Section 42: The Law
When Joseph arrived in Kirtland from Fayette, he encountered a bunch of willing saints who were unskilled in the policies and doctrines of the Church. He first had to bring closure to the communal “family” and end its system of common stock. Then he had to put a stop to a sort of overly-emotional spiritual hysteria he found among some of the Kirtland saints. These excesses were of the sort that happen when people insist on increasing the intensity of their religious experience but lack the Spirit of God. In this situation, false spirits and human deceivers are only too happy to accommodate them.
Before the saints could seriously prepare to establish Zion, they had to be given the law of the Church, which, besides a high personal morality, included the celestial principles of sacrifice and consecration. Edward Partridge had been called as the first bishop in section 41, which office was needed in order to implement and administer the social and economic policies and principles of section 42. The law of the Church would also establish standards of personal behavior by which the saints would be judged by their new bishop, the common judge in Israel.
Section 42, which had been promised in D&C 38:32, was received February 9, 1831, in the presence of twelve elders, only eight days after Joseph’s arrival in Kirtland. The Lord had promised to reveal his law to the saints once they had moved to the Ohio (see D&C 38:32). However, after Joseph arrived in Kirtland, the Lord added one further stipulation. The elders had to agree upon the word of the Lord and were to unite in a prayer of faith. Only then would they receive the law designated to help the saints live peaceably together (see D&C 41:2-3). Accordingly, on February 9, 1831 twelve men were called together by Joseph, and they united in prayer and in faith and desire to receive the law. In response the Lord revealed his law to them (HC, 1:148).
We refer to this section as the law of the Church or the law of the Lord given to the Church. Only verses 1-73 were given at that time. The rest was received two weeks later on February 23. Verses 74-77 were recorded separately in the Kirtland Revelation Book, where they stood alone as a single revelation. This section was originally printed in the Book of Commandments as two chapters: verses 1through 73 were chapter 44; verses 78 through 93 were chapter 47. It seems that some portions of section 42 may once have been introduced by specific questions asked of the Lord, much like we see in sections 77 (The Book of Revelation) or 113 (The Book of Isaiah). These questions and some other verses found in a few early copies do not now appear in section 42. All of these changes—the combining of originally separate parts and the omission of some elements—were made under the direction of Joseph Smith in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.
It should perhaps be noted again that Latter-day Saints understand inspiration to lie primarily in the Prophet Joseph rather than in the text. That is, the divine revelation was given through the Prophet and was often shaped by his vocabulary, thinking, and ability to express himself (D&C 1:24). As the Prophet’s skills or understanding increased, he could edit and revise what had been written earlier as he saw ways of expressing the intent of the revelation more clearly or more exactly, and this has the effect of making such revisions even more inspired than the original—as, for example, in the Joseph Smith Translation. Uneasiness over these types of changes is a typically Protestant reaction, because Protestant thinking generally attributes inspiration primarily to the text. Thus, Protestants want to find the “earliest” text or the “most faithful” copies, while Latter-day Saints want to know the Prophet’s latest and most mature judgment on how a revelation should be understood or expressed. The latest and most mature judgment of the prophet Joseph Smith and his successors on these early revelations is found in the present text of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Beyond the articles and covenants of the Church (section 20), which explain the duties of the members and the policies and practices of the Church, the law of the Church (section 42) will explain the standards of personal behavior and social organization upon which membership and fellowship in the Church and kingdom depends. This law of personal righteousness and consecration directly prepares church members to establish a Zion society, for if they live this law, they will be of one heart and one mind, will dwell in righteousness, and will have no poor among them (Moses 7:18). Receiving and living this law of the Church, including the law of consecration, is a necessary step, and a substantial one, in establishing Zion then or now.
Actually section 42 is a series of laws pertaining to many aspects of our lives. Let us summarize them in the order in which they appear in section 42:
- The law of missionary work (verses 4-9, 63-69). The Lord summarizes the essentials of missionary work: (a) Go forth with the Spirit. (b) Preach only the gospel of Christ. (c) Go two by two. (d) Go forth in the name of Christ. (e) Lift up your voice enthusiastically.
- The law of ordination or the law of authority to minister (verses 11-17). One must be ordained by recognized authority and teach only by the Spirit.
- The law of moral conduct (verses 18-29, 74-93). The Lord gives anew to our dispensation commands not to kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, gossip, or do personal injury to your neighbor.
- The law of consecration (verse 30-39, 53-55). The Lord commands that Zion be built up based upon the celestial law or the “law of consecration and stewardship.”
Let us first define some terms: The law of consecration is that law or principle which, if successfully lived by a group of people, will result in their becoming a unified, righteous people, a united order. Thus, the law of consecration is the principle, and the united order is what people become as they live the principle. The term order of Enoch was originally applied to the law of consecration. However, Joseph used this name for the governing board of nine general authorities who oversaw all activities relative to the law of consecration.
There are five characteristics of the “law of consecration and stewardship” when it is practiced in its ideal form:
- Consecration. This is the belief and practice that the earth is the Lord’s and that everything a man has or is or accomplishes is owed back to the Lord because it is all his anyway. To enter into the united order, a complete inventory of a man’s possessions is taken and everything he owns is deeded legally or consecrated to the Church.
- Agency. A man is respected as a free agent. He may enter or leave the order at his own pleasure without coercion or stigma. He has the right to negotiate for his job or for those things which he requires to fill the needs of his family. Thus the united order differs vastly from Marxist Communism.
- Storehouse. On entering the order, all of a man’s possessions are placed in the storehouse. Also goods that are produced in excess of the needs of the man’s family are placed in the storehouse. At the discretion of the bishop, materials are distributed from the storehouse. These include the stewardships (see below) and food and materials that are needed by those who are unable to work.
