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Revelations

in Context

Learn the stories behind the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, including new insights from the Joseph Smith Papers Project.

“Man Was Also in the Beginning with God”

D&C 93

Joseph Smith learned that men and women were co-eternal with God and could become like Him. Speaking with revealed assurance, he taught: “The soul, the mind of man, whare did it come from? The learned says God made it in the beginning, but it is not so. I know better. God has told me so.”

“Witnessing the Faithfulness”

Official Declaration 2

The experiences of three couples—Charlotte Andoh-Kesson and William Acquah in Ghana, Helvécio and Rudá Tourinho Assis Martins in Brazil, and Joseph and Toe Leituala Freeman in the United States—shed light on what it was like to be a black Latter-day Saint in the years leading up to the 1978 revelation that made priesthood and temple blessings available to members of the Church regardless of race.

Peace and War

D&C 87

Andrew Jackson’s peaceful resolution of the Nullification Crisis pleased everyone but must have puzzled Joseph Smith. He and others probably expected the fulfillment of his Christmas Day prophecy on war to unfold before them in 1833.

“Our Hearts Rejoiced to Hear Him Speak”

D&C 129, 130, 131

In Nauvoo, Joseph Smith felt a growing urgency to communicate spiritual knowledge to the Saints. His secretary William Clayton recorded the Prophet’s sayings in his own diary or in the journal he kept for Joseph. These these entries were later used as the basis for several sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Waiting for the Word of the Lord

D&C 97, 98, 101

Revelation to Joseph Smith had declared Jackson County to be “the place for the City of Zion.” Revelation had called William W. Phelps to move his family there, set up a print shop, and “be established as a Printer unto the Church.” The Saints had sacrificed a great deal to build Zion. Could they simply leave it?

Remembering the Martyrdom

D&C 135

News of the violent deaths of the two brothers shocked the Saints in Nauvoo. In one day, they had lost their prophet and their patriarch. For many, Joseph and Hyrum were also friends and role models, men who had helped and blessed them in times of need. In the days, weeks, and months following the martyrdom, the Saints paid tribute in writing.

“The Tithing of My People”

D&C 119–20

After a challenging year in Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith arrived in Far West, Missouri, in early 1838. Shortly after his arrival, he received a revelation calling for Far West to be built up as a holy city with a temple at its center. In the same revelation, the Lord forbade the First Presidency from borrowing money to accomplish these aims. How would the Saints raise the necessary means to build yet another temple city?

Newel K. Whitney and the United Firm

D&C 70, 78, 82, 92, 96, 104

From the beginning of the Church’s Restoration, the Lord gave Joseph Smith tasks that required temporal means to accomplish.  Building Zion communities required land and resources. Proclaiming the revealed gospel to the world required access to a printing press. The United Firm was established to coordinate and fund these ambitious efforts.

“Take Special Care of Your Family”

D&C 118, 126

Mary Ann Angell met Brigham Young in Kirtland in 1833. Baptized in 1832, Mary Ann was an early convert to the Book of Mormon. She testified that “the Spirit bore witness to her . . . of the truth of its origin, so strongly that she could never afterwards doubt it.”

“Of Governments and Laws”

D&C 134

Church leaders in the 1830s had to navigate a complicated political landscape. Canonized in 1835, this declaration on government established principles that guide the Church's relationship with secular “powers that be.”

Susa Young Gates and the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

D&C 138

Susa Young Gates was one of the most prominent Latter-day Saint women of her time. A woman of indomitable energy and determination, her driving interest was genealogy and temple work, an area in which she had been a leading Latter-day Saint advocate for over a decade.

“A House for Our God”

D&C 88, 94, 95, 96, 97, 109, 110, 137

On June 1, 1833, Joseph Smith received a revelation that contained a stern rebuke. “Ye have sinned against me a very grievous sin,” the Lord declared, “in that ye have not considered the great commandment in all things that I have given unto you concerning the building of mine house.”

Jesse Gause: Counselor to the Prophet

D&C 81

Doctrine and Covenants 81 can be read today not only as an intimate revelation to an early member of the Church, but also as counsel to anyone who is willing to support the prophet.

