…kingdoms, thrones, principalities, powers, dominions, [and exaltations] all heights and depths… (D&C 132:19, bracketed text added by me)Why so many different words? Let’s examine the definitions to see if we can get an idea of what they mean and how they are similar or different from each other. (All definitions are pieced together from dictionary.com, synonyms from Merriam-Webster’s Thesaurus.)
Kingdom – state or government having a king or queen at their head. A realm or sphere in which one thing is dominant. Anything conceived as constituting a realm or sphere of independent action or control. A monarchy is primarily a form of government in which a single person is sovereign.
Throne - the chair or seat occupied by a sovereign, bishop, or other exalted personage on ceremonial occasions, usually raised on a dais and covered with a canopy. The office or dignity of a sovereign. The occupant of a throne. Sovereign power or authority.
Principality - a state ruled by a prince, usually a relatively small state or a state that falls within a larger state such as an empire. The position or authority of a prince or chief ruler; sovereignty; supreme power. The rule of a prince of a small or subordinate state.
Power - ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something. Political or national strength. Great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force. The possession of control or command over others; authority; ascendancy. Political ascendancy or control in the government of a country, state, ect. Legal ability, capacity, or authority. Delegated authority; authority granted to a person or persons in a particular office or capacity. A document or written statement conferring legal authority. A person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence. A state or nation having international authority or influence. A military or naval force. Often, powers. a deity; divinity. Energy, force, or momentum.
Dominion - the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority. Rule; control; domination. A territory, usually of considerable size, in which a single rulership holds sway. Lands or domains subject to sovereignty or control. Government. A territory constituting a self-governing commonwealth and being one of a number of such territories united in a community of nations, or empire: formerly applied to self-governing divisions of the British Empire, as Canada and New Zealand.
Exaltation - the act of exalting. The state of being exalted. Elation of mind or feeling, sometimes abnormal or morbid in character; rapture: mystical exaltation; euphoric exaltation.
Examination of “exalt” yields: raised or elevated, as in rank or character; of high station. Noble or elevated; lofty: Rapturously excited.
Okay. At this point I got a little impatient with these secular definitions, so I went to the Topical Guide to look up “exaltation” and here are some of the phrases that are associated with the word:
Fullness of joy
Joint heirs with Christ
Crown of righteousness
Crown of life
Crown of immortality
Crowned with joy
Crown of glory
they are gods, even the sons of God
What about “heights”? “Height” in the thesaurus gives altitude, elevation, and is related to highness, loftiness, rising, tallness, and stature. This seems to be confirming what we’ve already learned with those previous words.
But what about “depths”? When I looked at the thesaurus for this one and it mentioned dropping vertically, and even mentioned “abyss”, which I thought was interesting. Does that mean that the lower kingdoms will belong to us? (Forgive the speculation) The other thing that the thesaurus associated with “depths” was profoundness, wisdom, intellect, intelligence, insight, being full of knowledge. (Contrast this with “shallowness”.) Another idea that comes to my mind is that it could be related to more than just the faculties of thought, but also those of emotion. Surely we don’t take up our exaltation without expanding our capability to feel and emote in godly ways. We get a hint of that as we read in the Pearl of Great Price about Enoch’s heart swelling wide as eternity.
So how do these words compare to each other?
Kingdoms seems to express that we will have our own spheres of sovereignty, while principalities, as something that belongs to princes, seems to point to our place as having rule over a part of our Father’s kingdom, which shows us where we will fit in. It’s hard to see what “dominions” seems to bring to all of this unless we remember that the Lord gave Adam dominion over the earth, so it seems to me that when we are given dominions, it will be over more earths than one. Or it could be that there are more dominions for the Lord to give us on this earth besides what He has already give us. (For instance, could we say that He has given us dominion over the weather or the waves or the elements or the other planets in the solar system, or is this dominion we have yet to receive?)
Thrones seems to point out that we will have seats of authority to sit on (and capitals?) and power where we rule, and powers seems to suggest that we won’t be just figurehead or puppet kings and queens, but that we will have real ability and authority and be obeyed.
Exaltations seems to suggest a variety of different things, such as the prospect of being raised up to nobility, but not just nobility, but the state of deity. It also suggests the fullness of joy, with glory, righteousness, and so on, and the ability to have eternal posterity. The fact that “exaltations” is plural seems to suggest that bringing exaltation to those children brings greater exaltation to us, with each succeeding level of exalted posterity bringing us greater exaltation. Heights seems to confirm this idea. Depths seems to point to the immersion into the greatest of thoughts and emotions and total comprehension of all things.
All I can say is , “Amazing.” It’s hard to take it all in.