- Stewardship. After a man joins the order, those possessions which he needs to do his work and care for his family are deeded back to him—thus he owns them. These materials are given to him by the bishop from the storehouse and are referred to as his stewardship or inheritance. Private ownership is thus a feature of the law of consecration.
Each person in the order is assigned work according to his abilities, education, talents, and according to the needs of the order. All types of work are considered of equal importance, i.e., the collection of garbage is as important as the practice of law or medicine. A regular accounting is held between each person and the bishop to assess his performance and progress. Is he happy? Should he be reassigned? Does he have enough for his family’s needs?
- Governing Board. The government of the order is vested in a central agency, the members of which are sustained by members of the order. This agency is presided over by the bishop and his counselors, and it has the power to adjust disputes normally arising among strongly individualized human beings.
This remarkable economic order was tried out in Ohio and Missouri briefly in 1832-34. Though practiced only a short time, it did show some promise. However, in those pioneer days, under severe persecution from neighbors, and with the undisciplined selfishness of certain members, the people could not give the order a fair trial, and it failed.
We should all keep in mind, however, that the law of consecration in the Church is not dead. It still is in force. All endowed members of the Church have made a covenant to live the law of consecration, and they will be held accountable for what they do with that law. President Spencer W. Kimball said:
Consecration is the giving of one’s time, talents, and means to care for those in need—whether spiritually or temporally—and in building the Lord’s kingdom. . . . We consecrate when we give of ourselves (Ensign, November 1977, 78).
The law of miscellaneous conduct (verses 40-43). The Lord commands us relative to pride, cleanliness, and industry.
The law of faith and healing (verses 43-52). The Lord divides people into three categories relative to faith and healing: (a) those who have faith to be healed and through ordination of the elders are healed; (b) those who have faith to be healed but are appointed unto death, so they are not healed; and (c) those who do not have the faith to be healed. They may have faith sufficient to call upon the elders but are not healed and must be treated by the ministrations of men. Are these categories all inclusive? Probably not. The Lord seems to allow even faithful people at times to suffer the vicissitudes and diseases and accidents of life without his intervention.
The law relative to scriptures (verses 56-61). We are commanded to learn the scriptures and use them in teaching others.
The law of remuneration for services (verses 70-73). All those who are required to spend their full time in church service including, of course, the General Authorities are provided funds sufficient for their needs.
D&C 42 The Law
D&C 42:6-7 Lifting up your voices . . . like unto angels of God.
D&C 42:14 If ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.
D&C 42:17 The Comforter knoweth all things and beareth record of the Father and the Son.
D&C 42:22-25 Thou shalt love thy wife and cleave unto her and none else; thou shalt not commit adultery.
D&C 42:45-47 The law of mourning: Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection. And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.
D&C 42:48 He that have faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.
D&C 42:61 If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.
1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church, who have assembled yourselves together in my name, even Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, the Savior of the world; inasmuch as ye believe on my name and keep my commandments.
2 Again I say unto you, hearken and hear and obey the law which I shall give unto you.
verse 2 “hearken and hear and obey the law” In this particular verse, the law to which the Lord refers is the “law of the Church” which will be the sum and substance of this revelation, section 42.
It is important to keep in mind the significance of “the law” in an eternal sense. The law of the Lord in a very real sense is a revelation of his character and attributes. The laws are given to assist man in his quest to become like the Father and the Son. No one can come unto the Father except through obedience to the laws which Christ has given (see D&C 132:12). The violation of these laws is what constitutes sin (see 1 John 3:4). The Lord in his infinite love and wisdom often gives laws to his children commensurate with their preparation to receive those laws. Hence, the law of Moses was to prepare the children of Israel for higher laws. The laws given in this section of the D&C were to enable the saints to purify their lives in preparation for the establishment of Zion.
3 For verily I say, as ye have assembled yourselves together according to the commandment wherewith I commanded you, and are agreed as touching this one thing, and have asked the Father in my name, even so ye shall receive.
verse 3 “according to the commandment wherewith I commanded you” The command given to the elders of the Church to assemble themselves together was given by the Lord in D&C 41:2-3.
“and are agreed as touching this one thing” According to the law of common consent, the twelve elders present agreed in advance to accept and live the law that the Lord would give them. It was an exercise of faith in God to agree to live a covenant before the Lord revealed exactly what it was. A modern parallel may be found in going to the temple for the first time. Before we actually attend the temple, we agree to abide by the covenants which we will enter into therein even though we don’t know exactly what they are.
“And have asked the Father in my name” Even though the Lord wanted and intended to give the Church his law, he still required that they ask him for it before it would be given to them. The lesson here is the importance and efficacy of our petitions to our Heavenly Father. Even though we may need a particular blessing, and even though he may be eager to give it to us, we might not receive that blessing it until we finally ask him for it directly in fervent prayer.
verses 4-9 These verses, along with verses 63-69, explain the law of missionary work.
4 Behold, verily I say unto you, I give unto you this first commandment, that ye shall go forth in my name, every one of you, excepting my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon.
verse 4 “every one of you” This phrase refers specifically to the twelve elders who were present when this revelation was received. They are commanded to leave immediately on missions to the West.
5 And I give unto them a commandment that they shall go forth for a little season, and it shall be given by the power of the Spirit when they shall return.
verse 5 “And I give unto them a commandment that they shall go forth for a little season” Joseph and Sidney were also to go on missions at this time, but were to stay out only a short time until the Spirit indicated they should return to Kirtland.
