Learning to Love
Doctrine and Covenants

Section 10: Fate of the 116 Pages By Michael J. Preece

Section 10: Fate of the 116 Pages

The Lord explains that the 116 pages had fallen into the hands of evil men who had altered the manuscript. If Joseph were to re-translate the first part of the Plates of Mormon, the evil men could reveal to the world supposed discrepancies between the two versions. In this way, they hoped to discredit the work by causing people to believe that Joseph was a pretender and not a real prophet. Thus, Joseph is instructed to translate instead the unabridged small plates of Nephi.

The date given for this revelation is confusing. Even though our present Doctrine and Covenants gives the date as “summer of 1828,” some materials were probably given in May of 1829 (see especially verse 41). It seems likely that part was given in the summer of 1828 and part in May 1829. Joseph described the circumstances of his receiving that part of section 10 received in the summer of 1828: “After I had obtained the above revelation [section 3], both the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from me again; but in a few days they were returned to me, when I inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said thus unto me: [section 10]” (HC, 1:23). It has also been suggested that the “summer of 1828” was late in September, after the plates had been returned to him on September 22, 1828. It would seem that for the large part of section 10, it is out of its proper chronological order. It probably should be placed following section 3, and the reader is thus encouraged, for the sake of continuity, to read the sections in that order: 3, 10, then 4.

Don’t try to understand this section, and particularly verse 41, without studying the supplemental article entitled Those Confusing Book of Mormon Plates. The “plates of Nephi” referred to in section 10 are the same as the “small plates of Nephi” referred to in the supplemental article.

Scripture Mastery

D&C 10:5 Pray always, that you may come off conqueror.

1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.

verse 1 “Urim and Thummim” For a discussion of the two instruments used by Joseph in translating the Book of Mormon, see “Two Instruments Used in the Translation” in The Process of Translating the Book of Mormon in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, Appendix A. See Also the commentary for Mosiah 8:13 in Learning to Love the Book of Mormon.

“you delivered up those writings . . . into the hands of a wicked man" This “wicked man” is Martin Harris who had “set a naught the counsels of God, and . . . broken the most sacred promises which were made before God, and . . . depended upon his own judgment and boasted in his own wisdom” (D&C 3:13).

2 And you also lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened.

3 Nevertheless, it is now restored unto you again; therefore see that you are faithful and continue on unto the finishing of the remainder of the work of translation as you have begun.

4 Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end.

verse 4 The Lord suggests that speed and overzealousness is less important than diligence, wisdom, and patience (see also Mosiah 4:27). In Joseph Smith’s History of the Church (1:28), he informs us that upon receiving the advice in section 10, even though the work of translating was important, and though the plates had been returned to him, he put off translating for a time and began to work his farm in order to provide for his family. Even prophets can go only as fast as they have the resources to go.

5 Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.

verse 5 “Pray always" President Joseph F. Smith taught that prayer is not so much words as it is feelings: “It is not the words we use particularly that constitute prayer. Prayer does not consist of words, more in the feeling that rises from the heart and from the inward desire of our spirits to supplicate the Lord in humility and in faith, that we may receive his blessings” (Gospel Doctrine, 219). The apostle Paul wrote: “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). Perhaps a feeling of gratitude and love for the Lord and a constant yearning to please him and to be with him for eternity constitutes a ceaseless prayer. Amulek counseled: “Let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you” (Alma 34:27). We should maintain a continuously prayerful attitude.

“that you may come off conqueror" The secret to overcoming the obstacles and threats of darkness and overcoming the always dangerous natural self is to be constantly touching base through prayer with the Father and the Son. Some of this constant prayer can be vocal, but it is more often an attitude of communion with the divine—a constant awareness and acknowledgment of God’s hand in our life. It is granted to us incrementally as a gift of the Spirit in return for our consistent obedience to the Lord’s commands. And what of the “conqueror”? He or she has achieved eternal life.

