Doctrine and Covenants

This entry consists of twenty articles:

Doctrine and Covenants: Overview

Doctrine and Covenants: Contents

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 1

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 20-22

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 25

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 42

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 45

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 76

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 84

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 88

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 89

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 93

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 107

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 109-110

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 121-123

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 124

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 127-128

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 131-132

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 137-138

Doctrine and Covenants: Official Declaration 2

The first article is an introduction to the Latter-day Saint scripture known as the Doctrine and Covenants, its meaning, significance, and use in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The second article summarizes the main contents of this collection of revelations and official statements of the Church. A series of individual articles follows on selected sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, summarizing their contents and importance. For Official Declaration 1, see Manifesto of 1890. Commentaries on, editions of, and literary features of the Doctrine and Covenants are also discussed in the separate articles.

Doctrine and Covenants: Overview

Author: DOXEY, ROY W.

The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of revelations, most of which were received by the Prophet Joseph Smith for the establishment and governance of the kingdom of God in the latter days. It is a standard work of the Church and functions as its open, ever-expanding, ecclesiastical Constitution. Its main focus is to build up the Church of Jesus Christ and to bring people into harmony with Christ's kingdom. It is viewed as the capstone of the Church; its companion volume, the Book of Mormon, is seen as the keystone (Benson, pp. 83-85). The Book of Mormon was written to convince all individuals that Jesus is the Christ (see Book of Mormon: Overview); the Doctrine and Covenants was given to organize and orient them according to God's mind and kingdom.

Of the 138 sections and 2 declarations presently in this collection, 133 were received principally through Joseph Smith, the first prophet and President of the Church. The seven remaining sections were received or written by or under the direction of Oliver Cowdery (sections 102 and 134), John Taylor (section 135), Brigham Young (section 136), Joseph F. Smith (section 138), Wilford Woodruff (Official Declaration 1), and Spencer W. Kimball (Official Declaration 2).

While most passages in the Doctrine and Covenants have a specific historical setting, virtually every verse is one of wisdom, general instruction, religious principle, or doctrine. Most of the revelations were received in answer to specific prayerful requests. Although many were given for the benefit of particular individuals, by and large their guidance has universal application, making these revelations as relevant today as when first received. They were given to the servants of the Lord "in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding" (1:24). They are recognized by Latter-day Saints as "the will of the Lord,…the mind of the Lord,…the word of the Lord,…the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation" (68:4).

The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received by various methods. Some were received by inspiration, the mind being enlightened by the Holy Spirit (e.g., sections 20-22); others came from an angel (sections 2, 13, 27, 110); in visions, or sight-knowledge, usually through the spiritual eyes of the prophet (sections 76, 137-38); by the still small voice, a voice that comes into the mind (section 85); or by an audible voice (section 130:12-13). At times, other people were present and shared the spiritual manifestations (see Visions of Joseph Smith).

The sections are of many types, containing various kinds of materials and historical documents. For example, section 102 contains the minutes of a high council meeting; section 113 answers questions on the writings of Isaiah; sections 121-23 are part of a letter written by Joseph Smith in relation to persecution; sections 127-28 are epistles on baptisms for the dead; section 134 is an article on government and laws; and section 135 reports the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Section 7 is a translation of a record written and hidden up by the Apostle John; sections 65 and 109 are prayers; other sections are items of instruction (sections 130-31) and prophecies (sections 87 and 121). Section 1 is the Lord's Preface to the other revelations. Section 133 is known as the Appendix; it was given two days after the Preface and contains eschatological information. Both sections 1 and 133 were provided in preparation for the publication of the revelations.

The first compilation of the revelations given to Joseph Smith was printed in 1833 and was known as A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ (see Book of Commandments). It contained sixty-five chapters. This collection was submitted to a priesthood conference of the Church on November 1, 1831, for approval prior to publication. Because of the unpolished language of the revelations, one member doubted their authenticity. A revelation, section 67 in modern editions, challenged any person to write a revelation; when the doubter confessed that he was unable to do so, the compilation was approved by those assembled. Because the printing office of the Church in Independence, Missouri, was destroyed by a mob in July 1833 while the book was in production, only a few copies of this first compilation have survived.

Over the years after the first printing, other revelations were received and some earlier materials were deleted. An 1835 edition, published in Kirtland, Ohio, was entitled Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and contained 103 sections. In subsequent editions, more sections were added (see Doctrine and Covenants Editions). The most recent additions were sections 137 (1836) and 138 (1918) on salvation of the dead, and the Official Declaration 2 announcing the priesthood available to every worthy male member of the Church (1978). An article on marriage written by Oliver Cowdery in 1835 was deleted from the 1876 edition. Beginning with the 1921 edition, a set of lessons called the Lectures on Faith have not been included.

One hundred of the revelations were received before 1834, during the early, formative years of the Church. Many of them were addressed to specific individuals who sought wisdom from the Prophet. Gospel doctrines were often not revealed in their fulness at first, but were received progressively from time to time. As the Church grew and relocated, questions regarding Church administration, duties of officers, guidance for the members of the Church, and events of the future became the subjects of further revelations.

Not all the revelations received by Joseph Smith are included in the Doctrine and Covenants (see unpublished revelations). Some are contained in the History of the Church, giving counsel and instruction to individuals (HC 1:229), concerning the Saints being driven to the Rocky Mountains (HC 5:85), and a prophecy about Stephen A. Douglas (HC 5:393-94).

Deciding which revelations to include in the Doctrine and Covenants is a prerogative of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The selection is then affirmed by the common consent of Church members.

The Doctrine and Covenants is directed to the people of this generation. To the Latter-day Saints it is the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ confirming and revealing the way of salvation and instruction for the government of his Church. It warns individuals and nations of impending destruction if they do not repent. It witnesses to the reality of life beyond the grave.

Prominent among its teachings are the specific principles, covenants, and ordinances that lead to eternal life. It prescribes priesthood ordinances from baptism to marriage sealed for eternity. Salvation of the dead also is made known by revelations concerning baptism for the dead and visions of preaching to the spirits who are awaiting resurrection.

Its emphasis upon the spiritual nature of temporal matters heightens one's appreciation of and respect for this life. For example, its code of health, known as the Word of Wisdom, promises both spiritual and physical health to those who obey it (section 89).

The Doctrine and Covenants contains numerous teachings and pithy sayings that powerfully influence the daily lives and feelings of Latter-day Saints, which set the tone of Church service and instill vitality into the work. Among its frequently quoted lines are the following maxims and words of counsel and divine assurance: "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30); "Seek not for riches but for wisdom" (11:7); "He who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come" (59:23); "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith" (88:118); "Without faith you can do nothing" (8:10); "Of you it is required to forgive all men" (64:10); "Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will" (58:27); "All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" (122:7); "For I will raise up unto myself a pure people, that will serve me in righteousness" (100:16); "Be not weary in well-doing" (64:32); "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good" (90:24); and "Now what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy" (128:19).


Conder, Marjorie Draper. Review of A Window to the Past: A Photographic Panorama of Early Church History and the Doctrine and Covenants, by T. Jeffrey Cottle and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel. BYU Studies 34:4 (1994-1995):204-208.

Welch, John W. and Trevor Packer. The Newly Found Manuscript of Doctrine and Covenants Section 65. BYU Studies 33:2 (1993):331-336.

Vogel, Dan. Review of The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture. BYU Studies 31 (Summer 1991):66-73.

Doctrine and Covenants: Contents


The revelations compiled in the Doctrine and Covenants contain directions and doctrine needed to inspire, organize, and administer the affairs of the Church. They were not received or written as a textbook, treatise, or organized curriculum of lesson plans, but were received intermittently when the Prophet Joseph Smith and others sought divine guidance in various circumstances.