6 And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.
verse 6 “two by two” One may well ask why the Lord has his missionaries proselyte as a companionship rather than alone. It is likely that it is for physical and spiritual safety and to fulfill the law of witnesses (John 8:7-8; 2 Corinthians 13:1).
“like unto angels of God” This is not a gratuitous comparison by the Lord. There is little or no difference between righteous and diligent missionaries for the Lord and angels.
7 And ye shall go forth baptizing with water, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
verse 7 “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” For a discussion of this interesting phrase, see the commentary for D&C 39:19.
8 And from this place ye shall go forth into the regions westward; and inasmuch as ye shall find them that will receive you ye shall build up my church in every region—
verse 8 “he shall go forth into the regions westward” This statement refers largely to Missouri. In addition to gathering souls to the kingdom, the missionaries would prepare the area for the future gathering to Missouri.
9 Until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you from on high, when the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared, that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God.
verse 9 “the city of the New Jerusalem” This is the first use of this phrase in the Doctrine and Covenants. The “city of the New Jerusalem” is Zion. It should be noted that Zion may be defined on two levels. On the first level, Zion is the Lord’s earthly kingdom, his Church. Zion has been established, and it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Scripturally, it is compared to a tent with its “center pole” in Jackson County Missouri and the “stakes” of the tent scattered all over the world. On another level, Zion, or the New Jerusalem, has not yet been established. Zion cannot be established until the Lord’s people are living the law of consecration and stewardship, are a unified people, and have no poor among them (D&C 105:5).
In 1831 in the Church, it was anticipated that this latter Zion, the New Jerusalem, would soon be established. In this verse, the Lord promises that the location of the New Jerusalem will be revealed in the future (see D&C 57:1-3). We will learn that the New Jerusalem is to be located in Independence, Missouri.
Though the ancient Jerusalem will eventually be built up for the purposes of the Lord, it will not be called “New” Jerusalem because it has existed from ancient times (see Ether 13:5).
10 And again, I say unto you, that my servant Edward Partridge shall stand in the office whereunto I have appointed him. And it shall come to pass, that if he transgress another shall be appointed in his stead. Even so. Amen.
verses 11-17 These verses explain the law of ordination or the law of authority to minister.
11 Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.
verse 11 No one can preach the gospel as a missionary for the Church (“go forth to preach”) or as a teacher in the Church (“build up my church”) without having first been called, ordained, and set apart by the recognized authorities of the Church and sustained publicly by the membership. There are no secret callings or ordinations in the kingdom of God. This policy provides great protection against deception by those who have no authority.
President Harold B. Lee taught: “Now, if one comes claiming that he has authority, ask him, ‘Where do you get your authority? Have you been ordained by someone who has authority, who is known to the Church, that you have authority and have been regularly ordained by the heads of the Church?’ If the answer is no, you may know that he is an imposter. This is the test that our people should always apply when some imposter comes trying to lead them astray” (CR, October 1972, 127).
12 And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel.
verse 12 “the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon” At the time this revelation was received, the Pearl of Great Price had not net been published. Additionally, those portions of the present Doctrine and Covenants known to the Church at that time were also implicitly included in the scriptures mentioned here in verse 12 by the wording of verse 13, since both the “covenants” and the “articles” that are to be taught by the Spirit refer specifically to the revelations of Joseph Smith. The term covenants was often used to mean “revelations,” as in the later title, Doctrine and Covenants, and “church articles” in verse 13 refers specifically to D&C 20.
13 And they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit.
verse 13 “And they shall observe the covenants” The term covenants is likely used here to indicate the various commandments found in individual revelations of the Doctrine and Covenants. All commandments are also covenants because there is a promise and a blessing attached to each.
“church articles” This phrase is a reference to the rules and policies found in D&C 20, the articles and covenants of the Church of Christ. See the commentary on verse 12.
14 And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.
verse 14 This verse can be read either as a command or as a statement of fact, and either way the statement is true. If a person does not have the Spirit, he is commanded not to teach; and in the sense of true teaching, without the influence of the Spirit he cannot teach.
True teaching takes place only Spirit to spirit. An eternal principle cannot be implanted in the heart of another without the influence of the Spirit of God. Actually we may actually say that true teaching takes place only “Spirit to spirit to spirit.” That is, effective learning of spiritual truth can occur only as a three-cornered transaction between the Spirit of God, the spirit of the teacher, and the spirit of the student.
15 And all this ye shall observe to do as I have commanded concerning your teaching, until the fulness of my scriptures is given.
verse 15 “until the fulness of my scriptures is given” This phrase likely refers mainly to Joseph’s inspired revision of the Bible. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:
When the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible—included in this revelation under the designation, “fulness of my scriptures”—came forth, then teachers were to use it and the various additional direct revelations. This, then, is a command to teach the changes and additions now found in the so-called Inspired Version (BYU Symposium on the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, November 3, 1984, 2-3).
We may also interpret the phrase differently and conclude that the “fulness of my scriptures” also includes the Pearl of Great Price, the future revelations to be included in the Doctrine and Covenants, the JST, and even the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon.
16 And as ye shall lift up your voices by the Comforter, ye shall speak and prophesy as seemeth me good;
17 For, behold, the Comforter knoweth all things, and beareth record of the Father and of the Son.
verse 17 We are often guilty of depersonalizing the man with the title Holy Ghost. We must always remember that he is a supremely intelligent, loving, and sensitive divine being who yearns and labors for the exaltation of all of the Father’s children.
verses 18-29 These verses, along with verses 74-93, explain the law of moral conduct.
18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.
verse 18 “I speak unto the church” Here the Lord is no longer specifically addressing the elders present on February 9, 1831, but rather the entire Church.
