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This page allows you to see in one place all the commentary pages for the reading assignment for this Doctrine & Covenants Gospel Doctrine lesson. Click on the heading to go to a specific page. Click the edit links below to edit text on any page.


D&C 1

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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this headng. →

Relationship to Doctrine & Covenants. The relationship of Section 1 to the Doctrine & Covenants as a whole is discussed at Doctrine & Covenants: Unities.

Audience. D&C 1 is addressed to "ye people of my church" and to "all men" as the Lord's Preface to the Book of his Commandments published to the "inhabitants of the earth" (D&C 1:-2, 6, 11, 34)

Story. D&C 1 is the preface or introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 consists of five major sections. It opens and closes with statements that the Lord’s word is unstoppable; it will go forth and it will be fulfilled, whether spoken by himself or his servants. In between these two statements, the Lord gives three lists: (1) reasons why the Lord's anger is kindled against the world, (2) reasons why the Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world, and (3) reasons why these commandments have been given to his servants.

  • Verses 1:1-10: The Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled
  • Verses 1:11-16: The Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off
  • Verses 1:17-23: The Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world
  • Verses 1:24-33: The Lord gave these commandments to his servants
  • Verses 1:34-39: The Lord’s word will be fulfilled

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in D&C 1 include:

Historical setting[edit]

This heading should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the section. This may include issues that prompted the section, its subsequent implementation, and the extent of circulation through its first inclusion in the Doctrine & Covenants. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Received: November 1, 1831 at Hiram, Ohio[1]
  • First section in chronological order: D&C 2
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 65
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 67

The immediate setting of D&C 1 was a conference at Hiram, Ohio attended by ten elders including Joseph Smith. The conference was held on November 1-2, 1831, a year and a half after the organization of the Church. The purpose of the conference was to make plans for publishing Joseph Smith’s revelations for the first time. The conference determined to print several thousand copies of the revelations in book form under the name Book of Commandments. D&C 1 was received on the first day of this conference.[2]

William McLellin later recalled that:

A committee had been appointed to draft a preface [to the Book of Commandments], consisting of himself [William McLellin], [Oliver] Cowdery and [probably] Sidney Rigdon, but when they made their report the conference picked it all to pieces. The conference then requested Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it, and he said that he would if the people would bow in prayer with him. This they did, and Joseph prayed. When they arose, Joseph dictated by the Spirit the Preface found in the book of Doctrine & Covenants [D&C 1] while sitting by a window of the room in which the conference was sitting, and Sidney Rigdon wrote it down.[3]

In Revelation Book 1 the following explanation introduces D&C 1:

A Preface or instructions upon the Book of Commandments which were given of the Lord unto his Church through him who he appointed to this work by the voice of his Saints through the prayer of faith.[4]

From this background we learn that D&C 1 is the Preface or Introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants, the book of the Lord’s commandments to the inhabitants of the earth. It is thus intended to orient the reader to the content and purpose of the entire Doctrine & Covenants.

For a brief overview of D&C 1 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 9 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 10.

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 1:2: The penetrating voice of the Lord. The mention here of the eye, the ear, and the heart is clearly reminiscent of Isa 6:9-10. The question here is, not the prophetic mission of Isaiah, but the "voice of the Lord" Himself. However, if one considers the implications of Isaiah's prophetic call (see the commentary for Isaiah 6 at Isa 6:1ff), there is little apparent difference between the message in this passage and the message there: the "voice of the Lord" in Isaiah 6 is a voice of silence that only becomes spoken when taken into the mouth of the prophet (cf. 2 Ne 32:3, etc.), and something similar seems to be at work here in this revealed preface to the Doctrine and Covenants. Perhaps most significant in the phrasing of this issue as it appears in this verse is the concluding "be penetrated." Whereas "see" and "hear" match up perfectly with Isaiah's wording, "penetrate" is unique here. At the same time, however, it beautifully expresses the same spirit that permeates Isaiah: the violence of "penetrate" matches the (necessary) violence of the message, and the saturation implied in Isaiah's babbling manner of delivering the message is powerfully embodied in "penetrate." In short, the voice comes to all just to penetrate, to find its way to the penetralis, the inner shrine or the Holy of Holies.
  • D&C 1:2: None shall escape. Curiously doubling this is the phrase in the first half of the verse: "there is none to escape." Rather than the more common "there is none that shall not hear," etc., the Lord phrases this concept in terms of escape. Those who hear the voice are without means of escaping, without means of getting out of the hold of this "voice of the Lord." Doubling the penetration, which works its way to the inner recesses of one's person, is a hold (a "cape") out ("es" or "ex") of which none can get, an outward seizure accomplished by the freezing voice of the Lord. It might be well to parallel this hold to the "eye" and "ear" of the second part of the verse: this voice will take hold on the eye and on the ear, will take up a hold that cannot be undone by those thereby held. The voice will come in such complete saturation that those hearing and those seeing will be frozen and held.
Escape seems an interesting word choice here also because it is almost always used in scriptures to describe how the righteous will escape judgment in contrast to the wicked who will not. For example, a righteous remnant is described as escaping the judgment that will befall the wicked majority of Israel (e.g. Isa 37:31-32; 45:20; Jer 44:28; Ezek 6:8-9; see also [[Rom 2:3 for specific mention of escaping judgment and D&C 97:22, 25 for the question-answer form "vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly . . . and who shall escape it? . . . Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsover I have commanded her." Thus, the choice of the word escape here which includes the righteous and the wicked, read in light of the more conventional use of the term escape, seems to highlight—by way of analogy with the judgment of the wicked—the violent nature of the heart being penetrated. That is, the conspicuous lack of qualification here for the righteous suggests the violent effect the word of God has on everyone's heart. This seems to echo other scriptural phrase that use violent/dramatic terms for the repentance process, e.g. abase, submit, subject, etc. The lack of qualification for the righteous here also brings the story of Jonah to mind which stands out amongst scriptural texts in that the messenger who tries to escape cannot.
  • D&C 1:16: Idolatry. Idolatry seems only to be mentioned one other time in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 52:39), although it is a prominent theme of earlier prophets (see the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide entries). One reason the otherwise infrequent reference to idolatry may be given here is that in the subsequent verses Joseph's call as a prophet is given and explained. Idolatry then serves as a rhetorical device linking Joseph's prophetic calling to the common theme of idolatry spoken against by many former prophets. Related themes, such as worldliness, riches, vanity, pride, etc. are discussed at length in the Doctrine and Covenants, but in terms other than idolatry per se, thus making the occurrence here notable.
  • D&C 1:18. This verse introduces a most curious moment of divine logic, a moment in which the Lord Himself provides reasons for doing His work. Though other moments in scripture present the Lord offering reasons for a particular action, this might be the only occasion in all of scripture where the Lord simply lays out all the reasons He has for getting a plan of salvation under way, for sending messengers to bring further light and knowledge. The list of reasons is surprisingly long (several verses, at any rate), and all of these reasons present vital points of understanding. Each might be considered in turn.
The first of the Lord's reasons for putting together in the first place a plan of salvation is offered in this first verse, but the anticipatory sense that characterizes the first reason complicates it from the beginning. The first reason, quite clearly, is that "all this" is done so "that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets." The point seems quite clear: the prophets are to be fulfilled, and all of this is to that fulfillment. The Lord gets the work of salvation underway precisely so that the prophets are not ashamed, so that their word is confirmed by historical completion. But then there seems to be some difficulty here, because the next verse goes on as if it were quoted quite specifically the word of the prophets. It must be pointed out--even if a little early here--that verse 19 does not quote any known prophecy. It is closest, perhaps, to 1 Cor 1:27, but there is still something of an important gap between the phrasing of verse 19 and that saying by Paul. All in all, though the prophets are here cited, there does not seem to be any particular saying the Lord has in mind: one is to read verse 19 (and the verses that follow it) as a sort of summary of the prophetic message over all. A first--and a major--consequence: the great majority of the weight of the "reasons" the Lord offers to justify His saving activity in the last days is to be felt in this first mention of things, since the following verses are collectively a sort of explanation of the ancient prophet message. Hence, detailed attention must first be paid to this initiating verse 18.
The difficulty, however, of working out the meaning of verse 18 from the start is that the following verses, precisely because they summarize the prophetic work of so many millennia, seem to be the undergirding of why the Lord would desire to confirm the prophets at all. For present purposes, the work must begin, unfortunately, somewhat blindly.
The question to be asked, then, is this: is the whole plan of salvation, as issued through the Prophet Joseph and according to this "last dispensation," entirely motivated by a desire to confirm the ancient prophets? Or perhaps the question to ask is this: if the Lord feels to undertake a justification of sorts, is He here justifying Himself or the prophets? In the end, however the question is asked, the thrust of the difficulty here is bound up with the intertwined roles of the prophet and his God. One must interpret the relation between God and His messengers from the very beginning. The question is perhaps all the more important in the first part of the twenty-first century, because of the radical reinterpretation of the prophetic role that is underway in biblical criticism. If the prophet has been decided now to be a rather political figure, one attuned to contemporary events and one, hence, without the extra-temporal visions that allow his/her words to transcend her/his age, why on earth or in heaven would the Lord feel to justify words one might quite simply bury in the historical melieux of the past? A necessary answer emerges precisely here: the prophets are being misunderstood if they are completely swallowed up in their own history.
What verse 18, especially as it opens the following few verses, accomplishes is this: God is stripped, as it were, of His absoluteness. One must be careful in stating the point, but it seems quite clear. God is, according to the relativization at work in verse 18, not one to offer absolute reasons for things. The opening of a last dispensation is not simply to bring about "new things," unknown before, but also to hark back to the "former things," to bring the former things out in the new things, just as "Second Isaiah" works out and reinterprets "First Isaiah." In short, if Joseph is a prophet, he cannot--absolutely must not--be separated from the former prophets: the message is the same, and the sender of the messengers is the same. If only a few verses after this, the Lord will quite explicitly introduce the necessity of recognizing the historical context into which the modern prophetic activity falls, He quite explicitly introduces here the necessity of recognizing also that these same prophets transcend their historical context because they are fulfilling ancient prophecies. And with that, the Lord can turn to specifications in the next few verses.
  • D&C 1:18-24: A chiasm. As soon as one turns to the passage in which the Lord lays out His very broad interpretation of what has been prophesied all along, one notices that there is a specific structure at work in these verses:
  • And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world;
  • and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets--
  • The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones...
  • But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
  • That faith also might increase in the earth;
  • That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
  • That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple... before kings and rulers.
  • Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness,
  • after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
The chiastic structure highlights the fact that this is the Lord's voice in this revelation, but it also accomplishes a couple of interesting poetic things: verse 21 is set at the center of things, and the whole passage is wrapped about with the Lord's clear statement of purpose. Moreover, the everlasting covenant is set parallel to every man's speaking in the name of God the Lord, which is certainly suggestive. Also, the doubling of the word "commandments" seems to highlight the nature of what the Doctrine and Covenants (perhaps more strictly, the Book of Commandments) is all about. At any rate, the structure opens the possibility of considering the passage as a whole.
  • D&C 1:30: Only true and living church. Although it may be possible to read this as meaning "the only true church" and "the only living church," this reading seems strained because of the fact that the word church is only used once. Instead, a more natural way of reading this phrase seems to be that the church is being described as the only one which is both true and living.

Outline and page map[edit]

This heading contains an outline for the entire section. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the section. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

A. Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled (1-10)

• Lord's voice will go to all, there is none that shall not hear (1-2)
• the rebellious will be sorrowful for iniquities will become public (3)
• Lord's servants are his voice, so none shall stay them (4-6a)
• this same authority applies to Book of Commandments, so all shall be fulfilled (6b-7)
• Lord's servants have been given power to seal up the wicked unto Second Coming (8-10)
B. Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off (11-16)
• Lord warns those who will hear to prepare because his anger is kindled against the world (11-13)
• those who will not hear the Lord's voice will be cut off because they: (14)
• have strayed from his ordinances;
• have broken his covenant; and
• seek after idols that will perish when Babylon falls (15-16)
B. Lord's servants to preach these commandments to the world (17-23)
• Lord commands his servants to proclaim these things to the world (17-18a)
• so the weak might break down the strong so that: (18b-19)
• every man might speak in name of Lord rather than counseled by neighbor;
• faith might increase rather than trusting in the arm of flesh; and
• Lord's covenant might be established (19-22)
B. Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24-33)
• Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24)
• so they might come to understanding so that:
• his servants might be instructed, corrected, chastened, and strengthened;
• Joseph Smith might translate the Book of Mormon; and
• his servants might have power to lay the foundation of the Church (25-30)
• but light will be taken from those who repent not (31-33)

A. Lord’s word will be fulfilled (34-39)

• Lord speaks to entire earth and is willing that all should know these things (34-35a)
• the hour is nigh that peace taken from earth and Lord will return in judgment (35b-36)
• search these commandments, for all shall be fulfilled (37)
• whether by Lord's own voice or servants, it is the same (38)
• the Holy Ghost bears record of these truths (39)

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This heading is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • D&C 1 was written down by Sidney Rigdon as it was received during a conference on November 1, 1831. The oldest surviving copy is the one copied by John Whitmer into Revelation Book 1, p. 125-27 soon after its receipt.
  • D&C 1 was first published and first received widespread circulation in the March 1833 issue (p. 78) of The Evening and the Morning Star newspaper printed by William Phelps in Jackson County, Missouri.[5]
  • D&C 1 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants as Chapter 1 in the 1833 Book of Commandments, which was also printed by William Phelps during 1833.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 1.

  • D&C 1 was immediately followed by D&C 67 and D&C 68. These three sections comprise a group that were all received during the first conference called to consider publishing Joseph Smith's revelations. These sections address the content and truthfulness of the revelations contained in the Doctrine & Covenants. In contrast, D&C 69 and D&C 70, which were received at another conference later that month, address the mechanics of getting the revelations published.
  • D&C 1 was followed two days later by D&C 133. These two sections are the bookends of the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 appears at the beginning as a Preface, while D&C 133 was placed at the end as an Appendix. Both sections quote many of the same Bible passages.

