Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 28

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“Doctrine and Covenants 28,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 28,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 28

Revelation, September 1830–B

Source Note

Revelation, Fayette Township, Seneca Co., NY, to Oliver Cowdery, [Sept. 1830]. Featured version, titled “30 Commandment AD 1831,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 40–41; 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

This revelation was a response to actions by Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page that raised the question of whether JS was the only one authorized to deliver revelation to the church. The question first arose in summer 1830 when Oliver Cowdery “commanded” JS to change a passage in “Articles and Covenants,” a document outlining the basic beliefs and practices of the Church of Christ.1 When the church was organized on 6 April 1830, Cowdery was ordained second elder while JS was ordained first elder, and the two worked closely together to oversee the newly formed organization. Presumably Cowdery worked with JS in preparing Articles and Covenants and was part of the “unanimous voice of the whole congregation” that approved Articles and Covenants at the first conference of the church on 9 June,2 yet weeks later he sent a letter ordering JS to make a correction to the document. According to JS’s history, Cowdery objected to the requirement that candidates for baptism “truly manifest by their works that they have received the gift of Christ unto the remission of their sins,” and he wrote to JS, “I command you in the name of God to erase those words, that no priestcraft be amongst us.”3 In response, JS traveled from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Fayette, New York, to persuade Cowdery and the Whitmers that they were mistaken. According to JS’s later account, it was “not without both labor and perseverance” that he “could prevail with any of them to reason calmly on the subject.” Finally, with support from Christian Whitmer, JS convinced Cowdery and the Whitmer family “that they had been in error, and that the sentence in dispute was in accordance of the rest of the commandment.”4

The second challenge to JS’s authority came in early September, when JS and Emma Smith moved from Harmony to Fayette and found to their “great grief” that “Brother Hyrum [Hiram] Page had got in his possession, a certain stone, by which he had obtained to certain revelations … all of which were entirely at variance with the order of Gods house, as laid down in the new Testament, as well as in our late revelations.”5 With another conference of the church approaching, JS initially “thought it wisdom not to do much more than to converse with the brethren on the subject, untill the conference should meet.” But upon finding that many, including Cowdery and the Whitmer family, supported Page, JS (apparently with Cowdery’s encouragement) decided it would be “best to enquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter.” Before the conference convened, JS dictated the revelation featured here, which addressed the issues surrounding both Cowdery’s role and “the things set forth by this [Page’s] stone.”6

While affirming that Cowdery was called to teach and would receive revelation, the text stated that he was not to write revelation to the church by commandment and added, “Thou shalt not command him which is at thy head & at the head of the Church for I have given him the keys of the mysteries of the Revelations which are sealed until I shall appoint unto him another in his stead.” The revelation also directed Cowdery to explain to Hiram Page privately that the latter’s revelations were from Satan. The role for JS described herein was ratified at the subsequent conference, convened 26 September, at which JS was appointed “by the voice of the Conference to receive and write Revelations & Commandments for this Church.” Cowdery then read aloud Articles and Covenants, which he had previously criticized, and JS delivered comments on that document.7

This revelation also called Cowdery to preach to the “Lamanites,” or American Indians, giving specificity to a July revelation for Cowdery that commanded him in general terms to preach the gospel.8 In addition, the text featured here commanded JS to establish a church among the Lamanites, where “the City [the New Jerusalem] shall be built.” Although the revelation declared that “no man” yet knew the location for the New Jerusalem, Cowdery signed a statement on 17 October declaring that he would preach and “rear up a pillar as a witness where the Temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New-Jerusalem.”9 A revelation earlier that month had affirmed that church elders would establish the New Jerusalem in America as an apocalyptic fulfillment of both biblical and Book of Mormon prophecy.10 After other men were called to accompany Cowdery, the group of missionaries left in late October 1830.11

30 Commandment AD 1831 [1830]12

A Revelation to Oliver [Cowdery] his Call to the Lamanitse &c given at Fayette Seneca County State of New York13

[1]Behold I say unto you Oliver that it shall be given thee that thou shalt be heard by the Church in all things Whatsoever thou shalt teach <them> by the Comforter concerning the Revelations & commandments which I have given [2]But Behold Verily Verily I say unto you no one shall be appointed to Receive commandments & Revelations in this Church excepting my Servent Joseph for he Receiveth them even as Moses14 [3]& thou shalt be obedient unto the things which I shall give unto him [p. 40] Even as Aaaron to declare faithfully the commandments & the Revelations with power & authority unto the Church [4]& if thou art led at any time by the comforter to speak or teach or at all times by the way of Commandment unto the Church thou mayest do it [5]But thou shalt not write by way of Commandment unto the Church but by wisdom [6]& thou shalt not command him which is at thy head & at the head of the Church [7]for I have given him the keys of the mysteries of the Revelations which are sealed until I shall appoint unto him another in his stead [8]& now Behold I say unto you that thou shalt go unto the Lamanites & Preach my Gospel unto them & cause my Church to be established among them & thou shalt have Revelations but write them not by the way of Commandment [9]& Now Behold I say unto you that it is not Revealed & no man knoweth where the City shall be built But it shall be given hereafter15 Behold I say unto you that it shall be among the Lamanites[.]16 [10]thou shalt not l[e]ave this place until after the Conference17 & my servent Joseph shall be appointed to rule the conference by the voice of it & what he saith to thee that thou shalt tell [11]And again thou shalt take thy Brother Hyram [Hiram Page] Between him & thee alone & tell him that those things which he hath written from that Stone are not of me & that Satan deceiveth him [12]for Behold those things have not been appointed unto him Neither shall any thing be appointed unto any of this Church contrary to the Church Articles & Covenants18 [13]for all things must be done in order & by Common consent in the Church19 by the prayer of faith [14]& thou shalt settle all these things according to the Covenants of the Church20 before thou shalt take thy Journey among the Lamanites [15]& it shall be given thee from the time that thou shalt go until the time that thou shalt return what thou shalt do [16]& thou must open thy mouth at all times declaring my Gospel with the sound of Rejoiceing even so amen [p. 41]