“Thou shalt not kill” It is common to refer to this command and to the commandments in the following verses 19 through 29 as a reiteration of the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament—a nostalgic review of some commandments that were tenets of the law of Moses. Is this correct? It is not. Verses 18 through 29 are not a reiteration of the law of Moses, the lesser law. Rather, they are a new legislation—a part of the higher law.
19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die.
verses 18-19 Three penalties are specified for the murderer: (1) He shall not obtain forgiveness for his sin in this world or in the world to come (verse 18). This means that the redeeming powers of the Savior’s atonement will not be available to him. He himself must bear the entire burden of this sin. Ultimately, if he repents, he will not be worthy of either the celestial or terrestrial glories, but may inherit a telestial glory. (2) He shall die (verse 19). This may imply that capital punishment is appropriate for him, or it may simply mean that he will suffer the second death which is a permanent and eternal spiritual death or separation from God. (3) He shall be delivered to and dealt with by the laws of the land (verse 79).
verse 19 President Joseph Fielding Smith said that the Church: “cannot destroy men in the flesh, because we do not control the lives of men and do not have power to pass sentences upon them which involve capital punishment. In the days when there was a theocracy on the earth, then this decree was enforced. What the Lord will do in lieu of this because we cannot destroy in the flesh, I am unable to say, but it will have to be made up in some other way” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:97).
Perhaps it should be mentioned here that abortion, although a gravely serious sin, is not equal to murder. Those guilty of abortion are not denied the gift of repentance and may, if they do repent, receive the full blessings of the Savior’s atonement and become once again candidates for the celestial kingdom (see Boyd K. Packer, CR, April 1992, 95).
See the discussion of the three most abominable sins in the sight of God in the commentary for Alma 39:5-6. See also Three Most Abominable Sins in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3, chapter 18.
20 Thou shalt not steal; and he that stealeth and will not repent shall be cast out.
verse 20 “he that stealeth and will not repent shall be cast out” To be cast out is to be excommunicated.
21 Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.
verses 20-21 Those who steal or lie and will not repent are to be “cast out” or excommunicated.
22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.
verse 22 Whereas all the previous commandments concerning personal behavior have been stated as “thou shalt nots,” this commandment is a “thou shalt.”
“Thou shalt” commandments leave no room for guessing. President Spencer W. Kimball explained: “When the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. . . . The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. We sometimes find women who absorb and hover over the children at the expense of the husband, sometimes even estranging them from him. The Lord says to them: ‘thou shalt cleave unto him and none else.’ Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, 142-43).
Although biological attraction can happen spontaneously and without effort, maintaining a long-term, loving relationship in marriage usually does not. It is a goal that must be chosen and diligently pursued, a conscious decision for which husbands and wives may be held accountable. To ignore one’s spouse or the relationship that exists between husband and wife is a sin.
23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.
verse 23 “he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her” There is a difference in degree between carnal-mindedness and looking “upon a woman to lust after her.” Both are sins, but the former involves hypothetical thinking or sexual fantasies, while the latter involves intent to commit adultery if given an opportunity. That is why in the latter case the individual has actually committed adultery already in his or her heart (see Matthew 5:27-28)—because the act is desired, planned, and intended, though not yet carried out. In such a case, the desired act of adultery has become a personal idol.
24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.
25 But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive;
26 But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.
verses 24-26 Verses 22-23 involve mental and emotional unfaithfulness, but these particular verses—verses 24-26—involve actual physical unfaithfulness. The law of the Church directs that unrepentant adulterers be excommunicated from the Church.
27 Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm.
verse 27 To “speak evil” or bear false witness is to testify to or to pass along reports, insinuations, speculations, or rumors as if their were true, to the detriment of a fellow human being.
28 Thou knowest my laws concerning these things are given in my scriptures; he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out.
verse 28 “he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out” Repeated, blatant sin of any kind where there is no honest attempt to repent is not to be tolerated in or by the Church.
29 If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments.
verse 29 This verse provides a definition of what it means to love God. To truly love him is to obey him (John 14:15; 14:21). Obviously mortals cannot “keep all [of his] commandments” to perfection, so there is room for repentance here.
verse 30-39 These verses, along with verses 53-55, explain the law of consecration. Before studying these verses, please review the discussion of the “law of consecration and stewardship” in the introductory commentary for section 42.
30 And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.
verse 30 Consecration, in the present context, means to give all we possess or may possess to the Church to administer to the poor and needy and to build Zion, the New Jerusalem. Only those who are willing to give everything to the Lord are worthy to receive everything from him. All church members who have been to the temple have covenanted to live the law of consecration, though at present the institutional expectations of the Church require them to live only the law of tithing (see D&C 119120) and accept those demands on their resources that are made in their home wards and branches. Those individuals who have accepted the law of consecration by covenant yet will not observe the law of tithing or make other sacrifices of time or resources requested of them have broken their temple covenants.
“a deed which cannot be broken” Whatever property or other resources a family took with them into the covenant of consecration was to be legally transferred to the Church by deed. Technically, consecrated properties became the Church’s and would not be given back even if an individual changed his mind and wanted to leave. This part of the law was not implemented.
31 And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counselors, two of the elders, or high priests, such as he shall appoint or has appointed and set apart for that purpose.
verse 31 “inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me” Resources used to help the poor and the needy are resources given to the Savior (Matthew 25:40; Mosiah 2:17).
“or high priests” According to Orson Pratt (HC, 1:150,152), these words were added both here in verse 71 by Joseph Smith several years after section 42 was received. The words referring to a “high council” in verse 34 were also added. In February 1831, when this revelation was first received, there were no high priests or high council in the Church, because the organization of the Church had not yet been fully revealed. Later, after these offices had been revealed, Joseph adjusted verses 31, 34, and 71 to include high priests in their proper places.
