Church organization is built on Christ, apostles, prophets

In his epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul gave clear instruction on Church organization, instruction that applies in this dispensation as well as in the primitive Church. (See Sixth Article of Faith.)

Using the metaphor of an edifice, he told the Saints, "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints and of the household of God;"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

"In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

"In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph. 2:19-22.)

Later in the epistle, Paul taught about other offices and callings essential to the Church of Christ, in addition to apostles and prophets:

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." (Eph. 4:11-12.)

Thus, under priesthood direction, nearly every active Latter-day Saint functions in a Church calling. Church members thus teach, guide and edify one another "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."

"Every office so established, every officer so commissioned, is necessary to the development of the Church and to the accomplishment of its work," commented Elder James E. Talmage in Articles of Faith. "An organization established of God comprises no superfluities; the eye, the ear, the hand, the foot, every organ of the body, is essential to the symmetry and perfection of the physical structure; in the Church no officer can rightly say to another: `I have no need of thee.'

"The existence of these officers, and particularly their operation with accompaniments of divine assistance and power, may be taken as a distinguishing characteristic of the Church in any age of the world . . . . The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the everlasting Gospel; its principles, laws and ordinances, and the Church organization founded thereon, must be ever the same. In searching for the true Church, therefore, one must look for an organization comprising the offices established of old." (p. 199.)


Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Sunday School course of study on the New Testament, lesson No. 37.

Information compiled by R. Scott Lloyd

Sources: James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith; First Presidency preface to Hymns; April 1973 and October 1994 general conferences.