Site:SS lessons/DC lesson 22

From Feast upon the Word (http://feastupontheword.org). Copyright, Feast upon the Word.
Jump to: navigation, search

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.


1 Cor 3:16-20

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


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. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. 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. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. 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. →

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 are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 6:16-20

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 5-7
Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10


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. →

II. Chastity and Marriage (Chapters 5-7)
• Topic 2: "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you ..." (5:1)

• incest (5:1-13)
• lawsuits (6:1-8)
• adultery (6:9-20)

• Topic 3: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me" regarding marriage (7:1)

• divorce and marriage to unbelievers (7:1-24)

• Topic 4: "Now concerning virgins ..." (7:25)

• marriage (7:25-40)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. 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. →

  • 1 Cor 5:11. Some might say that Paul's admonition not to eat with sinners of this type within the church is unduly harsh. After all, didn't Jesus eat with publicans and sinners? Some churches such as Jehovah's Witnesses follow this scripture in all cases and cast out many among them who were once dearest friends and family, causing undue grief and anguish. The LDS people do not generally take such a hard line stance. Excommunication is sometimes taken for fornicators who have been to the temple, but they are still invited to attend meetings, and we are not commanded to shun their company.
It is important to recognize that Paul was addressing the Corinthians with regard to a certain member, referred to in Verse 1, who had slept with his stepmother. Apparently the Corinthians took great pride in this member and refused to excommunicate him. Perhaps he had great influence and was a valued friend in the community. Paul's hard-line admonition could be seen as applying strictly to such "notorious" sinners, as Matthew Henry describes him in his commentary.
It is also interesting to note that in 2 Cor 2:6 Paul revisits the issue with this "notorious" sinner, but with a much softer approach. "Ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." In this context, we see that Paul either regretted his hardline approach, or that he felt the man had repented sufficiently. In any case, forgiveness is an ideal that we should strive for at all times. Even "notorious" sinners must be forgiven, even if they must be dealt with in sometimes harsh ways for their own good, and the protection of others.
Paul's council in this epistle is problematic in terms of fellowshipping and reclaiming less-active and lost sheep within the fold. However, it is sensible advice when applied to the youth and the peers they choose to associate with. Many of our youth are driven to sin by the pressure of peers, in and out of the church who welcome them as friends, yet encourage them to adopt sinful lifestyles.
The nature of our relationship with the sinner will help us draw boundaries of appropriate contact. If we are reaching out to reclaim lost sheep, that is one thing. But if they are reaching out to us, to invite us sympathize with their lifestyle and eventually adopt it, that is a line we cannot cross. Alexander Pope's warning about vices we "first endure, then pity, then embrace" applies here.
  • 1 Cor 6:12. This scripture sheds some light on Paul's view of the law. Throughout the Epistles, Paul repeatedly asserts that the law is dead, and that belief in Christ is the only prerequisite to Salvation. However, Paul also rails against fornication and many other sins. This presents a conundrum for Paul. How can he insist that the Saints follow certain laws like avoiding fornication, while at the same time insisting that the law is dead? Paul solves this problem in this verse, by saying, "all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Other translations say "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." To Saints alive in Christ, even though the law is dead, it is still not beneficial to commit fornication. Additionally, Paul notes that committing fornication will cause one to be "brought under the power" of it, or become slaves to it. How can we become slaves to sin when we are already the servants of Christ?
It is interesting that Paul uses similar language Joseph Smith used in the Word of Wisdom: "meats for the belly...now the body is not for fornication." Joseph Smith's original Word of Wisdom was not a law, but rather a "word to the wise." Only later did it become binding upon the Saints as a commandment.
Joseph Smith recognized that Paul's views of the law were problematic and changed the reading of the scripture to "All things are not lawful unto me." For Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints, the law is of supreme importance. "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated" he revealed.
Paul's negative views on the law are understandable, given his situation and mission in the early church. Many Jewish converts still believed that the Law of Moses was binding upon them, and this disallowed the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul struck out against this point of view in the strongest possible terms, insisting that the entire law was dead to those who were alive in Christ. Even though the LDS people believe in laws and ordinances, we can still gain important insights from Paul's idealistic views of being "alive in Christ, without the law," for it is true that when we are truly "alive in Christ" we lose the desire to do anything that would be contrary to the law. As the Book of Mormon says "they had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually."
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20. "Ye are not your own." When we accept Christ we effectively sell our souls and bodies to Him. In exchange, Christ delivers us from the power of sin and death. Later in Cor. 7:22, Paul refers to us as "Christ's servant," more accurately translated from the Greek as "Christ's slave." Has any master treated us with more mercy, patience and deference than Christ has to us? It is easy to forget that indeed, "we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we are His slaves."

Chapter 7[edit]

