Dr. Einar C. Erickson
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Even more striking if possible is the fact that the term for overseer, inspector or superintendent is literally translated in the New Testament as Bishop and they were the sons of Aaron who the overseers, inspectors and superintendents


                                         THE SACREMENT TABLE

                                        THE OIL AND BAPTISM                 


Church History, Vol 1. p. 78, records that among the formalities of organizing the church of  Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, on the sixth day of April 1830,  Joseph had ordained Oliver Cowdery  an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints and Oliver having Ordained Joseph  Smith an Elder in Christ’s  Church…, they then “took bread, blessed it,  and brake it with them [the six who were there]; also wine, blessed it and drank  with them…Emblems of the Savior’s sacrifice,… ” (Smith p. 78; Barrett pp. 562, 86; D&C 27:2)  Prayers for blessing the Bread and Wine were given in D&C 20:70, for the bread, and 20:79 for the water. The exact prayers were also published in Moroni 3:4 for the bread, and 5:2 for the wine; as published in the Book of Mormon about a year before. The furniture for the sacrament was not given in either source. But a sacred desk in the Kirtland Temple is mentioned in Church History in April 1836. This would seem to indicate that a specific desk was being used for the ceremony.  “I assisted the other Presidents in the distributing the Lord’s Supper to the Church, receiving it from the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day.” (Smith p. 455) Water was first used in lieu of wine when the Kirtland Temple was dedicated. (Barrett p. 189; Largey pp. 728- 730) There are at least 725 Christian churches who next Sunday, will say some kind of blessing on bread and wine, or water. More than 300 churches no longer exist though for the most part their blessings are recorded somewhere. Hans Lietzmann of Berlin, has collected more than 1000 such blessings, very few of them have any parallels to Mormon Blessings. Hans Lietzmann in his Mass and Lord’s Supper, has assembled them for Study in his History of the Litergy. (Lietzmann p.vii)


The Acts of Thomas were part of documents recovered from the old Monasteries of the Syrian Church in 1823. The Syriac text is the only complete text. The 1862 translation is the one used in this brief study. Klijn provides an excellent summary of the versions, translations  publication of  the Acts of Thomas. (Klijn pp. v-15) The Acts of Thomas is one of the most important documents of the first three centuries AD, providing access to the theological content of the ancient church.(Klijn pp. 92, 95,104-105, 130, 136, 149, 154) See the entry in this website on the SACRAMENT. That document also has something to say about the furniture used and who passed and said the blessing.


 “Go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day…on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High. (D&C  59:9-12)…The saints offer up their sacraments when they covenant with the Lord, as part of the ordinance of the sacrament, to always remember his Son, to take upon them the name of Christ, and to keep the commandments of God. Any personal sacraments, that is covenants or determinations to serve God may be included in the vows thus made…. Both Roman and Greek Catholic’s name seven… baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, extreme unction, holy orders and matrimony. Protestants generally name only two, baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” (McConkie p. 662) The true church is more inclusive.

Ask yourself:  “Do I  worthily partake of the broken bread in remembrance of His broken body? Do I worthily partake of the water blessed and sanctified to the souls of all those who drink of it in remembrance of His blood shed for us?...Witness unto God, the Eternal Father, that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of His Son  and always remember Him and Keep His commandments which He has given you. If you will do this you may always have the spirit to be with you…When the sacred emblems of His flesh and blood are administered to us, we are invited to take them into our bodies.  As we do that His atoning sacrifice literally becomes a part of our own identity …. The Life of the flesh is in the blood.” (Leviticus  17:11) His promise of resurrection to eternal life are symbolically recalled.” (Nelson pp. 339-341) “Partake of the sacrament regularly. Partake of the bread, broken in remembrance of the body of the Son of God. Drink the water in remembrance of His precious blood that was shed for us.“ (Nelson p. 340) “Deep sorrow to come to those who cannot “abide in my covenant” and who are not “worthy of me.” (D&C 98:15)  “The prayer over the tokens of Christ’s sacrifice  reminds those  who listen of the covenants made at baptism: (1) A willingness to take upon the name of Christ, (2) a willingness to always  remember him and (3) a willingness to keep his commandments…if we have received our ordinances and covenants and keep them , we have truly lived…whatever else we have achieved in mortality will have very little value in eternity.” (Challis pp. 149-151) The ancient members of the Church knew this. To  Joseph the declared that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye  shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that  ye do it with an eye single to my glory remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which  was shed for the remission of your sins.” (D&C 27:2)  “This shared commitment to become like Christ, repeated weekly defines the supreme aspiration of Latter Day Saints.”(Ludlow, EM,  p. 1244)


