Learning to Love
Doctrine and Covenants

Section 36: Edward Partridge By Michael J. Preece

Section 36: Edward Partridge

See the introductory commentary for section 35. Edward Partridge was not yet quite converted to the restored gospel when he left Ohio with Sidney Rigdon to visit Joseph. He, like Sidney Rigdon, had first been introduced to the gospel by the missionaries to the Lamanites as they preached in the Kirtland area. Apparently, Edward Partridge was so well respected by others in his congregation that he was asked to investigate the claims of the restoration for them as well. He was so honest and humble, they felt, that he would not be deceived in spiritual things.

Lucy Mack recorded:

In December of the same year [1830], Joseph appointed a meeting at our house. While he was preaching, Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge came in and seated themselves in the congregation. When Joseph had finished his discourse, he gave all who had any remarks to make, the privilege of speaking. Upon this, Mr. Partridge arose, and stated that he had been to Manchester, with the view of obtaining further information respecting the doctrine which we preached; but, not finding us, he had made some inquiry of our neighbors concerning our characters, which they stated had been unimpeachable, until Joseph deceived us relative to the Book of Mormon. He also said that he had walked over our farm, and observed the good order and industry which it exhibited; and, having seen what we had sacrificed for the sake of our faith, and having heard that our veracity was not questioned upon any other point than that of our religion, he believed our testimony, and was ready to be baptized, “if,” said he, “Brother Joseph will baptize me.”

“You are now,” replied Joseph, “much fatigued, brother Partridge, and you had better rest today, and be baptized tomorrow.” “Just as Brother Joseph thinks best,” replied Mr. Partridge, “I am ready at any time.” He was accordingly baptized the next day (History of Joseph Smith, 191-92).

Partridge was baptized by Joseph Smith and confirmed by Sidney Rigdon on the day following his arrival in Fayette. Joseph said of Edward Partridge that he is “a pattern of piety, and one of the Lord’s great men” (HC, 1:128).

This revelation, section 36, was received about the same time as section 35. It is directed to Edward Partridge and calls him to the work.

1 Thus saith the Lord God, the Mighty One of Israel: Behold, I say unto you, my servant Edward, that you are blessed, and your sins are forgiven you, and you are called to preach my gospel as with the voice of a trump;

verse 1 “the Mighty One of Israel” The titles for Jehovah-Christ which emphasize his strength are more characteristic of the Old Testament period and the early Book of Mormon. These include such titles as one “strong and mighty,” “the mighty one,” the “mighty God,” the God with a “mighty hand” or “strong hand” (see Genesis 49:24; Joshua 14:11; Isaiah 9:6; 10:21; 28:2-27; Mosiah 13:34).

“your sins are forgiven you” See the commentary for D&C 31:5.

2 And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon, and you shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom;

verse 2 “And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon” Here is a poignant reminder that when one of the Lord’s appointed and authorized servants puts his hands upon the head of one to perform an ordinance, it is as though the Lord himself was placing his hands on that person to perform the ordinance. Edward Partridge was baptized by Joseph Smith and confirmed a member of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by Sidney Rigdon

“the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom” Just prior to his crucifixion, Jesus promised his disciples the gift of peace (John 14:27). This peace is not the peace of the world but the inner peace that comes from the knowledge that one has found the truth, has had his sins remitted, and is on the path that leads to eternal life. This knowledge and assurance comes from the Holy Ghost, who is appropriately called the Comforter. Thus, all saints may, in this world of strife and turmoil, receive peace from Christ by the Holy Ghost and the assurance that the course they are pursuing is correct (see D&C 19:23; 59:23).

3 And you shall declare it with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna, blessed be the name of the most high God.

verse 3 “saying: Hosanna, blessed be the name of the most high God” See the commentary for D&C 19:37.

4 And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concerning all men—

verse 4 This verse alerts the hearer to the following four verses, verses 5-8, which are directed to the church leadership and concern church policy in dealing with all men.

5 That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun., embracing this calling and commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations—

verse 5 “this calling and commandment” The calling is the one just given to Edward Partridge in verse 1 “to preach my gospel.” The commandment is the commandment in verse 3 to declare the kingdom “with a loud voice.” In other words, whoever wants to be a missionary and preach the kingdom of God may, from this time on, be ordained and sent out by church leaders—provided they are worthy.

6 Crying repentance, saying: Save yourselves from this untoward generation, and come forth out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh.

verse 6 “this untoward generation” The language here cites the King James translation of Acts 2:40 where the Greek word skolia—translated “untoward”—means “crooked” or “perverse.” Something that is crooked or perverse will not go straight towards its proper object, and is therefore untoward.

“hating even the garments spotted with the flesh” This is an allusion to Jude 1:23. Both Jews and Jewish Christians in Jesus’s day, largely due to rules in the law of Moses, had a tremendous aversion to bodily fluids and discharges (see Leviticus 13:47­59; 15). Garments spotted by disease or by the reproductive organs and their discharges were considered unclean and had to be either washed, torn, or burned depending upon the source and circumstances of the pollution.

Similarly, in the gospel covenant our aversion to moral disease or pollution ought to be so strong that we respond sharply and negatively to even the slightest indication of it. “Garments spotted with flesh are garments defiled by the practices of carnal desires and disobedience to the commandments of the Lord” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:163).

President Smith added: “We are commanded to keep our garments unspotted from all sin, from every practice that defiles. We are therefore commanded to come out of the world of weakness and forsake the things of this world” (Ibid., 1:150).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie also addressed this topic: “To stay the spread of disease in ancient Israel, clothing spotted by contagious diseases was destroyed by burning (Leviticus 13:47-59; 15:4-17). And so with sin in the Church, the saints are to avoid the remotest contact with it; the very garments, as it were, of the sinners are to be burned with fire, meaning that anything which has had contact with the pollutions of the wicked must be shunned” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:428).

7 And this commandment shall be given unto the elders of my church, that every man which will embrace it with singleness of heart may be ordained and sent forth, even as I have spoken.

verse 7 Even in Joseph Smith’s day, every worthy male member of the Church had at least some obligation to enter missionary service and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (see also verses 4-5).

8 I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple. Even so. Amen.

verse 8 “gird up your loins” The Hebrews wore loose-fitting robes which were cumbersome if they had to work, run, or walk long distances. Hence, to prepare for any of these activities they would gather their loose clothing, bring it between their legs and tuck it in their sash. In this way they were left unencumbered. Hence, in biblical language, to “gird up your loins” is to prepare for a journey, for work, or for battle. An equivalent modern expression might be “Roll up your sleeves.”

“I will suddenly come to my temple” This is the first time in this dispensation the temple is mentioned. There was no temple in the Church at this time. Perhaps the Lord is simply foreshadowing the construction of future temples in Kirtland and Nauvoo. Again, the word “suddenly” means that he will come when he is least expected.

- Michael J. Preece