32 And it shall come to pass, that after they are laid before the bishop of my church, and after that he has received these testimonies concerning the consecration of the properties of my church, that they cannot be taken from the church, agreeable to my commandments, every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property, or that which he has received by consecration, as much as is sufficient for himself and family.
verse 32 “every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property” A steward is a manager. In this system an individual consecrates all of his possessions to the Church and receives back, as his own private property, a stewardship, sufficient for his needs and that of his family. He is to manage this stewardship, and manage it well, for the enrichment of himself, his family, and the kingdom.
33 And again, if there shall be properties in the hands of the church, or any individuals of it, more than is necessary for their support after this first consecration, which is a residue to be consecrated unto the bishop, it shall be kept to administer to those who have not, from time to time, that every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants.
verse 33 “which is a residue” Stewards are expected to meet their own needs out of the produce of their stewardship. Should a steward or manager produce more than he or she personally needs, the amount left over, or residue, is forwarded to the bishop for the support of others in the system with no residue, or even shortfalls. The residue is also to be used to build the kingdom (see verse 35).
“according to his wants” Stewards and their families are not expected to live in poverty. Although personal extravagance would be a violation of principle, stewards are expected to take their just wants from the produce of their stewardships (compare D&C 82:17). It appears, for example, that if music is a large part of one’s life, or woodworking is a large part of another’s, it would be acceptable for the one to have musical instruments and for the other to have woodworking tools. In disputed cases the bishop judges what is a “just” want or desire and what is selfishness or extravagance.
34 Therefore, the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy, as shall be appointed by the high council of the church, and the bishop and his council;
verse 34 “the high council of the church” See the commentary for verse 31.
35 And for the purpose of purchasing lands for the public benefit of the church, and building houses of worship, and building up of the New Jerusalem which is hereafter to be revealed—
36 That my covenant people may be gathered in one in that day when I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people.
verse 36 Just imagine the exciting spirit that would occur in a community able to live the law of consecration. It is obvious that in order for the community to be successful, they would have to leave behind the slackers, the critics, and the me-firsts. Together, they would become of one heart and one mind and would experience remarkable spiritual growth.
This verse refers to the Lord’s visit to his temple announced in Malachi 3:1-3. We are not given to know which temple, but we would presume that the time is following the Lord’s second coming when there will exist on the earth a true Zion society.
37 And it shall come to pass, that he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out of the church, and shall not receive again that which he has consecrated unto the poor and the needy of my church, or in other words, unto me—
38 For inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me.
39 For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel.
verse 39 “that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled” The prophets mentioned here would include Isaiah (see Isaiah 60:3-7, 16; 61:5-6) who taught that the riches of the Gentiles would be brought to Zion in the last days. This theme is continued in the Epistles of Paul, who insisted that Gentile converts share their wealth with Israel by “contributing” to or “communicating” with the “poor” of Israel (see Acts 24:17; Romans 15:26-27; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 6:18; Hebrews 13:16). The Greek word translated communicate in the King James Version of the New Testament is usually some form of koinoneo, which means “to have in common.” It can also be translated as “share,” and from this comes our common sense of “communicate,” which is to share ideas by making them common knowledge (apply to Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 6:18; Hebrews 13:16).
“I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel” How have the
rich among the Gentiles helped the poor of the house of Israel? In the book of Mormon, the United States of America is referred to as the “great gentile nation.” This is not to say that there would be none of the house of Israel in America, but that as a nation it would not be thought of as part of the house of Israel. This great Gentile nation consists of people from many other countries. The Lord has blessed the United States with great wealth and temporal abundance. From the early days of the Church, saints in the United States have enjoyed prosperity and temporal wealth unknown to most of mankind throughout history. Through their faithfulness in paying their tithes, supporting missionaries, and giving other contributions, these saints of the great gentile nation made it possible for the work of the kingdom to go forth to the nations of the earth. Now saints in many nations who enjoy temporal prosperity—other Gentiles—join in and contribute resources to the work, so the kingdom can more quickly fulfill its destiny.
“the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel” This phrase does not imply that those living the law of consecration will be poverty-stricken. It refers to those in Zion who produce less than they need. Even in Zion there may be needy, but their needs will be met through the consecration of new converts and the surpluses, or residues, of the more productive stewards.
verses 40-42 These verses explain the law of miscellaneous conduct.
40 And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands;
verse 40 “let all thy garments be plain” Those who have accepted the law of consecration and received a stewardship by covenant must not expend the resources of their stewardship on unnecessary extravagance such as expensive clothes. The law of consecration is not intended to subsidize the lifestyles of the rich but to put their surplus resources—beyond what is sufficient for their needs—into the hands of brother and sister saints who do not have sufficient for their needs. The principle here is that the genuine need of others must have priority over selfish wants (see Alma 1:27). This verse also encourages personal creativity and industry. The implication is that garments that one makes are more beautiful and less expensive than those one might purchase.
41 And let all things be done in cleanliness before me.
verse 41 The spirit of those of the Lord’s people who live the law of consecration is one of beauty, cleanliness, simplicity, and nobility.
42 Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.
verse 42 “Thou shalt not be idle” It is obvious that a good work ethic among the members of a Zion society is essential. A celestial individual can and will work hard without the incentive of direct, personal gain. Consecration is a celestial law because only the celestial can live it unselfishly, without leaving their share of the work to be done by others. The failure to establish Zion in the past has been largely due to too many in the Church who violate this principle.