“Jesus took the third  cup of wine, the  cup after supper, and said “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you….at that moment and forever after, Jesus became your  Passover…sacrificed for us …a new permanent ordinance began to be observed.” (Millet p. 550) Jesus said: “those who consumed the emblems of his body and blood worthily would be given eternal life and their bodies would be raised up.” (John 6:44; 3 Nephi 27:14-15; Millet pp. 549-550) ”Remember his suffering through new symbols, including the sacrament, during which worshippers offer for a sacrifice unto him, a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” (Millet p. 549; 3 Nephi 19-20)


…”In one of the early Gospel dispensations was revealed the ordnance of the sacrament to man even before the advent of Jesus of Nazareth…When Father Abraham met with the great High Priest Melchizedek on a certain occasion the Inspired Version states: “ …And Melchizedek, king of Salem brought forth bread and wine, and  he brake the bread and blest it; and he blest the wine,  he being the priest of the Most High God, and he gave to Abraham.”(JST, Genesis 14:12; Hunter p. 239) Others again say that Melchizedek was Abram’s ancestor Shem, and that he now taught Abram the duties of priesthood, particularly the rules governing shew-bread, and wine- libations and burned offerings. (Graves R., p. 147)  From the Beginning every dispensation had the true order of the sacrament. They knew about Christ.                                                                                            

Every one of the Prophets of the Church, including Joseph, Himself, had something to say about the Sacrament, while there are many good collections of these, one of the best is the references by Ludlow in his summaries.  The selections below are taken from them.  Anciently…. “Sacrifices were offered as a type of the great sacrifice to be made by the Messiah…bread as an emblem of the broken body, wine or whatever is made  use of as a substitute, in token of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ...The sacrament is of great importance. The Lord himself ordained that we partake of these emblems …the Saints were admonished to partake of it regularly…. To contemplate this ordinance thoroughly and seek unto the Lord with all your heart that you may obtain the promised blessings by obedience to it. This ordinance has been renewed to us and is part and parcel of the new covenant God has made with his people in the latter days. …if we have correct understanding of the ordinances of the house of God, we receive all the promises attached to the obedience rendered to his commandments …An unworthy attitude to the sacrament can lead to sickness: For this cause many are weak and sickly, among you and many sleep.”…The Sacrament…by which His life and mission, His death and resurrection, the great sacrifice…He had offered for the redemption of man, should be kept in everlasting remembrance…The Sacrament is an ordinance …necessary to be observed …what is the object of it?   That we may keep in mind continuously that God who has redeemed us from eternal death it is necessary to partake of the sacrament as a witness unto him  that we do remember Him willing to keep the commandments he has given that we may have His Spirit to be with us always-even to the end…Why are they required to do this? …[to] build up His kingdom, revere His name and serve Him worthily with an undivided heart…to be worthy to eat and drink with Him in His Father’s Kingdom…the last request of Jesus Christ to his disciples…[was] To secure the salvation and exaltation of the human family. All of this has a great deal to do with our welfare and happiness here and hereafter. …The death of Jesus Christ would not have taken place if it had not been necessary….It is necessary that strict obedience  be  rendered unto His requirement’s …embracing certain unexplained purposes and mysterious designs of God… The Lord has …designated those who may officiate …Our people have been taught to take the sacrament with the right hand…not be accepted with a gloved hand…or in an irreverent manner. to be humble and to repent of our sins and put a way evil from among us….[and] whether [a] child was born in the church or not makes no difference,  he is worthy,  through the atonement of Jesus Christ, to partake of the sacrament.” (Ludlow pp. 364-370)


