“Doctrine and Covenants 7,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 7,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Account of John, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, Apr. 1829. Featured version, titled “7th. Commandment AD 1829,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 13–14; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
In April 1829, JS dictated the following revelation, which in its first publication was described as the translation of an ancient parchment written by the apostle John.1 Ancient writings besides the Book of Mormon began to interest JS and Oliver Cowdery not long after they started their translation of the gold plates. The Book of Mormon manuscript itself mentioned several ancient texts,2 and additionally, JS had dictated a revelation promising Cowdery the privilege, if he so desired, of translating “records which contain much of my gospel, which have been kept back because of the wickedness of the people.”3 Then, as JS and Cowdery continued the Book of Mormon translation, a “difference of opinion” arose between them regarding a question left unanswered in the New Testament: whether “John the Apostle … died, or whether he continued” on earth until the second coming of Christ.4 The source of this disagreement was the final chapter of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus prophesied of the apostle Peter’s death. When Peter asked what would happen to his fellow apostle John, Jesus responded, “If I will that he should tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”5 Questions about the fate of John were common in JS’s time. For example, Adam Clarke, a noted Bible commentator, wrote, “For nearly eighteen hundred years, the greatest men in the world have been puzzled with this passage [John 21:22].”6 JS and Cowdery’s discussion of this issue possibly arose when they encountered a passage in the translation of the plates describing the biblical prophet Moses and the Book of Mormon prophet Alma as having been “taken up by the spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord.”7
JS’s history reports that he and Cowdery “mutually agreed to settle it [their question] by the Urim and Thummin, and the following is the word which we received.”8 As noted, this revelation was said to be “translated from parchment, written and hid up” by John himself,9 and the text begins in the first person, with John stating, “And the Lord said unto me,” followed by an account in which Jesus declares the respective fates of John and Peter.10
7th. Commandment AD 1829
And the Lord said unto me. John my Beloved what desiredst thou & I said Lord give unto me power that I may bring souls unto thee & the Lord said unto me Veriley Verily I say unto thee because thou desiredst this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory & for this cause the Lord said unto Peter if I will that he tarry till I come what is that to thee13 [p. 13] For he desiredst of me that he might bring souls unto me but thou desiredst that thou mightest come unto me in my kingdom I say unto thee Peter this was a good desire but my beloved hath undertaken a greater work Verily I say unto you ye shall both have according to your desires for ye both Joy in that which ye desired