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- D&C 20 is not addressed to any individual or group in particular. It instead reads like an impersonal creed or constitution.
- Story. D&C 20 consists of four major sections:
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: 10 April 1830 at Fayette, New York
- Prior section in chronological order: D&C 21
- Next section in chronological order: D&C 22
D&C 20 was apparently received in pieces and written in drafts over a lengthy period of time. Oliver's 1829 draft. Likely learned the exact date in late March. No record of it being read at the organizational meeting. Dated in Revelation Book 1 four days later on April 10. Yes read at the first quarterly conference in June 1830.
For a brief overview of D&C 20 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 5 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 6.
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Outline and page map
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- the Church was organized on April 6, 1830 in accordance with the commandments and authority of God given to his ordained servants - Amen (1-4)
- references to the First Vision and angelic visits by Moroni (5-6)
- the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God and contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (7-9)
- the Book of Mormon translation and testimony of the Three Witnesses prove that the scriptures are true, that God calls men today, and that God does not change - Amen (10-12)
- those who accept this work and are faithful shall receive eternal life, while those who reject these many witnesses shall receive condemnation - Amen (13-16)
- God is eternal, the creator of heaven, earth, and mankind (17-18)
- man’s transgression of God’s commandments led to the fall (19-20)
- Christ’s atonement, resurrection, and glorification on the right hand of God (21-24)
- man may be saved upon faith, baptism, and endurance to the end (25-27)
- the Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and the Son - Amen (27-28)
- again, men must have faith, repent, and endure to the end (29)
- justification and sanctification come by grace, and a caution to beware of falling from grace even after sanctification (30-34)
- God’s word is true, including John’s Revelation, the holy scriptures, this revelation [D&C 20], and all future revelations - Amen (35-36)
- baptism is available to those who truly repent with broken hearts and contrite spirits, are willing to take Christ’s name upon them, and are determined to serve him to the end (37)
- an apostle is an elder (38)
- duties of apostles and elders: baptize, ordain, administer the sacrament, confirm and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, teach, exhort, baptize, watch over the Church, and take the lead of meetings as led by the Holy Ghost and in accordance with the commandments and revelations of God (38-45)
- duties of priests: teach, exhort, baptize, watch over the Church, preach, visit the house of each member, exhort, ordain, take the lead of meetings if no elder is present, and follow the elders’ lead in all of these duties (46-52)
- duties of teachers: watch over the Church, be with them and strengthen them, warn, exhort, teach, invite all to come unto Christ, and take the lead of meetings if no elder or priest is present (53-59)
- duties of deacons: warn, exhort, teach and invite all to come unto Christ (58-59)
- ordination of priesthood bearers is to be by inspiration of the Holy Ghost (60)
- elders are to hold quarterly general conferences of the Church and issue certificates of ordination (61-67)
- after baptism, members are to be taught in doctrine and are to demonstrate a godly walk before being confirmed as members of the Church and partaking of the sacrament (68-69)
- parents are to have their children blessed by the elders before the Church (70)
- the manner of baptizing those who have reached the age of accountability (not specified at 8 years of age until Genesis 17:11 JST is received in February-March 1831) (71-74)
- the manner and frequency of administering the sacrament (75-79)
- Church discipline, the sending of branch representatives to conferences, and maintenance of membership records (80-84)
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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These links need to be updated to Section 20
- The oldest surviving copy of D&C 20 is the one copied by John Whitmer into Revelation Book 1, p. 1-2, presumably during the summer of 1830.
- D&C 20 was included in the 1833 Book of Commandments, the earliest edition of what we now call the Doctrine & Covenants, and in each subsequent edition.
- The text of D&C 20 in significant editions of the Doctrine & Covenants can be found at:
- There have been several significant changes to the text of D&C 20, particularly in the portions that now address priesthood offices revealed after 1830:
Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 20.
Doctrinal references cited on this page.
Historical references cited on this page.
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.