D&C 74:1-7

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Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 74
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Historical setting[edit]

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  • Received: in Wayne County, New York[1] about December 1830
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 36
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 37

The exact date on which D&C 74 was received is unknown. The scholars of the Joseph Smith Papers who transcribed Revelation Book 1 suggest the date as "circa December 1830."[2]

In early December 1830 Sidney Rigdon traveled from Ohio to meet Joseph Smith in New York.(CITE) On probably December 7[3] Joseph received D&C 35:20, which instructed Sidney to serve as Joseph's scribe. In December Sidney was the scribe for Moses 7,[4] a portion of the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 5. Sidney was a knowledgeable Bible scholar who frequently raised questions that prompted revelations,[5] and it seems likely that he would have begun raising questions about difficult Bible verses once he began assisting on the Joseph Smith Translation. In D&C 37, still in December 1830,[6] the Lord instructed Joseph and Sidney to stop working on the Joseph Smith Translation until after they had moved to Ohio. D&C 38,(CITE) D&C 39,(CITE) and D&C 40(CITE) were then received in January 1831 in New York. About the end of January 1831 Joseph(CITE) and Sidney(CITE) each arrived separately in Ohio.

It thus seems likely that D&C 74 was prompted by a question from Sidney Rigdon in about December 1830 while he assisted Joseph Smith on the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis, about the same time that Moses 7 was received. The current numbering of D&C 74, based on Joseph Smith's recollection several years later as recorded in the Manuscript History of the Church[7], instead places D&C 74 near other revelations such as D&C 76 and D&C 77 that were received while Joseph worked on the translation of the New Testament, or during March 1831 - July 1832.

For a brief overview of D&C 74 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.


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  • D&C 74: An explanation. D&C 74 is identified in Revelation Book 1 not as a "revelation," but as an "explanation." D&C 77 is likewise identified in this way.[8]
  • D&C 74: Children of believers. D&C 74 explains that the children of a believer should not be raised in the false traditions of a non-believing spouse.

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Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • D&C 74:1. Do the words "unbeliever" and "unbelieving" refer only to Jews who still insist on practicing the law of Moses, or to any non-Christian person in these verses? Paul, it seems, was specifically addressing the issue of circumcision in marriages with a Jew and a Christian, but can his statement on unbelieving spouses being sanctified by their believing counterparts be interpreted to mean any marriage involving a believer and unbeliever? What is to be made of the word sanctified? What was Paul's understanding of the term, what is the underlying Greek text here, is Paul making any broad theological claims about spouses saving spouses, or is he simply helping the early church to understand that it is through belief in Christ that one is holy, and not the law?
  • D&C 74:7. In verse 7, "and this is what the scriptures mean," are the scriptures referred to here the one quoted in verse 1? If that is the case, why does it not say "and this is what the scripture means," because only a single verse is being quoted. Or are the scriptures here referring to the section Joseph was translating at the time of the revelation, hence the ones on his mind at the time, or does it refer to scriptures generally? In other words, is verse 7 summing up Paul's main point in the passage as saying little children are holy, or is it simply stating that little children are holy through Christ, and affirming that is what the scriptures teach?


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Previous editions.

  • The oldest surviving copy of D&C 74 is the one copied by John Whitmer into Revelation Book 1 in either early January or early February 1831.
  • D&C 74 was first published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants.
  • There are no significant differences in the text of D&C 74 between the oldest surviving copy in Revelation Book 1 and the current 1981 edition. There are only three minor grammatical differences (verse 2: "which believed" to "who believed"; verse 4: deleting "and" before "gave heed"; verse 7: "these scriptures" to "the scriptures").

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 74.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

Other resources.


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

  1. Explanation of Scripture, c. December 1830 (D&C 74). In Revelation Book 1, p. 60. The Joseph Smith Papers.
  2. Transcription of Explanation of Scripture, c. December 1830 (D&C 74). The Joseph Smith Papers.
  3. Commandment, December 7, 1830 (D&C 35). In Revelation Book 1, p. 46. The Joseph Smith Papers.
  4. Jackson, Kent P. The Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts, p. 3-6. Provo: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 2005. (ISBN 0842525890).
  5. (1) Whitmer, David. An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 35. n.p. Richmond, Missouri, 1887. (2) Van Wagoner, Richard. Sidney Rigdon, A Portrait of Religious Excess, p. 73. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994. (ISBN 156085197X). BX 8695.R56V36.1993.
  6. (1) Revelation, 30 December 1830. In Revelation Book 1, p. 49. The Joseph Smith Papers. (2) Smith, Joseph. Manuscript History of the Church, Vol. A-1, p. 87-88. The Joseph Smith Papers.
  7. Smith, Joseph. Manuscript History of the Church, Vol. A-1, p. 178-179. The Joseph Smith Papers.
  8. Answers to Questions, circa March 1832 (D&C 77). In Revelation Book 1, p. 141. The Joseph Smith Papers.

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