  • 1 Cor 7. This is a difficult chapter to reconcile with the current LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage. Here are a number of points to consider as we approach this chapter from the LDS perspective.
1. JST does not change the chapter significantly, leading us to assume that Joseph Smith felt that the essence of the material in this chapter was translated correctly. However, some of his changes later in the chapter reinforce the theory that Paul was speaking exclusively to those called to the ministry when he advocates celibacy. (See JST verse 29)
2. Paul usually prefaces his more controversial points with the disclaimer "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." Most of the other apostles were probably married according to 1 Cor 9:5. It is likely that many of the other apostles did not share the same opinions about marriage.
3. Paul was unmarried at the time of this letter. Some speculate Paul had been previously married because he was studying to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which required marriage. However, there is no firm evidence of this. Marriage would have been difficult for him because of his broad, busy ministry scattered across the Mediterranean. Paul was very comfortable with his celibacy, and encouraged others to follow his example. This could possibly be seen as a desire to recruit others to the ministry, because Paul seemed to believe that being married and a missionary was not an ideal situation.
4. It is possible that Paul and some of the Saints in the early church did not have the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage as we understand it today. (Joseph Smith did not have it at the time he made his translation of the Bible.) It is also possible that because the apostles were spread out, without much central communication, that completely unified doctrine was sometimes difficult to achieve. While we believe that the LDS church is a "restoration" of the original church, this does not necessarily mean that God can't continue, even in our day, to add additional truths that previous dispensations did not have access to. This would help explain some of the strange assertions in this chapter as well as other problematic Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ explanation in Mark 12:25 that in the resurrection, people are "not given in marriage, but are angels unto God."
Keeping these points in mind will help us put Paul's comments into their proper perspective. At the same time we need not dismiss Paul's comments here as uninformed, or completely unrelated to our day. Paul's opinions offer needed insight for those in our day who are single, either by choice or because they have not had the opportunity to marry.
  • 1 Cor 7:1. Many translations render "not to touch a woman," as "not to marry." "To touch a woman" is a Greek expression for marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:5. JST renders "defraud" as "depart." Both interpretations give insights into married relationships. When we withhold ourselves from our spouses, we in essence "defraud" them of what is rightfully theirs. Verse 4 says that a wife owns the body of her husband, and the husband owns the body of his wife, as lawful property. When we withhold ourselves, we are literally defrauding them. JST's admonition not to "depart" is also excellent advice, as many marriages strain greatly when there are long periods of absence.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. Paul makes two points, by permission and not by commandment:
1. He believes it is best not to marry, but if you can't contain your passions, it is better to marry than to commit fornication.
2. He acknowledges in verse 7 that some men are "called" to different callings than he. Others may be called to marriage, just as he was called to celibacy. This is their "proper gift of God." Paul has a personal incentive to promote the superiority of celibacy, but he acknowledges that God may have different plans for certain individuals.
Paul's attitude towards marriage is similar to his attitude about not eating meat in Romans 14. Some members, who are weaker, don't eat meat. But this is still OK, and God approves of their sacrifice. For Paul, marriage is also for the "weaker" members. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are blameless before God in this.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. For some reason, this scripture doesn't seem to get much attention in the LDS Church. As a convert member of 8 years, I don't recall ever seeing it discussed or mentioned in class, even during the New Testament study cycle in Gospel Doctrine class. I wonder why that is?
One answer may be in verse 6 and following: Paul makes clear he is stating a personal opinion and/or a policy for the time. It's not clear that the counsel he gives would be the same if he were around today. I do find it interesting, though, how egalitarian Paul is here, considering he has a reputation (not necessarily in the Church) for having a negative attitude toward women.
  • 1 Cor 7:12. Paul is not saying that it is good to marry unbelievers. He is saying that if you are already married to one, don't put him or her away. In 2 Cor. 6, Paul talks about the danger of being "unequally yolked" with unbelievers, essentially discouraging new members from marrying unbelievers. However, most of his audience were converts who joined after previous marriages as Gentiles
It is nevertheless reassuring to hear Paul say that "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband." Marriage with an unbeliever can be terribly difficult and Paul's statement gives us reason to hope for the salvation of our unbelieving relatives.
  • 1 Cor 7:17. Paul explains that in our civil and marital obligations, we should be content with our lot in life. We need not seek to change these circumstances, even after conversion to Christianity. The three examples he uses are marriage, circumcision, and slavery.
  • 1 Cor 7:22. There is a kind of poetic beauty in Paul's statement, similar to the beauty of Jesus' statement that "He that seeketh his life shall loose it, he that shall loose his life for my sake shall find it." The power of the statement comes alive when the word "slave" replaces the word servant. He who is a slave is the Lord's freeman, and he who is a freeman is the Lord's slave. Apart from it's poetic balance, theologically, it expresses the paradox of the Christian life. It is true that we obey Christ in every word, but this brings us freedom, not bondage.
  • 1 Cor 7:28. "Such shall have trouble in the flesh," or "trouble in this life," according to other translations. Paul's pessimistic attitudes towards marriage have led some to speculate that Paul might have been previously married, and that the marriage ended unhappily. Paul was not a perfect man, especially before his conversion, and it is only natural that he might have been the witness of a lot of marital strife, either in his own life, or those around him.
Clearly, Paul's view of marriage as a nescessary evil to avoid fornication is out of harmony with our current LDS views. Marriage does sometimes bring with it great conflict. But as we strive to overcome challenges within marriage, we embrace greater growth, and ultimate happiness. This viewpoint is missing from Paul's writings.
However, Paul's reminder that marriages will have "troubles" helps us to keep a proper perspective in marriage. Having "trouble" in a marriage is completely natural, and no reason to divorce.
  • 1 Cor 7:29. The original reading of the KJV text seems to indicate that Paul believed there was no marriage in the afterlife. The "time is short" refers to the duration of this life. Joseph Smith changes the text so that the "time is short" refers only to the duration of a missionary calling.
  • 1 Cor 7:32-35. Paul continues to highlight the advantages of celibacy, claiming that people who are married must spend their time serving their spouses, instead of serving God. In previous decades of church history, the church frequently called married men to depart from their families and go on full-time missions. But today, only unmarried young men and women are called on missions, as well as the retired, who have minimal family obligations. The reason for this change reflects a basic understanding of Paul's assertion. It is more difficult to serve as a full-time missionary while one is raising a family.
What's missing from Paul's statement, is that through service to a spouse, one also serves the Lord. This is a truth Paul alluded to when he said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church" Eph 5:25. The relationship between the husband and the wife is a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. When a man and a woman truly understand the divinity of this relationship, marriage can come very close to Godliness.
  • 1 Cor 7:36-37. There seems to be great confusion among the translations on what is exactly meant by "virgin." Some translate this as "a virgin one is engaged to," others translate it as a "virgin daughter," and still others translate it as "one's personal virginity."
In any case, the essence of Paul's argument is that "it is OK to get married. It is not a sin. Nevertheless, it is better not to do it, if you have the self-discipline to restrain from fornication."
  • 1 Cor 7:40. Paul believes (according to the Spirit of God in him) that people will be happier if they avoid marriage.
How are we to take Paul's assertions in this chapter? In our day Paul would likely be branded a "menace to society." His views on celibacy have given the Catholic Church evidence to enforce the celibacy of their clergy for centuries. His views have influenced various groups such as the Shakers who believed celibacy was the highest order, and consequently, their membership soon died out.
The difficulties of this chapter make it tempting to overlook or dismiss by simply claiming that it is one of those places "not translated correctly." However, because JST does not substantially change Paul's basic claims, and because his meaning is clearly unified in the many various translations, this is not a chapter we can lightly dismiss.
  • 1 Cor 7: In Praise of Singles. Paul, in this chapter voices a perspective not often heard in the modern church: the voice of single members. Because most leaders in the church are married, and because marriage and family is so highly prized, many singles in the church sometimes feel overlooked and undervalued. Their problems are sometimes dismissed with phrases such as, "you'll get the chance to have a family in the next life," as if marriage and family were the only thing they could possibly be living for.
Paul offers a different perspective. Not only was he unmarried, but he was content in that state. He found value in that state. He believed forcefully that God wanted him to be single, and encouraged others to do likewise. He believed that singles had greater opportunities to serve in the church than their married counterparts, and in his eyes, they were better off for it.
While we understand that Paul's assertions are unduly pessimistic, and that marriage is ordained of God, it is nevertheless true that many of our brethren and sisters do not have the opportunity to marry in this life. Paul's viewpoint can give them needed validation. It can challenge them to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities the single life affords them. Julie Beck, the LDS Relief Society President recently said to the single women in the church: "No one is better positioned than you to work in temples, serve missions, teach the rising generation, and help those who are downtrodden. The Lord needs you." Ensign, Nov. 28, 2008.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. 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. →

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 are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10

D&C 59:16-20

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 59
Previous section: D&C 58                         Next section: D&C 60


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. →

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:
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 58
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 60
  • Click the edit link above and to the right to add historical setting

For a brief overview of D&C 59 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 8 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 9.

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. →

Also see the Talk Tab.

