“Doctrine and Covenants 18,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 18,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Fayette Township, Seneca Co., NY, to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the future twelve disciples, June 1829. Featured version, titled “Chapter XV,” typeset [ca. early 1833] for Book of Commandments, 34–39. John Whitmer copied this revelation [ca. Mar. 1831] into Revelation Book 1, but the pages on which it was copied were removed at some point from that volume and are no longer extant.1 The version found in the Book of Commandments and featured below is the earliest extant version. For more information, see the source note for the Book of Commandments on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
JS dictated this revelation in Fayette, New York, within the first few days of June 1829.2 Although the first portion of the revelation is addressed to Oliver Cowdery, the remainder provides direction for Cowdery and David Whitmer jointly, including a call for them to find twelve disciples. The revelation then speaks to an intended future audience for JS’s revelation, addressing these unidentified twelve disciples. Previous revelations had always addressed the individuals directly involved as they or a scribe recorded the words JS dictated.
This revelation opens with an admonition that Cowdery “rely upon the things which are written,” especially the finished portion of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon.3 Just weeks earlier Cowdery had recorded from JS’s translation of the plates an account of Jesus Christ choosing twelve Nephite disciples and calling them to lead the church that he established.4 The revelation featured here then describes the duties of twelve leaders yet to be selected, using terminology similar to the Book of Mormon manuscript, including the responsibilities to preach, baptize, and “ordain priests and teachers to declare my gospel, according to the power of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and according to the callings and gifts of God unto men.”5 While the Book of Mormon uses both disciples and apostles, distinguishing between the twelve “disciples” in America and the twelve “apostles” in Jerusalem, the terms seem to refer to comparable offices. This revelation uses the term disciple to describe the calling of the twelve, but it is unclear whether in 1829 JS and Cowdery thought of the terms disciple and apostle as interchangeable, as they did later.6
It is also not known when Cowdery and Whitmer began to search for the twelve disciples or apostles. At a conference of the church on 26 October 1831, Cowdery informed those in attendance that he had recently been told that the twelve “would be ordained & sent forth from the Land of Zion.”7 In February 1835, when twelve apostles were called, Cowdery stated that since the time of this revelation in 1829, “our minds have been on a constant stretch to find who these Twelve were.”8
1 A Revelation to Joseph, Oliver [Cowdery] and David [Whitmer], making known the calling of twelve disciples in these last days, and also, instructions relative to building up the church of Christ, according to the fulness of the gospel: Given in Fayette, New-York, June, 1829.9
NOW behold, because of the thing which you10 have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:
2 Behold I have manifested unto you, by my [p. 34] Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written are true:11
3 Wherefore you know that they are true; and if you know that they are true, behold I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written; for in them are all things written, concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock.12
4 Wherefore if you shall build up my church, and my gospel, and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.13
5 Behold the world is ripening in iniquity, and it must needs be, that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance, both the Gentiles, and also the house of Israel:
6 Wherefore as thou hast been baptized by the hand of my servant, according to that which I have commanded him:14
7 Wherefore he hath fulfilled the thing which I commanded him.
8 And now marvel not that I have called him unto mine own purpose, which purpose is known in me:
9 Wherefore if he shall be diligent in keeping my commandments, he shall be blessed unto eternal life, and his name is Joseph.
10 And now Oliver, I speak unto15 you, and also unto David, by the way of commandment:
11 For behold I command all men every where to repent, and I speak unto you, even as unto Paul mine apostle, for you are called even with that same calling with which he was called.16
12 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God:
13 For behold the Lord your God suffered death [p. 35] in the flesh: wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.17
14 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him on conditions of repentance.
15 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth.
16 Wherefore you are called to cry repentance unto this people.
17 And if it so be that you should labor in all your days, in crying repentance unto this people, and bring save it be one soul only unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father?
18 And now if your joy will be great with one soul, that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy, if you should bring many souls unto me?
19 Behold you have my gospel before you, and my rock, and my salvation:
20 Ask the Father in my name in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost which manifesteth all things,18 which is expedient unto the children of men.
21 And if you have not faith, hope and charity, you can do nothing.
22 Contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil.19
23 Take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness, and as many as repent, and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
24 Behold Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved:20 [p. 36]
25 Wherefore all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day:
26 Wherefore if they know not the name by which they are called, they cannot have place in the kingdom of my Father.21
27 And now behold, there are others which are called to declare my gospel, both unto Gentile and unto Jew: Yea, even unto twelve:
28 And the twelve shall be my disciples,22 and they shall take upon them my name:
29 And the twelve are they which shall desire to take upon them my name, with full purpose of heart:
30 And if they desire to take upon them my name, with full purpose of heart, they are called to go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature:23
31 And they are they which are ordained of me to baptize in my name, according to that which is written; and you have that which is written before you:24
32 Wherefore you must perform it according to the words which are written.25
33 And now I speak unto the twelve:
34 Behold my grace is sufficient for you:26 You must walk uprightly before me and sin not.
35 And behold you are they which are ordained of me to ordain priests and teachers to declare my gospel, according to the power of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and according to the callings and gifts of God unto men:27
36 And I Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it.
37 These words are not of men, nor of man, but of me: [p. 37]
38 Wherefore you shall testify they are of me, and not of man; for it is my voice which speaketh them unto you:
39 For they are given by my Spirit unto you:
40 And by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power, you could not have them:28
41 Wherefore you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.
42 And now behold I give unto you, Oliver, and also unto David, that you shall search out the twelve which shall have the desires of which I have spoken; and by their desires and their works, you shall know them:29
43 And when you have found them you shall show these things unto them.
44 And you shall fall down and worship the Father in my name:
45 And you must preach unto the world, saying, you must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ:
46 For all men must repent and be baptized; and not only men, but women and children, which have arriven to the years of accountability.30
47 And now, after that you have received this, you must keep my commandments in all things:
48 And by your hands I will work a marvelous work among the children of men, unto the convincing of many of their sins, that they may come unto repentance; and that they may come unto the kingdom of my Father:
49 Wherefore the blessings which I give unto you are above all things.
50 And after that you have received this, if you keep not my commandments, you cannot be saved [p. 38] in the kingdom of my Father. Behold I Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, and your Redeemer, by the power of my Spirit, have spoken it. Amen.