Despite the fact that many of these revelations are personally directed to certain individuals or groups in nineteenth-century times and places, they contain principles that have eternal application and thus current value. The revelations include warnings of divine judgments upon the wicked; teachings about the progression of human souls toward exaltation and eternal life through the gospel of Jesus Christ; information about scripture, including the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the translation of the Bible by Joseph Smith; instructions about the priesthood, its restoration, functions, offices, and ordinances; commandments and instructions to people of the Church regarding personal behavior, education, lands and property, buildings, and caring for the poor; and callings and counsel to preach and live the gospel.

Section 1 is the Preface, given at a conference of the Church on November 1, 1831. It came in response to Joseph Smith's request for authority from the Lord to publish some of the revelations that he had previously received. In it, the Lord authorized the request and issued the following challenge and declaration to all who would read it: "Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled" (D&C 1:37).

Sections 2-19 are revelations received prior to the organization of the Church in 1830. In them, the Lord instructed Joseph Smith and his companions on many subjects, especially the translation, publication, and value of the Book of Mormon, and the need to trust completely in the Lord and to safeguard sacred things (sections 3, 5, 10, 17, 20). Joseph Smith, Sr.; Hyrum Smith; Joseph Knight, Sr.; John, Peter, and David Whitmer; Oliver Cowdery; and Martin Harris were taught how they might be a part of the work that was about to come forth and were instructed about its sacredness (sections 4, 6, 8-9, 11-12, 14-19). They were also counseled to become worthy to receive the Lord's Spirit so that they might recognize God's revelations and carry out his will (sections 6, 8-9, 11).

Also during this time, the authority to act in the name of the Lord was restored (see Priesthood), and the purpose and scope of that authority were explained (sections 13, 18, 20; cf. 27). The Lord gave counsel concerning the value of individual souls and encouraged his servants to labor for one another's salvation by teaching the restored gospel and bringing people to repentance (section 18). The value of and need for the Atonement of Jesus Christ were revealed, and people were directed to come to him for forgiveness and spiritual strength (section 19).

Sections 20-40 gave instructions in 1830 to the newly organized Church in New York. The basic doctrines of the Church as contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon and the criteria for establishing covenants with the Lord were summarized, and the responsibilities of members and priesthood holders in the Church were established (section 20).

The Lord gave a revelation concerning the relationship of the Prophet to the Lord and of Church members to the word of the Lord through his Prophet (section 21). This is a major topic in the Doctrine and Covenants and provides the basis for understanding the process of continuing revelation through the president of the church (section 28; cf. 43, 68, 81, 90, 124).

Further revelations were received for the benefit of various individuals and for the Church in general, in which many doctrinal insights were provided on such subjects as baptism (section 22); following counsel (sections 23-24, 31); music, and counsel to the Prophet's wife, Emma Smith (section 25); common consent (section 26); the Sacrament (section 27); the Holy Spirit (sections 29-30, 34, cf. 46, 50, 75, 79); preaching to the American Indians, or Lamanites (section 30, 32); proclaiming the gospel to all the world in the last days (sections 29, 33, 35, 38; cf. 43, 45, 86-87, 90, 101, 116, 133); and Joseph Smith's work on translating the Bible and other records (sections 35, 37; cf. 41-42, 45, 73-74, 76-77, 86, 91, 93-94, 124:89). It was through this translation activity that many of the doctrines of the Church were revealed to Joseph Smith (see Joseph Smith-Matthew).

The Lord directed members of the Church to gather to Ohio, where he promised that he would give them his law, establish Zion, and endow them with power from on high (sections 37-38, 42). The making and keeping of covenants are identified as the basis for individuals becoming God's people or his disciples (sections 39-41).

Sections 41-123 were given during the Ohio and Missouri periods of the Church (1831-1839) and contain various instructions concerning the affairs of the Church. During these years many doctrines and principles of the gospel were revealed that helped to build a vital doctrinal framework for the Church. The first revelation recorded by Joseph Smith in Ohio called Edward Partridge to serve as the first bishop of the Church (section 41). As promised, the Saints were given the Lord's laws by which members of the Church are governed, including the law of teaching (sections 42, 68, 88, 93, 100); moral laws (sections 42, 58-59); the law of consecration (sections 42, 51, 54, 70, 78, 82-83, 104); the law of labor (sections 42, 60, 68, 75; see Work, Role of); instructions concerning administration to the sick (sections 42, 46, 63); laws of remuneration for goods and services (sections 42, 43, 70, 106); and laws pertaining to transgressors (sections 42, 58, 102, 107). Joseph Smith also received instruction concerning the importance of marriage and the family (section 49; cf. 131-32), and the Lord revealed information by which counterfeit and evil practices might be detected and avoided (sections 43, 46, 50, 52; cf. 129).

A major theme of the Doctrine and Covenants is the establishment and building of Zion, both as a place (see New Jerusalem) and as a condition of the people (the pure in heart; D&C 97:21). Joseph Smith was instructed to go to Missouri, where the site for the city of Zion would be made known (section 52). While there, he received guidance from the Lord concerning the establishment of Zion and its people (sections 57-59). The Saints began to gather in Missouri to fulfill the Lord's requirements, and additional revelations were received pertaining to their various responsibilities (sections 63-64). They were taught the necessity of building and having a temple, or house of the Lord, in connection with becoming a people of Zion (sections 57, 84, 88, 97, 101, 109-110; cf. 124). Since some members did not reach levels of consecrated faith and obedience reflective of a Zion society, they failed to establish Zion at that time. They were expelled from Missouri, and the building of Zion in that place was temporarily suspended (sections 101, 103, 105).

During this same time and later, other insightful revelations were provided concerning health rules (sections 49, 89); the life, light, spirit, and power of Christ (sections 50, 84, 88, 93); missionary work (sections 75, 79-80, 84, 99); the sabbath (section 59); obedience and sacrifice (sections 58-59, 82, 97, 117-18); obtaining and extending forgiveness (sections 58, 64, 82, 98); the Plan of Salvation for all humankind (sections 76, 93; cf. 131, 137-38); priesthood functions and quorums (sections 81, 84, 90, 107, 112, 121; cf. 124; and Official Declaration 2 of 1978); impending wars (section 87); biblical texts (sections 74, 77, 113); and tithing (sections 119-20).

Sections 124-135 were recorded in Nauvoo during the last years of Joseph Smith's life (1839-1844). They include directions to the Church regarding the Nauvoo Temple, the first full-ordinance temple (section 124); ordinances and salvation for the dead (sections 124, 127-128); the nature of the Godhead and exalted beings (sections 130, 132); eternal and plural marriage (sections 131-32; see also Manifesto of 1890); political laws and governments (section 134); and a statement of the contributions of Joseph Smith and of his testimony at the time of his martyrdom (sections 135-36).

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 1


Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants is called the "Preface." It was a revelation received by Joseph Smith between sessions of a conference in Hiram, Ohio, on November 1, 1831. The conference had been convened to consider publishing sixty-three of the revelations Joseph Smith had received (see Book of Commandments). The conference voted unanimously to publish them as the word of the Lord. In accordance with the Lord's declaration, this section was published as "my preface unto the book of my commandments" (D&C 1:6). It sets an urgent tone for the entire Doctrine and Covenants.

Like the revelations it introduces, section 1 is written predominantly in the first person as the word of the Lord: "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken" (verse 38). It proclaims to the world that through the restoration of his Church, God has set his hand the last time to redeem his children and prepare the earth for the Savior's return.

Section 1 is a bold declaration that God sees all things and speaks to all people, that his words will go to all nations through his chosen disciples, that every person eventually will hear the gospel in his or her own language so that each may understand, and that weak things of the world will break down the mighty and strong and the Church will be brought out of obscurity by the power of God (see also the revelation given two days later, D&C 133).