  • D&C 59:5. The list of commandments beginning in this verse number seven (in terms of "thou shalt's"). These seven commandments appear at first to stand against the ten commandments of the Old Testament (although, upon close study of Ex 20:1ff, one finds that the commandments there might also be read as numbering seven). The seven-fold character of the commandments here culminates in the "thou shalt" of the sabbath day, the seventh commandment thereby presenting the seven-fold existence of the saints.
The ordering of commandments here also suggests a possibly interesting parallel between the first six days of creation. The first three days of creation seem to be follow an interesting parallel pattern by the next three days of creation (4th through 6th days). On the first and fourth day of creation, light and dark are the primary elements at work. On the first and fourth commandment listed here seem primarily related to love (love God with all thy heart vs. not committing adultery). Throughout the scriptures, God is described as both light and love, and the at-one-ment symbolized by the unity of husband and wife is a rich symbol for the central atoning message of the gospel with the purpose of saving mankind from eternal darkness.
On the second and fourth days of creation, air and water are the primary elements at work—heaven is created from the waters on the second day and the fowls and fishes are created on the fourth day. Similarly, the second and fourth commandment listed here are loving versus killing one's neighbor. This taking of life might be viewed as the meeting of body and spirit as air and water become the meeting place between God's light above and man's mortality on earth below.
On the third and sixth days of creation, the earth, grass and herbs and land-dwelling animals (including man and woman) are created. Likewise, the third and sixth commandments have to do with not stealing and showing gratitude for earthly possessions.
  • D&C 59:9. The seventh commandment here (of seven) is the "thou shalt" of the sabbath day. The point is interesting because of the clear tie between the position of seventh commandment and the significance of seven in the sabbath commandment. If Ex 20:1ff is read as a series of seven commandments rather than ten (as it might justifiably be--see commentary there), then the same connection seems to exist elsewhere. In short, the commandments themselves seem to be tied explicitly to seven days of the week, and the holiness of the sabbath seems to have something to do with the seven-fold holiness of the people maintained through obedience.
  • D&C 59:12-13. Keeping in mind D&C 59:10, where the Lord has instructed us that the Sabbath day is a day to rest from our "labors," these verses provide a useful distinction that gives a very useful legal definition of "labors." The Lord defines certain things that are to be done and then said that these are the only things to be done. Since "labors" constitute the things not to be done, this specification of the thing to be done effectively defines "labors" by defining what they are not. Perhaps some more definition is wanting, but to get an idea of what the Lord means by "labors" is an extremely useful tool for those who truly wish to keep the Sabbath day holy.
  • D&C 59:21: hand. This word points to the work of God, His activity in the world, His interruption of things by His ability to create, produce, etc. If this verse points at all to gratitude, it would seem that gratitude is a recognition of this interposition of the hand of God.
  • D&C 59:21. It is certainly significant that the question of confessing God's hand in all things comes before man's obedience. The verse seems to put an emphasis on confessing before acting, before doing. If this emphasis is justifiably read into this verse, then it might be said that foundational to obedience is the work of confession--not of sins but of God's omnipotence. If obedience is an issue of agency--of one's ability to fulfill, or not to fulfill, a commission from God--then agency itself seems to be grounded on a confession that God's hand is "in all things," that before man's "agency" is God's acting, moving, doing, accomplishing, creating, etc.
This verse, as the foregoing suggests, might thus be read as a powerful clarification of the "doctrine" of agency. This doctrine cannot be understood as a universal ability, an absolute freedom, a correlate of man's "co-eternality" with God. Agency is dependent primarily on man's subservient relation to God.
  • D&C 59:23. The Lord promises us that if we're faithful we'll receive "his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come." The phrase "his reward" indicates that the two items following (peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come) are two parts of the same reward. One possibility is that peace in this world comes after we receive an assurance that we will receive eternal life in the next. (On this point, see the related link about President Romney below.)

Complete 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. →

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]

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 59:13-14. Why did the Lord not say simply joy or rejoicing instead of saying fasting and then indicate that joy or rejoicing is what He means in this context by fasting?
  • D&C 59:21. What does it mean to confess the Lord's hand in all things? Specifically what does it mean to confess the Lord's had in people's evil actions?
  • D&C 59:21. How do the last couple of verses about not using the earth to excess or by extortion affect how we read this verse?

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 59 is __.
  • D&C 59 was first published in __.
  • D&C 59 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants in the 18__ edition.
  • Changes to the text of D&C 59:

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 59.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

Other resources.

  • D&C 59:21. See Jacob J.'s musings on this verse at the New Cool Thang blog here.
  • D&C 59:23. President Marion G. Romney spoke about verse 23 in the 1949 October conference. He explains the different between the peace the world offers, and the peace the Savior offers. And he explains what it means to have your calling and election made sure. more

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.



Previous section: D&C 58                         Next section: D&C 60

D&C 88:121-125

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 88
Previous section: D&C 87                         Next section: D&C 89


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. →

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:
  • 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]

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. →

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]

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.



Previous section: D&C 87                         Next section: D&C 89

D&C 89:1-3

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 89 > Verses 89:1-3
Previous page: Section 89                      Next page: Verses 89:4-6


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 89. The relationship of Verses 89:1-3 to the rest of Section 89 is discussed at D&C 89.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 89:1-3 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 89:1-3: Key terms[edit]