6 Behold, they have sought to destroy you; yea, even the man in whom you have trusted has sought to destroy you.

verse 6 Those who had taken the manuscript were hoping to “destroy” Joseph by demonstrating that he was not a true prophet, to nullify his influence among men. Thus, to “destroy” here means to negate or bring to naught. This same meaning applies in verses 7, 12, 19, 23, 25, 43, 52, and 54.

“even the man in whom you have trusted has sought to destroy you" Apparently Martin’s guilt and complicity in the affair of the lost 116 pages extended beyond just foolishly losing the manuscript, but it is impossible to know at this time exactly how far beyond. Martin may not have known or agreed with the whole conspiracy, but apparently he was not simply negligent. He was culpable in some degree beyond passive foolishness. He had broken the covenant he had made with God (see D&C 3:12-13). Still, Martin’s subsequent repentance and faithful service to the end of his life should also be mentioned here.

7 And for this cause I said that he is a wicked man, for he has sought to take away the things wherewith you have been entrusted; and he has also sought to destroy your gift.

8 And because you have delivered the writings into his hands, behold, wicked men have taken them from you.

verse 8 The Lord held Joseph accountable for the fate of the manuscript: “Wicked men have taken them from you” (italics mine). Though the plot was hatched and carried out by others, Joseph may not blame the loss of the 116 pages on them. He put the manuscript into their hands, and he did it against the Lord’s advice.

9 Therefore, you have delivered them up, yea, that which was sacred, unto wickedness.

verse 9 Do we ever deliver up sacred things unto wickedness? For example, do we ever fail to nourish our minds continually with uplifting and wholesome thoughts? Do we ever carelessly fail to treat our bodies as the home of our spirits and avoid potentially harmful activities?

10 And, behold, Satan hath put it into their hearts to alter the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have translated, which have gone out of your hands.

11 And behold, I say unto you, that because they have altered the words, they read contrary from that which you translated and caused to be written;

verses 10-11 The Lord here warns Joseph of a conspiracy on the part of those who had stolen the 116 pages of the book of Lehi. It was their intent to discredit Joseph as a prophet and the Book of Mormon as scriptures by forging parts of the manuscript so that they read differently from the original. Their plan was to wait until Joseph had retranslated the 116 pages. Then they would bring forth the altered copy with the claim that Joseph could not translate the plates the same way twice and must therefore be a fraud. But the warning and instructions given him in section 10 enabled Joseph to avoid this trap.

Note that Satan was the source of the idea to alter the words of the manuscript. He can put ideas into the hearts of the wicked, whether they realize the ultimate source of those ideas or not. Satan is also the master counterfeiter. Artificial values, false arguments, lying testimony, and bogus documents are his stock in trade.

12 And, on this wise, the devil has sought to lay a cunning plan, that he may destroy this work;

13 For he hath put into their hearts to do this, that by lying they may say they have caught you in the words which you have pretended to translate.

14 Verily, I say unto you, that I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing.

15 For behold, he has put it into their hearts to get thee to tempt the Lord thy God, in asking to translate it over again.

verse 15 “he has put it into their hearts to get thee to tempt the Lord thy God" To “tempt” means to “put to the test.” To tempt the Lord is to try to make him jump through our hoops so that we may pass judgment upon him. It is to make God perform for us. After all, it is not Joseph who is really being put to the test here, but the Lord—to see if he can give Joseph the same translation twice. This is a presumptuous sin. It is one form of “seeking a sign.” On the other hand, the Lord invites us to prove him by keeping his commandments and then receiving the promised blessings, for example by reading and praying about the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:4) or by paying tithing (Malachi 3:10).

16 And then, behold, they say and think in their hearts—We will see if God has given him power to translate; if so, he will also give him power again;

17 And if God giveth him power again, or if he translates again, or, in other words, if he bringeth forth the same words, behold, we have the same with us, and we have altered them;

18 Therefore they will not agree, and we will say that he has lied in his words, and that he has no gift, and that he has no power;

19 Therefore we will destroy him, and also the work; and we will do this that we may not be ashamed in the end, and that we may get glory of the world.

verses 17-19 Those who stole the manuscript were not interested in providing a test whereby they could learn if Joseph was really a prophet. It really didn’t matter to them whether he was a true prophet or not. If Joseph had re-translated the first part of the Plates of Mormon, these detractors would have claimed discrepancies regardless of what Joseph had written.

