Selected Teachings on
Sons of the Prophets

John A. Widtsoe (Quorum of the Twelve)

The teacher must learn before he can teach. Therefore, in ancient and modern times there have been schools of the prophets, in which the mysteries of the kingdom have been taught to men who would go out to teach the gospel and to fight the battles of the Lord. These "prophets" need not be called to an office; they go out as teachers of truth, always and everywhere. (Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 257)

Joseph Fielding Smith (President)

The School of the Prophets is not something new to this dispensation. In ancient Israel, especially in the days of Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha, we hear of the activities of this school. We can read in I Samuel 10 that after Samuel had anointed Saul to be king of Israel, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, and he joined a company of the sons of the prophets, and he prophesied. In II Kings 2, we read of the School of the Prophets, the sons of the prophets. We read about them at the time that Elijah was taken into heaven; they had followed Elijah and after he was taken away they followed Elisha. Then we read, "And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood to view afar off: and they two (Elijah and Elisha) stood by Jordan." These sons of the prophets discovered that the power of Elijah was upon Elisha; and so, after Elijah was taken, they followed Elisha. It seems, to me, quite evident that there were a number of very choice young men who followed these two great prophets and were taught by them.

We read of the sons of the prophets in other parts of our scriptures, how certain of these young prophets were sent with special missions to anoint and to bless certain individuals. Now, the influence is very strong. It seems to me at least, that these young men who were called the sons of the prophets were not Levites. You know the Lord took away Moses and the higher priesthood, the Melchizedek Priesthood, from Israel and left with them the Aaronic Priesthood and the carnal law. And so the sons of Aaron became the priests of the people and ministered to them, looked after their wants-but in their restricted way, because as the Lord has pointed out in Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants, they were subject to the preparatory gospel of faith, repentance, and baptism, and they had no power to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. There were other things, too, that they could not do; and so the Lord had to keep someone with the Melchizedek Priesthood, although it was not scattered among the tribes of Israel. Most of those who held the higher priesthood were not of the tribe of Levi. Some were, but others came from other tribes. These prophets gathered around them choice young men and taught them, instructed them; and they followed in the footsteps of these prophets and became known as the sons of the prophets. It was a group of these young men who followed Elijah, and who followed Elisha, and who were present on the occasion when Saul was anointed king of Israel.  

Now, all of the Melchizedek Priesthood was not given to everyone. It was confined to a select few. Of these few that were some who came out of the other tribes of Israel, who followed the prophets, and, by their faith and understanding, became prophets themselves. Just how many of them were given the authority to officiate in the higher ordinances, the Lord has not revealed. It was only by special appointment that this priesthood was given to any of the prophets.   

These students of Elisha and Elijah, and a few others, were chosen, then, by revelation and commissioned, at least many of them, to anoint and to bless; and they were sent to deliver prophetic messages from time to time. (Seek Ye Earnestly, 195–196)

James E. Talmage (Quorum of the Twelve)

Samuel, who was established in the eyes of all Israel as a prophet of the Lord (1 Sam. 3:19, 20), organized the prophets into a society for common instruction and edification. He established schools for the prophets, where men were trained in things pertaining to holy offices; the students were generally called "sons of the prophets" (1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7; 4:1, 38; 9:1). Such schools were established at Ramah (1 Sam. 19:19, 20), Bethel (2 Kings 2:3), Jericho (2 Kings 2:5), Gilgal (2 Kings 4:38). The members seem to have lived together as a society (2 Kings 6:1-4). In the present dispensation, a similar organization was effected under the direction of the prophet Joseph Smith; this also received the name of the School of the Prophets. (Articles of Faith, p.445)

Hyrum L. Andrus (LDS Author)

When viewed in its proper light, the School of the Prophets was to be an important feature of the restoration of the true order and program of the Holy Priesthood. Such organizations existed among the people of God in ancient times. Moses wished "that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them"; and a faint outline of an order of prophets can be found in the law which he gave to the Israelites. Samuel later instituted schools of prophets at Ramah, Bethel, Jericho, Gilgal, and elsewhere. These schools were instrumental in teaching the religion and culture of Israel to the people. (Doctrines of the Kingdom, 331–332)

John A. Tvedtnes (Neal A. Maxwell Institute Scholar)

In ancient times, there was a school of the prophets. The members of this school were termed the "sons of the prophets," which is a Hebrew idiom meaning "of the class or group of the prophets." (See 1 Samuel 10:10; 19:20; 1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 4:1, 38; 5:22; 6:1; 9:1.) Samuel was perhaps the first head of this school. While his father had not been a prophet (nor had the father of Amos; see Amos 7:14), we find that many of these "sons of the prophets" were actually sons of members of the school. For example, Zechariah's grandfather, Iddo, was also a prophet. (Zechariah 1:1.) Whereas Zechariah's book is found in our present-day Bible, we no longer have the Vision of Iddo, written by his forefather. (2 Chronicles 9:29; 12:15; 13:22.)     

It is possible that from among these prophets of the school were chosen members of the First Presidency of the Church…. We find, for example, that Samuel, Nathan, Gad, Joel, and Asaph all lived during the time of David and, with the exception of Samuel and Asaph, also during the time of Solomon. Ahijah the Shilonite, Iddo, and Shemaiah lived and prophesied around 975 B.C. Twenty-five years later, we find the prophets Obed, Azariah, Hanani, and Jehu. At the turn of the century, we have the prophets Elijah the Tishbite (head of the school), Micaiah, Jahaziel, Eliezer, and Elisha (successor to Elijah; 1 Kings 19:16). The latter was not a member of the school until Elijah called him from the field of his father. Joel, Hosea, and Jonah followed. Isaiah and Micah were contemporaries in the latter half of the eighth century B.C. Jeremiah evidently led the prophets at the time of the Babylonian invasion, and we find with him such others as Zephaniah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, and Lehi (of Book of Mormon fame), as well as young Daniel, who became the prophet of the Exile. Returning from exile, the Jews brought with them the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. However, neither of these two, apparently, was a high priest, and they were not authorized to preside over the Church.  This is evidenced by the fact that Nehemiah, the governor, "said unto (certain priesthood claimants), that they should not eat of the most holy things (sacrificial meals), till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim." (Nehemiah 7:65; Ezra 2:63.) The existence of the Urim and Thummim and its operation meant revelation from God through the presiding authority of the Church. Apparently this presiding authority did not at that time exist, although there seem to have been priests, elders, Levites, etc. It was through the prophesyings of Haggai and Zechariah that the people of that time were able to finish the rebuilding of the temple and city of Jerusalem. (Ezra 5:1; 6:14.) But Israel was not to see another prophet who would leave his writings with the people until a century later, when Malachi wrote the last of the books of the Old Testament (ca. 432 B.C.). (The Church of the Old Testament, p.20-21)