  • D&C 89:1: Word of wisdom. This phrase appears only three times in scripture outside this revelation, in each case in reference to a gift of the Spirit, distinguished from but coupled with "the word of knowledge" (see 1 Cor 12:8; Moro 10:9; and D&C 46:17). This gift, especially in uniquely Mormon scripture, seems to be connected very specifically to teaching or instruction. Of importance also is the plural phrase "words of wisdom," which appears in Joseph Smith's revelations more often, most significantly in passages associated with the building of the Kirtland House of the Lord: D&C 88:118 and 109:7, 14. (Other occurrences might well imply connection with the temple as well: D&C 50:1 is about testing spiritual manifestations—something that came to its fullest expression in the Nauvoo endowment—and D&C 78:2 is connected with the law of consecration. D&C 98:20, although it makes reference to "words of wisdom and eternal life," seems less obviously connected to the temple.) The emphasis on spiritual gifts and temple blessings may be of importance in interpreting the Word of Wisdom as well. But such connections aside, it is certainly important that "words of wisdom," as well as "the word of wisdom," are connected with teaching and instruction, guidance in living a good and appropriate life. At the very least, it would seem that what Latter-day Saints call the word of wisdom is to be received as a bit of carefully weighed instruction, a bit of inspired—spirit-directed—counsel.
  • D&C 89:1: A word of wisdom. It is only here in all of scripture that the phrase "word of wisdom" is preceded by the indefinite article ("a"). The implication seems to be that this revelation is one among many "words of wisdom," and should be so regarded. Although the revelations contain only this word of wisdom, it would seem that it can't really be isolated from other spirit-influenced counsel to which Latter-day Saints would do well to give heed.
  • D&C 89:1: The council of high priests. It should be noted that the high council did not come fully into existence until 1834 (the minutes recording its organization can be found in D&C 102), but there was nonetheless a council of high priests operative in Kirtland in 1833. After the 1832 endowment of power, at which point the first high priests were ordained, it was understood that those who had been endowed or ordained had a certain governing responsibility. It would seem that it was they, collectively, who asked some of the questions that led to this revelation.
  • D&C 89:2: Commandment. Heavy emphasis has been laid on this word throughout the history of the interpretation of this revelation. Especially in the last years of the nineteenth century and the first years of the twentieth century, Church leaders were interested in whether or in what sense the Word of Wisdom is a commandment (a question raised in part because of the use of the word "commandments" in verse 18). It is common for Latter-day Saints to designate as a "commandment" anything that would seem to play a role in salvation or, put negatively, anything that would seem, if flouted, to result in the assignation of sin. This would accord, for the most part, with the definition of "to command" that can be found in Webster's 1828 dictionary: "To bid; to order; to direct; to charge; implying authority, and power to control, and to require obedience." Because the word "impl[ies] authority, and power to control, and to require obedience," it would seem to follow that anything with the status of a divine commandment is fully authoritative and obedience to it is required. But it might be noted that what obedience is required for is open to interpretation. Although the text says that the word of wisdom comes "not by commandment," it is nonetheless said to be for "the temporal salvation" of the Saints. Thus, while the revelation is said to be "not by commandment," it isn't clear that obedience to it isn't required for certain purposes, and at least certain sorts of salvation among them.
  • D&C 89:2: Not by commandment. The phrase "not by commandment" and its equivalents appear several times in scripture. It appears twice in the Bible, both times in Paul's correspondence with the Saints in Corinth. Thus he clarifies some of his counsel as being spoken "by permission, and not of commandment" (1 Cor 7:6), and he explains that his request that the Saints contribute to the fund for the poor is spoken "not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of [the Saints'] love" (2 Cor 8:2). Similar language appears several times in the Doctrine and Covenants. Oliver Cowdery, for instance, is told "not [to] write by way of commandment, but by wisdom," since he is a spokesman rather than an authoritative prophet (D&C 28:5); indeed, he will "have revelations," but he was to "write them not by way of commandment" (D&C 28:8). On another occasion, the Lord says that He makes his will known "not by way of commandment" because "there are many who observe not to keep [His] commandments" (D&C 63:22). This last reference is different from the others; while the Pauline references and the references connected with Oliver Cowdery concern human beings speaking or writing by way of commandment, the last reference concerns the Lord speaking by way of commandment. Importantly, section 89 seems to be a weave of the human and the divine. The revelation is, of course, a matter of the Lord speaking and giving counsel, but it is something that human beings are to "send greeting," and it is thus they who are not to send "by commandment or constraint." This curious weave may indicate that this revelation is a commandment, but it is not to be sent as one.
  • D&C 89:2: Constraint. Constraint, it seems, must be distinguished from commandment. While "commandment" seems to refer to authoritative instruction given by one who has power to control, "constraint" seems to refer directly to the employed power to control—whether through direct action or whether through indirect manipulation of circumstances.

D&C 89:1-3: Six qualifications of the revelation[edit]