“he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer” It is contrary to the justice of God for those who do not keep their covenants to benefit as though they do. Under the law of consecration, this means that those who will not work to support themselves and to help the poor and needy have no claim upon, and must not be given, the fruits of the laborers. Covenant blessings require covenant obedience. In the welfare program of the Church today, this principle is understood to mean that the needy should be faithful to their covenants and first exhaust their own resources, including their own labor, before making a claim on the resources produced by the labor of other saints. The faithful who cannot work, but who would if they could, are entitled to support. Those who are not faithful or who will not work for themselves but expect to be supported by the labor of others must not be allowed to do so.
verses 43-52 These verses explain the law of faith and healing—the Lord’s will concerning the blessing of the sick. The main points are: 1. The saints are obligated to tenderly care for the sick, even the sick who lack the faith to be healed. 2. It is appropriate to treat the sick with such medicines as are available—in this case herbs and foods. 3. The elders of the Church should be called to bless the sick by the laying on of hands. 4. Not all of the faithful saints who are blessed by the elders will recover.
5. Those who lack the faith to be healed are still candidates for the celestial kingdom, and caring for them is still the responsibility of the members.
43 And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy.
verse 43 It would seem that some members of the Church believe that all illness should be dealt with only through priesthood administrations. This is not the official doctrine of the Church, as was stated in a Church News editorial:
Every man, woman, and child should care for his or her body as the temple of God which it is. Attention should be given to proper rest and exercise, and a well-balanced diet. The Lord has given us the Word of Wisdom to assist us further in better caring for our bodies.
There are times when we should pray for the sick, and through the priesthood lay hands upon the head of the ill and bless them. . . . But our belief in the divine power of healing should in no way preclude seeking competent medical assistance. Dr. James E. Talmage, a member of the council of the Twelve, in 1921 said in an address: “I say some have charged us with inconsistency, for they say: ‘If you believe in the gift of healing, what is the need of doctors, what is the need of surgeons, why build hospitals?’ Because we know that ‘there is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the world was, and when we attain any blessing it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.’ And the law is, in the instance under consideration, that we shall do all we can of ourselves. . . .”
We must do all we can, and then ask the Lord to do the rest, such as we cannot do. Hence we hold the medical and surgical profession in high regard. . . . When we have done all we can then the Divine Power will be directly applicable and operative (Church News, February 19, 1977, 16).
44 And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me.
verse 44 “they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me” When one is enduring faithfully in the new and everlasting covenant at the time of one’s death, then one is said to die “unto Christ” or “in Christ.” Those who are blessed by the elders and recover from their illness have an obligation to live unto Christ, to be his faithful, covenant sons and daughters in building up his kingdom on earth.
45 Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.
46 And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them;
verse 46 How is it that the righteous “shall not taste of death”? President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
To some members of the Church the saying that those who die in the Lord shall not taste of death has been a hard saying. They have seen good faithful men and women suffer days and at times for months before they were taken. But here the Lord does not say they shall not suffer pain of body, but that they shall be free from the anguish and torment of soul which will be partaken of by the wicked, and although they may suffer in body, yet death to them will be sweet in that they will realize that they are worthy before the Lord (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:186).
Some have added to this thought. Though a person’s death may be painful, even excruciating, being dead will be a sweet relief and rest to them, for they will rest in paradise with the certain knowledge that the Lord judges them worthy of celestial glory.
47 And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.
verse 47 Those who die unrepentant will suffer the pains of hell in the world of spirits. See a discussion of suffering under the heading “How Might We Categorized Adversities and Sufferings?” in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3, chapter 1, Adversity and Suffering.
The combination of verses 45-47 is often referred to as the “Lord’s law of mourning.”
48 And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.
verse 48 It does seem unlikely that the Lord has assigned each of us a specific date for our death. It seems equally unlikely that he orchestrates the circumstances and causes of our death. This would require a degree of micro-managing of the affairs of man that seems uncharacteristic of the way in which God interacts with mortal man. On the other hand, when the disease processes here on earth that characterize this mortal existence combine to produce a potentially fatal illness, a merciful God, may certainly decide that the time is right for us to pass from this mortal phase.
49 He who hath faith to see shall see.
50 He who hath faith to hear shall hear.
51 The lame who hath faith to leap shall leap.
52 And they who have not faith to do these things, but believe in me, have power to become my sons; and inasmuch as they break not my laws thou shalt bear their infirmities.
verse 52 Lacking the faith to be healed is not necessarily a sin of a less than celestial character, and in such cases the Lord expects the saints to support and care for the afflicted under the law of consecration.
verses 53-55 These verses, along with verses 30-39, explain the law of consecration.
53 Thou shalt stand in the place of thy stewardship.
verse 53 This is a command to all the saints living the law of consecration. The Lord seems to be saying that each person should make do with their own stewardship. The other idea which may be conveyed here is that the saints are to live near and work with the land and other parts of the stewardship they have been given. He desires no “absentee” stewards holding a stewardship from the Lord but investing their time or resources elsewhere.
54 Thou shalt not take thy brother’s garment; thou shalt pay for that which thou shalt receive of thy brother.
verse 54 “Thou shalt not take thy brother’s garment” The law of consecration is not a system of common ownership or group ownership as was the system of “common stock.” One’s stewardship under the law of consecration is legally one’s own private property. The system of consecration practiced at this time was neither communal nor communistic in the usual sense of those words, but a system of individually controlled and privately owned stewardships working cooperatively toward the same goal—to establish Zion.
“thou shalt pay for that which thou shalt receive of thy brother” If a steward needs something from another, he must pay a fair price for it. If he cannot pay, he is to go to the bishop for it, and his needs will be met from the storehouse.
