“Doctrine and Covenants 84,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 84,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 22–23 Sept. 1832; Featured version copied [ca. 23 Sept. 1832]; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; six pages; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes redactions, docket, and archival marking. For more information, see the source note on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
After JS relocated from Hiram to Kirtland, Ohio, on 12 September 1832, elders who had returned from preaching in the eastern United States came to JS to report on their proselytizing. While JS and these elders were “together in these seasons of joy,” a later history recounts, JS “inquired of the Lord and received” a revelation dated 22 and 23 September 1832.2 The beginning of the revelation identified its audience as JS and six elders, but partway through the revelation, the audience shifted to “Eleven high Priests save one.” Because JS was living in Newel K. Whitney’s white store, the revelation was probably dictated in either the store’s upstairs “translating room” or the upstairs “council room,” places where JS frequently worked.
The revelation was dictated over the course of two days, most likely beginning the evening of 22 September and continuing into the early morning hours of 23 September.3 Textual evidence indicates a pause in the dictation at some point on 23 September. The three existing manuscript copies of the revelation (one in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, another by Williams and JS, and one by John Whitmer) all contain a clear break between the phrase “for he is full of mercy Justice grace and truth and peace for ever and ever Amen” and the phrase “And again verily verily I say unto you it is expedient … ,” marking an interruption in the dictation.4 Whitmer’s copy even adds “Received on the 23 day of September 1832” between those two lines. However, the three manuscripts also include “viz 23d. day of September AD 1832” as a notation several pages before this break, indicating that material presented before the interruption was also dictated on 23 September. It may be that the dictation went into the early morning hours of 23 September, halted for a period of time, and then recommenced later that day.
The index of Revelation Book 2, one of the volumes in which this revelation was recorded, designated the revelation as one “explaining the two priest hoods and commissioning the Apostles to preach the gospel.”5 An understanding of priesthood was still developing among followers of JS, especially in terms of its connection to different offices in the church. The Book of Mormon indicated that authority from God was necessary to perform certain ordinances, such as baptism and conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost, which led JS and Oliver Cowdery to petition God for such authority as they worked together in translating that record.6 Later accounts indicate that in May 1829 and sometime thereafter, they received angelic visitations that provided them first with the authority to baptize and later with the authority to officiate in other ordinances.7 However, extant records up to June 1831 did not call such authority “priesthood”; that term—while appearing in both the Book of Mormon and in JS’s Bible revision—did not appear in any other contemporary documents until the minutes of a June 1831 conference, which noted that several individuals “were ordained to the high Priesthood.”8 Moreover, the “Articles and Covenants” of the church explained the different duties of apostles, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons but did not explicitly associate these offices with the priesthood.9
By late 1831, the high priesthood was understood to refer to both the office of high priest and to a broader authority. The office, according to an 11 November 1831 revelation, was superior to other offices in the church, just as the authority seemed to be the highest authority. A revelation of that date stated that after the offices of deacon, teacher, priest, and elder came “the high Priest hood which is the greatest of all.”10 A history JS began writing around summer 1832 suggests that he had received two separate powers with different responsibilities. In that history, JS noted that “the ministring of—Aangels” gave him an authority that allowed him “to adminster the letter of the Gospel.” He also recorded receiving “the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God,” which gave him “power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit.”11
This 22–23 September revelation similarly delineated the existence of two priesthoods: a greater priesthood that contains keys to the mysteries of the kingdom and to the knowledge of God, and a lesser priesthood holding the keys of the ministering of angels and of the gospel of repentance and baptism.12 The revelation traced the lineage of the two priesthoods, noting that the greater priesthood was held by Moses, who received it from a line of individuals (including Melchizedek) who had ultimately received it from God. Aaron, meanwhile, held the lesser priesthood, which was passed to his descendants until it reached John the Baptist. Both priesthoods, the revelation posited, are eternal, and men in the Church of Christ could become the “sons of Moses” and the “sons of Aaron” by receiving these priesthoods and “magnifying there calling.” Doing so would enable these “sons” to enter the temple that the Saints would construct in Missouri, allowing them to receive God’s glory that would fill the temple. Some of this information seems a culmination of ideas first expressed in JS’s revisions to passages in Hebrews, Genesis, and Exodus, which were completed in the six months leading up to September.13 The revelation also explained how the different offices in the church are connected to the two priesthoods. The offices of elder and bishop, it states, are “appendages” to the high priesthood, or to the office of high priest; the offices of teacher and deacon, meanwhile, are appendages to the lesser priesthood, or to the office of priest.14 High priests, elders, and priests, the revelation continued, have an obligation to travel to proclaim the gospel, while teachers and deacons are responsible for watching over the church in local congregations.