  • Beginning with the 1835 (first) edition of the Doctrine and Covenants and lasting until Orson Pratt reorganized the volume for its 1876 publication, verses 1-3 of this text were set off from the text as an italicized heading, as if they were not an actual part of the revealed text. This has led many commentators to claim that these first verses were not a part of the original revelation. (Note that even the section heading of the current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants states that "the first three verses were originally written as an inspired introduction and description by the prophet.) That seems, however, to be incorrect. All still-extant pre-1835 manuscripts and publications of the revelation contain these first verses, and none sets them off as merely supplementary or as not a part of the revelation proper. There is, in short, no evidence that verses 1-3 were added only subsequently to an original revelation consisting of verses 4-21.
That said, it is important to note that there are important differences between the remainder of the revelation and these first three verses. It is only in verse 4 that there is any talk of "thus saith the Lord," for instance, such that it is unclear whose voice is supposed to be heard in verses 1-3. Further, these first verses are characterized by a kind of distance: while verses 4-21 address the reader directly about things she or he should and shouldn't be doing, verses 1-3 address the reader indirectly by talking about the communication to follow. Perhaps most striking is the fact that there are no complete sentences (because there are no verbs) in verses 1-3; instead the reader finds a series of free-floating dependent clauses that serve as notes on or qualifications of the revelation.
Thus, although it seems that verses 1-3 shouldn't be considered non-revelatory or merely supplementary, they nonetheless sustain a complicated relationship to the rest of the revelation. Section 89 opens with a kind of self-conscious clarification, with a set of qualifications that serve as a set of preliminary notes that prepare the reader for the communication ("thus saith the Lord") that begins in verse 4.
Verses 1-3 contain six distinct qualifications of the revelation:
  (1) A word of wisdom.
  (2) For the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion.
  (3) To be sent greeting—not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom.
  (4) Showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days.
  (5) Given for a principle with promise.
  (6) Adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints—who are or can be called saints.
Each of these "preliminary notes" serves to clarify or qualify the revelation in a distinct way. The first ("A word of wisdom") clarifies what might be called the genre of the revelation. The second ("For the benefit of," etc.) serves to identify the specifiable audiences to whom the revelation is particularly addressed. The third ("To be sent greeting," etc.) clarifies the manner in which the revelation should be employed. The fourth ("Showing forth," etc.) provides a sense of what the revelation means to accomplish. The fifth ("Given for," etc.) makes clear that the revelation is a weave of two distinct forms of discourse. Finally, the sixth ("Adapted to," etc.) states that the revelation itself has been inflected by a certain concern.
Each of these six preliminary notes deserves close attention.
  • D&C 89:1: Qualification #1: A word of wisdom. The word "wisdom" itself relates closely to temple worship. While the "wisdom writings" of the Old Testament were traditionally interpreted as collections of rather common advice shared by Israel and its neighbors, there is a growing collection of evidence that while the wisdom texts certainly do seem to transcend the religio-political concerns of the legal and prophetic texts, the wisdom literature may be connected with the Abrahamic covenant as Christ's universalization of the Israelite promises. According to this view, the wisdom writings are associated with temple rites that extend the blessingsg of Abraham to all the nations--the Gentiles--of the earth. In short, "wisdom texts," might well express the core of the Abrahamic experience of God.
As a "word of wisdom," section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants must be seen as clearly tied to temple worship. It is certainly significant that section 89 immediately follows the commandment to build the Kirtland House of the Lord (section 88). As this first verse makes quite clear, the revelation was given for the benefit of the "council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland," who had just received Joseph's first version of the endowment and were preparing to receive the second in the Kirtland House of the Lord (the more complete third endowment wouldn't be revealed until Nauvoo). At any rate, these details suggest that section 89 should not be read more than just a revelation on physical health, but as a revelation closely tied to the ordinances of the temple and that physical health, whatever that means for the Lord, should be taken up with careful attention to the context of the temple ordinances.
  • D&C 89:1: Qualification #2: For the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion. Three distinct audiences for the revelation are identified in this verse: (1) "the council of high priests assembled in Kirtland," (2) "the church," and (3) "the saints in Zion." This triple identification can be understood in two ways.
  • D&C 89:2: Qualification #3: To be sent greeting—not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom. The revelation is "to be sent greeting." Although it is somewhat awkward, the phrase echoes passages in the New Testament: Acts 15:23 and 23:26, both of which record the first words of letters. The presence of the phrase here, then, seems to indicate that the Word of Wisdom was originally intended to be sent as a circular letter, not unlike the epistles of the early apostles. (Strengthening this interpretation is the fact that the first actual publication of the revelation came in the form of a newspaper broadside—a stand-alone circular.) This is a most fascinating aspect of the revelation, since most early revelations were either kept for private use (employed in something like the way patriarchal blessings are today) or published in Church periodicals (subsequently to be gathered into officially issued collections of revelations, such as the Doctrine and Covenants). This revelation was apparently understood to be so broadly applicable that it was meant to be sent among the growing membership of the Church.
The connection to apostolic circulars also suggests that not unlike the advice, answers, and information circulated by the biblical apostles, this Word of Wisdom was not to be enforced "by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom." Indeed, the very phrase, "to be sent greeting," perhaps indicates that this is a revelation from a rather than the prophet. It may be one prophet's "showing forth the order and will of God" rather than the word of a hierarchical president of the Church.
While this phrasing may fall short of enforcing anything like a policy on temporal health, it is also clear that this section reveals the "order and will of God." There is something remarkable about an authoritative word like this that does not programmatically impose itself, but is simply sent "by revelation and the word of wisdom." The saints are told the Lord's desires in this regard, but allowed to govern themselves. However, if this section is to be taken "not by commandment or constraint," how many of the others are?
The careful language in this section may suggest that this revelation is something peculiar, something different from all the others: as a word of wisdom, only those who seek wisdom need follow it. If the commandments and constraints of Joseph's "usual" revelations draw a dividing line between the righteous and the wicked, this revelation and other revelations about the temple (most of which are not published in the D&C) may draw a second dividing line, one that separates the righteous from the exalted. Perhaps revelations like the Word of Wisdom demarcate a boundary between terrestrially mandated obedience and celestially chosen adoption of holy principles? At the very least, the Word of Wisdom provides the opportunity to follow the Lord's counsel beyond simple "commandments" and "constraints."
  • D&C 89:2: Qualification #4: Showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days. As used in this verse, the word "order" deserves careful consideration. To this point in the D&C, it appears twenty-one times, only one of which (D&C 87:3) does not clearly refer to the priesthood (two are somewhat questionable, in D&C 77:3, though these references to angelic orders could easily refer to heavenly priesthoods). When this revelation was given, the current references to "order" in the revelations were all references to the order of the Kirtland House of the Lord, and to the ordering of the priesthood that would take place in it. The Word of Wisdom assists in this temple ordering of the priesthood by "showing forth" the "order" of the Lord.
As used in this verse, the word "temporal" or the whole phrase "temporal salvation" is also of great significance. The word "temporal" appears only once in the Bible (in 2 Cor 4:18), where it is opposed to "eternal," though it shows up a number of times in the Book of Mormon as opposed rather to "spiritual." Interestingly, in the 1828 Webster's Dictionary, the first definition explicitly states that "temporal" is "opposed to spiritual," while the second explicitly states that it is "opposed to eternal." There seems, then, to have been a sort of shift of emphasis between 1611 and 1828 from "temporal" as opposed to "eternal" to "temporal" as opposed to "spiritual." Thus, "temporal" seems in Joseph's revelations to be best understood as meaning that which is "pertaining to this life or this world or the body only; secular." However, D&C 29:34-35 may well overturn that understanding in a characteristic redefinition of terms. That revelation seems to redefine the relationship between the temporal and the spiritual: rather than being understood as separate or opposite realms, they are understood as closely connected, the temporal being quite simply an outward or even a "fallen" manifestation of the spiritual. The temporal, in other words, cannot be separated from the spiritual, because it is simply a consequence of the spiritual.
The phrasing of this second verse clearly suggests that God is here meddling in temporal affairs. However, there may be a structural reason to read the verse otherwise:
  by revelation
     and the word of wisdom
  showing forth the order and will of God
     in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days
If "revelation" is read as an antithetical parallel to "the word of wisdom," the one might be justified in reading "the order and will of God" as a similar antithetical parallel to "the temporal salvation of all saints." This would highlight the word of wisdom as a revelation, and link the "order and will of God" (inevitably temple business, priesthood business) to our "temporal salvation."
This understanding of the word of wisdom finds a parallel in the "wisdom writings" of the Old Testament, where the revelations are written as temporal words of a father to his son, rather than direct words of revelation or prophecy. As in the temple, revelation and prophecy are more clearly viewed as linked to keys of heavenly communication, rather than as the reception of an absolute word. The "temporal salvation" outlined in the Word of Wisdom is the prophetic--almost patriarchal--linking of the spiritual and temporal realms suggested by D&C 29. If so, the Word of Wisdom is more than a mere "temporal" commandment, as perhaps best confirmed in the closing verses of the revelation.
Finally, this verse indicates that this revelation is for "all" saints. One might read this to mean that the revelation shows God's order and will for each and every saint. Alternatively, one might read it as showing forth God's order and will for the saints collectively. According to the first reading, the Word of Wisdom can be seen as something for each individual saint to struggle with, something one must work out before God with fear and trembling. The second reading may connect this revelation still more profoundly with the temple, as the revelation becomes a guideline for drawing together, uniting, or sealing all the saints together to effect their temporal, and eternal, salvation.
Although the Lord does not designate this section as a commandment at the time it was given, it became accepted as such by the Church. In 1834, the High Council of the Church declared "No official member of this Church is worthy to hold office after having the Word of Wisdom properly taught him; and he, the official member, neglecting to comply with or obey it." In 1851, Brigham Young proposed in General Conference that all Saints end the use of tea, coffee, tobacco, and whiskey: this motion was carried unanimously. (See Ludlow, Daniel H., "Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants" in the chapter on Section 89.) Thus we have this section becoming a commandment, with special emphasis on the prohibitions we most commonly think about in connection with this setting.
Why did the Lord not establish this as a commandment when He first gave it? Joseph F. Smith suggested in the Oct. 1913 General Conference that "the reason undoubtedly why the Word of Wisdom was given as not by 'commandment or restraint,' was that at that time, at least, if it had been given as a commandment it would have brought every man, addicted to the use of these noxious things, under condemnation; so the Lord was merciful and gave them a chance to overcome, before He brought them under the law. (cited in Cowan, Richard O., "Answers to Your Questions About the Doctrine and Covenants." Chapter 9: "Spiritual and Temporal Matters.")
  • D&C 89:3: Qualification #5: Given for a principle with promise. The singular "principle," with which the revelation again recharacterizes itself, emphasizes the singular "Word of Wisdom." These two singulars carry an interpretive weight: the Word of Wisdom is a single principle, not a set of rules. Or again, the rules as they are proliferated in section 89 might best be read as a series of applications or of adaptations of the single principle. But this just seems to imply that the singular "principle" interprets in advance the meaning of the word "adapted," which follows it: the singular principle is adapted precisely in its proliferation. That is to say, the singular Word of Wisdom is, in section 89, "adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest" precisely in that it becomes so many words of wisdom. This interpretation accords well with the most common 1828 meaning of the word "principle": "that from which a thing proceeds," or the "primordial substance" of the matter. The Word of Wisdom, as a singular principle, is the source of so many rules, is the ground of so many adaptations, is the meaning of so many particularities.
  • D&C 89:3: Qualification #6: Adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints—who are or can be called saints. The consequence, already hinted at in the above paragraph, of all of this is that the adaptation at work in the Word of Wisdom is the laying out of particular rules. But it is not quite clear at first how the listing of so many rules should be understood as an adaptation "to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints." In fact, if one ignores the first phrase of this verse and attempts only to interpret the phrase "adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints," one might inevitably conclude that the phrase has reference to how much easier the Word of Wisdom as recorded in this section is than other health codes, such as that of the Law of Moses. One might, that is, assume that were it not for the needs of the weak saints, a different (higher, more difficult) law might have been given. But, in the end, such an interpretation does not appear justified: such an interpretation would be grounded in the presupposition that a code with more rules is more difficult to live, whereas just the opposite seems to be true. The health code of the Law of Moses, with its innumberable rules, would have been far easier to obey than the Word of Wisdom: the Law simply listed the forbidden, and Israel simply kept away from the forbidden things. In fact, once one presses the analogy between the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Moses, it becomes quite clear that the two are incomparable: the Law of Moses provided only restrictions, while the Word of Wisdom is far more than that. In the end, the distance between the two suggests, perhaps, that the Word of Wisdom be thought as something other than a health code: the Word of Wisdom is a principle with promise, but, as is clear in the last few verses of the revelation, the promise is not only the promise of health, but also the promise of wisdom.
Given all the above, the principle seems best understood as adapted to the weak and the weakest precisely in that rules are at all laid out: the Word of Wisdom becomes a far easier thing to keep if there are simple commandments one can follow. Perhaps one final objection ought to be dealt with: doesn't this reading of "adapted" compromise the "principle"? If the adaptation is, in other words, the setting forth of so many rules instead of the principle itself, can anyone truly adhere to the principle, or does everyone end up focused on a series of rules? On the one hand, this objection is insuperable: not only might the saints end up focused on a series of rules, the saints have ended up so focused. On the other hand, the temple context suggested in the comments above (for verses 1 and 2) perhaps makes some sense of the problem: verse 18 summarizes the necessary attitude as regards the Word of Wisdom as "obedience," which might be all that is necessary in order to get one to the temple. There in the temple, one might attend to the principle without so much attention to the rules.