Parallel passages.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

  • Kelly, William H. Interview with William McLellin, 13 September 1881. In "Letter from Elder W.H. Kelly." In The Saints’ Herald (1 March 1882) Vol. 29 / No. 5, p.66-68. Plano, Illinois, Lamoni, Iowa and Independence, Missouri: Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints (now Community of Christ), 1860-present.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

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. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  2. Minute Book 2 (1 Nov 1831), p.15-16
  3. Kelly, Interview with William McLellin.
  4. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  5. "Revelations." In The Evening and the Morning Star, original series (March 1833) Vol. 1 / No. 10, p. 78.

Previous section: D&C 65                         Next section: D&C 67

D&C 1:1-10

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 1
Previous section: D&C 65                         Next section: D&C 67


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this headng. →

Relationship to Doctrine & Covenants. The relationship of Section 1 to the Doctrine & Covenants as a whole is discussed at Doctrine & Covenants: Unities.

Audience. D&C 1 is addressed to "ye people of my church" and to "all men" as the Lord's Preface to the Book of his Commandments published to the "inhabitants of the earth" (D&C 1:-2, 6, 11, 34)

Story. D&C 1 is the preface or introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 consists of five major sections. It opens and closes with statements that the Lord’s word is unstoppable; it will go forth and it will be fulfilled, whether spoken by himself or his servants. In between these two statements, the Lord gives three lists: (1) reasons why the Lord's anger is kindled against the world, (2) reasons why the Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world, and (3) reasons why these commandments have been given to his servants.

  • Verses 1:1-10: The Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled
  • Verses 1:11-16: The Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off
  • Verses 1:17-23: The Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world
  • Verses 1:24-33: The Lord gave these commandments to his servants
  • Verses 1:34-39: The Lord’s word will be fulfilled

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in D&C 1 include:

Historical setting[edit]

This heading should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the section. This may include issues that prompted the section, its subsequent implementation, and the extent of circulation through its first inclusion in the Doctrine & Covenants. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Received: November 1, 1831 at Hiram, Ohio[1]
  • First section in chronological order: D&C 2
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 65
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 67

The immediate setting of D&C 1 was a conference at Hiram, Ohio attended by ten elders including Joseph Smith. The conference was held on November 1-2, 1831, a year and a half after the organization of the Church. The purpose of the conference was to make plans for publishing Joseph Smith’s revelations for the first time. The conference determined to print several thousand copies of the revelations in book form under the name Book of Commandments. D&C 1 was received on the first day of this conference.[2]

William McLellin later recalled that:

A committee had been appointed to draft a preface [to the Book of Commandments], consisting of himself [William McLellin], [Oliver] Cowdery and [probably] Sidney Rigdon, but when they made their report the conference picked it all to pieces. The conference then requested Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it, and he said that he would if the people would bow in prayer with him. This they did, and Joseph prayed. When they arose, Joseph dictated by the Spirit the Preface found in the book of Doctrine & Covenants [D&C 1] while sitting by a window of the room in which the conference was sitting, and Sidney Rigdon wrote it down.[3]

In Revelation Book 1 the following explanation introduces D&C 1:

A Preface or instructions upon the Book of Commandments which were given of the Lord unto his Church through him who he appointed to this work by the voice of his Saints through the prayer of faith.[4]

From this background we learn that D&C 1 is the Preface or Introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants, the book of the Lord’s commandments to the inhabitants of the earth. It is thus intended to orient the reader to the content and purpose of the entire Doctrine & Covenants.

For a brief overview of D&C 1 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 9 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 10.

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 1:2: The penetrating voice of the Lord. The mention here of the eye, the ear, and the heart is clearly reminiscent of Isa 6:9-10. The question here is, not the prophetic mission of Isaiah, but the "voice of the Lord" Himself. However, if one considers the implications of Isaiah's prophetic call (see the commentary for Isaiah 6 at Isa 6:1ff), there is little apparent difference between the message in this passage and the message there: the "voice of the Lord" in Isaiah 6 is a voice of silence that only becomes spoken when taken into the mouth of the prophet (cf. 2 Ne 32:3, etc.), and something similar seems to be at work here in this revealed preface to the Doctrine and Covenants. Perhaps most significant in the phrasing of this issue as it appears in this verse is the concluding "be penetrated." Whereas "see" and "hear" match up perfectly with Isaiah's wording, "penetrate" is unique here. At the same time, however, it beautifully expresses the same spirit that permeates Isaiah: the violence of "penetrate" matches the (necessary) violence of the message, and the saturation implied in Isaiah's babbling manner of delivering the message is powerfully embodied in "penetrate." In short, the voice comes to all just to penetrate, to find its way to the penetralis, the inner shrine or the Holy of Holies.
  • D&C 1:2: None shall escape. Curiously doubling this is the phrase in the first half of the verse: "there is none to escape." Rather than the more common "there is none that shall not hear," etc., the Lord phrases this concept in terms of escape. Those who hear the voice are without means of escaping, without means of getting out of the hold of this "voice of the Lord." Doubling the penetration, which works its way to the inner recesses of one's person, is a hold (a "cape") out ("es" or "ex") of which none can get, an outward seizure accomplished by the freezing voice of the Lord. It might be well to parallel this hold to the "eye" and "ear" of the second part of the verse: this voice will take hold on the eye and on the ear, will take up a hold that cannot be undone by those thereby held. The voice will come in such complete saturation that those hearing and those seeing will be frozen and held.
Escape seems an interesting word choice here also because it is almost always used in scriptures to describe how the righteous will escape judgment in contrast to the wicked who will not. For example, a righteous remnant is described as escaping the judgment that will befall the wicked majority of Israel (e.g. Isa 37:31-32; 45:20; Jer 44:28; Ezek 6:8-9; see also [[Rom 2:3 for specific mention of escaping judgment and D&C 97:22, 25 for the question-answer form "vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly . . . and who shall escape it? . . . Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsover I have commanded her." Thus, the choice of the word escape here which includes the righteous and the wicked, read in light of the more conventional use of the term escape, seems to highlight—by way of analogy with the judgment of the wicked—the violent nature of the heart being penetrated. That is, the conspicuous lack of qualification here for the righteous suggests the violent effect the word of God has on everyone's heart. This seems to echo other scriptural phrase that use violent/dramatic terms for the repentance process, e.g. abase, submit, subject, etc. The lack of qualification for the righteous here also brings the story of Jonah to mind which stands out amongst scriptural texts in that the messenger who tries to escape cannot.
  • D&C 1:16: Idolatry. Idolatry seems only to be mentioned one other time in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 52:39), although it is a prominent theme of earlier prophets (see the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide entries). One reason the otherwise infrequent reference to idolatry may be given here is that in the subsequent verses Joseph's call as a prophet is given and explained. Idolatry then serves as a rhetorical device linking Joseph's prophetic calling to the common theme of idolatry spoken against by many former prophets. Related themes, such as worldliness, riches, vanity, pride, etc. are discussed at length in the Doctrine and Covenants, but in terms other than idolatry per se, thus making the occurrence here notable.
  • D&C 1:18. This verse introduces a most curious moment of divine logic, a moment in which the Lord Himself provides reasons for doing His work. Though other moments in scripture present the Lord offering reasons for a particular action, this might be the only occasion in all of scripture where the Lord simply lays out all the reasons He has for getting a plan of salvation under way, for sending messengers to bring further light and knowledge. The list of reasons is surprisingly long (several verses, at any rate), and all of these reasons present vital points of understanding. Each might be considered in turn.
The first of the Lord's reasons for putting together in the first place a plan of salvation is offered in this first verse, but the anticipatory sense that characterizes the first reason complicates it from the beginning. The first reason, quite clearly, is that "all this" is done so "that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets." The point seems quite clear: the prophets are to be fulfilled, and all of this is to that fulfillment. The Lord gets the work of salvation underway precisely so that the prophets are not ashamed, so that their word is confirmed by historical completion. But then there seems to be some difficulty here, because the next verse goes on as if it were quoted quite specifically the word of the prophets. It must be pointed out--even if a little early here--that verse 19 does not quote any known prophecy. It is closest, perhaps, to 1 Cor 1:27, but there is still something of an important gap between the phrasing of verse 19 and that saying by Paul. All in all, though the prophets are here cited, there does not seem to be any particular saying the Lord has in mind: one is to read verse 19 (and the verses that follow it) as a sort of summary of the prophetic message over all. A first--and a major--consequence: the great majority of the weight of the "reasons" the Lord offers to justify His saving activity in the last days is to be felt in this first mention of things, since the following verses are collectively a sort of explanation of the ancient prophet message. Hence, detailed attention must first be paid to this initiating verse 18.
The difficulty, however, of working out the meaning of verse 18 from the start is that the following verses, precisely because they summarize the prophetic work of so many millennia, seem to be the undergirding of why the Lord would desire to confirm the prophets at all. For present purposes, the work must begin, unfortunately, somewhat blindly.
The question to be asked, then, is this: is the whole plan of salvation, as issued through the Prophet Joseph and according to this "last dispensation," entirely motivated by a desire to confirm the ancient prophets? Or perhaps the question to ask is this: if the Lord feels to undertake a justification of sorts, is He here justifying Himself or the prophets? In the end, however the question is asked, the thrust of the difficulty here is bound up with the intertwined roles of the prophet and his God. One must interpret the relation between God and His messengers from the very beginning. The question is perhaps all the more important in the first part of the twenty-first century, because of the radical reinterpretation of the prophetic role that is underway in biblical criticism. If the prophet has been decided now to be a rather political figure, one attuned to contemporary events and one, hence, without the extra-temporal visions that allow his/her words to transcend her/his age, why on earth or in heaven would the Lord feel to justify words one might quite simply bury in the historical melieux of the past? A necessary answer emerges precisely here: the prophets are being misunderstood if they are completely swallowed up in their own history.
What verse 18, especially as it opens the following few verses, accomplishes is this: God is stripped, as it were, of His absoluteness. One must be careful in stating the point, but it seems quite clear. God is, according to the relativization at work in verse 18, not one to offer absolute reasons for things. The opening of a last dispensation is not simply to bring about "new things," unknown before, but also to hark back to the "former things," to bring the former things out in the new things, just as "Second Isaiah" works out and reinterprets "First Isaiah." In short, if Joseph is a prophet, he cannot--absolutely must not--be separated from the former prophets: the message is the same, and the sender of the messengers is the same. If only a few verses after this, the Lord will quite explicitly introduce the necessity of recognizing the historical context into which the modern prophetic activity falls, He quite explicitly introduces here the necessity of recognizing also that these same prophets transcend their historical context because they are fulfilling ancient prophecies. And with that, the Lord can turn to specifications in the next few verses.
  • D&C 1:18-24: A chiasm. As soon as one turns to the passage in which the Lord lays out His very broad interpretation of what has been prophesied all along, one notices that there is a specific structure at work in these verses:
  • And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world;
  • and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets--
  • The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones...
  • But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
  • That faith also might increase in the earth;
  • That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
  • That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple... before kings and rulers.
  • Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness,
  • after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
The chiastic structure highlights the fact that this is the Lord's voice in this revelation, but it also accomplishes a couple of interesting poetic things: verse 21 is set at the center of things, and the whole passage is wrapped about with the Lord's clear statement of purpose. Moreover, the everlasting covenant is set parallel to every man's speaking in the name of God the Lord, which is certainly suggestive. Also, the doubling of the word "commandments" seems to highlight the nature of what the Doctrine and Covenants (perhaps more strictly, the Book of Commandments) is all about. At any rate, the structure opens the possibility of considering the passage as a whole.
  • D&C 1:30: Only true and living church. Although it may be possible to read this as meaning "the only true church" and "the only living church," this reading seems strained because of the fact that the word church is only used once. Instead, a more natural way of reading this phrase seems to be that the church is being described as the only one which is both true and living.

Outline and page map[edit]

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A. Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled (1-10)

• Lord's voice will go to all, there is none that shall not hear (1-2)
• the rebellious will be sorrowful for iniquities will become public (3)
• Lord's servants are his voice, so none shall stay them (4-6a)
• this same authority applies to Book of Commandments, so all shall be fulfilled (6b-7)
• Lord's servants have been given power to seal up the wicked unto Second Coming (8-10)
B. Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off (11-16)
• Lord warns those who will hear to prepare because his anger is kindled against the world (11-13)
• those who will not hear the Lord's voice will be cut off because they: (14)
• have strayed from his ordinances;
• have broken his covenant; and
• seek after idols that will perish when Babylon falls (15-16)
B. Lord's servants to preach these commandments to the world (17-23)
• Lord commands his servants to proclaim these things to the world (17-18a)
• so the weak might break down the strong so that: (18b-19)
• every man might speak in name of Lord rather than counseled by neighbor;
• faith might increase rather than trusting in the arm of flesh; and
• Lord's covenant might be established (19-22)
B. Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24-33)
• Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24)
• so they might come to understanding so that:
• his servants might be instructed, corrected, chastened, and strengthened;
• Joseph Smith might translate the Book of Mormon; and
• his servants might have power to lay the foundation of the Church (25-30)
• but light will be taken from those who repent not (31-33)

A. Lord’s word will be fulfilled (34-39)

• Lord speaks to entire earth and is willing that all should know these things (34-35a)
• the hour is nigh that peace taken from earth and Lord will return in judgment (35b-36)
• search these commandments, for all shall be fulfilled (37)
• whether by Lord's own voice or servants, it is the same (38)
• the Holy Ghost bears record of these truths (39)

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • D&C 1 was written down by Sidney Rigdon as it was received during a conference on November 1, 1831. The oldest surviving copy is the one copied by John Whitmer into Revelation Book 1, p. 125-27 soon after its receipt.
  • D&C 1 was first published and first received widespread circulation in the March 1833 issue (p. 78) of The Evening and the Morning Star newspaper printed by William Phelps in Jackson County, Missouri.[5]
  • D&C 1 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants as Chapter 1 in the 1833 Book of Commandments, which was also printed by William Phelps during 1833.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 1.

  • D&C 1 was immediately followed by D&C 67 and D&C 68. These three sections comprise a group that were all received during the first conference called to consider publishing Joseph Smith's revelations. These sections address the content and truthfulness of the revelations contained in the Doctrine & Covenants. In contrast, D&C 69 and D&C 70, which were received at another conference later that month, address the mechanics of getting the revelations published.
  • D&C 1 was followed two days later by D&C 133. These two sections are the bookends of the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 appears at the beginning as a Preface, while D&C 133 was placed at the end as an Appendix. Both sections quote many of the same Bible passages.