Section 1 balances judgment and relief. It is a voice of warning of impending judgments: "Prepare ye, prepare ye" (verse 12). It warns that those who do not repent will suffer much sorrow, for worldwide sin has kindled the "anger of the Lord" and people "have strayed from [his] ordinances and have broken [his] everlasting covenant" (verses 13-15). Those who hearken, however, are promised instruction, chastening, correction, knowledge, and blessings from God.

The section ends with the certification of the Lord that all his prophecies and promises, though given to men in their weakness, are true and will be fulfilled. GEORGE W. PACE

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 20-22


Sections 20-22

Sections 20-22 of the Doctrine and Covenants are fundamental, formative documents in early Church history. They continue to serve as a definitive statement of beliefs and priesthood functions. Originally sections 20 and 22 were published together as "Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ." They were first published in the Painesville (Ohio) Telegraph in April 1831 and later on the first page of the first issue of The Evening and the Morning Star in June 1832. The earliest known version of section 20 is dated June 1829. Many early copies were made of a draft in Oliver Cowdery's hand.

Sections 20-22 were officially adopted as doctrinal revelations by the Church at its first conference on June 9, 1830, and were the first sections of the Doctrine and Covenants to be thus approved. Later, missionaries often would read manuscript copies of these "Articles" at public meetings and conferences because they had been instructed to include the "Church Articles" in their teachings (D&C 42:13). Section 20 was Chapter II in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, right after the revealed Preface. The present order was established in the 1876 edition.

Section 20 is a composite text that divides into a historical prologue (verses 1-16), a statement of beliefs (verses 17-36), and a collection of policies and procedures (verses 37-84). While its principles continue to guide Latter-day Saints today, its provisions also provide glimpses of Church life in its initial years. The prologue contains the earliest published references to the ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery as apostles (verses 2-3) and to Joseph Smith's first vision: "It was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins" (verse 5). The personal dimension of this account is consistent with Joseph's 1832 and 1835 accounts of his First Vision.

Section 20 also contains the Church's earliest known declaration of faith. It affirms basic Christian doctrines, following the sequence common to most Protestant confessions, beginning with the nature of God (verse 17), the creation (verses 18-19), the fall (verse 20), Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation (verses 21-28). Additional comments discuss the possibility of "falling from grace" and the nature of sanctification, which were lively issues in the 1820s. Sensitivity to the surrounding Christian world is shown in verse 35, which assures that these articles are "neither adding to, nor diminishing from the prophecy of [John's] book, the holy scriptures, or the revelations of God that will come hereafter."

Most of section 20 gives guidelines for Church government. Drawing partly upon texts from the Book of Mormon, it explains the ordinances of baptism and the Sacrament, and the duties of baptized members. Originally, priests, teachers, and deacons were local adult priesthood leaders, which explains the significant pastoral charge given them (verses 46-59) and their role in signing certificates of worthiness for members moving from one branch of the Church to another (verse 84). The Aaronic Priesthood had a public ministry to "preach, teach, expound, exhort" (verse 46) and needed to be properly "licensed" (verse 64).

Received on the day the Church was incorporated, section 21 defines Joseph Smith's leadership of the new Church as "a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ" (verse 1), with Oliver Cowdery as an elder "under his hand" (verse 11). Church members are counseled to keep records and to receive Joseph's words "as if from mine own mouth" (verses 1, 5).

Section 22,received the same month, requires all people, even those previously baptized, to be baptized into "a new and an everlasting covenant" (verse 1).

Together, these three sections provide a firm organizational foundation for the restored Church of Christ.


Faulring, Scott H. "An Examination of the 1829 "An Examination of the 1829 'Articles of the Church of Christ' in Relation to Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants." BYU Studies 43:4 (2004):57-91.

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 25


This revelation was given in harmony, pennsylvania, in July 1830, three months after the organization of the Church. It was first printed in the book of commandments in 1833 as Chapter Xxvi. It is addressed to Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the earliest version, Emma Smith is addressed as "my daughter in Zion." Joseph Smith later expanded this verse to add, "All those who receive my Gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom."

The section has five main components: 1. Emma is designated as an "elect lady" (verse 3). Later, on March 17, 1842, when Emma Smith became the first president of the Relief Society and the women were organized in the order of the priesthood, Joseph explained that this was the office of her "elect" calling. The benevolent organization that she led had grown to more than 3 million women by 1990.

2. Emma is admonished to unity with her husband to "be unto him for a scribe" and to "go with him at the time of his going" (verse 6). She accepted these callings, though she was later required to abandon home and security.

3. Emma is called to "be ordained under [Joseph's] hand to expound scriptures, and exhort the church," as "given thee by my Spirit" (verse 7). She is also commanded to study and devote her time "to writing, and to learning much" (verse 8). In the course of her life, she taught, expounded, exhorted, presided, and served in many Church organizations. The mandate has remained with LDS women: to master the scriptures, thus the more powerfully to lead, teach, minister, and serve.

4. Emma is charged to select sacred hymns, and a manifesto is given of the spiritual power of music: "The song of the righteous is a prayer unto me" (verse 12). Her hymnal was first published in 1836 (although 1835 appears on the title page). This collection utilizes many classical Christian words and melodies but also embodies songs related to most of the unique events and teachings of the restoration (see Hymns and Hymnody; Music).

5. Emma is counseled against murmuring, putting her public ministry before her role as companion of her husband, seeking "the things of this world" (verse 10), and pride. "Let thy soul delight in thy husband" (verse 14). She is to glorify her husband while involved in a public ministry. Emma fulfilled each of these callings, endured the loss of five children, and stood by Joseph until his martyrdom. This inclusion of women in leading roles of the Church, presiding in some organizations and over certain sacral functions, was a marked departure from nineteenth-century patterns. Church leaders, both men and women, continue to cite passages from this inspired calling of Emma to exemplify some of the potentials of women and facilitate their full participation in all spiritual callings and blessings of the Gospel.


Hinckley, Gordon B. "If Thou Art Faithful." Ensign 14 (Nov. 84):89-92.


Doctrine and Covenants: Section 42


This section is called the "law of Christ" and the "law of the Church," and receiving it fulfilled a promise made on January 2, 1831, in Doctrine and Covenants 38:32,that the law would be given to the Church in Ohio. As a precondition (see D&C 41:2-3), the elders were to unite in the prayer of faith. The first seventy verses of section 42 were given February 9, 1831, while twelve elders were, as the record states, "united in mighty prayer." Verses 71-93 were received two weeks later in similar circumstances. The revelation was first published in The Evening and The Morning Star, in July and October 1832, and was included as chapters 44 and 47 of the book of commandments in 1833.

High requirements were here imposed on the infant Church, with a small and scattered membership and little instruction and experience. They can be divided into six main segments: 1. A missionary commission to travel to the West (verses 1-17). Its members were to go two by two, under proper ordination and authority, to teach the principles of the gospel from the Bible and Book of Mormon and to teach only "by the Spirit."

2. A reaffirmation of the ten commandments (verses 18-29). The ancient decalogue of Moses stressed the laws of behavior. The New Testament, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and a similar sermon in 3 Nephi emphasize both the act and the inner condition, letter and spirit. Section 42 also affirms the more inclusive expectations and aspirations of the new and everlasting covenant. Additions include "Thou shalt not lie…[nor] speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm" and "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else." Violators, it is said, "shall not have the Spirit" and shall fear.