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]

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 89:1. Why is this word of wisdom "for the benefit" of the several groups mentioned? What sort of benefit is meant?
  • D&C 89:1. Does "in Zion" qualify just "the saints" or does it also qualify "the church" ("the church . . . in Zion" and "the saints in Zion")? What difference would that make?
  • D&C 89:2. What is the difference between "commandment" and "constraint"? Are these two words for the same thing in this context?
  • D&C 89:2. What is the difference between "revelation" and "the word of wisdom"? Are these identical, or is there an implied distinction?
  • D&C 89:2. What is the difference between "order" and "will"? How are they distinct, if they are?
  • D&C 89:2. What would "temporal salvation" ultimately amount to?
  • D&C 89:2. How much emphasis should be put on "in the last days" in this verse? Might an emphasis here obviate the necessity of pretending that Jesus, for instance, didn't drink alcohol?
  • D&C 89:3. How is the somewhat odd phrase "given for a principle" to be interpreted? Why not "given as a principle" or "a principle given"?
  • D&C 89:3. What does it mean to say that the principle given in this revelation has, already and in advance, been "adapted"? Does that mean that the revelation is in a certain sense incomplete?
  • D&C 89:3. What difference is there between "the weak" and "the weakest" of saints? Why should the revelation draw that distinction?
  • D&C 89:3. Is "called" attached to both "are" and "be," or only to the latter ("who are called saints or who can be called saints" or "who are saints or can be called saints")? What difference would this make to the meaning of the revelation?

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. →

  • In this issue of the Journal of Mormon History is an article by Clyde Ford on the Word of Wisdom that is incredibly helpful for sorting out the situation in which the revelation was received as well as the structure of the revelation's text. It is particularly helpful for making sense of the structure of verse 1.
  • Thomas G. Alexander's "The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement" provides a helpful perspective on the changing attitude of the institutional church on whether this revelation is a "commandment" or a "word of wisdom."

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.



Previous page: Section 89                      Next page: Verses 89:4-6

D&C 89:4-6

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 89 > Verses 89:4-6
Previous page: Verses 89:1-3                      Next page: Verses 89:7-9


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 89. The relationship of Verses 89:1-3 to the rest of Section 89 is discussed at D&C 89.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 89:1-3 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. →

Key terms[edit]

Commentary[edit]

  • D&C 89:4. With this verse, the tone of the revelation changes abruptly, introduced as it is by a three-fold summons to attention: "Behold," "verily," and "thus saith the Lord unto you." The three-fold summons, interestingly, answers to the rather common triplet in scripture: eyes, ears, and heart. One is to behold with the eyes, hear what the Lord saith with the ears, and recognize the truth (verity) of the revelation with the heart. At any rate, it becomes quite clear at this point that the revelation is a revelation.
Whereas the previous three verses have dwelt more precisely on questions of the relation between the spiritual and the temporal, this verse is quite a bit simpler about the roots of the revelation: it comes, quite explicitly, as a "consequence," as a "following-with." This causality of sorts allows one to view the revelation as a response on the Lord's part, as a reaction against a certain state of affairs. The state of affairs: "evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days." There are a few different important points in this short phrase.

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]

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 89:4. Who are the "conspiring men" mentioned in verse 4, and why do we need to be warned about them?
  • D&C 89:4. How does the Word of Wisdom serve as a warning (verse 4)?
  • D&C 89:6. What is "pure wine of the grape of the vine"? Does this mean that the grape hasn't fermented, and is therefore "pure"?

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. →

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.



