An apostolic authority diagram,
showing the line of authority of each Church President
- Joseph Smith received the Melchizedek Priesthood and was ordained an apostle by Peter, James, and John (D&C 27:12), and Peter, James, and John were ordained apostles by Jesus Christ himself (Mark -15).
- The lines on the diagram represent ordination to the office of Apostle in the Melchizedek Priesthood, connecting the apostle who ordained and the apostle who was ordained.
- The names of the Presidents of the Church are highlighted in this color.
- The date of apostolic ordination is under the apostle’s name.
- The Three Witnesses (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris) were called by revelation (D&C 18:37-41) to choose the original Twelve Apostles, and on 14 Feb 1835 they were blessed by the laying on of hands of the First Presidency (Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams) to choose and ordain the Twelve Apostles.
Jesus Christ | | Peter, James, and John | | Joseph Smith (May 1829) | | The Three Witnesses (14 Feb 1835) | _____________________|______________________ | ___________________________________________ | | Heber C Kimball Brigham Young (14 Feb 1835) (14 Feb 1835) | | ______|____________________________________________|__________________ | | | | | Lorenzo Snow John Taylor Wilford Woodruff Joseph F Smith George Q Cannon
(12 Feb 1849) (19 Dec 1838) (26 Apr 1839) (01 Jul 1866) (26 Aug 1860) | | _________________________________________| | | | | | George Albert Smith David O McKay Joseph Fielding Smith Heber J Grant (08 Oct 1903) (09 Apr 1906) (07 Apr 1910) (16 Oct 1882) | | | __________________________| | | | | | | Howard W Hunter Gordon B Hinckley Thomas S Monson | (15 Oct 1959) (05 Oct 1961) (10 Oct 1963) |
| ___________________________|_____________ | | | | Russell M Nelson Harold B Lee Spencer W Kimball Ezra Taft Benson (12 Apr 1984) (10 Apr 1941) (07 Oct 1943) (07 Oct 1943)
(Note: As can be seen above, the only presidents of the Church that were not ordained to the apostleship by another president of the Church were Lorenzo Snow, Heber J Grant, Thomas S Monson, and Russell M Nelson (President Joseph Fielding Smith was not the president of the Church when he ordained Elder Monson, nor was President Hinckley the president of the Church when he ordained Elder Nelson). We can consider that Joseph Smith was ordained an apostle by another president of the Church when we realize that Peter held the position of President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Former-day Saints.)
(Additional note: I would like to include on this page some very interesting information I received from Stephen Erekson. I include this information with Stephen’s permission. He is very knowledgeable about the ordinations and settings-apart of our leaders, and his insights are meaningful. “I have looked for many years for the information on the ordination of our Church apostles. I have been very curious about who ordained President Russell M. Nelson. It could have been either Spencer W. Kimball or Gordon B. Hinckley in my mind. I had found that Elder Oaks had been ordained by Gordon B. Hinckley, but had never seen anything definitive about President Nelson. I also had assumed that Thomas S. Monson had been ordained by David O. McKay, so I was surprised to see that he was ordained by Joseph Fielding Smith. My curiosity was fueled by this interesting fact. All apostles now trace their authority through Joseph F. Smith instead of George Q. Cannon who had ordained Heber J. Grant. I supposed that it has been this way for some time since all of the apostles ordained by Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball are now deceased and Ezra Taft Benson had his counselors ordain the brethren he called. I also wondering about the ordination and setting-apart of our Church presidents. Joseph Smith, I believe was ordained President of the High Priesthood and set apart as President of the Church by Joseph Smith, Sr., Presiding Patriarch, and Joseph F. Smith by John Smith, Presiding Patriarch (his half-brother). John Smith (brother of Joseph Smith, Sr. and presiding patriarch) could not have performed this ordinance for Brigham Young as Patriarch Smith was left in Great Salt Lake City as the Stake President by Brigham Young when he went back to the Missouri River and there reorganized the First Presidency. I know that recently it was not always the next most senior member of the twelve (the new President of the Twelve) as Howard W. Hunter set apart and ordained Ezra Taft Benson just before he was set apart as Acting President of the Twelve because of the illness of Marion G. Romney. James E. Faust explained this to missionaries in the Provo MTC at the time of this reorganization and made it clear that the president was ordained and set apart as noted. Here is some other interesting information — Joseph F. Smith and Gordon B. Hinckley are the only men to serve in 4 different positions in the First Presidency. Also, Gordon B. Hinckley was called to the Twelve to replace Hugh B. Brown who was called to be an additional counselor even though it only lasted for days in that configuration. And Gordon B. Hinckley was called to the First Presidency under the same conditions. In both cases it resulted in 16 apostles who were set apart as members of the Twelve. Sincerely, Stephen Erekson”
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