as we spread it about in the church today, and having the “power” to baptize as conferred by Christ?  If there is, then what is that difference?
Good questions to ponder.  Particularly as you consider President Packer’s timely reminder of the general lack of power in the priesthood of today’s church in his recent General Conference address, “Power in the Priesthood.” 

11 thoughts on ““Power” or “Authority”

  1. Also, the candidate being interviewed also must declare himself worthy (or not). Hopefully a discerning priesthood leader can decide if the candidate is being truthful.

  2. I know a woman who joined the Church in her 30s and decided she wanted to have a baby (with her husband who converted at the same time). She was told by doctors she never would. As she approached age 40, 41… she asked many ward and Stake priesthood leaders for a blessing and was given the “You’ll have all those blessings in the next life” speech. They wouldn’t give her the blessing. Finally she found a man who would do it. Incidentally, he’d also received his calling and election. She had her first and only child at the age of 43 and 1/2.

    Authority and power.

  3. Denver, if you have a minute – can you give me a one or two sentence explanation of “the sure mercies of David” as referred to in Is 55:3 and Acts 13:34. Does it have something to do with the fact that the Savior was a descendant of David? Is it that we were promised He would come into the world at all and that mercy would “satisfy the demands of justice,” and/or that Jesus will sit on the throne and rule in righteousness? In Acts, it also seems to be referring to the promise of the resurrection. Why are these things referred to as “the mercies of David?” I can’t quite get an understanding that feels just right and is completely coherent.

  4. Anonymous,

    What a great story to share. So common. We are such weenie’s these days with the Priesthood. I was just having this talk with someone who I KNOW (which the Spirit has told me not the person) who has such blessings as the as the ones this couple sought out. We are so afraid to believe so afraid to expect so afraid to dare for great spiritual things. WHY?

  5. I believe that “Love”, Christ-like Love, True Love, the fruit of the tree of Life, is the power God uses to create & accomplish all things. It is the most powerful thing there is. The Priesthood is just the power of Love, to use as God would if he were here. The Spirit is also Love.

    I believe the more we love GOD (by praying & studing his word) & our SPOUSE, with our whole hearts, the more of God’s power men & women will have to accomplish his purposes. Those 2 relationships are paramount & vital, before we will have power to love anyone else.

    The more a man loves, truely loves, & serves, protects, listens to & honors his wife, the more Priesthood power he gains. If he neglects, disrespects or abuses his wife in any form or does not truely love her or breaks his covenants to her in any way or abandons her, it is impossible for him to have Priesthood Power & Amen to his authority. Our marriage covenants to our spouse are the key to great eternal Priesthood Power.

  6. JR,
    Thanks. This couple was actually my parents and I was the baby. :)

    Anon 10:51am,
    I like the idea of loving and respecting your spouse, etc. but I also come from the experience of being unequally yoked (shall we say) with a spouse. You cannot let that be a determining factor in your own righteousness, joy or power – just my opinion. :) Maybe a man can truly be an honorable priesthood holder and be the best thing for her but she refuses to see or hear and considers him lacking.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we all had joyful and perfectly-yoked marriages…

  7. JR,
    Another thing about these “priesthood weenies”… I’ve heard one say he didn’t need food storage because he could by his PH power call down manna from the sky to feed himself and family with some raven food on the side. That’s amazing. I’ve heard one even say he’d hold up his hands and the oncoming bullets would drop out of the air if he were ever fired upon by the Zion-haters. That’s fantastic. These little things like blessings for old barren women are just beneath them, I suppose. They need to save their power for the really awesome stuff. Oh, and don’t forget the ones who recognize you from the pre-existence. That’s super-duper power.

  8. Or the priesthood power which lets a young man know that God has given to him a young lady as eternal wife, even if she isn’t necessarily persuaded he would make a good husband for anyone. “I bear you my testimony, sister, you belong to me.” Sort of a Taylor Swift lyric, I’m thinking. Might be better put: “I bear you my testosterone…”

  9. Anonymous 7:42,
    About your comment of being unequally yoked with your spouse:

    That is actually when you have the greatest opportunity to gain more Priesthood Power than in any other scenario, assuming your male & you can see if you really have the pure love of Christ or not.

    Heavenly Father knew that most marriages, even in the Church, would be unequally yoked, with at least one spouse not keeping their covenants to their spouse as they should.

    Thus to save marriages & families, he commanded us to love & serve our enemies, those who even hurt or hate us, especially if that is a spouse. By so doing, we will grow spiritually faster than any other way & gain the greatest love & power because we passed the hardest of all tests, which is to see if we will choose to have True Love or not, no matter what.

    Anyone, even the wicked, can love a spouse who loves them, that is no test, but only Christ-like people can love a spouse who doesn’t love them.

  10. Anon of June 4, 2010, 6:36 PM Absolutely great!!!

    Through the power of the priesthood and by faith I have been involved in instances of bringing the dead to life again; curing of systemic cancer within 3 days–verified by physical tests; giving a blessing to stop one from bleeding to death when the doctors and their medicine could not–the next day that person was sent home in perfect shape.

    Yes there are major differences between “rights” “authority” and “power”. My heartaches because too many are motherless and fatherless in the priesthood these days and don’t even know it.

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