3. A statement on the laws of stewardship and consecration (verses 30-39). Properties were to be consecrated by a covenant "which cannot be broken," for support of the poor, each person acting as a steward over his own property, and a high council and bishop as stewards over the Church storehouse. The storehouse, replenished by "residues," would administer to the poor and needy. "Inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me." Through these principles, the Church was to procure land, build houses of worship, and eventually establish the New Jerusalem.

4. Warnings against pride of heart, ostentation, idleness, and uncleanness (verses 40-42).

5. Admonitions to compassionate care for the sick who are without the gift of faith unto healing (verses 43-52). Signs, including healing, will follow specific gifts of faith, but the highest form of faith is to "have power to become my sons." Reassurance is given those who die unto the Lord, for their death "shall be sweet unto them" (verse 46).

6. Instructions on Church procedures regarding transgressors, trials, witnesses, Church discipline in relation to the laws of the land, and patterns of confession and reconciliation (verses 53-93). [See also Disciplinary Procedures.]


Otten, L. G., and C. M. Caldwell. Sacred Truths of the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, pp. 195-206. Springville, Utah, 1982.


Doctrine and Covenants: Section 45


This revelation of the Doctrine and Covenants was received in early March 1831, a time when "many false reports, lies, and foolish stories, were published in the newspapers, and circulated in every direction, to prevent people from investigating the work, or embracing the faith" (Hc 1:158). In it the Lord called the Saints to hearken to his voice, and noted that he was pleading unto the Father for them (D&C 45:1-7). He then told them he would "prophesy, as unto men in days of old," and gave them what he had given his disciples in Jerusalem concerning events that would take place in that day, in the last days, and at his second coming.

Three events would take place during the time of the Savior's own generation: (1) the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed (verses 18-20); (2) the Jewish nation would be desolated and destroyed (verse 21); and (3) the Jews would be scattered among all nations (verse 24). History shows that these prophecies were fulfilled. Before the end of first century, Roman conquests brought about a literal and exact fulfillment of all that Jesus had described. Some who heard him prophesy lived to witness those events.

Many events would happen in the last days preceding the Lord's second coming: 1. The Jews shall be gathered to Jerusalem (verse 25). 2. There shall be wars and rumors of wars (verse 26). 3. Men's hearts shall fail them (verse 26). 4. There shall be claims of a delay in Christ's coming (verse 26). 5. The love of men shall wax cold (verse 27). 6. Iniquity shall abound (verse 27). 7. The fulness of the gospel shall be restored (verse 28). 8. Times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled (verse 30). 9. There shall be an overflowing scourge and desolating sickness (verse 31). 10. The wicked shall curse God (verse 32). 11. There shall be earthquakes and many desolations (verse 33). 12. There shall be displays of heavenly phenomena-sun, moon, stars (verses 40-44).

The Times of the Gentiles referred to in item 8 began with the taking of the gospel to the Gentiles by the apostles after the death of Christ. The second opportunity for the Gentiles came with the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, to be preached first to the Gentiles and then to the Jews.

When the Savior comes a second time, he will make at least three general appearances: 1. He will appear to the Saints or covenant members of his church (verses 45-46, 56-57). The Savior likened those faithful members to the five wise virgins who had taken the Holy Spirit to be their guide (cf. Matt. 25:1-13).

2. He will appear to the Jews at Jerusalem (verses 47-53). When the Jews are engaged in a battle for survival, the Savior will appear and intervene in their behalf and they will recognize him as their Messiah.

3. He will appear to the world (verses 74-75). This appearance will not be to a select group, but rather will be of such magnitude that the wicked will be destroyed, leaving only the righteous to enjoy the millennial reign of the Savior. The second coming of the Savior will coincide with the resurrection of faithful covenant members of his Church who shall be caught up to meet him when he comes in his glory (verse 45). And the heathen who lived without the law will be resurrected, and also "they that knew no law" (verse 54).

The revelation known as section 45 then focuses on Joseph Smith's work on the Bible translation (verses 60-62), and also mentions wars abroad and at home (verse 63). The last verses call the Saints to gather "with one heart and with one mind…[to build] the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety" (verses 65-66).


Church Educational System. The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual. Salt Lake City, 1981.

Cook, Lyndon W. The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Provo, 1981.

Otten, Leaun G., and C. Max Caldwell. Sacred Truths of the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1. Springville, Utah, 1982.


Doctrine and Covenants: Section 76


Section 76 presents a vision about the Plan of Salvation, particularly the nature of the three kingdoms or heavens of glory that mankind may inherit following the resurrection, depending on their personal faithfulness (see Degrees of Glory).

As Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were working on the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) on February 16, 1832, they came to John 5:29,concerning the resurrection of the just and the unjust. Of that experience, Joseph explained, "It appeared self-evident that…if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term "Heaven,' as intended for the Saints' eternal home must include more kingdoms than one…. While translating St. John's Gospel, myself and Elder Rigdon saw the following vision" (HC 1:245). At least ten people were in the room when this revelation was received. One of them, Philo Dibble, sixty years later recalled how Joseph and Sidney, almost motionless for about one hour, would alternately relate and confirm to each other what they were concurrently seeing in the vision (Cannon, pp. 303-304).

The revelation contains a series of six visions: They see the Son of God on the right hand of God (verses 1-24); they see how the devil and his followers rebelled and were cast down (25-49); they see the Celestial Kingdom (50-70), Terrestrial Kingdom (71-80), and Telestial Kingdom (81-90), and those who will inherit each of these degrees of glory; and they see the three kingdoms of glory compared (91-119). The text was first published in the The Evening and the Morning Star in July 1832 and was included as section 91 in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Because this section, called "The Vision," departed significantly from the mainstream Christian view of one heaven and one hell, it was not easily received by some at first. Brigham Young said, "My traditions were such, that when the Vision came first to me, it was so directly contrary and opposed to my former education, I said, wait a little; I did not reject it, but I could not understand it" (Deseret News, Extra, September 14, 1852, p. 24). Entire branches of the Church had the same problem. John Murdock and Orson Pratt, serving missions in Ohio at the time, struggled to help Church members there accept these new outlooks on eternity. Soon, however, most members believed and understood the concepts, and came to revere this vision as one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring ever given.

Joseph Smith himself rejoiced in "the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision" (PJS 1:372), which he said was "a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation may confess the Lord and bow the knee; the rewards for faithfulness, and the punishments for sins; are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every man is constrained to exclaim: "It came from God"' (TPJS, p. 11).


Cannon, George Q., ed. "Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith." Juvenile Instructor, 27 (May 15, 1892):302-304.

Cook, Lyndon W. The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 157-66, 311-12. Provo, Utah, 1981.

Dahl, Larry E. "The Vision of the Glories." In Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1, pp. 279-308. Sandy, Utah, 1984.


Doctrine and Covenants: Section 84


Given on September 22-23, 1832, at Kirtland, Ohio, section 84 was first published as Chapter Iv in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is called a revelation on priesthood and was given in the presence of six elders who had just returned from their missions to the eastern states. The revelation has four main themes.

ZION. Earlier, the establishment of Zion and the need for a temple as its center had been revealed (D&C 57:1-3). Section 84 makes the Church responsible for assembling the Saints and building the New Jerusalem (Zion), beginning with the temple. Both undertakings are to be completed in a "generation." Zion is to be established through the power and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood (verses 1-5).

PRIESTHOOD. Priesthood is the power and authority delegated to man to act for God in saving souls, and it cannot be assumed, but must be passed on from one who already has it. Section 84 clearly distinguishes two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic. Moses, for example, received the Melchizedek Priesthood from Jethro, who received it through rightful heirs back to "Adam, who was the first man" (verses 6-17). The Melchizedek Priesthood administers the gospel and holds the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom and knowledge of God. Through the ordinances administered by this priesthood, men and women partake of the powers of godliness. Only thus may they behold his face and endure his presence (verses 19-22).

The Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel. It continued in an unbroken line from Aaron and was the priesthood of the Law of Moses. It was also the priesthood held by John the Baptist. This preparatory gospel includes faith, repentance, and baptism, and leads to the Melchizedek Priesthood and its ordinances (verses 26-27).

OATH AND COVENANT OF THE PRIESTHOOD. When worthy men receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, they enter into a covenant relationship with the Lord. They covenant that in faithfulness and obedience they will magnify their priesthood callings-that is, wholeheartedly honor and fulfill their stewardships. By keeping this covenant, the priesthood holder receives the oath of the Father, which leads to receiving the Father's kingdom and "all that [the] Father hath" (verse 38). Those who violate or break this covenant and altogether turn from it "shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come" (verse 41; see also Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood).

The elders of the Church are told that because of "vanity and unbelief" they and all the children of Zion have been spiritually darkened and are under condemnation before the Lord. They are to repent and remember the "new covenant," even the Book of Mormon. Through obeying this counsel, they will be forgiven their sins and bring forth fruit worthy for the kingdom (verses 54-61).

MISSIONARY COUNSEL. Section 84 gives instruction and promises to those who are emissaries of Jesus Christ. Under their direction, the gospel is to be taken to all the world. Those who desire to enter into the kingdom of Christ are to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Signs will follow those who believe. The missionaries are promised protection as well as necessities of life (verses 62-119, cf. Matt. 10).

In summary, priesthood bearers are counseled to learn their duties and faithfully function in their offices and callings. Each calling is essential within the kingdom of Christ (verses 109-110).


Otten, Leaun G., and C. Max Caldwell. Sacred Truths of the Doctrine and Covenants, 2 vols. Springville, Utah, 1983.

Smith, Hyrum M., and Janne M. Sjodahl. Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, rev. ed. Salt Lake City, 1978.


Doctrine and Covenants: Section 88


Section 88 was given through Joseph Smith in the "translating room" of the whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio. Verses 1-126 were given on December 27 and 28, 1832, and verses 127-141 on January 3, 1833. The revelation was recorded in the Kirtland Council Minute Book, and portions of it were published in The Evening and The Morning Star in February and March 1833. It was printed as section 7 in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

On Christmas Day 1832, Joseph Smith received what has become known as the prophecy on war (D&C 87), which predicted "the death and misery of many souls." His brethren were troubled at this. They united in fasting and prayer before the Lord, seeking his will concerning the upbuilding of Zion. The Prophet designated the subsequent revelation (D&C 88) the "olive leaf" and "the Lord's message of peace to us" (HC 1:316).

The section opens with an intimate promise "even upon you my friends," which is given of God through Jesus Christ, his Son (D&C 88:3-5) and is comparable with the promise of John 14 of the Comforter and the Holy Spirit of promise.

Passages follow on the pervasive immanence of divine light: The Light of Christ enlightens the eyes and quickens the understanding (see Light and Darkness). It is in and through all things, the very light of the sun, moon, and stars. It "proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space" (verse 12). It is equated with the life, the law, and the power of God.

In this context the following doctrines are clarified:

The spirit and body are the soul of man. There are three degrees of glory and three orders of glorified bodies. One receives a resurrected body according to the law by which one abides while in this world: "Your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened" (verse 28). In the resurrection one receives in full what in this world one has had only in part. A fourth order of resurrected bodies pertains to the Sons of Perdition, who, though resurrected, receive no glory (verses 32-33).

The earth itself is alive. It will die and be glorified, and the bodies who are quickened by a celestial spirit will inherit; "for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified" (verse 20).

There are multiple worlds, multiple creations, all governed by law. "Unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions" (verse 38). Law includes appointed cosmic times, seasons, and orders, as well as the divine attributes and powers of mercy, justice, and judgment. "All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified" (verse 39; see Justification). Those who seek to become a law unto themselves will not, and cannot, be sanctified.

A parable of laborers in a field teaches the magnitude of the Lord's creations (verses 46-61), that glorification comes only in appointed time and sequence, "every man in his own order" (verse 60).

The call is given to build a temple and hold a solemn assembly. The temple is to become a house of God: of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, and order. All incomings, outgoings, and salutations will be in the name of the Lord. The Saints are commanded to "organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves" (verse 74) through solemnity and sober study, to be ready for the temple experience. (See Kirtland Temple; Temples: LDS Temple Dedications.)

A comprehensive curriculum for the School of the Prophets is introduced. It includes languages, history, and a study of "the wars and the perplexities of the nations,…and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms" (verse 79).

Prophecies are reiterated concerning the changes, earthquakes, tempests, and commotion in the earth and the heavens that will precede the second coming of Christ. Six periods or epochs of one thousand years each are designated. These are to culminate in the seventh or millennial era. An angel and an angelic trump symbolize each period.

The revelation concludes with specific instructions on the conduct of meetings, the duties of the presidency, admission into the School of the Prophets, and washing of feet, in the pattern of John 13,as an initiatory and purifying ordinance for members of the school.


Cook, Lyndon W. The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Provo, Utah, 1981.


Doctrine and Covenants: Section 89


This section, known as the Word of Wisdom from its first words, was received at a meeting of the School of the Prophets in the upper level of the Whitney store on February 27, 1833, in Kirtland, Ohio. According to Zebedee Coltrin, one of twenty-two Church leaders in attendance, Joseph Smith received the revelation in an adjoining room in the presence of two or three brethren, walked in with the document in hand, and read the contents to the assembled school members. The revelation was first printed in December 1833 or January 1834 on a broadsheet and was included in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

The Word of Wisdom was given "in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days" (verse 4). As some of these designs pertain to what people eat and drink, the Word of Wisdom gives basic directions on what is good and not good, and posits a strong relationship between what individuals take into their bodies and their physical and spiritual well-being. The revelation prohibits three things: tobacco, strong drinks, and hot drinks (verses 5-9). "Strong drinks" were understood as alcoholic beverages; "hot drinks" were defined by early Church leaders as tea and coffee. Church leaders have traditionally confined relevant worthiness requirements to the prohibited items. The revelation also recommends the prudent use of herbs and fruits, the sparing consumption of meat, and the use of "all grain," but especially "wheat for man" (verses 10-17). Saints who obey the admonitions are promised health and strength, wisdom and knowledge, and protection from the destroying angel (verses 18-21).

The Word of Wisdom was an inspired response to specific problems or paradoxes within the Church and to pressing social issues in contemporary American society. Brigham Young recalled in 1868 that Joseph Smith was bothered by the seeming incongruity of discussing spiritual matters in a cloud of tobacco smoke and that Joseph's wife, Emma Smith, was bothered at having to clean the quid-littered floor. It is also probable that the Prophet was sensitive to, and supportive of, the widespread temperance sentiment of the 1830s. As was his custom, the Prophet went to the Lord for instructions, and section 89 is distinctive in the sense that it is a divinely approved code of health.

Interpretations and applications of the Word of Wisdom have gradually changed through the years. In part, this change is consistent with the Church's belief in continuing revelation through living prophets. With regard to this particular section, the varied interpretations also reflect some ambiguity in verse 2, which states that the revelation was given "not by commandment or constraint." Since verses 1-4 were part of the introduction to this section in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, through the years there have been differences of opinion as to whether the Word of Wisdom is a commandment in the sense that observance is obligatory to enjoy full Church fellowship as well as whether observance implies abstinence or merely moderation.

