The Melchizedek Priesthood is one of the “orders” of priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). It is referred to as the “high priesthood of the holy order of God” (Alma 4:20, 13:8) or simply as the “high priesthood.” This priesthood was restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the spring of 1829 at the hands of the resurrected Peter, James, and John.In the Mormon Church, the Melchizedek Priesthood is given to worthy male members 18 years and older who have been members of the Church for over one year. Ordination is based on the person’s age and moral worthiness without regard to training, knowledge, or aptitude.
Adult men who join the Church may be called and ordained to hold the Aaronic Priesthood (or lesser priesthood) after they are found morally worthy by those in authority. After a period of time, usually one year, these men may be ordained to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood (again based upon moral worthiness) by those in the Church with authority.
There are five offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood: elder, high priest, patriarch, seventy, and apostle, in that respective order. An elder is a man 18 years or older who has the power to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost, ordain other elders, and bless the sick by the laying on of hands. They also have all the duties of a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. A high priest serves in a leadership position, such as a bishop. They are able to ordain other high priests and hold all the duties of an elder. The office of patriarch is usually reserved for an older man. A patriarch is a local man who is ordained to give patriarchal blessings to members within his stake. A seventy assists the apostles to serve as General or Area Authorities. Seventies may also have other ’special assignments’ as directed by the First Presidency. When a seventy becomes 70 years old, he is typically granted ‘emeritus status’ and retires from his special assignments and assumes the role of a high priest (although still officially a seventy.)
An apostle is the highest office in the Melchizedek Priesthood and in the Mormon Church. Apostles are usually chosen from existing seventies. They are ‘Special Witnesses’ of Jesus Christ who hold all the keys of the kingdom to officiate in all responsibilities, and duties of the Priesthood. Some of those duties include having the sealing power and the power to act as a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. The President of the Church (the senior apostle) also serves as the president of the Melchizedek Priesthood. According to Mormon doctrine, he is the only person in whom all the keys, powers, and authority are fully functional and active.