Three Witnesses & The Priesthood

I don’t remember seeing an answer to this basic question. How do LDS synchronize the loss of the priesthood with the immortal lives of the 3 witness and John the Beloved (as described in the Book of Mormon)? Wouldn’t these four men be passing on the priesthood for the last 1,900+ years as they went about their lives as disciples.

What’s the standard Mormon answer to this question?


10 thoughts on “Three Witnesses & The Priesthood

  1. I imagine they would point to other examples in the LDS scriptures where priesthood holders are forbidden to preach to the people. It wouldn’t be such a stretch to say God could probably forbid them to pass along the priesthood because of the wickedness of the people. I’m not saying I would agree with this point of view, I just think it is one possible answer.

  2. I don’t think wickedness is the only reason not to pass on the priesthood. But Jay’s right: there’s no reason why they would have to pass on the priesthood.

    An underlying question, that should make “LDS is the only way to Christ” Mormons uncomfortable, is what were these guys doing all this time seeing that there was no LDS church? Jesus promised that they could stay on earth to spread his gospel, then he left them here spinning their wheels without any organized church?! The obvious answer (to me) is that they preached his gospel in ways that did not require organized religion and in that way still fulfilled their wish of bringing souls to Christ.

  3. The RLDS believe in the three Nephites too. I never thought of them as priesthood members with responsibilities to pass on. My best friend, a lifelong Southern Baptist, was with me in Sunday school the day my teachers taught about the Three Nephites. She went back to the Baptist church and started asking questions about “the men who never died” and got blank stares from all her teachers. But it made a huge impression on her. She often talked about it, about how they went about the world doing good. That really impressed her. I don’t remember that lesson at all really, but that’s my impression about the Three Nephites, that they are going about the world doing good. Years later, my friend was in a car accident. Her car flipped over. As her car went sailing through the air, she thought she was going to die. She told me that her last thought was of the Three Nephites. The car landed right side up, and she was unharmed. Her first thought, when she realized she was still alive was, “They (The Three Nephites) are still on the job!!!!!”
    My uncle also was in a bad car accident, and almost died. A nurse, who was a conservative Christian, saw the accident, stopped, and ran to help him. As she was trying to help him, she saw a man come up to my Uncle. He laid his hands on my Uncle’s head, and said a prayer in a language she couldn’t understand. She turned to ask him “Who are you?” but he disappeared. My Uncle was unconscious throughout all of this, mind you, this is the testimony of the Christian. Everything went right for my Uncle that day, the surgeon whose expertise was needed to save his life had ended his shift, but he just decided to hang around at the hospital for some reason, and he was there when the ambulance with my uncle in it came in. Later, my Uncle went back to the nurse and told her that it was one of the Three Nephites that she had seen. She didn’t believe it, and told him so. “I don’t believe that, you can if you want to, but I don’t.”
    Personally, I don’t know what to think of all this. It doesn’t bother me one whit that the Three Nephites aren’t passing on the priesthood. I know that my Uncle loved his religion, and the Book of Mormon more than anything. He drove all over his state to bring the Book of Mormon to the Indians, that was the thing that motivated him the most. Someone saved my Uncle’s life that day, someone did come and administer to him at a most critical moment, who? If you are a conservative Christian type, I can understand your being scornful of the idea that it was a Nephite, but who was it then? And my best friend–she often talks to Utah Mormans about the Three Nephites, and they laugh as I do, because usually the story did not make nearly as big an impression on them as it did on her! Somehow though, at the moment when she needed it, someone came through for her. So, while I know I’m not supposed to believe in the Three Nephites, I most certainly will not deny their existence. And, like I said, whether or not they are passing on the priesthood to me is irrelevant.

  4. Perhaps they left general society and went to wherever the ten lost tribes are presently. When the lost tribes return they will bring their scriptures and be led by their prophets, so it is conceivable that wherever these people are hidden, that these four individuals are ministering among them and that they have passed on their priesthood to them. We don’t know much about the ministry of these men or the countries of the lost tribes, only that the tribes traveled north and will return again from the north, so, it is conceivable that these four disciples are likewise wherever the ten tribes are:

    26 And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.
    27 And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.
    28 Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,
    29 And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.
    30 And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.
    31 And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.
    32 And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.
    33 And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy.
    34 Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of dIsrael, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows. (D&C 133: 26-34)

  5. If I recall, the Book of Mormon speaks of the “3 Nephites” being taken away from the Nephite and Lamanite peoples due to wickedness.

  6. Wait, how did the Three Nephites keep your best friend from dying in the car accident? Magic? She didn’t see three guys or anything, did she?

  7. Kullervo,
    I’m just telling you what SHE thought. That’s exactly what she told me about it. To be honest, I was rather shocked, because if it had been me, I would have been praying to God. I think anyway, I’ve never been in that situation, so I don’t know. SHE thinks it was them, and after what happened to my Uncle, I’m not going to argue with her. I have no explanation for why the story of the Three Nephites has always resonated so strongly with her, but it has.

  8. Kullervo,
    To give you a more specific answer. Just because she didn’t see them, doesn’t mean that at least one of them wasn’t on the scene. When I say this, I am speaking out of the part of me that was raised RLDS. My theory is, the Nephite would have prayed to the Father on her behalf, the same as what happened with my Uncle.

  9. I think the point of the story is how stories and beliefs resonate in the hearts and minds of people.

    If a Russian peasant woman in the 1800s felt she saw God while touching a “holy icon” I’m not going to blow that off. She is entitled to approach God in the manner that resonates with her.

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