In the mid-1830s, many Church members felt that abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee was a criterion for fellowship. The one possible exception to this otherwise strict interpretation was wine, which some early Church leaders may not have considered "strong drink." This early emphasis on abstinence or near abstinence failed to gain Church-wide or official acceptance, although Joseph Smith said no member "is worthy to hold an office" who has been taught the Word of Wisdom and fails "to comply with and obey it" (TPJS, p.117,.). Even so, the early statement gradually gave way to an emphasis on moderation. President Joseph F. Smith later taught that the Lord did not insist on strict compliance in these early years in order to allow a generation addicted to noxious substances some years to discard bad habits. This early pattern of moderation, observable by the 1840s, continued throughout the nineteenth century. President John Taylor initiated a reform in the early 1880s in which he stressed that all Church officers should abstain from the prohibited items, but his efforts were cut short by the social disruption caused by federal antipolygamy raids. While Church leaders did not require abstinence in the nineteenth century, they stressed moderation, counseled strongly against drunkenness, and opposed or carefully regulated the establishment of distilleries and grog shops. The numerous observations by visitors in Utah Territory attest to the prevailing orderliness and sobriety of Mormon communities and evidence the effectiveness of such preaching.

The path leading to the present position on the Word of Wisdom began with the Presidency of Joseph F. Smith (1901-1918) and culminated in the administration of Heber J. Grant (1918-1945), who, more than any other Church leader, preached strict compliance with frequency and fervor. By the early 1930s, abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee had become an established test of Church fellowship. There was no known specific revelation that brought this about. It resulted from Church leaders' long-term concern over the deleterious physical and spiritual effects of alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee on both individuals and communities. National and local agitation over prohibition and the mounting scientific evidence attesting to the harmful effects of certain substances intensified that concern.

The Word of Wisdom has resulted in, among other things, better physical health among LDS people (see Vital Statistics) and physical affirmations of truths received through revelation. It has also brought about a distinguishing separateness that reminds Latter-day Saints of their religious commitments and responsibilities.


Alexander, Thomas G. Mormonism in Transition, pp. 258-71. Urbana, Ill., 1986.

Bush, Lester E., Jr. "The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective." Dialogue 14 (Fall 1981):47-65.


Doctrine and Covenants: Section 93


Section 93 is a revelation received through the Prophet Joseph Smith on May 6, 1833, during a conference of high priests at Kirtland, Ohio. It was first printed as chapter 82 of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. The insights of this revelation pervade LDS understanding of the nature and relationship of God and man.

It begins with the divine promise that every soul who forsakes sin, comes unto Christ, calls upon his name, obeys his voice, and keeps his commandments shall see his face "and know that I am, and that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (verses 1-2).

The next verses refer to sayings from a record of John yet to be revealed in full. They are reminiscent of the prologue to John's Gospel, but they also witness to Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist.

Christ is called the Father and is one with the Father because "he gave me of his fulness" (verse 4). He is called the Word because he is the "messenger of salvation" (verse 8). In him is "the life of men and the light of men" (verse 9). "The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him" (verse 10).

In contrast with theologies of static being, several verses affirm Christ's becoming. Three times they reiterate that Christ did not receive a fulness at the beginning but continued "from grace to grace" until he received a fulness of the glory of the Father (verses 12, 13, 14; cf. Luke 2:40; Heb. 5:8-9). Christ became like the Father in the exalted sense only after his resurrection and glorification (cf. Rev. 5:12-13). An understanding of this process is the foundation of authentic worship.

The revelation denies the notion of ex nihilo creation. The intelligence of man, "the light of truth," (verse 29), is not created but is self-existent. Man, like Christ himself, "was…in the beginning with God" (verse 29). Furthermore, "The elements are eternal" (verse 33).

Truth is "knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come" (verse 24). Truth and intelligence are independent in the spheres in which God has placed them (verse 30). The spirit of man is native to the spirit of truth, which is "plainly manifest" from the beginning (verse 31). This is the basis of agency and accountability. "Every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation" (verse 32).

Christ is the exemplar in all things. All may "come unto the Father in my name" (verse 19) and, in due time, "be glorified in me as I am in the Father" (verse 20). Man is a temple and a defiled temple will be destroyed. "Spirit and element" inseparably connected (resurrected) can receive a fulness of joy. "The glory of God is intelligence" defined as "light and truth." One who receives light and truth forsakes the evil one (verse 37).

"Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God" (verse 38). Through disobedience men become sinful, "light and truth" taken as they embrace the "traditions of their fathers" (verse 39).

The revelation closes with admonitions to the assembled high priests to set their houses in order by teaching the gospel more fully to their families (verses 42-50). Sidney Rigdon is to proclaim "the gospel of salvation" (verse 51) and the Brethren are to "hasten to translate my scriptures" (Bible) and "to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man," all "for the salvation of Zion" (verse 53). DAN J. WORKMAN

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 107


Section 107 is one of the most important statements in latter-day scripture on the divisions, offices, quorums, and councils of the priesthood. Section 107 establishes an orderly arrangement of lay priesthood responsibilities at several levels. It was first published as Chapter Iii in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants and was entitled "On Priesthood." Over the years it has been accepted as a major document and has been viewed as a wise and effective charter on priesthood keys and offices. It is the foundation of the priesthood administration of the Church (see Organization).

On March 28, 1835, in Kirtland, Ohio, the recently organized Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met in preparation for their mission to the eastern United States. Feeling a sense of inadequacy in their new callings as special witnesses for Christ, the quorum drafted a letter to the Prophet Joseph Smith requesting a revelation on their behalf: "The time when we are about to separate is near; and when we shall meet again, God only knows; we therefore feel to ask of him whom we have acknowledged to be our Prophet and Seer, that he inquire of God for us, and obtain a revelation, (if consistent) that we may look upon it when we are separated, that our hearts may be comforted" (HC 2:209-210).

Joseph "inquired of the Lord" and received section 107:1-57. The document distinguishes the Melchizedek Priesthood from the Aaronic Priesthood and defines which offices fall under each: The First Presidency, and under it the Twelve apostles, high priests, and elders, officiate in the Melchizedek Priesthood and function in all "spiritual things" (verses 1-12, 18-19, 21-26); the bishop, with his counselors, serves in the Aaronic Priesthood, which administers the "outward ordinances" of the Church, including baptism (verses 13-17, 20). The First Presidency presides over the Church; the Twelve are "special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world" (verse 23); and the seventy are called to preach the gospel abroad (verse 25).

The principles of priesthood organization established by this revelation combine democratic and hierarchic elements. "Of necessity there are presidents" over the several offices (verse 21), but every decision of one of the three governing quorums of the Church "must be by the unanimous voice of the same" (verse 27), made "in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart" (verse 30). These quorums-the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Quorums of the Seventy-are "equal in authority" but function under the priesthood keys of the First Presidency, or of the Quorum of the Twelve when the presidency is dissolved on the death of the President (verse 22-26). The revelation also traces the lineage of the patriarchal priesthood in ancient times from Adam to Noah (verses 39-57).

With few exceptions, verses 58-100 were excerpted from an earlier revelation and vision that Joseph Smith had received. It declared that the President of the High Priesthood is "to preside over the whole Church,…like unto Moses" (verse 91), and defined the duties, presidencies, and membership limits for quorums of elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. It also specified the duties of the bishop as a judge in Zion and gave the procedures for trying the conduct of a general officer of the Church.


Cook, Lyndon W. The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 215-16, 326-29. Provo, Utah, 1981.


Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 109-110


Sections 109-110

Section 109 is the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple. Joseph Smith records that he received this prayer under the spirit of revelation (Hc 2:420). The prayer contains some temple language repeated from Doctrine and Covenants 88 (see, e.g., 88:119-21), and some passages in it pertaining to the redemption of Jerusalem are paralleled in the Orson Hyde prayer given on the Mount of Olives five years later.