Previous page: Verses 89:1-3                      Next page: Verses 89:7-9

D&C 89:7-9

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 89 > Verses 89:7-9
Previous page: Verses 89:4-6                      Next page: Verses 89:10-17


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 89. The relationship of Verses 89:1-3 to the rest of Section 89 is discussed at D&C 89.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 89:1-3 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. →

Key terms[edit]

  • D&C 89:7: Not for the belly. The phrase "for the belly," like the phrase "for the body" in verse 8, seems to be related to 1 Cor 6:13. Here is the text: "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body." Paul's words here refer to two Mosaic prohibitions that did apply to Gentiles who joined the Christian movement early on, prohibitions that the Saints in Corinth were rejecting, claiming that "all things are lawful" for the Christian (see Acts 15:20, 29): meat offered to idols and fornication. Paul seems to agree concerning meat—though he is careful to note that, while it might technically be lawful, it is more important to focus on the effect one's actions have on others, and eating meat sacrificed to idols might cause other Christians to stumble—and to disagree rather vehemently about fornication. The one has become lawful, but the other definitively not. Thus, in the first sentence of the verse, Paul says that meat is "for the belly" and "the belly for" meat, "but God shall destroy both" eventually. Put more colloquially, Paul is saying: "Sure, you can eat meat. What else is it for? But if you've led another Christian to stumble in the meanwhile, both your belly and the meat you've eaten will be destroyed!" As for the second sentence, Paul says that "the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord," just as "the Lord [is] for the body." The Christian is to give her body a living sacrifice for Christ, and not to her own private lusts and fantasies—and this because the Lord is for the body, presumably in the resurrection.
  • D&C 89:8: Not for the body. See the discussion of 1 Cor 6:13 in the note on "not for the belly" above.

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]

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 89:7. Is the term "strong drinks," simply referring to alcoholic beverages, or can this be taken in a broader context?

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. →

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.



Previous page: Verses 89:4-6                      Next page: Verses 89:10-17

D&C 89:10-17

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 89 > Verses 89:10-17
Previous page: Verses 89:7-9                      Next page: Verses 89:18-21


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 89. The relationship of Verses 89:1-3 to the rest of Section 89 is discussed at D&C 89.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 89:1-3 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. →

Key terms[edit]

  • D&C 89:10: Wholesome. This word appears only two other times in scripture, in Prov 15:4 and 1 Tim 6:3, neither of which associates "wholesome" with physical health. Importantly, though, the first definition in the 1828 Webster's dictionary for this word reads: "Tending to promote health; favoring health; salubrious; as wholesome air or diet; a wholesome climate." "Wholesome herbs," it would seem, are herbs (see below) that tend to promote health.
  • D&C 89:10: Herbs. Although the word "herb" is often used today to refer to plants used specifically for the purposes of seasoning food or of tending to the ill, its foremost meaning in the early nineteenth century was broader and included vegetables. The first definition in the 1828 Webster's dictionary reads: "A plant or vegetable with a soft or succulent stalk or stem, which dies to the root every year, and is thus distinguished from a tree and a shrub, which have ligneous or hard woody stems." A similar definition appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, going back into early English. Moreover, given the parallel use of "herb" and "fruit" in verse 11, it would seem that "herb" should be read here as meaning, simply, "vegetable." Similar usage can be found in the King James rendering of the Bible (see Gen 1:11-12, 29-30, where "herb" and "fruit" are similarly parallel; or Ex 9:25; 10:15, where "herbs" are distinguished from "trees"; and Rom 14:2, where eating "herbs" clearly means eating vegetables, as opposed to meat). It might be further noted that the word "herb" appears in two other places in the Doctrine and Covenants. The first is in D&C 42:43, where it refers specifically to medicinal herbs (the sick should be "nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food"). The second is in D&C 59:17, where it appears in a passage that is clearly connected with verses 10-17 here in D&C 90 (see the discussion below).
  • D&C 89:10: Constitution. The relevant definition of "constitution" here is the following from Webster's 1828 dictionary: "The state of being; that form of being or peculiar structure and connection of parts which makes or characterizes a system or body. Hence the particular frame or temperament of the human body is called its constitution." Incidentally, this is the only time in scripture the word "constitution" appears with this meaning.
  • D&C 89:10: Nature. This word is notoriously difficult to interpret in any setting, and its presence here is perhaps especially peculiar.
  • D&C 89:10: Use. Although the meaning of "use" seems straightforward enough, it is important to note that there are some special uses of this word in scripture. Paul, for instance, distinguishes between "using" and "using up" (see 1 Cor 7:31), employing the legal terms in Roman society to distinguish between usufruct and real right—between, that is, between use without ownership (the granted right to enjoy the fruits of something one does not own) and use due to ownership (the real right to do with the fruits of something owned whatever one desires). According to Paul, the Messiah inaugurates an era in which the faithful relate to all things only in terms of use, never in terms of ownership. In the language of the Doctrine and Covenants, Paul essentially says that those faithful to the Messiah are stewards of the earth, rather than owners of land (see especially D&C 42). That this distinction is relevant to the word "use" here in D&C 89 is suggested by its deployment in the clearly-related text of D&C 59: "all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart . . . ; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion" (D&C 59:18-20). To say that herbs are "ordained for the . . . use of man" is, at least implicitly, to say that they are "to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion." Latter-day Saints, it seems, have a steward's, rather than an owner's, relationship with wholesome herbs.
  • D&C 89:14: Staff of life. This is the only appearance of this phrase in scripture. In the Oxford English Dictionary, (2nd ed.), there's a discussion of the Biblical phrase "to break the staff of bread" under senses I4b and c for staff. The phrase means "to diminish or cut off the supply of food." From this, the phrase "staff of life" came to mean bread or similar staple food, with citations as early as 1638. "Staff of bread" appears in Ps. 105:16, Ezek. 4:16 and 5:16, and 2 Ne. 13:1. Several older senses of "staff" imply support, as in a walking stick (still in occ. use) or a rung of a ladder.

Commentary[edit]

