John the Baptist Restores the Aaronic Priesthood

Doctrine and Covenants 13:1

1 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

Elder Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjödahl wrote:

“[This] section [D&C 13] contains the words which John the Baptist spoke when he conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood. John held these keys in the dispensation of the meridian of time, and because of this authority he was sent in the dispensation of the fulness of times to confer these keys in the day of restoration of all things. This Priesthood, we are informed, holds the keys of the preparatory gospel, which is the gospel of faith, repentance, and the remission of sins by baptism by immersion, but does not hold the authority of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. They were informed by John that he was acting under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, and that this Priesthood would in due time be conferred upon them, and Joseph Smith should be called the first Elder of the Church and Oliver Cowdery the second. This Priesthood held the keys of the higher ordinances, including the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost [see History of the Church, 1:39–40].”

(The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, rev. ed. [1951], 68.)