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in Context

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

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 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 arrived to light the way.

Within the Walls of Liberty Jail

D&C 121, 122, 123

Joseph Smith's letter to the saints from Liberty Jail contains three current 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 at first rejected the Book of Mormon, but his heart changed when he heard Hyrum Smith preach. His 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 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 key early supporters of the Book of Mormon translation. These 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 he founded.

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.

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 consequences 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 restoration prophet 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 role 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. His experience as scribe cemented Cowdery's faith in the restoration.

‘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.

‘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' 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 call of historian early in Church history, but he was directed in his office by revelation.