Section 94: Church Building Program
This revelation was probably received on the same day as section 93, which was March 6, 1833. There has been some confusion over this date, as the oldest copy of section 94 appears in a letter the First Presidency sent to the saints in Zion on August 6, 1833. The language of this letter can be understood to imply that section 94 was received along with section 97 on August 2, 1833. In addition, the Kirtland Revelation Book specifically dates section 94 to August 2 (Kirtland Revelation Book, 64). Nevertheless, it is likely that May 6, 1833, is the correct date (see HC, 1:346).
Review the background material for section 93. At the meeting of high priests in Kirtland on May 4, held for the purpose of considering ways and means for raising the funds to build the School of the Prophets, a building committee of the Church for Ohio was appointed. Also the group of gathered high priests committed themselves to raise funds to begin the building program in Kirtland. Two days later, the Lord gave section 94.
In this section, the Lord commanded the saints to make plans for building two buildings, a church office building (“a house for the presidency”) and a church printing office (“a house . . . for the work of printing of the translation of my scriptures”). Each building was to be 55 by 65 feet in size, and each was to consist of two stories. The footprint of each building was to be identical in size to that of the Kirtland Temple (see D&C 95:15). The three were to be built side by side on three adjoining lots. Each of the three was to be much like our current temples in that there was to be no unclean person allowed inside any of them (verses 6-8, 12). The saints were not actually to begin building until the Lord gave further specific commandments concerning them (see verse 16).
Today the two lots on which these buildings were to have been built are vacant. They were never built. There is no evidence that the Lord ever gave the commandment to begin the buildings. The Reorganized LDS Church has a beautiful garden area there, from which a visitor may view the temple.
The church building committee for Ohio which had been appointed in the May 4th meeting is confirmed in section 94. It consisted of Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter. Each of these brethren is given a lot for his inheritance, and as a committee they are appointed to be in charge of the church’s building program.
1 And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall commence a work of laying out and preparing a beginning and foundation of the city of the stake of Zion, here in the land of Kirtland, beginning at my house.
verse 1 “a commandment . . . that ye shall commence a work of laying out and preparing” As mentioned, this commandment was not for the saints to actually begin building the two buildings or “the city of the stake of Zion.” Rather, this commandment is to “commence a work of . . . preparing a beginning and foundation” for the buildings and for such a city. It seems likely that the tentative nature of the language here reflects the knowledge that the settlement at Kirtland would not be permanent (see also D&C 64:21).
At the time section 94 was received, only one hundred to one hundred fifty active saints were living in the Kirtland area (Backman and Cowan, Joseph Smith and the Doctrine and Covenants, 85; Robison, First Mormon Temple, 28). Thus, the obligation for building the temple in Kirtland and the two auxiliary structures described here fell on a church population smaller than an average ward today.
“the city of the stake of Zion” The Lord reveals that Kirtland is to be “the city of the stake of Zion” (see D&C 82:13 and its commentary), which means it would be a planned community of saints, with the temple serving as the center point (“beginning at my house”). The city would be laid out by lots north, south, east, and west of the temple. The two lots immediately south of the temple would be for the proposed church administration building and printing office. Three other lots were to be reserved for the members of the building committee in return for their faithful service.
2 And behold, it must be done according to the pattern which I have given unto you.
verse 2 “the pattern which I have given unto you” This likely refers to a pattern for the city itself (not for the buildings themselves), which apparently Joseph had already received. The plans for the buildings were received by revelation in early June.
3 And let the first lot on the south be consecrated unto me for the building of a house for the presidency, for the work of the presidency, in obtaining revelations; and for the work of the ministry of the presidency, in all things pertaining to the church and kingdom.
verse 3 “a house for the presidency” The first lot south of the temple was to be a church administration building.