Parallel passages.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

  • Kelly, William H. Interview with William McLellin, 13 September 1881. In "Letter from Elder W.H. Kelly." In The Saints’ Herald (1 March 1882) Vol. 29 / No. 5, p.66-68. Plano, Illinois, Lamoni, Iowa and Independence, Missouri: Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints (now Community of Christ), 1860-present.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

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. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  2. Minute Book 2 (1 Nov 1831), p.15-16
  3. Kelly, Interview with William McLellin.
  4. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  5. "Revelations." In The Evening and the Morning Star, original series (March 1833) Vol. 1 / No. 10, p. 78.

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D&C 1:11-16

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 1
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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this headng. →

Relationship to Doctrine & Covenants. The relationship of Section 1 to the Doctrine & Covenants as a whole is discussed at Doctrine & Covenants: Unities.

Audience. D&C 1 is addressed to "ye people of my church" and to "all men" as the Lord's Preface to the Book of his Commandments published to the "inhabitants of the earth" (D&C 1:-2, 6, 11, 34)

Story. D&C 1 is the preface or introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 consists of five major sections. It opens and closes with statements that the Lord’s word is unstoppable; it will go forth and it will be fulfilled, whether spoken by himself or his servants. In between these two statements, the Lord gives three lists: (1) reasons why the Lord's anger is kindled against the world, (2) reasons why the Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world, and (3) reasons why these commandments have been given to his servants.

  • Verses 1:1-10: The Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled
  • Verses 1:11-16: The Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off
  • Verses 1:17-23: The Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world
  • Verses 1:24-33: The Lord gave these commandments to his servants
  • Verses 1:34-39: The Lord’s word will be fulfilled

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in D&C 1 include:

Historical setting[edit]

This heading should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the section. This may include issues that prompted the section, its subsequent implementation, and the extent of circulation through its first inclusion in the Doctrine & Covenants. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Received: November 1, 1831 at Hiram, Ohio[1]
  • First section in chronological order: D&C 2
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 65
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 67

The immediate setting of D&C 1 was a conference at Hiram, Ohio attended by ten elders including Joseph Smith. The conference was held on November 1-2, 1831, a year and a half after the organization of the Church. The purpose of the conference was to make plans for publishing Joseph Smith’s revelations for the first time. The conference determined to print several thousand copies of the revelations in book form under the name Book of Commandments. D&C 1 was received on the first day of this conference.[2]

William McLellin later recalled that:

A committee had been appointed to draft a preface [to the Book of Commandments], consisting of himself [William McLellin], [Oliver] Cowdery and [probably] Sidney Rigdon, but when they made their report the conference picked it all to pieces. The conference then requested Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it, and he said that he would if the people would bow in prayer with him. This they did, and Joseph prayed. When they arose, Joseph dictated by the Spirit the Preface found in the book of Doctrine & Covenants [D&C 1] while sitting by a window of the room in which the conference was sitting, and Sidney Rigdon wrote it down.[3]

In Revelation Book 1 the following explanation introduces D&C 1:

A Preface or instructions upon the Book of Commandments which were given of the Lord unto his Church through him who he appointed to this work by the voice of his Saints through the prayer of faith.[4]

From this background we learn that D&C 1 is the Preface or Introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants, the book of the Lord’s commandments to the inhabitants of the earth. It is thus intended to orient the reader to the content and purpose of the entire Doctrine & Covenants.

For a brief overview of D&C 1 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 9 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 10.

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 1:2: The penetrating voice of the Lord. The mention here of the eye, the ear, and the heart is clearly reminiscent of Isa 6:9-10. The question here is, not the prophetic mission of Isaiah, but the "voice of the Lord" Himself. However, if one considers the implications of Isaiah's prophetic call (see the commentary for Isaiah 6 at Isa 6:1ff), there is little apparent difference between the message in this passage and the message there: the "voice of the Lord" in Isaiah 6 is a voice of silence that only becomes spoken when taken into the mouth of the prophet (cf. 2 Ne 32:3, etc.), and something similar seems to be at work here in this revealed preface to the Doctrine and Covenants. Perhaps most significant in the phrasing of this issue as it appears in this verse is the concluding "be penetrated." Whereas "see" and "hear" match up perfectly with Isaiah's wording, "penetrate" is unique here. At the same time, however, it beautifully expresses the same spirit that permeates Isaiah: the violence of "penetrate" matches the (necessary) violence of the message, and the saturation implied in Isaiah's babbling manner of delivering the message is powerfully embodied in "penetrate." In short, the voice comes to all just to penetrate, to find its way to the penetralis, the inner shrine or the Holy of Holies.
  • D&C 1:2: None shall escape. Curiously doubling this is the phrase in the first half of the verse: "there is none to escape." Rather than the more common "there is none that shall not hear," etc., the Lord phrases this concept in terms of escape. Those who hear the voice are without means of escaping, without means of getting out of the hold of this "voice of the Lord." Doubling the penetration, which works its way to the inner recesses of one's person, is a hold (a "cape") out ("es" or "ex") of which none can get, an outward seizure accomplished by the freezing voice of the Lord. It might be well to parallel this hold to the "eye" and "ear" of the second part of the verse: this voice will take hold on the eye and on the ear, will take up a hold that cannot be undone by those thereby held. The voice will come in such complete saturation that those hearing and those seeing will be frozen and held.
Escape seems an interesting word choice here also because it is almost always used in scriptures to describe how the righteous will escape judgment in contrast to the wicked who will not. For example, a righteous remnant is described as escaping the judgment that will befall the wicked majority of Israel (e.g. Isa 37:31-32; 45:20; Jer 44:28; Ezek 6:8-9; see also [[Rom 2:3 for specific mention of escaping judgment and D&C 97:22, 25 for the question-answer form "vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly . . . and who shall escape it? . . . Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsover I have commanded her." Thus, the choice of the word escape here which includes the righteous and the wicked, read in light of the more conventional use of the term escape, seems to highlight—by way of analogy with the judgment of the wicked—the violent nature of the heart being penetrated. That is, the conspicuous lack of qualification here for the righteous suggests the violent effect the word of God has on everyone's heart. This seems to echo other scriptural phrase that use violent/dramatic terms for the repentance process, e.g. abase, submit, subject, etc. The lack of qualification for the righteous here also brings the story of Jonah to mind which stands out amongst scriptural texts in that the messenger who tries to escape cannot.
  • D&C 1:16: Idolatry. Idolatry seems only to be mentioned one other time in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 52:39), although it is a prominent theme of earlier prophets (see the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide entries). One reason the otherwise infrequent reference to idolatry may be given here is that in the subsequent verses Joseph's call as a prophet is given and explained. Idolatry then serves as a rhetorical device linking Joseph's prophetic calling to the common theme of idolatry spoken against by many former prophets. Related themes, such as worldliness, riches, vanity, pride, etc. are discussed at length in the Doctrine and Covenants, but in terms other than idolatry per se, thus making the occurrence here notable.
  • D&C 1:18. This verse introduces a most curious moment of divine logic, a moment in which the Lord Himself provides reasons for doing His work. Though other moments in scripture present the Lord offering reasons for a particular action, this might be the only occasion in all of scripture where the Lord simply lays out all the reasons He has for getting a plan of salvation under way, for sending messengers to bring further light and knowledge. The list of reasons is surprisingly long (several verses, at any rate), and all of these reasons present vital points of understanding. Each might be considered in turn.
The first of the Lord's reasons for putting together in the first place a plan of salvation is offered in this first verse, but the anticipatory sense that characterizes the first reason complicates it from the beginning. The first reason, quite clearly, is that "all this" is done so "that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets." The point seems quite clear: the prophets are to be fulfilled, and all of this is to that fulfillment. The Lord gets the work of salvation underway precisely so that the prophets are not ashamed, so that their word is confirmed by historical completion. But then there seems to be some difficulty here, because the next verse goes on as if it were quoted quite specifically the word of the prophets. It must be pointed out--even if a little early here--that verse 19 does not quote any known prophecy. It is closest, perhaps, to 1 Cor 1:27, but there is still something of an important gap between the phrasing of verse 19 and that saying by Paul. All in all, though the prophets are here cited, there does not seem to be any particular saying the Lord has in mind: one is to read verse 19 (and the verses that follow it) as a sort of summary of the prophetic message over all. A first--and a major--consequence: the great majority of the weight of the "reasons" the Lord offers to justify His saving activity in the last days is to be felt in this first mention of things, since the following verses are collectively a sort of explanation of the ancient prophet message. Hence, detailed attention must first be paid to this initiating verse 18.
The difficulty, however, of working out the meaning of verse 18 from the start is that the following verses, precisely because they summarize the prophetic work of so many millennia, seem to be the undergirding of why the Lord would desire to confirm the prophets at all. For present purposes, the work must begin, unfortunately, somewhat blindly.
The question to be asked, then, is this: is the whole plan of salvation, as issued through the Prophet Joseph and according to this "last dispensation," entirely motivated by a desire to confirm the ancient prophets? Or perhaps the question to ask is this: if the Lord feels to undertake a justification of sorts, is He here justifying Himself or the prophets? In the end, however the question is asked, the thrust of the difficulty here is bound up with the intertwined roles of the prophet and his God. One must interpret the relation between God and His messengers from the very beginning. The question is perhaps all the more important in the first part of the twenty-first century, because of the radical reinterpretation of the prophetic role that is underway in biblical criticism. If the prophet has been decided now to be a rather political figure, one attuned to contemporary events and one, hence, without the extra-temporal visions that allow his/her words to transcend her/his age, why on earth or in heaven would the Lord feel to justify words one might quite simply bury in the historical melieux of the past? A necessary answer emerges precisely here: the prophets are being misunderstood if they are completely swallowed up in their own history.
What verse 18, especially as it opens the following few verses, accomplishes is this: God is stripped, as it were, of His absoluteness. One must be careful in stating the point, but it seems quite clear. God is, according to the relativization at work in verse 18, not one to offer absolute reasons for things. The opening of a last dispensation is not simply to bring about "new things," unknown before, but also to hark back to the "former things," to bring the former things out in the new things, just as "Second Isaiah" works out and reinterprets "First Isaiah." In short, if Joseph is a prophet, he cannot--absolutely must not--be separated from the former prophets: the message is the same, and the sender of the messengers is the same. If only a few verses after this, the Lord will quite explicitly introduce the necessity of recognizing the historical context into which the modern prophetic activity falls, He quite explicitly introduces here the necessity of recognizing also that these same prophets transcend their historical context because they are fulfilling ancient prophecies. And with that, the Lord can turn to specifications in the next few verses.
  • D&C 1:18-24: A chiasm. As soon as one turns to the passage in which the Lord lays out His very broad interpretation of what has been prophesied all along, one notices that there is a specific structure at work in these verses:
  • And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world;
  • and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets--
  • The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones...
  • But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
  • That faith also might increase in the earth;
  • That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
  • That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple... before kings and rulers.
  • Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness,
  • after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
The chiastic structure highlights the fact that this is the Lord's voice in this revelation, but it also accomplishes a couple of interesting poetic things: verse 21 is set at the center of things, and the whole passage is wrapped about with the Lord's clear statement of purpose. Moreover, the everlasting covenant is set parallel to every man's speaking in the name of God the Lord, which is certainly suggestive. Also, the doubling of the word "commandments" seems to highlight the nature of what the Doctrine and Covenants (perhaps more strictly, the Book of Commandments) is all about. At any rate, the structure opens the possibility of considering the passage as a whole.
  • D&C 1:30: Only true and living church. Although it may be possible to read this as meaning "the only true church" and "the only living church," this reading seems strained because of the fact that the word church is only used once. Instead, a more natural way of reading this phrase seems to be that the church is being described as the only one which is both true and living.

Outline and page map[edit]

This heading contains an outline for the entire section. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the section. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

A. Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled (1-10)

• Lord's voice will go to all, there is none that shall not hear (1-2)
• the rebellious will be sorrowful for iniquities will become public (3)
• Lord's servants are his voice, so none shall stay them (4-6a)
• this same authority applies to Book of Commandments, so all shall be fulfilled (6b-7)
• Lord's servants have been given power to seal up the wicked unto Second Coming (8-10)
B. Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off (11-16)
• Lord warns those who will hear to prepare because his anger is kindled against the world (11-13)
• those who will not hear the Lord's voice will be cut off because they: (14)
• have strayed from his ordinances;
• have broken his covenant; and
• seek after idols that will perish when Babylon falls (15-16)
B. Lord's servants to preach these commandments to the world (17-23)
• Lord commands his servants to proclaim these things to the world (17-18a)
• so the weak might break down the strong so that: (18b-19)
• every man might speak in name of Lord rather than counseled by neighbor;
• faith might increase rather than trusting in the arm of flesh; and
• Lord's covenant might be established (19-22)
B. Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24-33)
• Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24)
• so they might come to understanding so that:
• his servants might be instructed, corrected, chastened, and strengthened;
• Joseph Smith might translate the Book of Mormon; and
• his servants might have power to lay the foundation of the Church (25-30)
• but light will be taken from those who repent not (31-33)

A. Lord’s word will be fulfilled (34-39)

• Lord speaks to entire earth and is willing that all should know these things (34-35a)
• the hour is nigh that peace taken from earth and Lord will return in judgment (35b-36)
• search these commandments, for all shall be fulfilled (37)
• whether by Lord's own voice or servants, it is the same (38)
• the Holy Ghost bears record of these truths (39)

Unanswered questions[edit]

This heading is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This heading is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • D&C 1 was written down by Sidney Rigdon as it was received during a conference on November 1, 1831. The oldest surviving copy is the one copied by John Whitmer into Revelation Book 1, p. 125-27 soon after its receipt.
  • D&C 1 was first published and first received widespread circulation in the March 1833 issue (p. 78) of The Evening and the Morning Star newspaper printed by William Phelps in Jackson County, Missouri.[5]
  • D&C 1 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants as Chapter 1 in the 1833 Book of Commandments, which was also printed by William Phelps during 1833.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 1.

  • D&C 1 was immediately followed by D&C 67 and D&C 68. These three sections comprise a group that were all received during the first conference called to consider publishing Joseph Smith's revelations. These sections address the content and truthfulness of the revelations contained in the Doctrine & Covenants. In contrast, D&C 69 and D&C 70, which were received at another conference later that month, address the mechanics of getting the revelations published.
  • D&C 1 was followed two days later by D&C 133. These two sections are the bookends of the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 appears at the beginning as a Preface, while D&C 133 was placed at the end as an Appendix. Both sections quote many of the same Bible passages.