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that Satan has great hold upon their hearts; he stirreth them up to iniquity against that which is good;

21 And their hearts are corrupt, and full of wickedness and abominations; and they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil; therefore they will not ask of me.

verse 21 “therefore they will not ask of me" The proper way to find out if the Book of Mormon or the work of the prophet Joseph Smith are true is to ask God. The wicked, like Laman and Lemuel (see 1 Nephi 15:8-11), will not ask. They prefer subjecting God to their own little tests, thus tempting God. But God will not comply with such demands. He, not we, makes the rules and sets the terms. Knowledge of the truth of the restored gospel comes only one way: by asking God in faith if it is true.

22 Satan stirreth them up, that he may lead their souls to destruction.

verse 22 “Destruction” here means spiritual death.

23 And thus he has laid a cunning plan, thinking to destroy the work of God; but I will require this at their hands, and it shall turn to their shame and condemnation in the day of judgment.

verse 23 “I will require this at their hands" Even though Satan laid a “cunning plan,” those mortals who responded to his promptings and sought to destroy the latter-day work will be held accountable. They will have to pay for stealing the manuscript and preparing their trap for Joseph.

24 Yea, he stirreth up their hearts to anger against this work.

verse 24 “he stirreth up their hearts to anger" The carnal self loves to be angry. It is a self-indulgence that Satan plays upon to keep us distracted from finding the truth.

25 Yea, he saith unto them: Deceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy; behold, this is no harm. And thus he flattereth them, and telleth them that it is no sin to lie that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him.

verse 25 “And thus he flattereth them" It is flattery because Satan tells them that what is ugly and base about them is actually admirable and a virtue.

26 And thus he flattereth them, and leadeth them along until he draggeth their souls down to hell; and thus he causeth them to catch themselves in their own snare.

verse 26 “he causeth them to catch themselves in their own snare" Anytime we respond to our natural or carnal self at the encouragement of Satan, we are more likely to again give in to Satan’s proddings on the next occasion of temptation. We thus gradually become captive to the devil—we gradually become ensnared in the “chains of hell” (Alma 12:9-11).

27 And thus he goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of men.

verse 27 To “destroy the souls of men" means to bring about their spiritual death.

28 Verily, verily, I say unto you, wo be unto him that lieth to deceive because he supposeth that another lieth to deceive, for such are not exempt from the justice of God.

verse 28 “for such are not exempt from the justice of God" The end does not justify the means. To use the tactics of wickedness to fight against wickedness is still wickedness, and it will be punished by God. This verse seems to indicate that we belong to the one whose methods we adopt and use.

29 Now, behold, they have altered these words, because Satan saith unto them: He hath deceived you—and thus he flattereth them away to do iniquity, to get thee to tempt the Lord thy God.

30 Behold, I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands;

31 For, behold, they shall not accomplish their evil designs in lying against those words. For, behold, if you should bring forth the same words they will say that you have lied and that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted yourself.

32 And, behold, they will publish this, and Satan will harden the hearts of the people to stir them up to anger against you, that they will not believe my words.

verse 32 “Satan will harden the hearts of the people" To have a hardened heart is to be unresponsive to the promptings of the Spirit of God. Those who choose to believe bad publicity will develop anger and a condemning spirit which is antithetical to the Lord’s Spirit.

33 Thus Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation.

verse 33 In this final dispensation the gospel has been restored in its fulness. The priesthood has been returned to the earth. The Book of Mormon has come forth. Israel is being gathered for the final time. Zion is being established. And the earth is being prepared for the Lord’s second coming and the millennial reign of the Savior.

How much is at stake for Satan? Does he feel strongly about frustrating the purposes of God in this latter-day? Never before have the stakes been so high! Indeed, the mission of the Prophet Joseph represents the eventual triumph of God’s kingdom over that of Satan. We can expect Satan to spare nothing in his attempts to thwart the work!

