This revelation was received by the Prophet Joseph Smith at Fayette, New York, in September 1830. Originally it was published as three revelations in the Book of Commandments, but the Prophet combined them into one section in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.
The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded the following about the coming forth of this section:
“At length our conference assembled. The subject of the stone previously mentioned [see Historical Background for D&C 28 and 29] was discussed, and after considerable investigation, Brother Page, as well as the whole Church who were present, renounced the said stone, and all things connected therewith, much to our mutual satisfaction and happiness. We now partook of the Sacrament, confirmed and ordained many, and attended to a great variety of Church business on the first and the two following days of the conference, during which time we had much of the power of God manifested amongst us; the Holy Ghost came upon us, and filled us with joy unspeakable; and peace, and faith, and hope, and charity abounded in our midst.
“Before we separated we received the following: [D&C 30–31].” (History of the Church, 1:115.)
“David Whitmer is mildly rebuked for listening to Hiram Page, and perhaps for using his influence over other members of the family in favor of the supposed seer-stone. He was told that he had feared man, and set his mind on earthly things, instead of taking care of the ministry and listening to the Spirit and the inspired Prophet, with the result that he had been left to inquire for himself; the Prophet could not inquire for him. He was also commanded to remain at home, until further instruction should be given, and confine his labors, for the time being, to the Church and the world in the neighborhood. Deviation from the narrow path always brings with it some consequences which remain after the sin has been pardoned.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 162.)
Most Latter-day Saints could substitute their own names in these verses in place of David Whitmer’s and find the counsel profitable. There are few who have not at one time or another set their hearts on the things of this earth, giving them a higher priority than the things of God. Like David Whitmer, at such times they too are left to themselves to wonder what is wrong.
Peter Whitmer was not rebuked, perhaps because he was innocent in the matter of the seer stone.
For more information on the Lamanite mission, see Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 28:8–16; 32.
“John Whitmer is called at this time to labor especially among the Saints. He was very active in the Church as an aid to the Prophet. He assisted in the compilation of the Revelations, and accompanied Oliver Cowdery to Jackson County to superintend the printing of them. He was one of the seven High Priests appointed to preside in the Church in Jackson County. He was Church historian and editor of important Church publications. But he did not remain faithful.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 163.)