And it came to pass that they did appoint priests and teachers throughout all the land, over all the Churches.” -Helaman 21:36 RAV, 45:22b OPV
In the Church of Jesus Christ anyone may be called to the ministry from any walk of life. This brief overview has been created to help those seeking to know God’s will for them, in their ministries, as Teachers.
Low/Levitical Priesthood (Aaronic/Miriamic)
Within the Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship, there are two priesthoods ministers may be called to: the Low Priesthood and the High Priesthood. The Low is called the Levitical Priesthood, or in the Book of the Law of the Lord, the Priesthood of Life (BoL 36:1, 11). For those that identify as male this would be in the Brotherhood of Aaron or the Aaronic Priesthood, and for those that identify as female the Sisterhood of Miriam or the Miriamic Priesthood. The Levitical Priesthood is for those called to serve the Church and preform outer ordinances. They also teach the Gospel and assist the High Priesthood in their duties. Their role is to prepare the earth for the coming of the heavens. The keys of the Priesthood give us access to true powers from God.
The Teacher, known in Hebrew as a Rabbi, are men and women that have been called and set apart to watch over the Church, and ensure the Church meets often, encouraging all to do their part (DoS 2a:52-53, 6a5, 9:19, 53a:59). They are to strengthen members in Christ and strive to keep the peace by teaching truth and and encouraging love and kindness (DoS 2a:52). Where there is no Priest, Priestess, Elder, High Priest, or High Priestess the Teacher leads meetings (DoS 5d:3-4).
Just as Teachers assist the Priests, the Teachers are assisted by the Deacons (DoS 2a:54). The main duty of the Teacher is their local congregation (DoS 51a:11). Unlike Deacons, however, Teachers may be called to travel (DoS 2a:72-74). Teachers may be sent with and Elder, High Priest, or High Priestess to represent a congregation in the High Council (DoS 6b:20). Teachers are called to watch over the Church and may assist the Priests and Priestesses by signing membership letters (DoS 2a:54, 76, 51:11). And, as their title suggests, they are called to teach the scriptures (the Bible and Book of Mormon specifically) as led by the Holy Spirit (DoS 4a:15-19).
Growing in Degrees
Teacher is both the second office or Degree of the Levitical Priesthood and a calling. Once ordained, they are initiated and given their new name and their garments, if they were not given such as Deacons. Because theirs is the First Endowment, they should have been given the first token of the Levitical Priesthood, its name, and its sign when they were ordained Deacons. With these they were given the apron and gartel to wear over their garments (DoS 15e:7). Just as the Deacons, the Teachers should wear these when acting in their duties. When gathered as a quorum, or with the Deacons, they are to welcome one another with their signs and tokens (DoS 15e:8). It should noted that Teachers are not to cover their heads or their of their faces when preforming their duties (DoS 114:27).
Generally, in the Fellowship a Teacher should reach the Third Degree before advancing to the office of Priest or Priestess. Courses from the School of the Prophets ensure that those called to be Priest, Priests, or to an office in the High Priesthood understand their duties. All Teachers are to “warn, expound, exhort, teach, and invite all to come to Christ,” regardless of Degree or distinction (DoS 2a:55, 51a:11).
There are Five Degrees in the office of Teacher: Rabboni, Rabbi, Doctor (Rabban), Ruler (Rav), and Teacher (BoL 36:14).
First Degree: Teacher
A Teacher is one who cares for the flock, the congregation. They see to the affairs of the congregation, as needed in assisting the Priests and Priestesses. Their duties may include helping to maintain the synagogues and temples, the grounds, and any transactions put into their trust. These are the spiritual instructors of a congregation; they might teach Sunday School, or work with the children and teenagers. This is the First Degree.
Second Degree: Rav
A Ruler holds the Second Degree in the office of Teacher. Because quorums can grow upwards 24 people, there is a need to call fellows within the quorum to help as facilitators in the group. This is also an opportunity to teach these Teachers leadership skills. The title “Ruler” is not used, but those of the Second Degree may be called a Rav (an informal version of “Rabbi”). These teachers would be called to assist and act as councilors to the Rabbi. Those that have been properly instructed and called to this degree may be given authority to facilitate up to a fourth of their quorum.
Third Degree: Rabban
The Book of the Law of the Lord calls Doctors, “Teachers of eminence” (BoL 33:4a). The title of Doctor is given to those trained in seminaries, that earned certificates, or graduated from universities, a but the actual title “Doctor” may only used in today’s society for those that have received a Doctors of Philosophy, or PhD. As Rabbi may be translated “doctor,” those that have earned this Degree but that do not have a PhD may be called Rabban, another term for “Rabbi.” This Degree is used to show the status of a Teacher, as these are learned men and women above that of the Second Degree, yet they may not necessarily hold the keys to the High Priesthood as would a Rabbi. This honors their accomplishments in their callings. Doctors are to assist the Rabbis and educate communities, not merely a congregation (BoL 33:6-7). By obtaining both a spiritual and practical education, these brothers and sisters have earned the Third Degree.
Fourth Degree: Rabbi
A Rabbi a Hebrew term that means “teacher.” This Fourth Degree is given to those that have been ordained to the High Priesthood and called to work in the Low. Thus a Rabbi is the teacher of the Teachers, they are a High Priest or High Priestess called to the duty of Teacher. When the Lord told the Saints to call a teacher to lead and settle disputes, this is the Rabbi (DoS 53c:59). These may be called to the same duties as a Rabboni, but without the distinction. Rabbis are called to teach the High Priesthood Quorums, help in temple rituals, and preform other duties that require the High Priesthood. They may be called Doctors if they have earned a PhD through an accredited university. One must earn the Third Degree by completing seminary, certifications, or a degree from a university to be eligible for the Fourth Degree.
Fifth Degree: Rabboni
Rabboni is the highest, the Fifth Degree. The word is Hebrew, sometimes translated as “beloved teacher,” and means “my great Rabbi” (Mark 10:51). Rabboni the long form of Rabbi, expressing a deeper respect. The Book of the Law calls Rabboni “the most eminent of all” the Teachers (BoL 33:4b). When Mary sees Jesus, this is the term she uses to call to Him after His resurrection (John 20:16). Rabboni the head Rabbi, the Rabbi to the Rabbis (BoL 33:8b). They preform the same function and duties as a Rabbi, but with greater distinction.
A quorum of Teachers is overseen by a High Priest called to be the Second Deacon, a Rabbi who presides over up to 24 Teachers (DoS 5a:26-27, 6b:12-14). The Second Deacon would always be a Fourth or Fifth Degree Teacher, as they are called to instruct their fellow Teachers (DoS 6b:13). It is the responsibility of the Second Deacon to teach the quorum their duties and to sit in council with the Bishopric as an advisor or in place of the First Deacon when they are not available. The First and Second Deacons are the co-presidents of the Deacons and Teachers of a congregation. Thus, one would be called from the Brotherhood of Christ, and one from the Sisterhood. Those called to serve the Church in the office of Teacher must be called and sustained by the voice of the congregation, and set apart as such (DoS 6a:6, 9:19).
“ In every city, town, and village, ye shall ordain Teachers, men and women who are apt to teach, learned in letters, and in every science, and every manner of wisdom and knowledge; that they may instruct you and your children, and that you may attain to all wisdom and all knowledge.” -Book of the Law of the Lord 33:1