55 And if thou obtainest more than that which would be for thy support, thou shalt give it into my storehouse, that all things may be done according to that which I have said.
verses 56-61 These verses explain the law relative to scriptures.
56 Thou shalt ask, and my scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety;
verse 56 This verse, and the following five verses, refer to the Joseph Smith Translation which was being worked on at the time this revelation was received (see Dahl, “Joseph Smith Translation and the Doctrine and Covenants,” 110). Verses 56-61 may also refer to the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, particularly since verse 59, “my law to govern my church,” likely refers to section 42 itself (see D&C 38:32, 36; 41:3; 43:8).
57 And it is expedient that thou shouldst hold thy peace concerning them, and not teach them until ye have received them in full.
verse 57 “hold thy peace concerning them” The Lord instructs the Church not to use the JST and the other new scriptures in preaching publicly until they had been given “in full,” or completed. The Lord’s reasons for this command are not entirely clear. Some have suggested that it may have increased the persecution experienced by the saints.
58 And I give unto you a commandment that then ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people.
verses 56-58 These verses refer to Joseph’s inspired revision of the Bible.
59 Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church;
verse 59 “my law to govern my church” This phrase seems to be a clear reference to section 42, the law of the Church (see the same phrasing in D&C 38:32, 36; 41:3; 43:8—all referring to section 42). Thus the phrase “my scriptures,” as used here and in verse 56, obviously includes the Doctrine and Covenants as well as the JST.
60 And he that doeth according to these things shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned if he so continue.
61 If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things— that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.
verse 61 “revelation upon revelation” This is exactly how Joseph received the Doctrine and Covenants, the JST, and other scriptures—successive revisions gradually added here a little and there a little.
“the mysteries and peaceable things” For a discussion of the “mysteries” see the commentary for D&C 6:7. For a discussion of the “peaceable things” see the commentary for D&C 36:2.
62 Thou shalt ask, and it shall be revealed unto you in mine own due time where the New Jerusalem shall be built.
verse 62 This promise will be fulfilled in D&C 57:1-3.
verses 63-69 These verses, along with verses 4-9, explain the law of missionary work.
63 And behold, it shall come to pass that my servants shall be sent forth to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south.
64 And even now, let him that goeth to the east teach them that shall be converted to flee to the west, and this in consequence of that which is coming on the earth, and of secret combinations.
verse 64 “that which is coming on the earth” From the perspective of the Kirtland Saints, “that which is coming” would include the Civil War, which would devastate the nation, mark the beginning of “modern war,” and probably be the beginning of the wars of the last days (see D&C 87:1-3).
“and of secret combinations” The only way to escape the evil that men do to one another is to flee to Zion.
65 Behold, thou shalt observe all these things, and great shall be thy reward; for unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but unto the world it is not given to know them.
66 Ye shall observe the laws which ye have received and be faithful.
verse 66 “the laws which ye have received” Again, another reference to section 42.
67 And ye shall hereafter receive church covenants, such as shall be sufficient to establish you, both here and in the New Jerusalem.
verse 67 “ye shall hereafter receive church covenants” More commandments and covenants are yet to be received including the temple ordinances and covenants. At the time of this revelation it was anticipated that the temple ordinances would be an anchor for the saints both in Kirtland and in Missouri.
68 Therefore, he that lacketh wisdom, let him ask of me, and I will give him liberally and upbraid him not.
verse 68 The Lord repeats the well-known scriptural thought found in James 1:5-6.
69 Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for unto you the kingdom, or in other words, the keys of the church have been given. Even so. Amen.
verse 69 “the keys of the church” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God upon the earth. Therefore, to be given the keys of the Church is to be given possession and control of the earthly kingdom of God.
verses 70-73 These verses explain the law of remuneration for services. All whose labor for the Church prevents them from earning their own livelihood are to be remunerated from the consecrations and surpluses of the Church. Their support shall be administered by the bishop of the Church, who was then Edward Partridge.
70 The priests and teachers shall have their stewardships, even as the members.
71 And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned;
72 Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop.
73 And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.
verses 74-93 These verses, along with verses 18-29, explain the law of moral conduct.
verses 74-77 These verses describe the Lord’s law to the Church on marital fidelity and divorce. In the following verses, to “receive” means to receive into full fellowship through baptism. To “cast out” means to cast out of the Church by excommunication.
If an individual divorces his or her spouse because the spouse has committed adultery, that individual is to remain in good standing and fellowship in the Church. Those members who leave their spouse in order to have a sexual relationship with someone else, however, are to be excommunicated. Even a legal divorce and remarriage, if pursued with adulterous motives, is still adultery in the sight of God (see Matthew 19:3-9). Those who are married but are living with someone other than their spouse are not to be received into the Church without repentance. Those who are not married but have been sexually active may also be received into the Church if they will genuinely repent and begin to live chaste lives.
The eternal purposes of sex and marriage are so sacred and such a necessary part of our exaltation that disregard for a loving, faithful, and functional marriage cannot escape the Lord’s condemnation. Marriage partners are commanded to love one another and no one else (verse 22), are not to pursue or even consider in their hearts any other sexual partners (verse 23), and may not divorce a faithful spouse and remarry just to get a new partner (verse 75). Single people are to be faithful to their future spouse, whether they marry in this life or the next, and they are to repent of any sexual activity or other sins before being fellowshipped into the Church (verse 77).
74 Behold, verily I say unto you, that whatever persons among you, having put away their companions for the cause of fornication, or in other words, if they shall testify before you in all lowliness of heart that this is the case, ye shall not cast them out from among you;
75 But if ye shall find that any persons have left their companions for the sake of adultery, and they themselves are the offenders, and their companions are living, they shall be cast out from among you.
