Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 51
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“Doctrine and Covenants 51,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 51,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 51

Revelation, 20 May 1831

Source Note

Revelation, [Kirtland Township, OH], 20 May 1831. Featured version, titled “54 Commandment,” copied [between ca. May and June 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 86–87; 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

After revelations in late December 1830 and early January 1831 instructed all church members in New York to move to Ohio, believers “made preperations to Journey to the Ohio, with their wives, and children and all that they possessed, to obey the commandment of the Lord.”1 The group of sixty or more members residing in and around Colesville in Broome and Chenango counties, New York, constituted one of three groups that emigrated from New York to Ohio.2 Under the leadership of Newel Knight, they left their homes in mid-April 1831; their monthlong journey included a delay in Buffalo, New York, for more than a week because of ice in the harbor. Once vessels were again able to navigate, the group sailed for Fairport, Ohio, and arrived in the Kirtland area in mid-May.3

Knight later wrote that upon their arrival “it was advised that the Coalesville Branch remain together and go to [a] neigboring town called Thompson as a man by the name [Leman] Copley owned a considerabl tract of land there which he offered to let the Brethren occuppy.”4 An earlier revelation had directed newly appointed bishop Edward Partridge to institute new economic arrangements among church members, who were each to consecrate property to the church and in turn be appointed steward either over the property thus consecrated or over other property distributed by the bishop.5 The revelation presented here gave specific directions to Partridge about how he should implement the consecration of properties and money in Thompson among the newly arrived Colesville members. Although Copley apparently offered to allow church members to live on his land in exchange for making improvements upon it, he may have lacked clear title, a possibility suggested by the language in this revelation that instructed Partridge to “go & obtain a deed or Article of this land.” Joseph Knight Sr.’s later history affirmed that one of JS’s revelations gave instruction “to purchase a thousand acres of Land which was Claimed By Leman Copley and not paid for.”6

There was little opportunity to do as this revelation directed because Copley soon rescinded his agreement to permit the Colesville group to live and work on his land.7 This occurred after Copley’s early May mission to the Shaker settlement at North Union, Ohio, and sometime before 6 June 1831.8 Neither Partridge nor the Colesville church members would have another opportunity to implement the principles of consecration expressed in this and other revelations until they arrived in Missouri.9


54 Commandment ——

54 <Com> A Revelation given to the Bishop at Thompson Ohio May 20th. 1831 concerning the property of the Church &c10

[1]Hearken unto me saith the lord your God & I will speak unto my Servent Edward [Partridge] & give unto him directions for it must needs be that he receive directions how to organize this people [2]for it must needs be that they are organized according to my laws if otherwise they will be cut off wherefore let my Servent Edward receive the properties of this People which have covenanted with me to obey the Laws which I have given & let my Servent Edward receive the money as it shall be laid before him according to the covenant & go & obtain a deed or Article of this land unto himself for I have appointed him to receive these things & thus through him the Properties of this Church shall be covenanted unto me [3]wherefore let my Servent Edward & those whom he has chosen11 in whom I am well pleased appoint unto this People their portion every man alike according to their families according to their wants & their needs [4]& let my servent Edward when he shall appoint a man his portion give unto him a writing that shall secure unto him his portion that he shall hold it of the Church untill he transgress & is not counted worthy by the Church voice of the Church according to the laws to belong to the Church12 [6]& thus all things shall be made sure according to the laws of the land [7]& let that which belongeth to this people be appointed unto this people [8]& the money which is left unto this people let there be an agent appointed unto this people to take the money to provide food & raiment according to the wants of this people [9]& let every man deal honestly & be alike among you this People & receive alike that ye may be one even as I have commanded you13 [10]& let that which belongeth to this people not be taken & given unto that of another church14 [11]wherefore if another Church would receive money of this Church let them pay unto this church again according as they shall agree15 [12]& this shall be done through the Bishop or the agent which shall be appointed by the voice of the church16 [13]& again let the Bishop appoint a storehouse unto this Church & let all things both in in money & in meat [p. 86] which is more then is needful for the want of this People be kept in the hands of the Bishop17 [14]& let him also reserve unto himself for his own wants & for the wants of his family as he shall be employed in doing this Business [15]& thus I grant unto this People a privelige of organizeing themselves according to my laws [16]& I consecrate unto them this land for a little season untill I the Lord shall provide for them otherwise & command them to go hence18 [17]& the hour & the day is not given unto them wherefore let them act upon this land as for years & this shall turn unto them for their good [18]Behold this shall be an example unto my Servent Edward in other places in all Churches [19]& whoso is found a faithful & Just & a wise stewart shall enter into the Joy of his lord & shall inherit eternal life [20]verily I say unto you I am Jesus Christ who cometh quickly in an hour you think not even so Amen