D&C 42:43-55

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Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 42 > Verses 42:43-55
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Relationship to Section 42. The relationship of Verses 42:43-55 to the rest of Section 42 is discussed at D&C 42.


Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 42:43-55 include:


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  • D&C 42:43, 48, 52: The sick. Here are some half-done thoughts if someone wants to take them up. Verse 43, 48, and 52 set up some clues as what D&C 42 is explaining about the sick:
  • Verse 42 explains that the idle won't receive the same blessings. Then we move directly into 43's discussion of the sick. This suggests that those who are sick-and-idle aren't grouped into those who are idle (see verse 52 as well).
  • Verse 43 begins discussion of those who are sick, but have not faith to be healed. The point of calling the elders here seems to be to consecrate their illnesses or their deaths to God. Even if they are sick, and have not faith, they with their illnesses will "live unto God," and remain a part of the community (see again verse 52).
  • Verse 48 begins discussion of those who do have faith to be healed.
  • The focus of verses 49-51 is on those who are afflicted, not sick.
  • Verse 52 echoes verses 43-44: even if they have not faith, in Zion we bear their infirmities with them.
  • D&C 42:44. In context, this verse, like the one before it (and the end of verse 52), is specifically explaining how the church should deal with those who believe and are sick but have not faith to be healed. It is for them that the elders of the church are to be called. Why isn't this direction to call the elders given for all who are sick? It may be that these verses suggest that "all the sick" and "the sick without faith to be healed" are really the same group because everyone with faith is already healed. But is that right--does everyone with faith get healed?
When much the same thing is repeated in verse 48 an additional caveat is added "and is not appointed unto death." This possibility is then recognized--that one may have faith, but be sick because one is appointed unto death. But what of those who are sick, but not with something that leads to death? Is this verse suggesting that all of them are sick because they lack the faith to be healed?
Given how verse 44 ends, we might assume that such sick people aren't at issue. That what is under discussion are those with grave sicknesses--the type where we would expect one to die and this is why the end of verse 44 ends by talking about whether the person lives or dies--not about whether they are healed.
Verses 49-53, however, suggest this isn't so. All of the sicknesses used as examples are specifically not the type we would expect someone to die from (being blind, being deaf, being lame). What then do we make of the end of verse 44, the discussion of living and dying rather than of being healed or not? One interpretation of this is that healing is not spoken of because, in the previous verse, it has already been established that this is a group of people who have not faith to be healed. The problem with this interpretation is that it leaves no place for healing by the laying on of hands. It sees people as either faithful and therefore already healed with no need to call the elders or faithless and beyond hope of being healed. This interpretation goes against both other scriptures and common experience which suggests that healing is provided through the laying on of hands.
In any case, what is clear from the ending of verse 44, is that the important point in this context isn't that the elders are called to heal (though they may do that) but rather that they are called to seal the sick to Christ. Or, to put it another way, to re-affirm the sick's commitment to Christ through prayer and the laying on of hands. As is made clear here, verses 45-47 and 52, this is more important than whether or not one is healed.
We might see these verses as providing some answers to the questions that arise from the facts that on the one hand we have scriptures which promise that those who ask with faith will receive, but on the other hand we see so many good people who ask to be healed but remain sick. In this context these verses a) reaffirm the truth of the statement generally that they would be healed with sufficient faith b) add an additional caveat that some are appointed unto death c) reassure us that not having faith to be healed doesn't mean that one can't become Christ's sons d) remind us that we have a responsibility to care for those who are sick.
  • D&C 42:45: Weeping for the dead. The Lord makes it clear that it is appropriate that we weep for them that die. It is natural that we weep for those who we love and God makes it clear that we are to love. The command here is to love so much that we weep when a friend dies.
Interestingly we are specifically told to weep especially for "those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection." What does this criteria mean?
The meaning changes depending on whether we take the wording "those that have not" to suggest (a) that the person who died, themselves, didn't have hope of a glorious resurrection, or whether we think it means (b) the person who died isn't justified in hoping for a glorious resurrection.
(a) is interesting in its emphasis on someone's own hope. We presume that we are to mourn more for those who do not hope for a glorious resurrection than those who do because, in each case, their lack of hope is actually correct. In contrast, we might compare this with Matt 25:31-46 which talks specifically about those who misjudge their approaching judgment. (b) is also interesting because it assumes we are in a position to judge whether someone has any hope of a a glorious resurrection.
It also isn't clear how this verse's interpretation should be influenced by the fact that the Lord will provide a way to accept the gospel to all after death who didn't have a chance to receive it in this life.

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