34 But behold, here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work of translation.

verse 34 Satan’s plan for discrediting Joseph and thwarting the work relative to the Book of Mormon was based on the assumption that Joseph would retranslate the lost 116 pages a second time. God, in his infinite knowledge, destroyed Satan’s plans by providing an alternate set of plates (the unabridged small plates of Nephi) and instructing Joseph to use them in place of the lost 116 pages.

“show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work of translation" Joseph is commanded not to show the translated Book of Mormon to anyone until it is completed. This applies to those who are perceived by Joseph to be “righteous” (see verses 36-37). This is because Joseph would not always be able to tell friend from foe, or the wicked from the righteous, as he learned from his “friend” Martin Harris. God does not always warn church leaders or members of imposters and false friends.

35 Marvel not that I said unto you: Here is wisdom, show it not unto the world for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved.

36 Behold, I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous;

37 But as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter.

38 And now, verily I say unto you, that an account of those things that you have written, which have gone out of your hands, is engraven upon the plates of Nephi;

verse 38 The “plates of Nephi" in this and subsequent verses refers to the small plates of Nephi. The reader is again referred to the supplemental article, Those Confusing Book of Mormon Plates.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: “In the episode involving the lost manuscript from the Book of Mormon, we see the interplay of the foreknowledge of God and the agency of man (with our freedom to fail) and the perfect foresight of a loving Lord who 1,500 years before the emergency was ready with an alternative” (“Doctrine and Covenants, The Voice of the Lord,” Ensign, December, 1978, 6). It is interesting to note that when Nephi wrote his account on the small plates, he indicated he did not know why the Lord had commanded him to prepare it except that it was “for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not” (1 Nephi 9:5-6).

39 Yea, and you remember it was said in those writings that a more particular account was given of these things upon the plates of Nephi.

verse 39 Obviously Joseph and Oliver had learned of a second account, a “more particular account,” on the small plates of Nephi as they translated the book of Lehi from the plates of Mormon. The expression “more particular account” seems compatible with the fact that the account on the small plates of Nephi is less secular than the book of Lehi on the plates of Mormon and more focused on the spiritual aspect of the Nephite experience.

40 And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi is more particular concerning the things which, in my wisdom, I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account—

verse 40 The Lord feels that the more spiritual account of the Nephite saga contained on the small plates of Nephi is more appropriate for the people of this dispensation who will become the audience for the Book of Mormon (see also verse 45). This verse reads a bit more smoothly if we replace the last three words in this verse with “at this time.”

41 Therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained;

verse 41 The Lord therefore gives the instruction that Joseph should replace the lost book of Lehi (the 116 pages of lost manuscript) with the material contained on the small plates of Nephi. After Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had completed the translation of the plates of Mormon (through Moroni 10), they then sought the Lord’s counsel as to what they should do to replace the lost 116 pages. This was in May of 1829. The Lord then gave them the instructions contained in this verse and in the few that follow. Thus, while the foregoing parts of section 10 were likely revealed to Joseph in the late summer of 1828, these few verses are “anachronistic”—that is, out of place temporally speaking. It is likely these verses were not received until almost a year following Joseph’s receiving the rest of the section.

42 And behold, you shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words.

verse 42 The material contained on the small plates of Nephi is referred to here by the Lord as the “record of Nephi.” In other words the book of Lehi is replaced by the more doctrinal record of Nephi—those materials contained on the small plates of Nephi.

Satan can never stop the work of the Lord. God will always anticipate his every move and stratagem (see also verse 43).

43 I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.

44 Behold, they have only got a part, or an abridgment of the account of Nephi.

verse 44 This verse indicates that the small plates of Nephi provide a more comprehensive account of the ministry of the prophet Nephi than did the book of Lehi— the first part of the abridged plates of Mormon.

45 Behold, there are many things engraven upon the plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel; therefore, it is wisdom in me that you should translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work.