In every Church in the world on the sabbath, something like this takes place: [From the Acts of the Thomas] “The apostle [Thomas] ordered his servant to place a table nearby. And they set alongside  a bench which they found there and he spread a linen cloth over it and said,…come and take  part  with us in this eucharist which we perform in  thy name and laid the bread of blessing on it, and in the love-feast for which we are assembled at thy invitation.  And when he had said this, he cut the.… bread,  broke it and began to distribute [It].… (Forester p. 362)  [Sifur a priest blesses it and  Vizon, a deacon passes it.]  “And first he gave it to the woman and said, “This shall be to you for remission of sins and eternal transgressions.” And he gave it to the others.” (Forester pp.362-363)  Are you going to experience something like that?                                                                                


“Mygdonia was standing before the apostle with her head bare. And he lifted the oil and poured it over her head saying, “Holy Oil, given us for sanctification, hidden mystery [ordinance]  in which the cross was shown to us, thou art the unfolder  of the hidden parts. …Let thy power come. Let it abide on thy maid Mygdonia, and heal her by this liberation.” When the oil had been poured out, he ordered [her to] dress in a cloth…And there was just there a water-spring to which the apostle went and baptized Mygdonia in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; And when she  had been baptized and had dressed again, he broke bread and  made her a partaker  of the body of Christ and of the cup of the Son of God. And said ‘you have received your seal, create for yourself eternal life. And at once a voice was heard from above, saying, ‘Yes, Amen.’”  (Foerster pp. 362-363) Have you ever experienced a blessing and anointing? Did you ever  think such things were all part of the restoration?


To the family of Siphor the apostle said, ”Let the power of the blessing come and settle on the bread so that all souls which consume it may be cleansed from their sins.  And he broke the bread and gave it to Sipher and his wife and daughter.”  (Forster p. 364)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The bench, the table, the linen cloth, the bread and water [or wine] and those who bless and pass it, and the blessings and desired set of our heart, all there, Joseph  got it right the first time, and as they did it then we do it now!                 



CHALLIS, John K., & John G. Scott, Eds. Riches of Eternity, Aspen Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1993

BARRETT, Ivan J., Joseph Smith and the Restoration, Brigham Young University Press, Provo, Utah, 1967

FOERSTER, Werner, Gnosis 1. Patristic Evidence,  Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1972

GRAVES, R., tr., R. Patan, Hebrew Myths, 1968 

HUNTER, Milton R., The Gospel Through The Ages, Stevens and Wallis, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1945

KLIJN, A. F. J. , The Acts of Thomas, E. J. Brill, Lieden. 1962    

LUDLOW, Daniel H., Latter-day Prophets Speak, Bookcraft, Salt lake city, Utah, 1951

…………………………….EM, Ed, Vol. 3,  Encylopedia of Mormonisim, Macmillan Publishing  Co.,New York, 1992

LARGEY, Dennis L., Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 2012

LIETZMANN, Hans, Mass and the Lord’s Supper,  E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1979

McCONKIE, Bruce R., Mormon Doctrine, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah 1966

MIILLET, Robert  I., et al, LDS Beliefs, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2011  

NELSON,  Russell M., Teachings of Russell M. Nelson, Deseret Book Co., Salt lake City, Utah, 2018,

SMITH, Joseph Jr., History of the Church, Vols. 1 &  2, of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1948  

All research and opionions presented on this site are the sole responsibility of Dr. Einar C. Erickson, and should not be interpreted as official statements of the LDS doctrine, beliefs or practice.
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