Section 109 is Hebraic in tone and reminiscent of the Solomonic dedication of the first temple and the temple-related benedictions of Jewish tradition (cf. 1 Kgs. 8).

It begins with thanksgiving, "Thanks be to thy name, O Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant and showest mercy"; seeks divine acceptance and visible manifestation of divine glory upon the temple and the faithful; petitions that God accept what has been done in the spirit of sacrifice; designates the building as a house of God, of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, and order (verse 8; cf. verse 16), where the divine name may be put upon his servants; asks forgiveness and the blotting out of sin; pleads for emissaries of truth to go forth in power and seal their witness with power; pleads for protection from enemies and deliverance from the calamities in Missouri; and prays for mercy on the nations of the earth, for expansion of stakes, for the gathering of scattered Jacob and Judah, for the redemption of Jerusalem "from this hour" (verse 62), and finally for blessings on the homes and families of the leaders of the Church. It ends with "O hear, O hear, O hear us, O Lord…that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne" and an "Amen, and Amen" (verses 78, 80).

Section 110 is the record of events following the temple dedication on April 3, 1836. The account (not canonical in the RLDS church) was recorded by Joseph's scribe Warren Cowdery, and first published one week after the events it describes in the Messenger and Advocate, and later was included in the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (see headnote). After partaking of the Sacrament and bowing in "solemn and silent prayer," Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received a shared vision. The Savior appeared and accepted the temple, saying, "My name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house" (verse 7). Moses next appeared to restore the "keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth" (verse 11) preparatory to the renewal of temples and temple worship (see Israel: Gathering of Israel; Temple Ordinances). Elias "committed the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham" (verse 12) to restore the covenant promise made to Abraham that through him and his seed all generations would be blessed (see Abrahamic Covenant; Gospel of Abraham). Finally Elijah appeared and bestowed the keys of sealing for all priesthood ordinances, including the sealing of families, and announced the imminence of the second coming of the Messiah (verses 13-16). This was in keeping with the final prophecy of Malachi that Elijah would come to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers before the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5-6; see Elijah, Spirit of).


Sperry, Sidney B. Doctrine and Covenants Compendium. Salt Lake City, 1960.


Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 121-123


Sections 121-123

These sections are selections from a long letter written by Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, Missouri, on March 20, 1839, addressed "To the Church of Latter-day Saints at Quincy, Illinois and scattered abroad and to Bishop Partridge in particular" (Hc 3:289). The power and richness of the letter, both its doctrinal content and its literary images, may have resulted from the Prophet's personal suffering.

Section 121 begins with a prayer, a cry of "O God, where art thou?" a plea that God will recognize the sufferings of the Saints, punish their enemies, and avenge their wrongs (verses 1-6). In the next verse, the Prophet hears the consoling voice of inspiration saying, "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment" (verse 7). He is reminded "Thy friends do stand by thee," and promised "They shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands" (verse 9). "Thou art not yet as Job" (verse 10). The righteousness of the Saints' actions is confirmed; in the Lord's time those who have afflicted the Saints will be punished (verses 11-25).

Verses 26-33 promise blessings of knowledge that will soon be poured out upon the Latter-day Saints by the Holy Spirit, including a knowledge of all God's dominions and the laws by which they operate. The last part of section 121 includes some of the most sensitive and powerful verses in LDS scripture. Here the Prophet teaches against all forms of unrighteous dominion. True authority, he writes, is always linked to love. "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned" (verse 41).

Section 122 is a revelation directed specifically to Joseph Smith, to help him understand the trials he is suffering. It assures him that he will be known for good among the noble and virtuous of the earth, and that his own people will never be turned against him by "the testimony of traitors" (verse 3). The verses graphically name perils and betrayals he has suffered or has yet to suffer, and then continues "Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" (verse 7). The section ends by reminding the young prophet that "the Son of Man hath descended below them all" (verse 8).

Section 123 instructs the Saints in the steps they should take to seek redress for their persecution and losses in Missouri. They are admonished to compile lists of property damages and character and personal injuries, to take affidavits, and to gather libelous publications so that they may present their case before government officials. This course of action is explained as the last duty they owe to God, to their families, and to the rising generation. The section ends by assuring the Saints that these efforts, although they may not understand their value, will be important to the Church in the future (verse 15).

Doctrine and Covenants: Section 124


Section 124,given January 19, 1841, to the Prophet Joseph Smith, is the longest revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants. It was the first section received at Nauvoo, Illinois, and was first printed in the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants as number 103.

Church members had fled from Missouri to Illinois in 1839 to escape the Extermination Order of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs. The eastern banks of the Mississippi River became a place of refuge and the Church headquarters. By 1841, Nauvoo had been established there and the village had grown to approximately 3,000 inhabitants. In that setting, section 124 served as an important inaugural, a kind of Constitution for further development of Nauvoo and the Church. It provided instruction on temporal, doctrinal, and organizational matters, and gave assignments and counsel to fifty-five individuals.

Section 124 includes the following: A charge to Joseph Smith to "make a solemn proclamation" of the gospel to rulers of all nations (verses 2-14, 16-17, 107).

Directions to build the Nauvoo house, a hotel where "the weary traveler may find health and safety" while contemplating the word of the Lord (verses 22-24, 56-82).

A commandment to members to assist in building the Nauvoo Temple, begun three months earlier. It was to be a place for the Lord to restore the fulness of the priesthood and reveal "things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world" pertaining to the dispensation of the fulness of times (verses 25-28, 40-44; see also Temple Ordinances).

A promise that if members would hearken unto the voice of God and his servants, "they shall not be moved out of their place" (verses 45-46).

A clarification on baptism for the dead, defined as a temple ordinance. The revelation said Moses had received a similar charge to build a tabernacle for ordinance work (verses 25-48).

A declaration that efforts of the Saints to establish a city and temple in Missouri were accepted by the Lord, even though persecutions prevented their establishment at that time (verses 49-54).

• Callings and confirmations of various positions in the Church, including a listing of some new officers and a reiteration of some previous callings. For example, Hyrum Smith was named as patriarch, replacing his father, who had died September 14, 1840. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and William Law were appointed to the First Presidency. Brigham Young was renamed President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (he had been sustained in this position on April 14, 1840), and assignments were made to that quorum. Twelve members were named for a stake high council, and others were called to serve in the presidencies of the high priests, elders, seventies, two bishoprics, and priests. Teachers, deacons, and stake organizations were mentioned, but no leadership assignments in these were made (verses 20-21, 123-42). PAUL C. RICHARDS

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 127-128


Sections 127-128

Sections 127 and 128 constitute two doctrinal letters dictated by the Prophet Joseph Smith while "in exile" near Nauvoo, Illinois, during the first week of September 1842. His scribe was William Clayton. The sections were first published in the times and seasons on September 14 and October 1, 1842, and first appeared in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1844 as numbers 105 and 106.

These documents clarified and formalized the LDS doctrine and practice of baptism for the dead, a practice attested to in the first century at Corinth (1 Cor. 15:29). Two years earlier, while speaking at a funeral on August 15, 1840, Joseph Smith first publicly announced the privilege and the responsibility of Church members to perform baptisms for the dead (TPJS, p. 179). "It presents the Gospel of Christ in probably a more enlarged scale than some have imagined it" (TPJS, p. 180). Immediately thereafter, Church members began performing proxy baptisms in the Mississippi River. A year later, Joseph Smith declared, "There shall be no more baptism for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord's House" (HC 4:426). When the baptismal font in the Nauvoo Temple was completed November 21, 1841, baptisms for the dead were performed there (HC 4:454).

Sections 127 and 128 stress the requirement for eyewitnesses and a recorder at all such baptismal services. Without authenticated records on earth and in heaven, a baptism is not deemed valid (D&C 127:6-9;128:3-10).

