D&C 29:1-50

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Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 29
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Summary[edit]

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Historical setting[edit]

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  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 28
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 30

For a brief overview of D&C 29 in historical relation to the rest of the Doctrine & Covenants, see Historical Overview of the Restoration Scriptures. For lengthier discussions of the historical setting, see Historical Context of the Doctrine & Covenants, chapter 6 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 7.

Discussion[edit]

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  • D&C 29:1: Atone. The word “atone” is an interesting English word, coming into English rather late (late 16th century), when it replaced the earlier verb “to one,” in other words “to join or unite.” (But “to one” was also not particularly old, first showing up in the 14th century.) In the King James translation of the Old Testament, the word “atonement” usually translates the Hebrew word kaphar, also translated “reconciliation,” “pacification,” “mercy,” “purging,” “cleansing,” and so on. In the New Testament (where the word occurs only once–Romans 5:11) it translates the Greek word katallage: “reconciliation,” “exchange.”
  • D&C 29:5: Advocate. The Latin roots of “advocate” are suggestive: ad ("to") + vocare ("call"). An advocate is one who has been called to speak for someone.
  • D&C 29:22: When men again begin to deny their God. See the discussion of this passage and related concepts at 1 Ne 22:26.
  • D&C 29:32: Spiritual and physical creations. This verse and surrounding passages seem closely related to 1 Cor 15:45-46. There, Paul writes about two Adam's, the first as "a living soul" and the second as "a quickening spirit." If the first Adam is taken as temporal/historical, and the second Adam as spiritual/liturgical, then this suggests suggests parallels with the Adam who fell and brought about temporal creation (as related in Gen 2) and Christ who brought about spiritual creation (with parallels to Genesis 1, which might be read as the pre-fallen and post-atonement state of things).
If this sketches how Joseph would've read the first natural/temporal then spiritual of 1 Cor 15:46, then perhaps the four spiritual-temporal chiastic events described here might be read as follows:
(1) The first spiritual creation corresponds to the pre-history, pre-mortal, pre-temporal order of things.
(2) The first temporal creation is the fall, the beginning of history, the giving and breaking of the commandment in the Garden of Eden. (It seems that D&C 29 does not really address these first two creations which are described in Genesis 1-2, Moses, and Abraham.)
(3) The second temporal creation corresponds to physical gathering of Israel, eschatological judgment, and physical resurrection (the Rapture?). This is what seems to be described in vv. 1-22.
(4) The second spiritual creation is Final Judgment described in vv. 27-29 (though possibly starting with the "old things shall pass away and all things shall become new" bit starting in v. 23).
Note also that this outline puts Christ's life and atonal suffering in between these two doubled creation events---that is, in the "meridian of time" as several passages in the D&C and Moses phrase it.
  • D&C 29:36: Honor as power. In Hebrews, Paul says that God created the earth through the power of faith. (Heb. 11:3). But in scriptures received through the Restoration, God’s power is described as honor.
The clearest statement is in D&C 29:36. This passage recounts that in premortality Satan 'rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; ...' This passage equates honor and power, just as in the phrase 'Shakespeare, the great English playwright, ...' This concept is also found in Moses 4:1-4, received three months earlier as part of the Joseph Smith Translation. Verse 1 recounts that Satan claimed he could save everyone in mortality, 'wherefore give me thine honor.' Verse 3 says 'Wherefore, because that Satan .. sought ... that I should give unto him mine own power; ...' These two statements makes sense if requesting God’s honor in verse 1 is the same thing as seeking God’s power in verses 3. Both of these passages thus equate God's power with his honor.
Other passages shed light on this concept of honor as power. In Alma 42, Alma says three times in the space of a dozen verses that if God were to act unjustly then he would cease to be God. 'Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.' (Alma 42: 13, 22, 25). Thus a necessary element of God’s honor is that he never acts contrary to justice. We also learn that God’s power is dependent upon his honor, suggesting that honor comes first, and then power follows.
This causal relationship between honor and power is also described at the end of Section 121. The instruction against unrighteous dominion in Section 121 includes the explanation that: 'No power ... can ... be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion' and other methods that respect agency. (D&C 121:41-45). The reward for those who learn to govern in this manner includes the following: '... thy scepter [shall be] an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.' (D&C 121:45-56). A reward that includes a scepter of righteousness and an everlasting dominion is exaltation. We thus learn here that another element of the honor that enables an exalted being to rule is respect for agency. We also learn that, just as the power of honor can be lost through dishonor, the power of honor flows naturally to those who do possess honor.
The relationship between honor and power is also illustrated by the experience of Enoch during the vision recounted in Moses 7: 'And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Enoch, and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men; wherefore Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.' (Ms. 7:41). All eternity responding to what happens inside the heart of one person sounds like the kind of power that flows without compulsory means to exalted beings who possess honor. It does not say here that Enoch had authority to issue any instructions, or that he tried to do so, but it does sound like Enoch had the power to make things happen. (Also see the Abraham account of the creation in Abr. 4:9-12, 18, 21, 25). We also learn here that a third element of honor is love.
This idea that God’s power derives from his honor helps us to understand what God is (D&C 93:19-20) and what we must also become if we are to be like him. (Mt. 5:48 discussion). One of the ways in which the purpose of mortality can be summarized is that we are here to develop honor. It can also be more powerful to ask oneself, not merely if something is a sin, but whether it will increase or decrease one's honor.

Complete outline and page map[edit]

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Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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  • D&C 29:36: Honor as power. Wen faced with a difficult choice, how is our answer different if we ask, not whether something is a sin, but whether it will increase or decrease our honor.

Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • D&C 29:1: Arm. What does the use of “arm” to indicate mercy instead of strength suggest?
  • D&C 29:2: How does the metaphor of this verse compare to that of the previous verse? What does it mean, in this context, to call on the Lord in mighty prayer?
  • D&C 29:4: What does it mean to be chosen “out of the world"? How does that occur?
  • D&C 29:5: What does it mean to say that Christ is in our midst? How is that related to the gathering? How is the fact that he is our advocate with the Father relevant here?
  • D&C 29:5: Why does the Lord describe himself as an advocate?
  • D&C 29:5: Is his advocacy on our behalf related to the Father’s gift of the kingdom? If so, what does it mean to say that giving us that kingdom is the Father’s good will?
  • D&C 29:6: Notice how this verse differs from the same idea expressed in many other scriptures by adding “being united in prayer according to my command.” What is the significance of that addition?
  • D&C 29:6: Where are we commanded to be united in prayer? What does it mean to be united in prayer?
  • D&C 29:6: To whom is this addressed? In other words, who is called to bring the gathering to pass?
  • D&C 29:6: Does this verse define what it means to be elect?
  • D&C 29:8: At the time of this revelation, the gathering was to a particular location. Now it is to any of the stakes. How does that difference change our understanding of what it means to gather together?
  • D&C 29:8: The gathering is “to prepare their hearts.” How does the gathering do that? It is also “to [. . .] be prepared in all things against” the day of tribulation. What is that day?
  • D&C 29:8: How does the gathering prepare us for that day?
  • D&C 29:12: The Twelve which were with me in my ministry at Jerusalem. Who are these twelve? Would Judas Iscariot count as one of these? Might other, subsequent apostles—like Mathias (Acts 1:23-26) and Paul—be included?
  • D&C 29:36: Which is my power. Is this part of the devil's quote or is it God talking again? How does the answer to this question affect the meaning of the verse?

Resources[edit]

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Previous editions.

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  • D&C 29 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants in the 18__ edition.

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Notes[edit]

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