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TED - In 3rd Nephi, Nephi was the prophet who could raise the dead, heal, and things like that. Christ had to give him the authority to baptize. So what part of the priesthood did Nephi have?

JOEL -
"And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet.
And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him.
And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.
And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.(3 Nephi 11:21)

The Nephites already had the Melchizedek priesthood through the prophet Lehi. And they had been ordaining ministers and baptizing people "unto repentance" (Mos. 26:22, Alma 5:62, Alma 6:2, 3 Nephi 7:25-26), much like John the Baptist had been doing before Christ came(Matt. 3: 11).

When Jesus said to Nephi, "I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people" (3 Nephi 11:21), He was not talking about a physical ordination to a priesthood. They already had enough priesthood. But the visitation of Christ to the Nephites represented a new dispensation, with a new covenant, a new law, new priesthood keys, and new ordinances. The new and everlasting covenant was being presented anew to a new dispensation. So Jesus was verbally giving Nephi the power and authority to begin the new dispensation with new ordinances, such as the proper form of baptism, that were to now be performed in His name. (3 Ne. 11: 22-28)

Prior to Jesus' appearance, baptism was "unto repentance," but afterwards it is baptism in Jesus' own name to distinguish between the old and new covenants.
The new dispensation could not be founded on the old ordinances of the Law of Moses. This is why the Lord said to the Pharisees, "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved...I receive not you with your baptism, because it profiteth you nothing. For when that which is new is come, the old is ready to be put away." (See JST-Matt 9:16-21)

So Jesus was verbally giving them the power to put away the old form of baptism and start the new form of baptism and other ordinances for the new dispensation.

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