Revelation 1:6 and Priesthood

By Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes

Revelation 1:6 focuses on the end result of the resurrection and supremacy of the Lord: he is able to make his followers kings and priests unto God.[1] The seven servants mentioned twice in Revelation (1:4, 20) had apparently achieved these ranks and attendant blessings. They were not the only ones. “John said he was a king,” Joseph Smith reported.[2] The kingdom to which the Seer and the others belonged was to endure forever, and those who became members therein were, therefore, eternal heirs of glory. The reason was that these offices are an everlasting possession bestowed by the sealing power and authority of the high priesthood. According to Bruce R. McConkie, they come only to those who have pressed forward in righteousness, lived by every word given by God, magnified their callings, “till through the fullness of the ordinances of the temple they receive the fullness of the priesthood and are ordained kings and priests.”[3] The Church leaders knew precisely how this was to be done because God revealed the specific ordinance that made it possible.[4]

Joseph Smith gave a concise and inclusive description of the breadth of authority held by those who receive the fullness of the priesthood. He explained that they have the “power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God” and gain eternal life.[5]

Through the blessing of the ordinances associated with receiving the fullness of the priesthood, the recipients receive the more sure word of prophecy or the “promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then having this promise sealed unto them,” explained Joseph Smith, “it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightenings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, and tribulation.”[6] Due to their being sealed kings, queens, priests, and priestesses, the leaders to whom John wrote had already found the comfort and support they needed to withstand the threatening and darkening period in which they lived. Thus they were prepared to push the Lord’s will as it came through the quill of John.

It is very likely that, in addition to the seven leaders and John, there were others who had attained to the office of king and queen, priest and priestess. This is because these blessings were not reserved exclusively for those who had achieved the highest levels of leadership in the kingdom. Indeed, being ordained to the office of Bishop, Elder, or Evangelist did not confer upon one the sealing powers of the fullness of the priesthood or make one a king and priest. What counted toward that station was receiving the ordinances of the temple and keeping the covenants. Only then could one hope to receive eternal life for, according to Joseph Fielding Smith, “there is no exaltation in the kingdom of God without the fullness of the priesthood.”[7]

The kingdom over which these couples preside is composed of their family members who have been sealed into the gospel covenant.[8] They achieved that privilege and responsibility by learning here on earth to govern first themselves, then their family members, and finally others.[9]


[1] The JST states that Christ “had made us kings and priests unto God his Father.” The omission of the “and” between “God” and “Father” clarifies to whom men become kings and priests. However, some years later Joseph Smith reinterpreted the verse insisting that the “and” should be used (see Smith, Teachings, 370).

[2] Smith, Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 375.

[3] Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:436.

[4] Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 1:290.

[5] Smith, TPJS, 337.

[6] Smith, TPJS, 298.

[7] Joseph Fielding Smith, “Magnifying Our Calling in the Priesthood,” Improvement Era, 73 (June, 1970), 65-66.

[8] George Q. Cannon, JD, 16:143.

[9] Brigham Young, JD, 11:328.