Parallel passages.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

  • Kelly, William H. Interview with William McLellin, 13 September 1881. In "Letter from Elder W.H. Kelly." In The Saints’ Herald (1 March 1882) Vol. 29 / No. 5, p.66-68. Plano, Illinois, Lamoni, Iowa and Independence, Missouri: Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints (now Community of Christ), 1860-present.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

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. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  2. Minute Book 2 (1 Nov 1831), p.15-16
  3. Kelly, Interview with William McLellin.
  4. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  5. "Revelations." In The Evening and the Morning Star, original series (March 1833) Vol. 1 / No. 10, p. 78.

Previous section: D&C 65                         Next section: D&C 67

D&C 1:17-23

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 1
Previous section: D&C 65                         Next section: D&C 67


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this headng. →

Relationship to Doctrine & Covenants. The relationship of Section 1 to the Doctrine & Covenants as a whole is discussed at Doctrine & Covenants: Unities.

Audience. D&C 1 is addressed to "ye people of my church" and to "all men" as the Lord's Preface to the Book of his Commandments published to the "inhabitants of the earth" (D&C 1:-2, 6, 11, 34)

Story. D&C 1 is the preface or introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 consists of five major sections. It opens and closes with statements that the Lord’s word is unstoppable; it will go forth and it will be fulfilled, whether spoken by himself or his servants. In between these two statements, the Lord gives three lists: (1) reasons why the Lord's anger is kindled against the world, (2) reasons why the Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world, and (3) reasons why these commandments have been given to his servants.

  • Verses 1:1-10: The Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled
  • Verses 1:11-16: The Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off
  • Verses 1:17-23: The Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world
  • Verses 1:24-33: The Lord gave these commandments to his servants
  • Verses 1:34-39: The Lord’s word will be fulfilled

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in D&C 1 include:

Historical setting[edit]

This heading should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the section. This may include issues that prompted the section, its subsequent implementation, and the extent of circulation through its first inclusion in the Doctrine & Covenants. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Received: November 1, 1831 at Hiram, Ohio[1]
  • First section in chronological order: D&C 2
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 65
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 67

The immediate setting of D&C 1 was a conference at Hiram, Ohio attended by ten elders including Joseph Smith. The conference was held on November 1-2, 1831, a year and a half after the organization of the Church. The purpose of the conference was to make plans for publishing Joseph Smith’s revelations for the first time. The conference determined to print several thousand copies of the revelations in book form under the name Book of Commandments. D&C 1 was received on the first day of this conference.[2]

William McLellin later recalled that:

A committee had been appointed to draft a preface [to the Book of Commandments], consisting of himself [William McLellin], [Oliver] Cowdery and [probably] Sidney Rigdon, but when they made their report the conference picked it all to pieces. The conference then requested Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it, and he said that he would if the people would bow in prayer with him. This they did, and Joseph prayed. When they arose, Joseph dictated by the Spirit the Preface found in the book of Doctrine & Covenants [D&C 1] while sitting by a window of the room in which the conference was sitting, and Sidney Rigdon wrote it down.[3]

In Revelation Book 1 the following explanation introduces D&C 1:

A Preface or instructions upon the Book of Commandments which were given of the Lord unto his Church through him who he appointed to this work by the voice of his Saints through the prayer of faith.[4]

From this background we learn that D&C 1 is the Preface or Introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants, the book of the Lord’s commandments to the inhabitants of the earth. It is thus intended to orient the reader to the content and purpose of the entire Doctrine & Covenants.

For a brief overview of D&C 1 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 9 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 10.

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 1:2: The penetrating voice of the Lord. The mention here of the eye, the ear, and the heart is clearly reminiscent of Isa 6:9-10. The question here is, not the prophetic mission of Isaiah, but the "voice of the Lord" Himself. However, if one considers the implications of Isaiah's prophetic call (see the commentary for Isaiah 6 at Isa 6:1ff), there is little apparent difference between the message in this passage and the message there: the "voice of the Lord" in Isaiah 6 is a voice of silence that only becomes spoken when taken into the mouth of the prophet (cf. 2 Ne 32:3, etc.), and something similar seems to be at work here in this revealed preface to the Doctrine and Covenants. Perhaps most significant in the phrasing of this issue as it appears in this verse is the concluding "be penetrated." Whereas "see" and "hear" match up perfectly with Isaiah's wording, "penetrate" is unique here. At the same time, however, it beautifully expresses the same spirit that permeates Isaiah: the violence of "penetrate" matches the (necessary) violence of the message, and the saturation implied in Isaiah's babbling manner of delivering the message is powerfully embodied in "penetrate." In short, the voice comes to all just to penetrate, to find its way to the penetralis, the inner shrine or the Holy of Holies.
  • D&C 1:2: None shall escape. Curiously doubling this is the phrase in the first half of the verse: "there is none to escape." Rather than the more common "there is none that shall not hear," etc., the Lord phrases this concept in terms of escape. Those who hear the voice are without means of escaping, without means of getting out of the hold of this "voice of the Lord." Doubling the penetration, which works its way to the inner recesses of one's person, is a hold (a "cape") out ("es" or "ex") of which none can get, an outward seizure accomplished by the freezing voice of the Lord. It might be well to parallel this hold to the "eye" and "ear" of the second part of the verse: this voice will take hold on the eye and on the ear, will take up a hold that cannot be undone by those thereby held. The voice will come in such complete saturation that those hearing and those seeing will be frozen and held.
Escape seems an interesting word choice here also because it is almost always used in scriptures to describe how the righteous will escape judgment in contrast to the wicked who will not. For example, a righteous remnant is described as escaping the judgment that will befall the wicked majority of Israel (e.g. Isa 37:31-32; 45:20; Jer 44:28; Ezek 6:8-9; see also [[Rom 2:3 for specific mention of escaping judgment and D&C 97:22, 25 for the question-answer form "vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly . . . and who shall escape it? . . . Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsover I have commanded her." Thus, the choice of the word escape here which includes the righteous and the wicked, read in light of the more conventional use of the term escape, seems to highlight—by way of analogy with the judgment of the wicked—the violent nature of the heart being penetrated. That is, the conspicuous lack of qualification here for the righteous suggests the violent effect the word of God has on everyone's heart. This seems to echo other scriptural phrase that use violent/dramatic terms for the repentance process, e.g. abase, submit, subject, etc. The lack of qualification for the righteous here also brings the story of Jonah to mind which stands out amongst scriptural texts in that the messenger who tries to escape cannot.
  • D&C 1:16: Idolatry. Idolatry seems only to be mentioned one other time in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 52:39), although it is a prominent theme of earlier prophets (see the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide entries). One reason the otherwise infrequent reference to idolatry may be given here is that in the subsequent verses Joseph's call as a prophet is given and explained. Idolatry then serves as a rhetorical device linking Joseph's prophetic calling to the common theme of idolatry spoken against by many former prophets. Related themes, such as worldliness, riches, vanity, pride, etc. are discussed at length in the Doctrine and Covenants, but in terms other than idolatry per se, thus making the occurrence here notable.
  • D&C 1:18. This verse introduces a most curious moment of divine logic, a moment in which the Lord Himself provides reasons for doing His work. Though other moments in scripture present the Lord offering reasons for a particular action, this might be the only occasion in all of scripture where the Lord simply lays out all the reasons He has for getting a plan of salvation under way, for sending messengers to bring further light and knowledge. The list of reasons is surprisingly long (several verses, at any rate), and all of these reasons present vital points of understanding. Each might be considered in turn.
The first of the Lord's reasons for putting together in the first place a plan of salvation is offered in this first verse, but the anticipatory sense that characterizes the first reason complicates it from the beginning. The first reason, quite clearly, is that "all this" is done so "that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets." The point seems quite clear: the prophets are to be fulfilled, and all of this is to that fulfillment. The Lord gets the work of salvation underway precisely so that the prophets are not ashamed, so that their word is confirmed by historical completion. But then there seems to be some difficulty here, because the next verse goes on as if it were quoted quite specifically the word of the prophets. It must be pointed out--even if a little early here--that verse 19 does not quote any known prophecy. It is closest, perhaps, to 1 Cor 1:27, but there is still something of an important gap between the phrasing of verse 19 and that saying by Paul. All in all, though the prophets are here cited, there does not seem to be any particular saying the Lord has in mind: one is to read verse 19 (and the verses that follow it) as a sort of summary of the prophetic message over all. A first--and a major--consequence: the great majority of the weight of the "reasons" the Lord offers to justify His saving activity in the last days is to be felt in this first mention of things, since the following verses are collectively a sort of explanation of the ancient prophet message. Hence, detailed attention must first be paid to this initiating verse 18.
The difficulty, however, of working out the meaning of verse 18 from the start is that the following verses, precisely because they summarize the prophetic work of so many millennia, seem to be the undergirding of why the Lord would desire to confirm the prophets at all. For present purposes, the work must begin, unfortunately, somewhat blindly.
The question to be asked, then, is this: is the whole plan of salvation, as issued through the Prophet Joseph and according to this "last dispensation," entirely motivated by a desire to confirm the ancient prophets? Or perhaps the question to ask is this: if the Lord feels to undertake a justification of sorts, is He here justifying Himself or the prophets? In the end, however the question is asked, the thrust of the difficulty here is bound up with the intertwined roles of the prophet and his God. One must interpret the relation between God and His messengers from the very beginning. The question is perhaps all the more important in the first part of the twenty-first century, because of the radical reinterpretation of the prophetic role that is underway in biblical criticism. If the prophet has been decided now to be a rather political figure, one attuned to contemporary events and one, hence, without the extra-temporal visions that allow his/her words to transcend her/his age, why on earth or in heaven would the Lord feel to justify words one might quite simply bury in the historical melieux of the past? A necessary answer emerges precisely here: the prophets are being misunderstood if they are completely swallowed up in their own history.
What verse 18, especially as it opens the following few verses, accomplishes is this: God is stripped, as it were, of His absoluteness. One must be careful in stating the point, but it seems quite clear. God is, according to the relativization at work in verse 18, not one to offer absolute reasons for things. The opening of a last dispensation is not simply to bring about "new things," unknown before, but also to hark back to the "former things," to bring the former things out in the new things, just as "Second Isaiah" works out and reinterprets "First Isaiah." In short, if Joseph is a prophet, he cannot--absolutely must not--be separated from the former prophets: the message is the same, and the sender of the messengers is the same. If only a few verses after this, the Lord will quite explicitly introduce the necessity of recognizing the historical context into which the modern prophetic activity falls, He quite explicitly introduces here the necessity of recognizing also that these same prophets transcend their historical context because they are fulfilling ancient prophecies. And with that, the Lord can turn to specifications in the next few verses.
  • D&C 1:18-24: A chiasm. As soon as one turns to the passage in which the Lord lays out His very broad interpretation of what has been prophesied all along, one notices that there is a specific structure at work in these verses:
  • And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world;
  • and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets--
  • The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones...
  • But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
  • That faith also might increase in the earth;
  • That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
  • That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple... before kings and rulers.
  • Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness,
  • after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
The chiastic structure highlights the fact that this is the Lord's voice in this revelation, but it also accomplishes a couple of interesting poetic things: verse 21 is set at the center of things, and the whole passage is wrapped about with the Lord's clear statement of purpose. Moreover, the everlasting covenant is set parallel to every man's speaking in the name of God the Lord, which is certainly suggestive. Also, the doubling of the word "commandments" seems to highlight the nature of what the Doctrine and Covenants (perhaps more strictly, the Book of Commandments) is all about. At any rate, the structure opens the possibility of considering the passage as a whole.
  • D&C 1:30: Only true and living church. Although it may be possible to read this as meaning "the only true church" and "the only living church," this reading seems strained because of the fact that the word church is only used once. Instead, a more natural way of reading this phrase seems to be that the church is being described as the only one which is both true and living.

Outline and page map[edit]

This heading contains an outline for the entire section. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the section. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

A. Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled (1-10)

• Lord's voice will go to all, there is none that shall not hear (1-2)
• the rebellious will be sorrowful for iniquities will become public (3)
• Lord's servants are his voice, so none shall stay them (4-6a)
• this same authority applies to Book of Commandments, so all shall be fulfilled (6b-7)
• Lord's servants have been given power to seal up the wicked unto Second Coming (8-10)
B. Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off (11-16)
• Lord warns those who will hear to prepare because his anger is kindled against the world (11-13)
• those who will not hear the Lord's voice will be cut off because they: (14)
• have strayed from his ordinances;
• have broken his covenant; and
• seek after idols that will perish when Babylon falls (15-16)
B. Lord's servants to preach these commandments to the world (17-23)
• Lord commands his servants to proclaim these things to the world (17-18a)
• so the weak might break down the strong so that: (18b-19)
• every man might speak in name of Lord rather than counseled by neighbor;
• faith might increase rather than trusting in the arm of flesh; and
• Lord's covenant might be established (19-22)
B. Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24-33)
• Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24)
• so they might come to understanding so that:
• his servants might be instructed, corrected, chastened, and strengthened;
• Joseph Smith might translate the Book of Mormon; and
• his servants might have power to lay the foundation of the Church (25-30)
• but light will be taken from those who repent not (31-33)

A. Lord’s word will be fulfilled (34-39)

• Lord speaks to entire earth and is willing that all should know these things (34-35a)
• the hour is nigh that peace taken from earth and Lord will return in judgment (35b-36)
• search these commandments, for all shall be fulfilled (37)
• whether by Lord's own voice or servants, it is the same (38)
• the Holy Ghost bears record of these truths (39)

Unanswered questions[edit]

This heading is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This heading is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • D&C 1 was written down by Sidney Rigdon as it was received during a conference on November 1, 1831. The oldest surviving copy is the one copied by John Whitmer into Revelation Book 1, p. 125-27 soon after its receipt.
  • D&C 1 was first published and first received widespread circulation in the March 1833 issue (p. 78) of The Evening and the Morning Star newspaper printed by William Phelps in Jackson County, Missouri.[5]
  • D&C 1 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants as Chapter 1 in the 1833 Book of Commandments, which was also printed by William Phelps during 1833.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 1.