4 Verily I say unto you, that it shall be built fifty-five by sixty-five feet in the width thereof and in the length thereof, in the inner court.
verse 4 “in the inner court” The specified dimensions of the building (55 by 65 feet) did not apply to the dimensions as measured on the outside of the walls. Rather, they applied to the actual dimensions of the room or rooms inside the walls—the actual working space inside the building.
5 And there shall be a lower court and a higher court, according to the pattern which shall be given unto you hereafter.
verse 5 “a lower court and a higher court” The building would consist of two stories.
6 And it shall be dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, according to the order of the priesthood, according to the pattern which shall be given unto you hereafter.
verse 6 “it shall be dedicated unto the Lord” Church buildings, even office buildings and printing offices, are dedicated to the Lord for the performance of his work upon the earth. What is said here (verses 6-9) of the proposed structures at Kirtland applies equally to church properties of every sort today. While most of these are not temples, they still belong to the Lord. They are intended for his service, and so they are his houses and are set apart and dedicated to him. Thus, there is an obligation on the part of the saints today to keep church properties clean and undefiled both physically and spiritually, just as there was such an obligation for the saints in Kirtland.
7 And it shall be wholly dedicated unto the Lord for the work of the presidency.
8 And ye shall not suffer any unclean thing to come in unto it; and my glory shall be there, and my presence shall be there.
9 But if there shall come into it any unclean thing, my glory shall not be there; and my presence shall not come into it.
10 And again, verily I say unto you, the second lot on the south shall be dedicated unto me for the building of a house unto me, for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures, and all things whatsoever I shall command you.
verse 10 “a house . . . for the work of the printing” The proposed printing office was to publish Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, which was essentially finished on July 2, two months after section 94 was received (see the supplemental article, Joseph Smith’s Inspired Revision of the Bible—the JST). In addition, the printing office in Kirtland was also to reprint The Evening and the Morning Star which had originally been published in Independence, Missouri, by W. W. Phelps. This reprint of the Star was eventually published in the temporary printing office west of the temple, but the saints left Ohio before the Joseph Smith Translation could be published there. However, in 1835, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was also published at the temporary printing office in Kirtland, Ohio. The Messenger and Advocate was also printed there. This temporary printing office building was burned to the ground in January 1838 (Cook, Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 197).
11 And it shall be fifty-five by sixty-five feet in the width thereof and the length thereof, in the inner court; and there shall be a lower and a higher court. 12 And this house shall be wholly dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, for the work of the printing, in all things whatsoever I shall command you, to be holy, undefiled, according to the pattern in all things as it shall be given unto you.
verses 13-14 Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter had been appointed as the building committee for the Church in Ohio by a conference of high priests held on May 4, 1833, two days before the probable date of section 94’s being received. While the Lord directed that these three should receive city lots, the responsibility and burden of constructing homes on these lots was to rest upon the individuals themselves. However, the following year, in April 1834, the United Firm at Kirtland was temporarily dissolved and reorganized. As a result, the lands mentioned in section 94 were distributed differently than was directed here. As a result of “covetousness” in the Church (D&C 104:4), the instruction of section 104 superseded all previous revelations concerning the disposition of properties and funds in Kirtland (see D&C 104:4, 11-16).
13 And on the third lot shall my servant Hyrum Smith receive his inheritance.
14 And on the first and second lots on the north shall my servants Reynolds Cahoon and Jared Carter receive their inheritances—
15 That they may do the work which I have appointed unto them, to be a committee to build mine houses, according to the commandment, which I, the Lord God, have given unto you.
16 These two houses are not to be built until I give unto you a commandment concerning them.
verse 16 The administration building and the printing office are not to be built either in Kirtland or in Missouri until the Lord gives further instructions concerning them. Since building the Kirtland Temple exhausted both the saints and their resources in Ohio and mob action drove the saints from Jackson County in Missouri, these two auxiliary “houses” were never constructed in either location, although a smaller structure was built for church offices, the printing office, and the School of the Prophets in Kirtland.
17 And now I give unto you no more at this time. Amen.
- Michael J. Preece