Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 23
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“Doctrine and Covenants 23,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 23,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 23

[This section comprises five separate revelations.]

Revelation, April 1830–A

Source Note

Revelation, Manchester Township, Ontario Co., NY, to Oliver Cowdery, Apr. 1830. Featured version, titled “18th. Commandment AD Ap[r]il 1830,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, p. 29; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

Each of the following five revelations, which were dictated soon after the organization of the Church of Christ on 6 April 1830, addressed one of JS’s family members or a close associate who desired to know the Lord’s will concerning himself.1 All five texts include similar content and phrasing, and JS likely dictated them one after the other.2 John Whitmer recorded them separately in Revelation Book 1 and assigned the date “AD 1830” to each one. Though the editors of the Book of Commandments printed the revelations separately and gave each the date of 6 April 1830, that date appears to be in error and was dropped two years later, in 1835, when the Doctrine and Covenants combined the texts into a single document with a general “April, 1830” date.3 JS’s history and other sources suggest that the revelations date between the 6 April organization and an 11 April meeting, both of which took place in Fayette Township, New York.4


18th. Commandment AD 18305

A Revelation to Oliver [Cowdery] given at Manchester Ontario Co State of New York Soon after his calling to the Minstery6

[1]Behold I say unto you Oliver a few words Behold thou art Blessed & art under no condemnation but beware of pride lest thou shouldest enter into temptation [2]make known thy Calling unto the Church & also before the World & thy heart shall be opened to Preach the truth from henceforth & for ever7 amen


Revelation, April 1830–B

Source Note

Revelation, Manchester Township, Ontario Co., NY, to Hyrum Smith, [Apr.] 1830. Featured version, titled “19th. Commandment AD 1830,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, p. 29; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

Soon after the 6 April 1830 organizational meeting, JS dictated revelations to five individuals who were “anxious to know of the Lord what might be their respective duties” now that the church was formally established.8 This revelation was directed to one of the five, JS’s older brother Hyrum Smith. Almost a year earlier, Hyrum visited Harmony, Pennsylvania, while JS was translating the Book of Mormon. During that visit JS announced a revelation that instructed Hyrum, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongues be loosed; then, if you desire you shall have my Spirit, and my word: Yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men: but now hold your peace.”9 During the next year, Hyrum testified as one of the Eight Witnesses to the gold plates, safeguarded the Book of Mormon manuscript during printing, and proofread the printer’s copy of the Book of Mormon.10


19th. Commandment AD 1830

A Commandment to Hyram [Hyrum Smith] given at Manchester Ontario County State of New York11

[3]Behold I speak unto you Hyram a few words for thou also art under no condemnation & thy heart is opened & thy tongue loosed & thy Calling is to exhortation & to strengthen the Church continually12 wherefore thy duty is unto the Church forever & this because of thy family


Revelation, April 1830–C

Source Note

Revelation, Manchester Township, Ontario Co., NY, to Samuel Smith, [Apr.] 1830. Featured version, titled “20th Commandment AD 1830,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 29–30; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

JS dictated this revelation for his brother Samuel Harrison Smith shortly after the formal organization of the Church of Christ on 6 April 1830. It was one of five revelations that came after Samuel Smith, Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith Sr., and Joseph Knight Sr. showed an eagerness to learn their respective responsibilities as members of the newly founded church.13 In May 1829, Samuel was the third believer to be baptized, and he later held and examined the plates and testified of their existence.14


29 20th Commandment AD 1830

A Revelation to Samuel [Smith] given at Manchester Ontario Co N.Y.15 [p. 29]

[4]Behold I speak a few words unto you Samuel for thou also art under no condemnation & thy calling is to Exhortation to strengthen the Church16 & thou art not <as> yet called to prea[c]h before the world17 Amen


Revelation, April 1830–D

Source Note

Revelation, Manchester Township, Ontario Co., NY, to Joseph Smith Sr., [Apr.] 1830. Featured version, titled “21st Commandment AD 1830,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, p. 30; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

Joseph Smith Sr. was one of JS’s earliest supporters and confidants. He was the first person JS told about the visitation of Moroni18 and later became one of the witnesses of the gold plates.19 As early as February 1829, Joseph Sr. asked JS what the Lord required of him and subsequently became one of the first recipients of JS’s recorded revelations.20 This, then, was the second revelation directed to Joseph Sr. It was one of five similarly worded revelations directed to individuals who desired to know the Lord’s will.21

JS’s history states that Joseph Smith Sr. “came forward shortly after” the 6 April 1830 meeting and was baptized.22 Lucy Mack Smith recalled, “Joseph stood on the shore when his father came out of the water and as he took him by the hand he cried out Oh! my God I have lived to see my father baptized into the true church of jesus christ and he covered his face in his fathers bosom and wept aloud for joy.”23


21st Commandment AD 1830

A Commandment to given to Joseph [Smith Sr.] at Manchester Ontario County State of New York24

[5]Behold I speak a few words unto you Joseph f25 unto you Joseph for thou art under no condemnation & thy calling also is to Exhortation & to strengthen the Church26 & this is thy duty from henceforth & forever amen


Revelation, April 1830–E

Source Note

Revelation, Manchester Township, Ontario Co., NY, to Joseph Knight Sr., [Apr.] 1830. Featured version, titled “22nd Commandment AD 1830,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, p. 30; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

Joseph Knight Sr., of Colesville, New York, probably met JS in 1826, when he hired JS as a laborer.27 Knight proved to be a loyal friend to JS, frequently providing money, food, supplies, and other assistance. He was particularly helpful during April and May of 1829, when JS and Oliver Cowdery were translating the gold plates in Harmony, Pennsylvania.28 Though an early supporter and believer, Knight was not baptized a member of the Church of Christ until June 1830.29 Knight was among those anxiously seeking to know their duty in light of the organization of the new church on 6 April 1830; JS subsequently dictated this revelation.30 Implying that Knight was hesitant to pray publicly, the revelation included the admonition to “pray vocally before the World.”31


22nd Commandment AD 1830

A Commandment to Joseph Knight [Sr.] given at Manchester Ontario County State of New York32

[6]Behold I manifest unto you <by> these words that thou must take up thy Cross33 in the which thou must pray vocally before the World as well as in Seecret34 & in thy family & among thy friends & in all Places [7]Behold it is thy duty to unite with the true Church & give thy Language to Exhortation continually35 that thou mayest Receive the reward of the Labourer36 amen

Revelations

Revelations recorded in Revelation Book 1. In the summer of 1830, John Whitmer and Joseph Smith began collecting original loose-leaf copies of Smith’s revelations, and by the spring of 1831, Whitmer began compiling them into Revelation Book 1. The manuscript book contains the majority of the documents featured in this volume of The Joseph Smith Papers. The revelations shown here date from early 1830. Handwriting of John Whitmer. Revelation Book 1, p. 30, Church History Library, Salt Lake City. (Photograph by Welden C. Andersen.)