21 August 2012

What are the Three Degrees Within the Celestial Kingdom?

Temple teachings and ordinances are sometimes called “mysteries.” Though, in general religious usage, the word “mystery,” when standing alone, is typically used in a general way to signify revealed knowledge and understanding, references to the “mysteries of the kingdom” in the revelations and teachings of Joseph Smith clearly point to priesthood ordinances of the “royal priesthood” connected with the temple that have been given to certain individuals and families from the time of Adam. Though God had given to Joseph Smith “the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed,” the Prophet encouraged the Saints to learn of these things for themselves, beseeching them to go forward and “search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness.” As their reward, the faithful are promised: “And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old.”

These ideas did not originate with the Prophet Joseph Smith. For example, when Jesus Christ spoke of the “mysteries of the kingdom,” he also alluded to temple matters. Margaret Barker, writes:
…Jesus’ parables were more than simple stories. “To you,” he said to his closest disciples, “has been given the secret of the Kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything is in parables.”

Secrets and mysteries were characteristic of temple tradition, and were the exclusive preserve of the high priesthood, who were permitted to enter the Holy of Holies.
Though differing somewhat in their terminology, the writings of Philo Judaeus, an important Jewish priest in the first century AD, and those within the New Testament book of Hebrews share similar distinctions in their description of a lower and higher priesthood, and their corresponding “mysteries.” In broad strokes, the significant contrast in both cases is between the lesser and the greater priesthood and their corresponding rites; in other words, between the Levitical priesthood (as described in Hebrews)—roughly corresponding to the Lower Mystery of Aaron (as described by Philo)—and the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ (in Hebrews)—analogous to the Higher Mystery of Moses (in Philo). In both cases, what characterizes the greater rites is that they bring the initiate beyond the veil into the presence of God, and there invest him with an eternal priesthood and kingship in the likeness of the Divine.


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  1. I am happy to see this site, Temple Themes in Scriptures. We are trying to get back into the swing of things. We want to get as much information as possible to help us better understand the scriptures, the temple, etc. I know we can get information from church meetings but we can't get information like what is on this site from scholars and others who are professionals when it comes to ancient and modern scriptures and the history of the church. We are starting to acquire LDS publications to also help. We have told our children about these sites like this one as our son has just gone through the temple. My thoughts when reading this is how fortunate we are to have revelation to help us understand what the scriptures really mean. Sometimes I will watch a "Christian" broadcast (like Joel Osteen) or look at other religion's sites just to see how they interpret things. I get a headache and confused. These other religions have good things to say and teach but their understanding is limited. And they think WE are kooks for what WE believe?! (Of course they have to attack Mormons) Makes us more thankful for the church. The information from here and other sites have broadened our understanding and things are starting to "click", make more sense and strengthening our testimony. (It makes me sad for those who no longer believe.) Just wanted to let you know your work is appreciated. Thank you!!

  2. Thank you for your encouragement, Janice. I feel the same strong desires to understand the scriptures and the temple that you have expressed. The more I study, the more my testimony grows.

    With appreciation, Jeff

    P.S. If this site ever gives you a headache, please let me know. ;-)