  • D&C 1 was immediately followed by D&C 67 and D&C 68. These three sections comprise a group that were all received during the first conference called to consider publishing Joseph Smith's revelations. These sections address the content and truthfulness of the revelations contained in the Doctrine & Covenants. In contrast, D&C 69 and D&C 70, which were received at another conference later that month, address the mechanics of getting the revelations published.
  • D&C 1 was followed two days later by D&C 133. These two sections are the bookends of the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 appears at the beginning as a Preface, while D&C 133 was placed at the end as an Appendix. Both sections quote many of the same Bible passages.

Parallel passages.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

  • Kelly, William H. Interview with William McLellin, 13 September 1881. In "Letter from Elder W.H. Kelly." In The Saints’ Herald (1 March 1882) Vol. 29 / No. 5, p.66-68. Plano, Illinois, Lamoni, Iowa and Independence, Missouri: Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints (now Community of Christ), 1860-present.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

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. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  2. Minute Book 2 (1 Nov 1831), p.15-16
  3. Kelly, Interview with William McLellin.
  4. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  5. "Revelations." In The Evening and the Morning Star, original series (March 1833) Vol. 1 / No. 10, p. 78.

Previous section: D&C 65                         Next section: D&C 67

D&C 1:24-33

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 1
Previous section: D&C 65                         Next section: D&C 67


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this headng. →

Relationship to Doctrine & Covenants. The relationship of Section 1 to the Doctrine & Covenants as a whole is discussed at Doctrine & Covenants: Unities.

Audience. D&C 1 is addressed to "ye people of my church" and to "all men" as the Lord's Preface to the Book of his Commandments published to the "inhabitants of the earth" (D&C 1:-2, 6, 11, 34)

Story. D&C 1 is the preface or introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 consists of five major sections. It opens and closes with statements that the Lord’s word is unstoppable; it will go forth and it will be fulfilled, whether spoken by himself or his servants. In between these two statements, the Lord gives three lists: (1) reasons why the Lord's anger is kindled against the world, (2) reasons why the Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world, and (3) reasons why these commandments have been given to his servants.

  • Verses 1:1-10: The Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled
  • Verses 1:11-16: The Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off
  • Verses 1:17-23: The Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world
  • Verses 1:24-33: The Lord gave these commandments to his servants
  • Verses 1:34-39: The Lord’s word will be fulfilled

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in D&C 1 include:

Historical setting[edit]

This heading should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the section. This may include issues that prompted the section, its subsequent implementation, and the extent of circulation through its first inclusion in the Doctrine & Covenants. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Received: November 1, 1831 at Hiram, Ohio[1]
  • First section in chronological order: D&C 2
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 65
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 67

The immediate setting of D&C 1 was a conference at Hiram, Ohio attended by ten elders including Joseph Smith. The conference was held on November 1-2, 1831, a year and a half after the organization of the Church. The purpose of the conference was to make plans for publishing Joseph Smith’s revelations for the first time. The conference determined to print several thousand copies of the revelations in book form under the name Book of Commandments. D&C 1 was received on the first day of this conference.[2]

William McLellin later recalled that:

A committee had been appointed to draft a preface [to the Book of Commandments], consisting of himself [William McLellin], [Oliver] Cowdery and [probably] Sidney Rigdon, but when they made their report the conference picked it all to pieces. The conference then requested Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it, and he said that he would if the people would bow in prayer with him. This they did, and Joseph prayed. When they arose, Joseph dictated by the Spirit the Preface found in the book of Doctrine & Covenants [D&C 1] while sitting by a window of the room in which the conference was sitting, and Sidney Rigdon wrote it down.[3]

In Revelation Book 1 the following explanation introduces D&C 1:

A Preface or instructions upon the Book of Commandments which were given of the Lord unto his Church through him who he appointed to this work by the voice of his Saints through the prayer of faith.[4]

From this background we learn that D&C 1 is the Preface or Introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants, the book of the Lord’s commandments to the inhabitants of the earth. It is thus intended to orient the reader to the content and purpose of the entire Doctrine & Covenants.

For a brief overview of D&C 1 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 9 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 10.

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 1:2: The penetrating voice of the Lord. The mention here of the eye, the ear, and the heart is clearly reminiscent of Isa 6:9-10. The question here is, not the prophetic mission of Isaiah, but the "voice of the Lord" Himself. However, if one considers the implications of Isaiah's prophetic call (see the commentary for Isaiah 6 at Isa 6:1ff), there is little apparent difference between the message in this passage and the message there: the "voice of the Lord" in Isaiah 6 is a voice of silence that only becomes spoken when taken into the mouth of the prophet (cf. 2 Ne 32:3, etc.), and something similar seems to be at work here in this revealed preface to the Doctrine and Covenants. Perhaps most significant in the phrasing of this issue as it appears in this verse is the concluding "be penetrated." Whereas "see" and "hear" match up perfectly with Isaiah's wording, "penetrate" is unique here. At the same time, however, it beautifully expresses the same spirit that permeates Isaiah: the violence of "penetrate" matches the (necessary) violence of the message, and the saturation implied in Isaiah's babbling manner of delivering the message is powerfully embodied in "penetrate." In short, the voice comes to all just to penetrate, to find its way to the penetralis, the inner shrine or the Holy of Holies.
  • D&C 1:2: None shall escape. Curiously doubling this is the phrase in the first half of the verse: "there is none to escape." Rather than the more common "there is none that shall not hear," etc., the Lord phrases this concept in terms of escape. Those who hear the voice are without means of escaping, without means of getting out of the hold of this "voice of the Lord." Doubling the penetration, which works its way to the inner recesses of one's person, is a hold (a "cape") out ("es" or "ex") of which none can get, an outward seizure accomplished by the freezing voice of the Lord. It might be well to parallel this hold to the "eye" and "ear" of the second part of the verse: this voice will take hold on the eye and on the ear, will take up a hold that cannot be undone by those thereby held. The voice will come in such complete saturation that those hearing and those seeing will be frozen and held.
Escape seems an interesting word choice here also because it is almost always used in scriptures to describe how the righteous will escape judgment in contrast to the wicked who will not. For example, a righteous remnant is described as escaping the judgment that will befall the wicked majority of Israel (e.g. Isa 37:31-32; 45:20; Jer 44:28; Ezek 6:8-9; see also [[Rom 2:3 for specific mention of escaping judgment and D&C 97:22, 25 for the question-answer form "vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly . . . and who shall escape it? . . . Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsover I have commanded her." Thus, the choice of the word escape here which includes the righteous and the wicked, read in light of the more conventional use of the term escape, seems to highlight—by way of analogy with the judgment of the wicked—the violent nature of the heart being penetrated. That is, the conspicuous lack of qualification here for the righteous suggests the violent effect the word of God has on everyone's heart. This seems to echo other scriptural phrase that use violent/dramatic terms for the repentance process, e.g. abase, submit, subject, etc. The lack of qualification for the righteous here also brings the story of Jonah to mind which stands out amongst scriptural texts in that the messenger who tries to escape cannot.
  • D&C 1:16: Idolatry. Idolatry seems only to be mentioned one other time in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 52:39), although it is a prominent theme of earlier prophets (see the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide entries). One reason the otherwise infrequent reference to idolatry may be given here is that in the subsequent verses Joseph's call as a prophet is given and explained. Idolatry then serves as a rhetorical device linking Joseph's prophetic calling to the common theme of idolatry spoken against by many former prophets. Related themes, such as worldliness, riches, vanity, pride, etc. are discussed at length in the Doctrine and Covenants, but in terms other than idolatry per se, thus making the occurrence here notable.
  • D&C 1:18. This verse introduces a most curious moment of divine logic, a moment in which the Lord Himself provides reasons for doing His work. Though other moments in scripture present the Lord offering reasons for a particular action, this might be the only occasion in all of scripture where the Lord simply lays out all the reasons He has for getting a plan of salvation under way, for sending messengers to bring further light and knowledge. The list of reasons is surprisingly long (several verses, at any rate), and all of these reasons present vital points of understanding. Each might be considered in turn.
The first of the Lord's reasons for putting together in the first place a plan of salvation is offered in this first verse, but the anticipatory sense that characterizes the first reason complicates it from the beginning. The first reason, quite clearly, is that "all this" is done so "that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets." The point seems quite clear: the prophets are to be fulfilled, and all of this is to that fulfillment. The Lord gets the work of salvation underway precisely so that the prophets are not ashamed, so that their word is confirmed by historical completion. But then there seems to be some difficulty here, because the next verse goes on as if it were quoted quite specifically the word of the prophets. It must be pointed out--even if a little early here--that verse 19 does not quote any known prophecy. It is closest, perhaps, to 1 Cor 1:27, but there is still something of an important gap between the phrasing of verse 19 and that saying by Paul. All in all, though the prophets are here cited, there does not seem to be any particular saying the Lord has in mind: one is to read verse 19 (and the verses that follow it) as a sort of summary of the prophetic message over all. A first--and a major--consequence: the great majority of the weight of the "reasons" the Lord offers to justify His saving activity in the last days is to be felt in this first mention of things, since the following verses are collectively a sort of explanation of the ancient prophet message. Hence, detailed attention must first be paid to this initiating verse 18.
The difficulty, however, of working out the meaning of verse 18 from the start is that the following verses, precisely because they summarize the prophetic work of so many millennia, seem to be the undergirding of why the Lord would desire to confirm the prophets at all. For present purposes, the work must begin, unfortunately, somewhat blindly.
The question to be asked, then, is this: is the whole plan of salvation, as issued through the Prophet Joseph and according to this "last dispensation," entirely motivated by a desire to confirm the ancient prophets? Or perhaps the question to ask is this: if the Lord feels to undertake a justification of sorts, is He here justifying Himself or the prophets? In the end, however the question is asked, the thrust of the difficulty here is bound up with the intertwined roles of the prophet and his God. One must interpret the relation between God and His messengers from the very beginning. The question is perhaps all the more important in the first part of the twenty-first century, because of the radical reinterpretation of the prophetic role that is underway in biblical criticism. If the prophet has been decided now to be a rather political figure, one attuned to contemporary events and one, hence, without the extra-temporal visions that allow his/her words to transcend her/his age, why on earth or in heaven would the Lord feel to justify words one might quite simply bury in the historical melieux of the past? A necessary answer emerges precisely here: the prophets are being misunderstood if they are completely swallowed up in their own history.
What verse 18, especially as it opens the following few verses, accomplishes is this: God is stripped, as it were, of His absoluteness. One must be careful in stating the point, but it seems quite clear. God is, according to the relativization at work in verse 18, not one to offer absolute reasons for things. The opening of a last dispensation is not simply to bring about "new things," unknown before, but also to hark back to the "former things," to bring the former things out in the new things, just as "Second Isaiah" works out and reinterprets "First Isaiah." In short, if Joseph is a prophet, he cannot--absolutely must not--be separated from the former prophets: the message is the same, and the sender of the messengers is the same. If only a few verses after this, the Lord will quite explicitly introduce the necessity of recognizing the historical context into which the modern prophetic activity falls, He quite explicitly introduces here the necessity of recognizing also that these same prophets transcend their historical context because they are fulfilling ancient prophecies. And with that, the Lord can turn to specifications in the next few verses.
  • D&C 1:18-24: A chiasm. As soon as one turns to the passage in which the Lord lays out His very broad interpretation of what has been prophesied all along, one notices that there is a specific structure at work in these verses:
  • And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world;
  • and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets--
  • The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones...
  • But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
  • That faith also might increase in the earth;
  • That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
  • That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple... before kings and rulers.
  • Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness,
  • after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
The chiastic structure highlights the fact that this is the Lord's voice in this revelation, but it also accomplishes a couple of interesting poetic things: verse 21 is set at the center of things, and the whole passage is wrapped about with the Lord's clear statement of purpose. Moreover, the everlasting covenant is set parallel to every man's speaking in the name of God the Lord, which is certainly suggestive. Also, the doubling of the word "commandments" seems to highlight the nature of what the Doctrine and Covenants (perhaps more strictly, the Book of Commandments) is all about. At any rate, the structure opens the possibility of considering the passage as a whole.
  • D&C 1:30: Only true and living church. Although it may be possible to read this as meaning "the only true church" and "the only living church," this reading seems strained because of the fact that the word church is only used once. Instead, a more natural way of reading this phrase seems to be that the church is being described as the only one which is both true and living.

Outline and page map[edit]

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A. Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled (1-10)

• Lord's voice will go to all, there is none that shall not hear (1-2)
• the rebellious will be sorrowful for iniquities will become public (3)
• Lord's servants are his voice, so none shall stay them (4-6a)
• this same authority applies to Book of Commandments, so all shall be fulfilled (6b-7)
• Lord's servants have been given power to seal up the wicked unto Second Coming (8-10)
B. Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off (11-16)
• Lord warns those who will hear to prepare because his anger is kindled against the world (11-13)
• those who will not hear the Lord's voice will be cut off because they: (14)
• have strayed from his ordinances;
• have broken his covenant; and
• seek after idols that will perish when Babylon falls (15-16)
B. Lord's servants to preach these commandments to the world (17-23)
• Lord commands his servants to proclaim these things to the world (17-18a)
• so the weak might break down the strong so that: (18b-19)
• every man might speak in name of Lord rather than counseled by neighbor;
• faith might increase rather than trusting in the arm of flesh; and
• Lord's covenant might be established (19-22)
B. Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24-33)
• Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24)
• so they might come to understanding so that:
• his servants might be instructed, corrected, chastened, and strengthened;
• Joseph Smith might translate the Book of Mormon; and
• his servants might have power to lay the foundation of the Church (25-30)
• but light will be taken from those who repent not (31-33)

A. Lord’s word will be fulfilled (34-39)

• Lord speaks to entire earth and is willing that all should know these things (34-35a)
• the hour is nigh that peace taken from earth and Lord will return in judgment (35b-36)
• search these commandments, for all shall be fulfilled (37)
• whether by Lord's own voice or servants, it is the same (38)
• the Holy Ghost bears record of these truths (39)

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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Resources[edit]

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Previous editions.

  • D&C 1 was written down by Sidney Rigdon as it was received during a conference on November 1, 1831. The oldest surviving copy is the one copied by John Whitmer into Revelation Book 1, p. 125-27 soon after its receipt.
  • D&C 1 was first published and first received widespread circulation in the March 1833 issue (p. 78) of The Evening and the Morning Star newspaper printed by William Phelps in Jackson County, Missouri.[5]
  • D&C 1 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants as Chapter 1 in the 1833 Book of Commandments, which was also printed by William Phelps during 1833.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 1.