In Section 128,the Prophet expounded on Malachi 4:5-6 andexplained that baptism for the dead is "a welding link" between parents and children (D&C 128:18). He further explained that unless children are sealed by temple ordinances to their deceased forebears, who are in turn sealed to each other in God's family, neither can be fully saved and exalted (verses 14, 15, 18). "They without us cannot be made perfect-neither can we without our dead be made perfect" (verse 15; cf. Hebrews 11:40).

Baptisms and other temple ordinances for the dead continue as a vital part of Church doctrine and practice. GEORGE D. DURRANT

Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 131-132


Sections 131-132

These sections discuss the principle of eternal marriage as a requirement for obtaining the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 131:1-4; cf. 76:50-70). In that exalted state, men and women become gods (see Godhood), continue to have children (see Eternal Lives, Eternal Increase), and come to know God fully (D&C 132:23-24).

Section 131 contains selected statements made by Joseph Smith on May 16-17, 1843, during a visit to members of the Church in Ramus, Illinois, 22 miles east of Nauvoo (HC 5:391-93). They were recorded by William Clayton in his diary. In addition to its teachings on eternal marriage, section 131 also defines the phrase "more sure word of prophecy," declares that no one can be saved in ignorance (cf. TPJS, p. 217), and explains that spirit is purified matter.

Section 132 contains the doctrinal basis of the practice of plural marriage. Although some were distressed by it, others found plural marriage "the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed" (W. Clayton, in A. Jensen, Historical Record 6:226). This revelation was recorded on July 12, 1843, in the brick store in Nauvoo. At the urging of Hyrum Smith so that Emma Smith might be convinced of its truth, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated it sentence by sentence. Clayton reported that "after the whole was written Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct" (CHC 2:106-7). That evening, Bishop Newel K. Whitney received permission to copy the revelation. The next day, his clerk, Joseph C. Kingsbury, copied the document, which Whitney and Kingsbury proofread against the original. This copy was given to Brigham Young in March 1847; it was officially adopted as revelation at a general conference in Salt Lake City in August 1852, and was first published for public review in the Deseret News in September 1852.

The doctrines in this revelation were probably received sometime in 1831 while the Prophet was translating the Bible. In response to questions about the legitimacy of the ancient prophets' plural marriages, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the conditions and requirements under which plural marriage was to be observed. Lyman Johnson told Orson Pratt that "Joseph had made known to him [Johnson] as early as 1831, that plural marriage was a correct principle," but had said it was not yet time to teach and practice it (MS 40 [1878]:788). That date was later confirmed in various statements and affidavits collected by Joseph F. Smith and others from those who had been close to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo.

Section 132 states that all covenants must be made in the proper manner, by proper authority, and be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise in order to be valid eternally (verses 7-19), and that through faithfulness eternal blessings are guaranteed to those who marry by this new and everlasting covenant: "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue" (verse 20). This law was ordained before the world was, and through it Abraham received the promise of eternal lives through his seed (verses 28-37). Strict prohibitions against adultery accompany the law of eternal marriage (verses 38-44, 61-63). In concluding verses, Joseph Smith received divine affirmation of his eternal standing with God and acceptance of his labors (verses 45-50); and admonitions were given to Emma and others to observe this law and to multiply and replenish the earth so that God may be glorified (verses 51-66).


Danel W. Bachman. "New Light on an Old Hypothesis: The Ohio Origins of the Revelation on Eternal Marriage." Journal of Mormon History 5 (1978):19-32.


Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 137-138


Section 137 reports a vision of the Celestial Kingdom recorded in the diary of Joseph Smith. On January 21, 1836, he and several other Church leaders gathered in the Kirtland Temple for the ordinances of washing and anointing. Joseph blessed and anointed his aged father, Joseph Smith, Sr., who in turn anointed the members of the Church presidency and sealed blessings upon the Prophet. Joseph recorded that as the presidency laid their hands on his head and prophesied, "the heavens were opened upon us and I beheld the Celestial Kingdom of God, and the glory thereof" (verse 1). He saw its streets as if paved with gold. The Father and the Son sat on a blazing throne. Adam and Abraham were there; so were Joseph's parents, who were still alive at the time of the vision, and his brother Alvin, who had died before the priesthood was restored and hence had not been baptized for the remission of sins. The vision continued beyond that which is included in section 137 (Hc 2:380-81; Pwjs, pp. 145-46). Many present received visions and witnessed the glory of God fill the room.

Joseph's vision was the first doctrinal revelation to the Church disclosing that the Lord will provide all who die without hearing the gospel an opportunity to hear and accept it in the spirit world so they can enter the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 137:8-9; clarifying 76:72) and that children who die before the age of accountability (eight years) will be heirs of the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 137:10).

Section 138 is the record of a vision received by President Joseph F. Smith on October 3, 1918, as he was pondering the universal nature of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and wondering how the Savior taught the spirits in prison in the brief time between his death and resurrection (D&C 138:1-11; cf. 1 Pet. 3:19;4:6). He saw the visit of the Savior to the righteous spirits in paradise. He also observed that Jesus did not go in person among the wicked and disobedient but organized representatives from among the righteous spirits to carry the gospel to "all the spirits of men" (D&C 138:30). Those who were not taught the gospel on earth will be given the opportunity to hear it and accept its exalting fulness when taught by Christ's authorized representatives in the spirit world; those spirits who are "in darkness and under the bondage of sin…who repent will be redeemed" (verses 138:57-58; cf. 76:74).

The accounts of these two visions were canonized in the General Conference of April 1976 as additions to the Pearl of Great Price. They became sections in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1981.


Millet, Robert L. "Salvation Beyond the Grave (D&C 137 and 1 38)." In Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1, pp. 549-63, ed. R. Millet and K. Jackson. Sandy, Utah, 1984.

Tate, George S. "'The Great World of the Spirits of the Dead: Death, the Great War, and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic as Context for Doctrine and Covenants." BYU Studies 46:1 (2007):4-40.


Doctrine and Covenants: Official Declaration 2


Declaration 2 revealed that the "long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood." This "priesthood revelation" made it possible for all worthy males to be ordained to all levels of the priesthood. Previously black members of the Church had been denied the priesthood, which precluded their holding priesthood callings and participation in most temple ordinances.

The revelation was received by President Spencer W. Kimball "after extended meditation and prayer" in the Salt Lake Temple. That same revelation came to his counselors and to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the temple, and then it was presented to all of the other General Authorities, who approved it unanimously. It was announced by letter to all priesthood officers of the Church and to the press on June 8, 1978. Declaration 2 contains the text of that letter and records its presentation and acceptance on September 30, 1978, in General Conference by the common consent of the members of the Church. The revelation resolved problems for many members who had agonized over the prior practice (Bush and Mauss), the historical origins and ramifications of which had become the subject of considerable debate and reflection.

Since the announcement, missionaries have actively proselytized in many nations with large black populations, where thousands have become members of the Church. Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle, noted this growth in the LDS Afro-American Symposium held at Brigham Young University on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the revelation (Oaks). In particular, he pointed to the rapid growth in black converts in the Caribbean islands, West Africa, and Brazil.


Bush, Lester E., and Armand L. Mauss, eds. Neither White nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church. Midvale, Utah, 1984.

Grover, Mark L. "The Mormon Priesthood Revelation and the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple." Dialogue 23 (Spring 1990):39-53.

McConkie, Bruce R. "All Are Alike unto God." In Second Annual CES Symposium, pp. 3-5. Salt Lake City, 1978.

Oaks, Dallin H. "For the Blessing of All His Children." Address, LDS Afro-American Symposium. Provo, June 8, 1988.


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