  • D&C 89:10-17: Logic of the passage. Verses 10-17 form an isolable sub-section of this revelation, one focused on what human beings should use (rather than on what they should not use, emphasized in verses 7-9). Is there an identifiable logic at work in these verses? If there is, it seems it hinges on the repeated use of the formula "x is ordained for the use of y." Looked at through this lens, the passage is organized as follows:
(a) vegetables are ordained for the use of human beings (vv. 10-11)
(b) meat is ordained for the use of human beings (vv. 12-13, briefly reiterated in v. 15)
(c) grain is ordained for the use of human beings and animals (v. 14, carefully analyzed in vv. 16-17)
Each of these three "ordinations" is associated with a set of qualifications:
(a) ordination of vegetables: (i) not just for "use" but also for "constitution" and "nature"; (ii) to be used with "prudence" and "thanksgiving"
(b) ordination of meat: (i) to be used with "thanksgiving" and "sparingly" (rather than "with prudence"); (ii) best if used only in winter and famine
(c) ordination of grain: (i) for the use of beasts as well; (ii) to be "the staff of life"; (iii) further qualified according to varieties
It should be noted that all of these qualifications are qualifications of use. Each of the things "ordained" is specified according to its ordained "use."
Occupying a somewhat peculiar position in this logic is "fruit," the one food source mentioned in this passage without being attached to any one specific ordination. It appears first in verse 11, coupled with vegetables (appearing almost as if it were a sub-category of "herbs"). It appears subsequently in verse 16, coupled with grain (clearly distinguished from grain, however). It isn't entirely clear what role fruit is playing in this text.
  • D&C 89:10-17: Relation to D&C 59:15-21. The possible relationship between D&C 89:10-17 and D&C 59:15-21 has been noted above. What evidence is there that there really is such a relationship? Actually, there are a startling number of connections. Here, for instance, are similar phrasings found in each of the passages:
  • "all wholesome herbs" (89:10); "every herb" (89:11)
  • "the herb" (59:17)
  • "ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man" (89:11); "ordained for the use of man" (89:12); "ordained for the use of man and of beasts" (89:14); "these hath God made for the use of man" (89:15)
  • "unto this end were they made to be used" (59:20)
  • "in the season thereof" (89:11)
  • "in the season thereof" (59:18)
  • "with prudence and thanksgiving" (89:11); "with thanksgiving" (89:12); "nevertheless they are to be used sparingly" (89:12); "they should not be sued, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine" (89:13); "only in times of famine and excess of hunger" (89:15)
  • "with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance" (59:15); "with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion" (59:20)
  • "of beasts and of the fowls of the air" (89:12); "the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth" (89:14)
  • "the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth" (59:16)
  • "it is pleasing unto me" (89:13)
  • "it pleaseth God" (59:20)
  • "good for the food of man" (89:16)
  • "for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul" (59:19)
  • "that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground" (89:16)
  • "the good things which come of the earth" (59:17); "all things which come of the earth" (59:18)
These connections indicate clearly that there is some kind of relationship between the two passages. The question, though, is exactly what kind of relationship holds between the two.
Before asking that question, though, it may be important to note also the possible relation between these verses in D&C 89 and an article published in the June 1833 edition of the Church's Jackson County-based newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star. Here is an excerpt from that article, published at about the time the saints in Zion would have first become aware of the revelation we know as D&C 89:
In the beginning, after man was created, the Lord spake unto him, saying, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which shall be the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat; and to every beast of the earth; and to every fowl of the air; and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein I grant life, there shall be given every clean herb for meat: and it was so. And he looked upon all things which he had made, and they were good.
But, before the flood, God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt: for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth, and he destroyed all flesh except what was preserved in the Ark with Noah and his family.
Soon after the flood, flesh began to corrupt his way again upon the earth, men again became wicked, and departed from the law of the Lord, by defiling themselves in his sight, and lest they might be scattered abroad upon the whole earth, began to build a city and a tower, to make them a great name. And the Lord divided the earth, came down and confounded the language of men, and scattered them upon the face of all the earth.
Let us leave men scattered upon the face of the whole earth for many generations, and see what the Lord says shall come to pass in the last days . . . . When these days come, every thing will be in its place. The beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, instead of feeding upon flesh, will feed upon the herb and the grain, as was given them in the beginning. Then man will not shed the blood of his fellow man, nor beast the blood of its fellow beast, nor fowl the blood of its fellow fowl; but the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out upon all flesh, the curse be taken from off the earth, when it will become an inheritance for the poor and the meek, when their will be peace thereon and good will towards man.
This article, brief as it is, bears an obvious relation to both D&C 59 and to D&C 89. What's to be learned from all these connections?
  • D&C 89:13. The first comma in verse thirteen was added to this section in 1921. Some refer to this comma as the 'vegetarian comma.' This a misnomer since neither the interpretation that stresses a pause (with the comma) or the interpretation without the pause would lead one to interpret this verse as an argument for never eating meat. It appears that the inserted comma simply clarified the generally accepted interpretation of this verse so that the general interpretation of this verse today is the same as that prior to the comma's insertion. This interpretation is in harmony with other verses that suggest that meat should be used sparingly.

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]

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 89:11. How might one use herbs with "prudence" and "thanksgiving"?
  • D&C 89:11. What does "in the season thereof" mean?
  • D&C 89:12. How do you determine if you are using meat "sparingly"?
  • D&C 89:13. What does the phrase "and it is pleasing unto me that they [meat] should not be used," referring to? Does this refer specifically to eating?
  • D&C 89:14. What does it mean that grain is "ordained" for our use?
  • D&C 89:10-17. Why are fish not included as proper food in the Word of Wisdom?

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. →

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.



Previous page: Verses 89:7-9                      Next page: Verses 89:18-21

D&C 89:18-21

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 89 > Verses 89:18-21
Previous page: Verses 89:10-17                      This is the last page for Section 89


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 89. The relationship of Verses 89:18-21 to the rest of Section 89 is discussed at D&C 89.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 89:1-3 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 89:21: Destroying angel shall pass by. It is perhaps peculiar that among the promises associated with the Word of Wisdom, one finds this one: "that the destroying angel shall pass by [those who keep and do these saying], as the children of Israel, and not slay them." The promise makes reference, of course, to Exodus 12, the institution of the Passover just before the Israelites escaped Egypt to flee into the desert. There are in Exodus 12 two distinct presentations of the institution of the Passover—one attributed by scholars to the Elohist writer, and one attributed by scholars to the Priestly writer. Both are of potential importance to the interpretation of this text.
In the first, the Lord speaks with Moses and gives him instruction. Each household is to take an unblemished male lamb of less than a year old, "and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it" (Ex 12:6). At that point, "they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the house, wherein they shall eat it" (Ex 12:7). The meal (other details regarding the menu are outlined in the text) is to be eaten "with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste" (Ex 12:11), all this because Israel was to be ready to flee Egypt at any moment. And then comes the explanation of the blood applied to the doorposts: "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt" (Ex 12:12-13). And then Moses is told to make this into a regular event, "a feast to the Lord throughout your generations" (Ex 12:14).
What might be learned about the reference in D&C 89:21 from all this? A few questions might be asked:
In the second account of the Passover's institution, Moses is described as giving instructions to the elders of Israel. His instructions are different in some important ways from the Lord's: "Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you" (Ex 12:21-23). Further, Moses gives some instruction about how the annual feast of the Passover, to be held in subsequent years, would be used to teach each generation: "And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses" (Ex 12:26-27).
What might be learned about the reference in D&C 89:21 from this version of the Passover? A few additional questions might be asked:

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]

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 89:19. How does "finding wisdom" manifest itself? What does it mean? If one doesn't follow the Word of Wisdom, are they denied access to revelation?

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. →

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.



Previous page: Verses 89:10-17                      This is the last page for Section 89

For efficiency this page is pulled from a cached copy. The cache should update about once a day. If you'd like to see the most up to date version, refresh the cache by clicking here.