  • D&C 1 was immediately followed by D&C 67 and D&C 68. These three sections comprise a group that were all received during the first conference called to consider publishing Joseph Smith's revelations. These sections address the content and truthfulness of the revelations contained in the Doctrine & Covenants. In contrast, D&C 69 and D&C 70, which were received at another conference later that month, address the mechanics of getting the revelations published.
  • D&C 1 was followed two days later by D&C 133. These two sections are the bookends of the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 appears at the beginning as a Preface, while D&C 133 was placed at the end as an Appendix. Both sections quote many of the same Bible passages.

Parallel passages.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

  • Kelly, William H. Interview with William McLellin, 13 September 1881. In "Letter from Elder W.H. Kelly." In The Saints’ Herald (1 March 1882) Vol. 29 / No. 5, p.66-68. Plano, Illinois, Lamoni, Iowa and Independence, Missouri: Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints (now Community of Christ), 1860-present.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

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. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  2. Minute Book 2 (1 Nov 1831), p.15-16
  3. Kelly, Interview with William McLellin.
  4. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  5. "Revelations." In The Evening and the Morning Star, original series (March 1833) Vol. 1 / No. 10, p. 78.

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D&C 1:34-39

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 1
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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this headng. →

Relationship to Doctrine & Covenants. The relationship of Section 1 to the Doctrine & Covenants as a whole is discussed at Doctrine & Covenants: Unities.

Audience. D&C 1 is addressed to "ye people of my church" and to "all men" as the Lord's Preface to the Book of his Commandments published to the "inhabitants of the earth" (D&C 1:-2, 6, 11, 34)

Story. D&C 1 is the preface or introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 consists of five major sections. It opens and closes with statements that the Lord’s word is unstoppable; it will go forth and it will be fulfilled, whether spoken by himself or his servants. In between these two statements, the Lord gives three lists: (1) reasons why the Lord's anger is kindled against the world, (2) reasons why the Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world, and (3) reasons why these commandments have been given to his servants.

  • Verses 1:1-10: The Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled
  • Verses 1:11-16: The Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off
  • Verses 1:17-23: The Lord's servants are to preach these commandments to the world
  • Verses 1:24-33: The Lord gave these commandments to his servants
  • Verses 1:34-39: The Lord’s word will be fulfilled

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in D&C 1 include:

Historical setting[edit]

This heading should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the section. This may include issues that prompted the section, its subsequent implementation, and the extent of circulation through its first inclusion in the Doctrine & Covenants. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Received: November 1, 1831 at Hiram, Ohio[1]
  • First section in chronological order: D&C 2
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 65
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 67

The immediate setting of D&C 1 was a conference at Hiram, Ohio attended by ten elders including Joseph Smith. The conference was held on November 1-2, 1831, a year and a half after the organization of the Church. The purpose of the conference was to make plans for publishing Joseph Smith’s revelations for the first time. The conference determined to print several thousand copies of the revelations in book form under the name Book of Commandments. D&C 1 was received on the first day of this conference.[2]

William McLellin later recalled that:

A committee had been appointed to draft a preface [to the Book of Commandments], consisting of himself [William McLellin], [Oliver] Cowdery and [probably] Sidney Rigdon, but when they made their report the conference picked it all to pieces. The conference then requested Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it, and he said that he would if the people would bow in prayer with him. This they did, and Joseph prayed. When they arose, Joseph dictated by the Spirit the Preface found in the book of Doctrine & Covenants [D&C 1] while sitting by a window of the room in which the conference was sitting, and Sidney Rigdon wrote it down.[3]

In Revelation Book 1 the following explanation introduces D&C 1:

A Preface or instructions upon the Book of Commandments which were given of the Lord unto his Church through him who he appointed to this work by the voice of his Saints through the prayer of faith.[4]

From this background we learn that D&C 1 is the Preface or Introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants, the book of the Lord’s commandments to the inhabitants of the earth. It is thus intended to orient the reader to the content and purpose of the entire Doctrine & Covenants.

For a brief overview of D&C 1 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 9 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 10.

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 1:2: The penetrating voice of the Lord. The mention here of the eye, the ear, and the heart is clearly reminiscent of Isa 6:9-10. The question here is, not the prophetic mission of Isaiah, but the "voice of the Lord" Himself. However, if one considers the implications of Isaiah's prophetic call (see the commentary for Isaiah 6 at Isa 6:1ff), there is little apparent difference between the message in this passage and the message there: the "voice of the Lord" in Isaiah 6 is a voice of silence that only becomes spoken when taken into the mouth of the prophet (cf. 2 Ne 32:3, etc.), and something similar seems to be at work here in this revealed preface to the Doctrine and Covenants. Perhaps most significant in the phrasing of this issue as it appears in this verse is the concluding "be penetrated." Whereas "see" and "hear" match up perfectly with Isaiah's wording, "penetrate" is unique here. At the same time, however, it beautifully expresses the same spirit that permeates Isaiah: the violence of "penetrate" matches the (necessary) violence of the message, and the saturation implied in Isaiah's babbling manner of delivering the message is powerfully embodied in "penetrate." In short, the voice comes to all just to penetrate, to find its way to the penetralis, the inner shrine or the Holy of Holies.
  • D&C 1:2: None shall escape. Curiously doubling this is the phrase in the first half of the verse: "there is none to escape." Rather than the more common "there is none that shall not hear," etc., the Lord phrases this concept in terms of escape. Those who hear the voice are without means of escaping, without means of getting out of the hold of this "voice of the Lord." Doubling the penetration, which works its way to the inner recesses of one's person, is a hold (a "cape") out ("es" or "ex") of which none can get, an outward seizure accomplished by the freezing voice of the Lord. It might be well to parallel this hold to the "eye" and "ear" of the second part of the verse: this voice will take hold on the eye and on the ear, will take up a hold that cannot be undone by those thereby held. The voice will come in such complete saturation that those hearing and those seeing will be frozen and held.
Escape seems an interesting word choice here also because it is almost always used in scriptures to describe how the righteous will escape judgment in contrast to the wicked who will not. For example, a righteous remnant is described as escaping the judgment that will befall the wicked majority of Israel (e.g. Isa 37:31-32; 45:20; Jer 44:28; Ezek 6:8-9; see also [[Rom 2:3 for specific mention of escaping judgment and D&C 97:22, 25 for the question-answer form "vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly . . . and who shall escape it? . . . Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsover I have commanded her." Thus, the choice of the word escape here which includes the righteous and the wicked, read in light of the more conventional use of the term escape, seems to highlight—by way of analogy with the judgment of the wicked—the violent nature of the heart being penetrated. That is, the conspicuous lack of qualification here for the righteous suggests the violent effect the word of God has on everyone's heart. This seems to echo other scriptural phrase that use violent/dramatic terms for the repentance process, e.g. abase, submit, subject, etc. The lack of qualification for the righteous here also brings the story of Jonah to mind which stands out amongst scriptural texts in that the messenger who tries to escape cannot.
  • D&C 1:16: Idolatry. Idolatry seems only to be mentioned one other time in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 52:39), although it is a prominent theme of earlier prophets (see the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide entries). One reason the otherwise infrequent reference to idolatry may be given here is that in the subsequent verses Joseph's call as a prophet is given and explained. Idolatry then serves as a rhetorical device linking Joseph's prophetic calling to the common theme of idolatry spoken against by many former prophets. Related themes, such as worldliness, riches, vanity, pride, etc. are discussed at length in the Doctrine and Covenants, but in terms other than idolatry per se, thus making the occurrence here notable.
  • D&C 1:18. This verse introduces a most curious moment of divine logic, a moment in which the Lord Himself provides reasons for doing His work. Though other moments in scripture present the Lord offering reasons for a particular action, this might be the only occasion in all of scripture where the Lord simply lays out all the reasons He has for getting a plan of salvation under way, for sending messengers to bring further light and knowledge. The list of reasons is surprisingly long (several verses, at any rate), and all of these reasons present vital points of understanding. Each might be considered in turn.
The first of the Lord's reasons for putting together in the first place a plan of salvation is offered in this first verse, but the anticipatory sense that characterizes the first reason complicates it from the beginning. The first reason, quite clearly, is that "all this" is done so "that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets." The point seems quite clear: the prophets are to be fulfilled, and all of this is to that fulfillment. The Lord gets the work of salvation underway precisely so that the prophets are not ashamed, so that their word is confirmed by historical completion. But then there seems to be some difficulty here, because the next verse goes on as if it were quoted quite specifically the word of the prophets. It must be pointed out--even if a little early here--that verse 19 does not quote any known prophecy. It is closest, perhaps, to 1 Cor 1:27, but there is still something of an important gap between the phrasing of verse 19 and that saying by Paul. All in all, though the prophets are here cited, there does not seem to be any particular saying the Lord has in mind: one is to read verse 19 (and the verses that follow it) as a sort of summary of the prophetic message over all. A first--and a major--consequence: the great majority of the weight of the "reasons" the Lord offers to justify His saving activity in the last days is to be felt in this first mention of things, since the following verses are collectively a sort of explanation of the ancient prophet message. Hence, detailed attention must first be paid to this initiating verse 18.
The difficulty, however, of working out the meaning of verse 18 from the start is that the following verses, precisely because they summarize the prophetic work of so many millennia, seem to be the undergirding of why the Lord would desire to confirm the prophets at all. For present purposes, the work must begin, unfortunately, somewhat blindly.
The question to be asked, then, is this: is the whole plan of salvation, as issued through the Prophet Joseph and according to this "last dispensation," entirely motivated by a desire to confirm the ancient prophets? Or perhaps the question to ask is this: if the Lord feels to undertake a justification of sorts, is He here justifying Himself or the prophets? In the end, however the question is asked, the thrust of the difficulty here is bound up with the intertwined roles of the prophet and his God. One must interpret the relation between God and His messengers from the very beginning. The question is perhaps all the more important in the first part of the twenty-first century, because of the radical reinterpretation of the prophetic role that is underway in biblical criticism. If the prophet has been decided now to be a rather political figure, one attuned to contemporary events and one, hence, without the extra-temporal visions that allow his/her words to transcend her/his age, why on earth or in heaven would the Lord feel to justify words one might quite simply bury in the historical melieux of the past? A necessary answer emerges precisely here: the prophets are being misunderstood if they are completely swallowed up in their own history.
What verse 18, especially as it opens the following few verses, accomplishes is this: God is stripped, as it were, of His absoluteness. One must be careful in stating the point, but it seems quite clear. God is, according to the relativization at work in verse 18, not one to offer absolute reasons for things. The opening of a last dispensation is not simply to bring about "new things," unknown before, but also to hark back to the "former things," to bring the former things out in the new things, just as "Second Isaiah" works out and reinterprets "First Isaiah." In short, if Joseph is a prophet, he cannot--absolutely must not--be separated from the former prophets: the message is the same, and the sender of the messengers is the same. If only a few verses after this, the Lord will quite explicitly introduce the necessity of recognizing the historical context into which the modern prophetic activity falls, He quite explicitly introduces here the necessity of recognizing also that these same prophets transcend their historical context because they are fulfilling ancient prophecies. And with that, the Lord can turn to specifications in the next few verses.
  • D&C 1:18-24: A chiasm. As soon as one turns to the passage in which the Lord lays out His very broad interpretation of what has been prophesied all along, one notices that there is a specific structure at work in these verses:
  • And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world;
  • and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets--
  • The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones...
  • But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
  • That faith also might increase in the earth;
  • That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
  • That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple... before kings and rulers.
  • Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness,
  • after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
The chiastic structure highlights the fact that this is the Lord's voice in this revelation, but it also accomplishes a couple of interesting poetic things: verse 21 is set at the center of things, and the whole passage is wrapped about with the Lord's clear statement of purpose. Moreover, the everlasting covenant is set parallel to every man's speaking in the name of God the Lord, which is certainly suggestive. Also, the doubling of the word "commandments" seems to highlight the nature of what the Doctrine and Covenants (perhaps more strictly, the Book of Commandments) is all about. At any rate, the structure opens the possibility of considering the passage as a whole.
  • D&C 1:30: Only true and living church. Although it may be possible to read this as meaning "the only true church" and "the only living church," this reading seems strained because of the fact that the word church is only used once. Instead, a more natural way of reading this phrase seems to be that the church is being described as the only one which is both true and living.

Outline and page map[edit]

This heading contains an outline for the entire section. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the section. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

A. Lord’s word will go forth and be fulfilled (1-10)

• Lord's voice will go to all, there is none that shall not hear (1-2)
• the rebellious will be sorrowful for iniquities will become public (3)
• Lord's servants are his voice, so none shall stay them (4-6a)
• this same authority applies to Book of Commandments, so all shall be fulfilled (6b-7)
• Lord's servants have been given power to seal up the wicked unto Second Coming (8-10)
B. Lord's anger is kindled against the world and wicked will be cut off (11-16)
• Lord warns those who will hear to prepare because his anger is kindled against the world (11-13)
• those who will not hear the Lord's voice will be cut off because they: (14)
• have strayed from his ordinances;
• have broken his covenant; and
• seek after idols that will perish when Babylon falls (15-16)
B. Lord's servants to preach these commandments to the world (17-23)
• Lord commands his servants to proclaim these things to the world (17-18a)
• so the weak might break down the strong so that: (18b-19)
• every man might speak in name of Lord rather than counseled by neighbor;
• faith might increase rather than trusting in the arm of flesh; and
• Lord's covenant might be established (19-22)
B. Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24-33)
• Lord gave these commandments to his servants (24)
• so they might come to understanding so that:
• his servants might be instructed, corrected, chastened, and strengthened;
• Joseph Smith might translate the Book of Mormon; and
• his servants might have power to lay the foundation of the Church (25-30)
• but light will be taken from those who repent not (31-33)

A. Lord’s word will be fulfilled (34-39)

• Lord speaks to entire earth and is willing that all should know these things (34-35a)
• the hour is nigh that peace taken from earth and Lord will return in judgment (35b-36)
• search these commandments, for all shall be fulfilled (37)
• whether by Lord's own voice or servants, it is the same (38)
• the Holy Ghost bears record of these truths (39)

Unanswered questions[edit]

This heading is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This heading is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • D&C 1 was written down by Sidney Rigdon as it was received during a conference on November 1, 1831. The oldest surviving copy is the one copied by John Whitmer into Revelation Book 1, p. 125-27 soon after its receipt.
  • D&C 1 was first published and first received widespread circulation in the March 1833 issue (p. 78) of The Evening and the Morning Star newspaper printed by William Phelps in Jackson County, Missouri.[5]
  • D&C 1 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants as Chapter 1 in the 1833 Book of Commandments, which was also printed by William Phelps during 1833.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 1.

