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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?
"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:
Prior to Jesus' appearance, baptism was "unto
repentance," but afterwards it is baptism in Jesus'
own name to distinguish between the old and new
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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