76 And again, I say unto you, that ye shall be watchful and careful, with all inquiry, that ye receive none such among you if they are married;
77 And if they are not married, they shall repent of all their sins or ye shall not receive them.
verses 78-87 These verses discuss the relationship of the law of the Church to the law of the land: local, state, and federal. If members of the Church break the law of the land, they are to be turned over to the civil authorities for judgment. Church membership does not protect us from the law of the land and gives us no shield from civil justice.
When individuals break the law of the Church, they are to be dealt with in church disciplinary councils. Church disciplinary councils cannot impose any penalty or sanction other than loss of membership or fellowship and therefore will not hear cases involving violation of secular law or suits for damages. The Church determines only issues of sin, which is violation of God’s law (see verse 87). Civil law decides all issues of crime, which is violation of civil law, and the Church leaves civil justice to the courts. Thus, an individual might be tried in the civil courts and then brought before a church disciplinary council because the act violated both civil law and the law of God.
78 And again, every person who belongeth to this church of Christ, shall observe to keep all the commandments and covenants of the church.
79 And it shall come to pass, that if any persons among you shall kill they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land; for remember that he hath no forgiveness; and it shall be proved according to the laws of the land.
80 And if any man or woman shall commit adultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church, or more, and every word shall be established against him or her by two witnesses of the church, and not of the enemy; but if there are more than two witnesses it is better.
81 But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God.
82 And if it can be, it is necessary that the bishop be present also.
83 And thus ye shall do in all cases which shall come before you.
84 And if a man or woman shall rob, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land.
85 And if he or she shall steal, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land.
verses 84-85 Note that these verses distinguish between robbing and stealing. Robbery carries the meaning of accosting an individual and forcefully taking his or her belongings. Stealing implies taking the possessions of another unbeknown to him or her.
86 And if he or she shall lie, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land.
87 And if he or she do any manner of iniquity, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law, even that of God.
verses 88-93 These verses deal with the proper way of handling personal disputes or injuries in the Church. Personal differences are to be taken by the injured party first to the offending party. The assumption is that brothers and sisters in Zion will act in good faith to resolve their differences and remain brothers and sisters. Saints are not to begin by working through third parties or by complaining or making accusations until the offender finally hears about it from the third party. This approach violates the law of the Church. Instead, the injured party is to go privately to the offender, state his or her complaint, and resolve it confidentially. If the offender will not confess and repent, the injured party is to take the matter to proper church leaders, but still privately and confidentially, “not to the members” (verse 89). At this point the church leaders can decide whether or not an injury can be proved. If the offense can be proved, then the offender will confess and repent or be subject to church discipline with the possible loss of membership or fellowship.
Private offenses are to be handled by the Church privately, giving the offender the opportunity to make amends to the injured and to God and not to suffer public humiliation for a private fault. “Note the caution that this remedy is to be private—‘not before the world.’ This is not done in order to hide the facts, but rather to increase the chance that the correction will improve the life of a brother or sister” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Speaking Today: Criticism,” 72).
Public offenses, however, are generally wrought by more high-handed, rebellious, and proud individuals. Therefore, church discipline for public offenses is to be made public, in order that the offending individuals may be ashamed and curb their pride (see verse 91), thus giving them greater motivation for repentance. Unfortunately, for those whose pride is very great, a public rebuke will often cause them, in self-justification, to become dissident former members, and enemies of the Church.
88 And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled.
89 And if he or she confess not thou shalt deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world.
90 And if thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many.
91 And if any one offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed. And if he or she confess not, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of God.
92 If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the church may not speak reproachfully of him or her.
93 And thus shall ye conduct in all things.
Brief Historical Setting
Concerning the reaction of the Church to the new law, John Whitmer stated: “After the above law or revelation was received, the elders went forth to proclaim repentance according to commandment, and there were members added to the church. Though Bishop Edward Partridge visited the church in its several branches, there were some that would not receive the Law. The time has not yet come that the law can be fully established, for the disciples live scattered abroad and are not organized; our [numbers] are small and the disciples untaught, consequently they understand not the things of the Kingdom. There were some of the disciples who were flattered into the church because they thought that all things were to be common, therefore they thought to glut themselves upon the labors of others” (Early Latter Day Saint History, 42).
Concerning the reception of the law by the Church, Joseph noted in a letter to Martin Harris: “We have received the laws of the Kingdom since we came here and the Disciples in these parts have received them gladly” (Woodford, Historical Development, 1:527).
Joseph began planning for the growth of the Church in Kirtland, knowing that converts from the eastern United States and Canada would soon be flowing in, for Kirtland was to be the central staging area for establishing Zion further west “on the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9). The growth of the Church in Kirtland would also bring some tensions between old and new members or between local and eastern members. The problems of getting along in a rapidly growing community that was trying to live the law of consecration intensified as new arrivals came in from New York and elsewhere, and as more of those who had been prepared for the gospel by the preaching of Sidney Rigdon (see D&C 35:4) were converted in the Kirtland area. The reader will note that most of the next fifteen or so revelations deal with better organizing the Church, resolving disputes between members, and combating the influence of false spirits and deceivers among the members.
On arriving in Kirtland, Joseph found a few members of the Church presuming to receive revelations and consequently teaching false doctrines. The Lord warned against these counterfeit claims and false teachings [D&C 43 -Spurious Revelations].
Also in February, the Lord announced that an important conference of the elders of the Church should be held. The date for this conference was set for June 1831 [D&C 44 -Conference of June 1831]. This turned out to be a great convocation of the elders at which the office of high priest was revealed to the Church.
- Michael J. Preece