  • D&C 1 was immediately followed by D&C 67 and D&C 68. These three sections comprise a group that were all received during the first conference called to consider publishing Joseph Smith's revelations. These sections address the content and truthfulness of the revelations contained in the Doctrine & Covenants. In contrast, D&C 69 and D&C 70, which were received at another conference later that month, address the mechanics of getting the revelations published.
  • D&C 1 was followed two days later by D&C 133. These two sections are the bookends of the Doctrine & Covenants. D&C 1 appears at the beginning as a Preface, while D&C 133 was placed at the end as an Appendix. Both sections quote many of the same Bible passages.

Parallel passages.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

  • Kelly, William H. Interview with William McLellin, 13 September 1881. In "Letter from Elder W.H. Kelly." In The Saints’ Herald (1 March 1882) Vol. 29 / No. 5, p.66-68. Plano, Illinois, Lamoni, Iowa and Independence, Missouri: Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints (now Community of Christ), 1860-present.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

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. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  2. Minute Book 2 (1 Nov 1831), p.15-16
  3. Kelly, Interview with William McLellin.
  4. Revelation Book 1, p.125
  5. "Revelations." In The Evening and the Morning Star, original series (March 1833) Vol. 1 / No. 10, p. 78.

Previous section: D&C 65                         Next section: D&C 67


D&C 18:31-35

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 18
Previous section: D&C 15-16                         Next section: D&C 17


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Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 18 is directed at first to Oliver Cowdery, then jointly to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, and also to the Twelve who will be selected.

Historical setting[edit]

This heading should explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the section. This may include issues that prompted the section, its subsequent implementation, and the extent of circulation through its first inclusion in the Doctrine & Covenants. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Received: June 1829 at Harmony, Pennsylvania
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 16
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 17

Oliver Cowdery began serving as Joseph Smith's scribe for the Book of Mormon translation on April 7, 1829. About the end of May, Joseph and Oliver left Harmony because of rising persecution to stay with the Whitmer family at Fayette, arriving probably not earlier than June 3. On June 14 Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter from Fayette to ____ at Manchester-Palmyra in which he quoted portions of D&C 18. The Book of Mormon translation was then completed about the end of June.

Little is known about the circumstances under which D&C 18 was received except that it was received at Fayette during June 3-14 while the Book of Mormon translation was progressing rapidly at the Whitmer home.

For a brief overview of D&C 18 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 3 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 5.

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Outline and page map[edit]

This heading contains an outline for the entire section. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of this section. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

D&C 18 can be outlined as follows:

• to Oliver (1-8)
• to Oliver & David: worth of souls is great, so preach (9-25)
• Twelve will be sought out (26-30)
• duties of the Twelve (31-36)
• Three Witnesses will select the Twelve (37-40)
• to Oliver & David: worth of souls is great, so preach (41-45)

Unanswered questions[edit]

This heading is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This heading is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 18:20: What does it mean to "Contend against no church," in verse 20?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • The oldest surviving copy of D&C 18 is ______.
  • D&C 18:10-14, 21-25 is paraphrased in a letter from Oliver Cowdery to Hyrum Smith dated 14 June 1829, so it is likely that the content of at least those verses is soon known to many of the Saints at Manchester-Palmyra.[1]
  • D&C 18 was first published in the 1833 Book of Commandments, the earliest edition of what we now call the Doctrine & Covenants.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 18.

  • D&C 18 and D&C 19 can be read as a pair in which D&C 18 to two of the Three Witnesses emphasizes the joy available through mercy, while D&C 19 to the other Witness emphasizes the dread of justice. In addition, D&C 18:10-18 provides the clearest statement of why missionaries preach, and D&C 18:21-22, 41-45 provides the most detailed instruction so far regarding what they are to preach: repentance, baptism and endurance to the end. D&C 19:21-22, 30-31 likewise instructs Martin Harris, the other of the Three Witnesses, to preach only faith, repentance, and baptism by water and the Holy Ghost, to not preach new doctrines, and to not contend.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

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. Letter from Oliver Cowdery to Hyrum Smith (14 Jun 1829). Reprinted in Cook, Lyndon W. The Revelations of Joseph Smith, 29. Provo, Utah: Seventy's Mission Bookstore, 1981.

Previous section: D&C 15-16                         Next section: D&C 17

D&C 18:36-40

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 18
Previous section: D&C 15-16                         Next section: D&C 17


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 18 is directed at first to Oliver Cowdery, then jointly to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, and also to the Twelve who will be selected.

Historical setting[edit]

This heading should explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the section. This may include issues that prompted the section, its subsequent implementation, and the extent of circulation through its first inclusion in the Doctrine & Covenants. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Received: June 1829 at Harmony, Pennsylvania
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 16
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 17

Oliver Cowdery began serving as Joseph Smith's scribe for the Book of Mormon translation on April 7, 1829. About the end of May, Joseph and Oliver left Harmony because of rising persecution to stay with the Whitmer family at Fayette, arriving probably not earlier than June 3. On June 14 Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter from Fayette to ____ at Manchester-Palmyra in which he quoted portions of D&C 18. The Book of Mormon translation was then completed about the end of June.

Little is known about the circumstances under which D&C 18 was received except that it was received at Fayette during June 3-14 while the Book of Mormon translation was progressing rapidly at the Whitmer home.

For a brief overview of D&C 18 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 3 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 5.

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Outline and page map[edit]

This heading contains an outline for the entire section. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of this section. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

D&C 18 can be outlined as follows:

• to Oliver (1-8)
• to Oliver & David: worth of souls is great, so preach (9-25)
• Twelve will be sought out (26-30)
• duties of the Twelve (31-36)
• Three Witnesses will select the Twelve (37-40)
• to Oliver & David: worth of souls is great, so preach (41-45)

Unanswered questions[edit]

This heading is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This heading is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 18:20: What does it mean to "Contend against no church," in verse 20?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • The oldest surviving copy of D&C 18 is ______.
  • D&C 18:10-14, 21-25 is paraphrased in a letter from Oliver Cowdery to Hyrum Smith dated 14 June 1829, so it is likely that the content of at least those verses is soon known to many of the Saints at Manchester-Palmyra.[1]
  • D&C 18 was first published in the 1833 Book of Commandments, the earliest edition of what we now call the Doctrine & Covenants.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 18.

  • D&C 18 and D&C 19 can be read as a pair in which D&C 18 to two of the Three Witnesses emphasizes the joy available through mercy, while D&C 19 to the other Witness emphasizes the dread of justice. In addition, D&C 18:10-18 provides the clearest statement of why missionaries preach, and D&C 18:21-22, 41-45 provides the most detailed instruction so far regarding what they are to preach: repentance, baptism and endurance to the end. D&C 19:21-22, 30-31 likewise instructs Martin Harris, the other of the Three Witnesses, to preach only faith, repentance, and baptism by water and the Holy Ghost, to not preach new doctrines, and to not contend.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

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. Letter from Oliver Cowdery to Hyrum Smith (14 Jun 1829). Reprinted in Cook, Lyndon W. The Revelations of Joseph Smith, 29. Provo, Utah: Seventy's Mission Bookstore, 1981.

Previous section: D&C 15-16                         Next section: D&C 17


D&C 84:56-60

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 84 > Verses 84:43-59
Previous page: Verses 84:31-42                      Next page: Verses 84:60-120


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Relationship to Section 84 The relationship of Verses 84:43-59 to the rest of Section 84 is discussed at D&C 84.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 84:43-59 include:

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 84:53-55. A series of linguistic parallels and connections forms a sort of web that spreads across these three verses, one that opens possibilities for interpretation of a most important and fascinating problem: the nature of the "condemnation" that is only (to be?) lifted when the saints turn to the Book of Mormon. Some explication of this structural web will open the possibility of discussing that condemnation and, in one sense, the purpose of the Book of Mormon.
A first, and the weakest, connection in these verses is between "know" in verse 53 and "minds" in verse 54. The connection seems warranted because of the departure from the previous verses that is marked by these two words. Starting in verse 43, the passage has been to this point a question of "heed," "word," "Spirit," "light," "com[ing]," "voice," "teach[ing]," etc. In other words, the language has been primarily "physical" or "corporeal." With the shift in these two verses to "knowledge" and the "mind," there is an emphatic move from the bodily to the mental. Further characterizing this shift is another change in focus: the preceding verses seem broadly to be focused on "the world," whereas with verse 53, the focus seems to shift towards the saints. In other words, at the threshold of verse 53, the Lord leaves off the world to speak of (and not only to) the saints. Better: the theme of "the world" is now drawn into the purview of the saints who are addressed by the revelation, as verse 53 makes abundantly clear. But this first connection really only marks the boundaries of the passage/web in question.
A second connection is much clearer: the "darkness" of verse 53 and the "darkened" of verse 54. Most significantly, this greatly clarifies the first connection. If the Lord moves from dealing with the world to dealing with the saints, He does so by drawing a parallel between the two: "the whole world groaneth under... darkness," and the "minds" of the saints "have been darkened." In other words, if it at first appears that the Lord moves from discussing the wickedness of the world to celebrating the righteousness of the saints, that appearance is quickly shattered by the clear parallel between the darkness under which the whole world groans and the darkening of the minds of the saints because of their own "vanity and unbelief." This second connection is, however, not quite so simple. The language of verse 53 suggests an incapacity on the world's part: the groans mark the undesirability of the situation, and the word "under" makes explicit that the world has no apparent means of escape. In fact, the language here suggests a connection with Rom 8:22, where Paul understands "the world" not to be a symbol of "the wicked" or even "the masses," but of "the creation": "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." The connection between the verse in Romans and verse 53 here are obvious, but Paul's take on things changes everything: the world is the world as created, the groans are the groans of a woman giving birth, and the "even now" is paralleled by an "until now" that marks a near end of the awful situation. In other words, it appears that the darkness of the world is the darkness of the womb immediately before a child is delivered into the light (the light of verse 45?). The saints who have received the covenant have received it, according to verse 48, "for the sake of the whole world," as if assigned to deliver the world from darkness as one delivers a child into the light. Now, if the darkness that reigns over "the whole world" marks the incapacity of the world to escape the darkness without the help of the saints, then the "darkened" minds of the saints is a much different situation: this darkness comes because of "vanity and unbelief," comes to those who are light, whose minds are filled with light, because they choose to darken what is already lighted. In other words, the linguistic connection between the darkness of the world and the darkened minds of the saints suggests a great disparity: the saints, whose minds have been lighted up (by the covenant, etc.), have allowed that light to be darkened even as they have the task to bring "the whole world" (which cannot do it itself) into that light. In short, the saints have not only "treated lightly the things [they] received," they have turned from the task implied in that reception of light, the task of bringing the world out of its darkness and into the same light.
A third connection, this one a double connection, emphasizes this rejection on the saints' part of the divine task. The word "unbelief" shows up in both verse 54 and verse 55. The connection is obvious, for the same unbelief is in question in both instances. But unbelief is paired in verse 55 with "vanity." The implication seems to be that "because you have treated lightly the things you have received" is to be understood as bearing the name of "vanity." This is made explicit by the opening "which" of verse 55. This connection is rather obvious, perhaps seeming even banal when mentioned. However, it opens up a careful clarification at work in these verses. If there is reason to connect these verses already to Paul's discourse in Romans chapter 8, then this unbelief/vanity business ought to be read in light of Rom 8:20, where Paul gives a sort of "genealogy" of vanity. He explains that "the creature [the Greek means "creation," just as in verse 22] was made subject to vanity," and this "by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope." As odd as it may sound, Paul seems to be suggesting that "vanity" arises because of hope, because one moves "beyond" faith (is this what is here meant by "unbelief"?) and into hope. In other words, if faith is--as it seems to be in the OT--a turning towards a voice that calls, and if hope is--as it seems to be in the OT--a turning from the world (and all within it) consequent to one's faith, then hope might be characterized as a sort of "unbelief" and, as Paul clearly suggests, a sort of "vanity." Turning from the world in hope, in hope for "a better world" (Ether 12:4), the saints appear to have become so focused on the glories of another realm that they entirely left off faith and charity: They seem to have turned from the faith they once had (what will be called "the former commandments" and--of course--the "Book of Mormon" in verse 57), and to have ignored the task embodied in the covenant confirmed upon them (the task of delivering the world from darkness into the light of their long-since faith). Though this seems a somewhat radical reading, it is a fruitful one, and it makes some sense of these verses.
When the Lord goes on to show the saints the result of this "vanity and unbelief," a fourth (and, for now, final) connection arises: these attitudes "have brought the whole church under condemnation" in verse 55. This phrase is obviously parallel to verse 53, where "the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness." The parallel sets "the whole world" next to "the whole church," and "under sin and darkness" next to "under condemnation." Though darkened minds have also--though only "in times past"--been a result of unbelief and vanity, this ultimate condemnation is not to be equated with it (it is not, after all, anything past, but something now and unrelentingly future... "until..."). In other words, the darkened minds of the saints have been a symptom of the misguided hope (a "zeal without knowledge"?), but the Lord's response is something far severer: church-wide condemnation. The gap, then, between the world and the saints that seemed indicated in the first connection mentioned above here almost disappears: just as the world is held under the sway of something awful, so the saints are in much the same situation, awaiting deliverance like "the whole world."
These four connections weave together a structural web that tie these three verses together, allowing them to define the condemnation that will be taken up in terms of the Book of Mormon in verse 57.
  • D&C 84:56: Condemnation. This further clarification of the "condemnation" that is upon the saints (see commentary on D&C 84:53-55) is crucial in two respects. For one, it is clear that the condemnation is not to be understood on an individual basis, this and that saint being condemned because of their attitude towards the things received. Rather, the condemnation is, regardless of whether the sin is, universal among the saints. The condemnation is, in other words, a corporate condemnation, a condemnation of the whole gathered people. Second, the condemnation is said here to be upon "the children of Zion," rather than the Church. While it is clear that "the children of Zion" means something like "the Church," this alternate name secures the relation between the condemnation under consideration and the broader revelation in which it comes (a revelation concerned primarily with Zion; see commentary at D&C 84:1). This double clarification of the condemnation points toward verse 59: the condemned "children of the kingdom" are unworthy to receive the "holy land" of Zion. This condemnation must not be taken out of context, then: it is to be read in terms of the saints' establishment in Zion and their building there a temple.
  • D&C 84:57: Covenant renewed. The "covenant ... renewed" anticipates the language of verse 57, which speaks of "the new covenant" in relation to "the former commandments."
  • D&C 84:57. The conditions for release from condemnation are now stated clearly (though they will be reworked in verse 61). First, of course, is repentance, but the repentance--followed as it is by an immediate "and"--seems to be not a separate work from the remembrance discussed so much as a broad way of characterizing the remembrance enjoined upon the saints. In other words, to "repent" here seems precisely to mean to "remember...." The work of remembrance commanded, however, is not so simple.
To be remembered: "the new covenant." Because the Lord goes on to clarify the meaning of "the new covenant," it becomes clear that this "new covenant" (so interestingly absolutized with the definite article) is something never discussed as such elsewhere in the D&C. The new covenant, apparently, consists of "the Book of Mormon and the former commandments." It appears, in other words, to mean the Book of Mormon and the (at this point, printing) Book of Commandments. In short, the saints are to "remember" the several revelations given through Joseph Smith up to the point of this commandment. There is, however, another way to read the phrase, if one re-punctuates the text. Inserting a comma after "Mormon," one might read "new" as structurally parallel to "former": "remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them...." The phrase, "even the Book of Mormon," would then appear almost parenthetical: "remember the new covenant (even the Book of Mormon), and the former commandments which I have given them...." A careful consideration of the interplay of "new covenant" and "former commandments" may well confirm this reading.
The phrase "new covenant" would be a better translation of the title commonly translated "New Testament." Diatheke means, literally, covenant--not testament. If one thinks the parallelism between "the new covenant" and "the former commandments" in these terms, there is a close parallel between the Lord's injunction here and the early Christian interpretation of the Bible's double nature (Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet, Vetus in Novo patet, the New Testament is concealed within the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed by the New). The Lord might well be calling the Book of Mormon a sort of new New Testament here, relegating the Bible as a whole to the position of "the former commandments." The obvious echo here of Isaiah's "new things"/"former things" theme (found throughout Second Isaiah) also might confirm this reading (especially because the Nephite record employs very carefully that double Isaianic theme to read the "new things" as the Christian atonement, the "former things" as the Abrahamic covenant?). In other words, the Book of Mormon seems here to be understood as a "new covenant" that takes up and interprets the "former commandments" of Biblical Christianity, in fact as the new covenant that does so. It is this radical relation between the Book of Mormon and the Bible that seems to be what the saints have missed in their "hope" (see commentary, again, at D&C 84:53-55).
Given the peculiar relation between the Book of Mormon and the Bible in the (radical?) interpretation above, the word "remember" becomes significant. The word is of peculiar importance in the cultus of the Old Testament, and it therefore becomes the focal point of the New Testament cultus. In other words, that the Lord here employs the word "remember" already seems to suggest a rather cultic setting in which to understand the injunction given to the saints. The Hebrew zkr is the word translated in terms of remembrance in the Old Testament, and its meaning seems to govern the concept throughout the scriptures. The word means, not just to bring again to mind, but to bring again to reality, to re-enact, to re-commemorate, in short, to bring again into presence. Thus the most important New Testament instance of the word is in the Last Supper: "do this in remembrance of me," bringing the Christ's death/resurrection back into presence so as to experience it (and its healing power) again and again. Feeling these overtones here, to "remember the new covenant" is suddenly recognizable as an even more direct allusion to the Eucharistic themes of the New Testament: "this is my blood of the new testament [or covenant]" (Matt 26:28). But even with all this contextualization, it is not exactly clear what it would mean "to remember" the Book of Mormon (and, apparently through it, the Bible).
Most helpful, then, is the Lord's own clarification of the phrase: "not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written." The Lord Himself introduces the polarity of what Paul Ricoeur calls "manifestation and proclamation," the word and the sacrament (the latter term understood in the broadest sense). Such a polarity was introduced (or, at least, radically emphasized) by the Reformation: sola scritura (the word) was pitted against a sort of obsession with "the sacred" (the sacraments). Such a radical distancing of the two poles is ultimately damaging, and the Lord seems here to be destroying the dichotomy: a return to--a remembrance of--the Book of Mormon and the Bible is to be marked both by the rigor of the protestant student of the word and by the ritual, even existential attendance of the Catholic worshipper. To "remember": study as obedience, obedience as study. Again, to "remember": works as grace, grace as works. Again, to "remember": not only hope (a ceaseless talking, "saying," about a "better world"), but charity (a ceaseless working, "doing," towards a "better world"). In other words, and in short, the hope (a hope that draws vanity; see commentary at D&C 84:53-55) of the saints is to be doubled with charity.
In the end, then, a remembrance of the Book of Mormon (and the Bible "through" it) is what will lift the condemnation, a condemnation that was specifically a result of the saints' directedness away from the world (a sort of Mormon neo-Platonism). To return to those sacred texts is, in the end, to return to the earth, to, as verse 58 puts it, "bring forth fruit meet for their Father's kingdom," a kingdom to be built on the earth, and at a very specific place according to the revelation that opens this very section. The specific "doing" to be undertaken becomes clear with the remainder of the section: in verse 61, the saints are told they will be forgiven if they will bear "testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you," the new covenant and the former things (hence, "proclamation"), all the while remaining "steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer," attending constantly to the sacraments of a sacred God (hence, "manifestation").
A brief excursus might conclude this discussion. The call to remember is often a call to faith, a call to trust the historical events (or texts, or commandments) that have gone before. If the commentary presented here and at verses 53-55 are correct, this call to remembrance might well be a petition on the Lord's part to ground hope with faith. The vanity for which the saints are condemned seems to be a sort of hope without faith--and certainly, as argued here, a hope without charity--that must be regrounded in faith. If hope is an orientation to eschatological possibility, then the Lord seems to be pointing out the saints that such an orientation must arise out of and remain grounded in a historical faith if it is not to become a sort of vanity. Or, in other words, vanity seems to be a movement towards hope from faith that leaves the latter off, and precisely for that reason, never attains to a real hope: neither real faith nor real hope, one hovers between them in pure frustration (even boredom?). That the Lord goes on to clarify the means of changing this situation as a focus on charity (the doing, not just the saying) suggests that the limbo state between faith and hope can only be overcome when one is transfigured by charity: in love, one grounds hope in faith. To remember: faith, grounding hope, opens onto charity.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 84:51. What is "the bondage of sin"? How does coming unto the LORD free one from this bondage?
  • D&C 84:52. How does one "receive" the voice of the LORD?
  • D&C 84:52. Why does the LORD use the term "voice"? How is this "voice" similar or different from other voices we might hear? Is it a literal voice, or is this a metaphor for some other way of communicating?
  • D&C 84:53. What is the "by this" that allows us to know the righteous from the wicked?
  • D&C 84:53. What does it mean that the world "groaneth" under sin?
  • D&C 84:53. What is the nature of the "darkness" that the world is under? What is the source of this darkness?
  • D&C 84:54. What does it mean to have minds "darkened because of unbelief"?
  • D&C 84:54. How might the Saints "have treated lightly the things which [they] have received"? Is this because, as Givens argues, the early saints cherished the Book of Mormon more as a symbol and sign and less for its substance?
  • D&C 84:55. What is this vanity that the LORD refers to?
  • D&C 84:55. What is the LORD accusing the Saints of not believing?
  • D&C 84:55. Were the early Saints so smugly satisfied with their knowledge of the Bible that they felt the Book of Mormon would add little to what they already knew?
  • D&C 84:56. Which branches of the House of Israel, if any, are exempt from this condemnation?
  • D&C 84:57. Are the saints under command to create a collective memory of the Book of Mormon?
  • D&C 84:57. Are we being told to feast upon the Book of Mormon collectively, and not just individually?
  • D&C 84:58. What will this collectively-produced fruit look like and how will it be different from the fruits of our individual actions?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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.



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D&C 88:66-70

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 88
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Summary[edit]

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Historical setting[edit]

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  • Received:
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 87
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 89

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 88:3: My friends. The Lord calls those he addresses here my friends. This use of friends is similar to how it is used in John 15:14-15 where the Lord distinguishes his servants from his friends. See also D&C 84:63.
  • D&C 88:15: Soul. Though "soul" is defined here as the unity of the spirit and body, it isn't always or even often used that way in other scriptures. This definition is one which seems to have been saved for the latter-days. Therefore, when you read the word "soul" in scripture, you must ask yourself whether the writer meant "spirit" or "soul" as it is used here.
  • D&C 88:15. This is an important doctrine, for traditional Christianity has often denigrated the body, and because of that denigration our culture still often looks on the body as a hindrance (or, in backlash, it thinks of the body as the only thing). The privilege and acclaim we sometimes give supposedly intellectual professions over more physical professions is one of the remnants of this misunderstanding of the body and the spirit.
  • D&C 88:22: Abide. "Abide" means "wait for," "be prepared for," "endure," or "sustain."
  • D&C 88:32. Verse 32 speaks of those who remain, after those who receive a celestial, terrestrial and telestial glory have received it. The end of the verse tells us that these are they who are not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. It seems that what they might have received is one of the kingdom's of glory, or in other words, salvation (as the term is used in D&C 76:43). In D&C 76 (in verses 32 and 43) these people who do not receive salvation are referred to as the sons of perdition.
  • D&C 88:47. D&C 88 begins with a discussion of how Christ became "in and through all things" including the sun, moon, and stars because of his ascending above and descending below all things during the atonement. Here in verse 47, we are told that when we see the movement of the sun, moon or stars, we see God. We might ask about the promise to see God, is this all it means?--that we can see the sun, moon or stars? For most people, seeing the sun, moon, or stars is not the same as seeing God, just as verse 48 reminds us that when Jesus came to the earth, many people did not comprehend him--they just saw a carpenter from Nazareth, because they did not understand what they saw. Likewise, if we just see the sun, moon, or stars, we might miss seeing God if we don't understand how He is connected to them through the creation and the atonement. D&C 88 seems to challenge us to look beyond the mere physics of heavenly objects to seek out God. Especially in light of vv. 11-12, one might also see in this a merciful invitation to begin to see God (i.e., through phenomenon derived from his grace but not requiring translation/calling and election made sure, etc. that we might normally associate with the privilege of viewing God). See D&C 18:36 for a similarly "right in front of your face" way to hear His voice.

D&C 88:69-84: What the elders who attend the school of the prophets are to do[edit]

D&C 88:85-116: Signs of the times[edit]

D&C 88:117-126: Kirtland Temple[edit]

D&C 88:127-141: Order of the School of the Prophets[edit]

  • D&C 88:127-141: Later receipt. Verses 127-141 were received two weeks later than the rest of D&C 88.

Complete outline and page map[edit]

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Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 88:3. The verse ends "as is recorded in the testimony of John." Is this a reference to John 14:16?
  • D&C 88:4. How is the comforter the promise of eternal life?
  • D&C 88:15. What are some of the ways that we forget that the spirit and the body are one?
  • D&C 88:17. Why is it significant in the context of the redemption of the soul to note that Jesus promised the earth to the poor and meek? Why do these two things belong together?
  • D&C 88:21-22. We sometimes speak of being sanctified through obedience to law, but verse 21 speaks of being sanctified through the law. Is that any different? If so, how so? If not, why not?
  • D&C 88:21-22. Why do you suppose the Lord speak of abiding a law rather than obeying a law?
  • D&C 88:31. How does the phrase "receive of the same, even a fulness" square with D&C 76:86 where seems to say that those of a telestial glory "receive not of his fulness in the eternal world"? Is "fulness" referring to different things in these two passages? Or are these talking about two different periods of time? Or is something else going on?
  • D&C 88:32. Verse 32 tells us that the sons of perdition (see exegesis) enjoy that which they are willing to receive. Since the sons of perdition have openly rejected Christ, what is there left to receive?
  • D&C 88:35: A law unto itself. What does this phrase mean? Is it related to Rom 2:14 where the Gentiles are said to be a "law unto themselves" (but in a seemingly positive context there, in contrast to the seemingly negative context here)?
  • D&C 88:67-68. Verse 67 contains promises for those whose "eye be single to [the Lord's] glory", while verse 68 states contains a promise for those who sanctify themselves that "[their] minds become single to God." What is the relationship between the eye and the mind in these verses? Could eye and mind be used interchangeably in these verses?
  • D&C 88:69. What is the "great and last promise" we are to remember? Is it the promise found in verse 68?
  • D&C 88:78. What is the law of the gospel? Is it some specific law, or set of laws (e.g. the law of Moses)? or does it mean something general like "all the commandments"? (Maybe D&C 74:4 would be of help? There law of Moses and gospel of Christ are setup in contrast.)
  • D&C 88:114. Is this a metaphorical battle, like the one in the pre-mortal existence? Do Satan's armies only consist of the 1/3 of the hosts of heaven that are his spirit beings followers, or will people fall from glory and join Satan and his ranks?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • The oldest surviving copy of D&C 88 is __.
  • D&C 88 was first published in __.
  • D&C 88 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants in the 18__ edition.
  • Changes to the text of D&C 88:

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 88.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

Other resources.

  • D&C 88:22. Larry W. Gibbons, "Wherefore, Settle This in Your Hearts," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 102–4. Elder Gibbons states: "Commandments are not given to burden or restrict us. Rather, they are guideposts from an all-wise Heavenly Father to keep us out of trouble, to bring us a fulness of happiness in this life, and to bring us safely back home to Him... Brothers and sisters, keeping the commandments makes all the difference in this life and in the next. To be worthy of the celestial kingdom and the joy that is there, we must keep the commandments!"
  • D&C 88:33. A. Roger Merrill, "Receiving by the Spirit," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 92-94. Elder Merrill ponders: "One cannot help but wonder how many gifts and blessings surround us that we do not receive."

Notes[edit]

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.



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