46 And, behold, all the remainder of this work does contain all those parts of my gospel which my holy prophets, yea, and also my disciples, desired in their prayers should come forth unto this people.

verse 46 “all the remainder of this work" This phrase refers to rest of the plates of Mormon—Mosiah through Moroni. It was this part of the plates of Mormon that Joseph and Oliver will translate first when they begin translating on April 7, 1829.

“my holy prophets, yea, and also my disciples, desired in their prayers should come forth unto this people" The ancient Nephite disciples (apostles) and prophets prayed that the gospel and the Book of Mormon would eventually come to “this people”—the modern day remnants of the Book of Mormon people and to other peoples that might inhabit the American continent in the future (see verses 48-49).

47 And I said unto them, that it should be granted unto them according to their faith in their prayers;

verse 47 “I said unto them” The Lord said to his Book of Mormon prophets that the Book of Mormon will come forth in the latter days according to those Book of Mormon prophets’ faith.

48 Yea, and this was their faith—that my gospel, which I gave unto them that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren the Lamanites, and also all that had become Lamanites because of their dissensions.

49 Now, this is not all—their faith in their prayers was that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land;

50 And thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel in this land might have eternal life;

verses 48-50 The Nephite prophets have prayed for and left a blessing upon not just their own descendants, but also on others among the future generations of the inhabitants of the Americas. God has honored those prayers and that blessing by giving us, in the great Gentile nation of the latter days, political freedom, the fulness of the gospel, and the true Church of Jesus Christ.

51 Yea, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people they may be.

verse 51 “that it might be free" The ancient Book of Mormon prophets prayed that “it”—eternal life—might be freely available to those who receive the Book of Mormon and accept its teachings. The word “free” in this verse does not mean without cost. Rather it means freely available to those willing to extend the effort to learn the truth.

52 And now, behold, according to their faith in their prayers will I bring this part of my gospel to the knowledge of my people. Behold, I do not bring it to destroy that which they have received, but to build it up.

verse 52 “this part of my gospel" This phrase may well refer to the writings in the Book of Mormon.

“I do not bring it to destroy that which they have received, but to build it up" The fulness of the restored gospel is not hostile to the truths found in other churches or in other religions of the latter days. It is not intended to take away people’s light, but rather to add to it.

53 And for this cause have I said: If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them.

verse 53 “If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them" “This generation” refers to the generation to whom the Book of Mormon was initially made available—the early members who followed the prophet Joseph even before the Church was organized. Keep in mind that at the time of this revelation the Church had not yet been organized.

54 Now I do not say this to destroy my church, but I say this to build up my church;

verse 54 Here the Lord seems to say that he does not want to downplay the idea of the establishment of his Church, but rather enhance the possibility its being organized.

55 Therefore, whosoever belongeth to my church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.

verse 55 Here, the Lord speaks of the future members of his Church following its organization. Will all members of the Church be exalted in the kingdom of heaven? Obviously not. How might we explain this verse then? The answer is provided later on in this section. In verse 67 we will learn that the true members of his Church are “whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.” Then in verse 69 we learn further that all who endure to the end “will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”

56 But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center.

verse 56 “they who do not fear me" To fear the Lord is not to be frightened by him but rather to reverence him—to stand in awe of him and respect him.

“build up churches unto themselves to get gain" This phrase refers to those involved in priestcraft. Priestcraft is involvement in religion for the purpose of winning material gain, popularity, or power over people.

Those who do not fear him in the sense of reverencing him will experience his wrath and may come to fear him in sense of being terrified of him.

57 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not.

58 I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

verses 57-58 During his mortal ministry in the Old World, Jesus preached to his own people, the Jews, and they rejected him.

The phrase “the darkness" refers to those on the earth who are not inclined to respond to the Lord’s message of salvation. The Lord intends to make his gospel available to them (“the light which shineth in darkness”), but they will not accept it—they “comprehendeth it not.”

59 I am he who said—Other sheep have I which are not of this fold—unto my disciples, and many there were that understood me not.

verse 59 See John 10:14-16 and 3 Nephi 15:21.

60 And I will show unto this people that I had other sheep, and that they were a branch of the house of Jacob;

verse 60 “This people” are those to whom the gospel is about to be restored and the Book of Mormon made available.