The Messenger and the Manifesto

Official Declaration 1

President Cannon raised his hand in support of the Manifesto along with most others in the crowd. But the weight of unifying a divided audience on what he called this “exceedingly delicate subject” seemed almost too much to bear. 

A School and an Endowment

D&C 88, 90, 95, 109, 110

Just seven years after its organization, the Church sent missionaries overseas for the first time. The School of the Prophets and the Kirtland Temple played central roles in preparing elders to take the gospel to the world. 

More Treasures Than One

D&C 111

The revelation that became Doctrine and Covenants 111 was not fulfilled in the way Church leaders hoped for in 1836. Five years later, they looked for another opportunity to be instruments in helping the Lord’s promises be fulfilled.

Ezra Booth and Isaac Morley

D&C 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 71, 73

Many of the missionaries who traveled to Missouri in 1831 were disappointed at first at what they found. But they would each deal with that disappointment in different ways.

The Acceptable Offering of Zion’s Camp

D&C 103, 105

After the saints were driven out of Jackson County, Missouri by mobs, the Lord called for volunteers from the eastern states to go west to help protect their fellow members. Nathan Baldwin was among those who offered his time and energy for the cause of Zion, and then went on to record his perspective on the experience. 

“This Shall Be Our Covenant”

D&C 136

The “Word and Will of the Lord” to Brigham Young in 1847 not only helped organize the pioneers’ westward journey, but it also helped transform it from an unfortunate necessity into a profound shared spiritual experience.

Mercy Thompson and the Revelation on Marriage

D&C 132

“Some may think I could envy Queen Victoria in some of her glory,” wrote Mercy Fielding Thompson. “Not while my name stands first on the list in this Dispensation of women sealed to a Dead Husband through divine Revelation.”

The Center Place

D&C 52, 57, 58

Early revelations on Zion indicated it would include “the rich and the learned” but also “the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf." Ultimately, all of God’s children were to have a seat at the same table. All were to share in God’s sacred space.

Warren Cowdery

D&C 106

Warren Cowdery was part of a dynamic, two-way relationship between the center places and outlying branches of the early Church. As a local Church leader, he ministered to new converts while also helping host missionaries and leaders from Kirtland.

“Wrought Upon” to Seek a Revelation

D&C 108

Lyman Sherman had followed the Spirit’s promptings to join the Church and to walk a thousand miles with Zion’s Camp. But he still felt a deep, personal yearning to know of his standing before the Lord.

Restoring the Ancient Order

D&C 102, 107

Priesthood authority was restored in 1829, but it took time to organize the Church in the Lord’s way. Revelation helped establish the council system and priesthood quorums as fundamental features of the Church. 

Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman

D&C 115, 116, 117

These revelations not only identified new gathering places for the Saints in northern Missouri, but they also imbued those places with a sacred past and glorious future.

Organizing the Church in Nauvoo

D&C 124, 125

On January 19, 1841, Joseph Smith received a revelation that charted a course for the Church in Nauvoo.

Letters on Baptism for the Dead

D&C 127, 128

The Lord gradually revealed the doctrines associated with baptisms for the dead to Joseph Smith and his successors over the course of several years.

The Word of Wisdom

D&C 89

In 1833, at the moment when everyday people started to concern themselves with their own cleanliness and bodily health, the Word of Wisdom was revealed and helped light the way.

Within the Walls of Liberty Jail

D&C 121, 122, 123

Portions Joseph Smith’s letter to the Saints from Liberty Jail are included three sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.

A Mission to Canada

D&C 100

Joseph Smith’s first formal proselytizing mission happened when a Church member asked him to come to Canada.

The Law

D&C 42

Before the Church moved to Ohio, Joseph Smith was promised: “There I will give unto you my law.” Shortly after Joseph’s arrival in Kirtland, he received the promised revelation.

“A Bishop unto the Church”

D&C 41, 42, 51, 54, 57

In 1831, Edward Partridge was called by revelation to be the first bishop of the restored Church, a call that shaped the remainder of his life.

Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation

D&C 45, 76, 77, 86, 91

Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible served as a catalyst for several revelations now canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants.

“All Things Must Be Done in Order”

D&C 28, 43

A series of revelations early in Church history established Joseph Smith as the Lord’s mouthpiece for the Church.

“The Vision”

D&C 76

A glimpse into the eternities shown to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in 1832 so impacted the Church that it became known simply as “the Vision.”

Ezra Thayer: From Skeptic to Believer

D&C 33

Ezra Thayer first rejected the Book of Mormon, but his heart changed when he heard Hyrum Smith preach. Thayer’s conversion led to a revelation calling him to the ministry.

James Covel and the “Cares of the World”

D&C 39, 40

The almost-conversion of Methodist preacher James Covel provided a lesson for the early Church.

Index by Section Number

Look up articles according to sections of the Doctrine and Covenants they address.

Orson Pratt’s Call to Serve

D&C 34

Orson Pratt embraced the gospel wholeheartedly and went immediately to Joseph Smith to ask what he might do to assist in the work of the unfolding Restoration.

The Experience of the Three Witnesses

D&C 17

The Lord confirmed by revelation that the promised Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates would be Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris.

The Knight and Whitmer Families

D&C 12, 14, 15, 16

The Knight and Whitmer families were early key supporters of the Book of Mormon translation. Several revelations were given to clarify their roles in the Restoration.

The Journey of the Colesville Branch

D&C 26, 51, 54, 56, 59

From New York to Missouri, a group of Saints from Colesville remained loyal to Joseph Smith and true to the Church of Jesus Christ.

Religious Enthusiasm among Early Ohio Converts

D&C 46, 50

When Joseph Smith arrived in Ohio in January 1831, it was apparent that “some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among” the recent converts there.

William McLellin’s Five Questions

D&C 1, 65, 66, 67, 68, 133

William McLellin first encountered Joseph Smith about the time the decision was made to publish the Book of Commandments. His experience convinced him that Joseph was a true prophet.

“Build Up My Church”

D&C 18, 20, 21, 22

Well before the Book of Mormon was published, Joseph Smith knew he was being called to establish a new church.

A Mission to the Lamanites

D&C 28, 30, 32

Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Ziba Peterson were called to preach to the Lamanites. Their mission would have far-ranging effects for the future of the Church.

“Thou Art an Elect Lady”

D&C 24, 25, 26, 27

Emma Smith’s life as the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith included blessings and revelations alongside her many trials.

Joseph Smith’s Support at Home

D&C 4, 11, 23

Joseph Smith’s family members were among his earliest and most ardent supporters. These revelations helped them understand their roles in the establishment of the Lord’s Church.

Leman Copley and the Shakers

D&C 49

Leman Copley was a Shaker convert to the Church. His interest in preaching the restored gospel to his former coreligionists led to an encounter that would put his commitment to his newfound faith to the test.

Oliver Cowdery’s Gift

D&C 6, 7, 8, 9, 13

The Lord encouraged Oliver Cowdery to use his spiritual gifts to participate with Joseph Smith in translating the Book of Mormon. Oliver’s experience as scribe cemented his faith in the Restoration.

“Go to the Ohio”

D&C 35, 36, 37, 38

When an early mission west stopped in Ohio, the result was influential converts and a new direction for the young Church.

The Faith and Fall of Thomas Marsh

D&C 31, 112

Thomas B. Marsh was the first President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles before dissensions cost him two decades of Church membership.

The Contributions of Martin Harris

D&C 3, 5, 10, 17, 19

The story of Martin Harris’s conversion and contributions to the publication of the Book of Mormon provides the backdrop for several of Joseph Smith’s early revelations.

The Book of John Whitmer

D&C 47, 69

John Whitmer was a reluctant servant when he received the calling of historian early in Church history, but he was directed in his office by revelation.

Series Introduction

The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants are the fruit of an ongoing dialogue between the Lord and His people. But in many cases, the Doctrine and Covenants contains only one half of the dialogue—the Lord’s revealed responses. This series tells the stories behind each revelation.