61 And I will bring to light their marvelous works, which they did in my name;

verse 61 The pronoun “they” refers to the Book of Mormon people.

To reiterate: By means of the restoration of the gospel, “this people”—the inhabitants of America during this final dispensation—are about to learn, in the pages of the Book of Mormon, that they are a remnant of the house of Israel. Also they will learn their fathers, the prophets and righteous peoples of the Book of Mormon, had the fulness of the gospel and did many marvelous works in the name of Jesus Christ.

62 Yea, and I will also bring to light my gospel which was ministered unto them, and, behold, they shall not deny that which you have received, but they shall build it up, and shall bring to light the true points of my doctrine, yea, and the only doctrine which is in me.

verses 62 The Lord now paints an optimistic picture of the early saints of this dispensation. The Lord will bring to light his gospel—the same gospel that was had among “them”—the Book of Mormon people. “They”—the early saints of this dispensation will not deny this gospel, but, even more, they will build it up and bring to light many fine points of the Lord’s doctrines.

63 And this I do that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention; yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them.

verse 63 The Lord expresses his wish that the restoration of the gospel will decrease the “contention” in the world. He points out that contention—the anger of those who involve themselves in contending against a supposed enemy—are under the influence of Satan, who uses religion to increase hatred and ill-will in the world. This is not true, however, of those who respond to the true gospel and enter the fellowship of the Spirit of God (John 13:34-35).

The word “wrest" means distort. To wrest the scriptures, in the context of this verse, is to use them as a weapon.

64 Therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery;

verse 64 “this great mystery" Anything that can be understood only by revelation is a mystery. The Lord is about to unfold the great mystery of the gathering of Israel in this latter day.

65 For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts;

verse 65 The Lord announces for the first time, his intention to gather Israel, for the last time, in this latter day.

66 Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.

verse 66 The phrase “waters of life” is symbolic of all the blessings of God’s redeeming love, including ultimately exaltation in the kingdom of heaven.

67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

verse 67 It is not enough to have one’s name on the membership records of the Church. Repentance and obedience to the Lord’s commandments are the watchwords.

68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

verse 68 “Whosoever declareth more or less than this" To say either more or less than the Lord has said or commanded us to say—either to put words in the Lord’s mouth or take them out—is to distort his message. We are not justified in preaching as doctrine that which we have added to the Lord’s word, neither are we justified in ignoring or failing to preach and practice what the Lord has clearly revealed.

69 And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

verse 69 To endure in the gospel has a richer meaning than merely to avoid backsliding. It means to continue to progress in one’s obedience and overcoming the natural man.

70 And now, remember the words of him who is the life and light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Amen.

verse 70 For a discussion of how Jesus Christ is quite literally the “life and light of the world," The Concept of Light in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 15.

Brief Historical Setting

By mid-May Joseph and Oliver had reached, in their translating, the book of 3 Nephi, and they came upon the concept of baptism. Their interest was piqued. They recognized that the proper authority for performing this ordinance was not upon the earth. This matter was sufficiently important that they paused in their translating and went down to the Susquehannah River on May 15, so they might be alone. There they prayed for guidance. They were visited by the resurrected John the Baptist who conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood [D&C 13 -Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood]. The Baptist also promised them that in due time they would receive the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood. Accordingly, some time later on an uncertain date, Peter, James, and John, the Lord’s ancient apostles, came to Joseph and Oliver on the banks of the Susquehannah River and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood.

During the latter part of May, Joseph and Oliver were visited by Hyrum Smith, Joseph’s brother, and by Joseph’s former employer, Joseph Knight, Sr. The latter made more than one trip from Colesville to Harmony to bring food and other provisions which enabled Joseph and Oliver to spend their full time translating rather than having to worry about temporal things. While in Harmony, both Hyrum Smith and Joseph Knight, Sr., asked for and were given revelations from the Lord [D&C 11 -Hyrum Smith’s Call to Labor] [D&C 12 -Joseph Knight’s Call to Labor].

- Michael J. Preece