After providing a detailed explanation of the greater and lesser priesthoods, their offices, and their duties, the revelation emphasized the necessity of preaching to the world and provided an extensive discussion of many aspects of missionary work. Revelations from 1830, 1831, and 1832 called specific individuals on missions,15 but few revelations gave general procedural instructions about missionary work.16 This 22–23 September revelation, however, provided direction on who should serve missions, how they should serve, how they should receive sustenance while serving, what they should proclaim, and what would happen to those who did not accept their message. These instructions parallel New Testament accounts of the resurrected Jesus Christ’s directions to the eleven apostles before his ascension into heaven. As in those accounts, Christ tells the high priests in this revelation that they have a responsibility to preach to all nations and to baptize those who believe. Signs will follow the believers, the revelation continues, and the Lord will go before them, just as Christ promised the ancient apostles that he would be with them always, “even unto the end of the world.”17 The revelation specifically refers to “Eleven high Priests save one” (perhaps a reference to the eleven apostles to whom Christ spoke in the New Testament) and calls these high priests “apostles” and “friends” of Jesus Christ. Although many had preached the gospel before this time, this revelation seemed to launch a more urgent and comprehensive missionary campaign, even including in its preaching assignments individuals such as Bishop Newel K. Whitney, who generally oversaw temporal, not spiritual, concerns.
Frederick G. Williams, who was serving as JS’s scribe, probably recorded the revelation as JS dictated it.18 Williams also inscribed a copy of this revelation that was given to Whitney, stating that he was transcribing it “for N K, Whitney and Joseph the Seer.” Whitney and JS traveled together in New York and other states in October 1832, and the copy was likely made for the two men to carry with them on that trip.19 Williams and JS also made a copy of the revelation in Revelation Book 2, probably soon after the revelation was dictated.20 Parts of the revelation—including a “new song” on millennial themes, a condemnation of the church for neglecting the Book of Mormon, and the explanation of appendages to the greater and lesser priesthoods—were discussed in early 1833 issues of the church’s periodical The Evening and the Morning Star. A conference of high priests also wrote a letter in January 1833 calling church members in Missouri to repentance in conformance with instructions given in the revelation.21 Since at least six elders and ten high priests heard portions of the revelation while it was dictated, it is probable that information in it was also spread through word of mouth.
A revelation given in Kirtland the 22d & 23d. day of Sept AD 183222
A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his
saints servant Joseph and six Elders as they united there hearts in lifting there voice on high, yea the word of the Lord, concerning his church established in the last days. for the restoration of his people as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets and for the gathering, of his saints to stand upon mount Zion which shall be called the city New Jerusalem, which city shall be built begining at the temple lot which is appointed by the finger of God the Lord in the western boundaries of the State of Missou[ri] and dedicated by the hand of Joseph and others with whom the Lord was will pleased,23 verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathring of the saints begining at this place, even the place of the Temple, which Temple shall be built <reared> in this generation for verely this generation shall not all pass away untill an house shalt be built unto the Lord and a cloud shall rest upon it which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord which shall fill the house,24 and the sons of Moses according to the holy Priesthood25 which he received under the26 father in Law Jethro,27 and Jethro received it u[n]der the ha[n]d28 of Caleb. and Caleb received it under the hand of Elihu and Elihu under the hand of Jeremy and Jeremy under the hand of Gad and Gad under the hand of Esaius and Esaius received it under the hand of God,29 Esaius lived also lived in the days of Abraham and was blessed of him which Abraham received the Priesthood from Melchesedec30 who received it through the linage of his fathers even till Noah, and from Noah till Enoch, through the linage of thare fathers and from Enoch to abel who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother who received the Priesthood by the commandment of God by the hand of his father Adam who was the first man,31 which Priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations and is without begining of days or end of years32 and the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed throughout all the generations33 of the Jews. which priesthood also continueth and abideth for ever with the Priesthood which is after the holiest order of God, and this greater Priesthood adminestereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the misteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God therefore in the ordinences thereof the power of Godliness is manifest and without the ordinences thereof, and the authority of the Priesthood, the power of Godliness is not manifest unto man in the flesh, for without this no man can see the face of God even the father and live, now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness,34 and saught diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God, but they hardened ther hearts and could not endure his presence therefore the Lord in his wrath (for his anger was kindled against them) swore that they should not enter into his rest, which rest is the fulness of his glory while in the wilderness, therefore he took Moses out of there midst and the holy Priesthood also,35 and the lesser Priesthood continued, which Priesthood holdeth the keys of the ministring of Angels and the preparitory gospel, which gospel is the gospel of repentence and of Baptism, and the remission of sins, and the Law of carnal commandments—36 which the lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John whom God raised up being fillid with the holy ghost from his Mothers womb,37 for he was baptised while he was yet in his the mothers womb38 and was ordained by the Angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews and to make straight the way of the Lord [p. ] before the face of his people to prepare them for the coming of the Lord in whose hand39 is given all power,40 and again, the offices of Elder & Bishop are necessary appendages belon[g]ing unto the high Priesthood,41 and again the offices of Teacher and Deacon are necessary appendages belonging to the lesser Priesthood, which priesthood was confirmed upon Aaron and his sons therefore as I said, concerning the Sons of Moses, for the sons of Moses, and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an aaceptable offering and sacrifice42 in the house of the Lord which house shall shalt be built unto the Lord in this generation upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed and the sons of Moses, and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord upon mount Zion in the Lords house whose sons are ye, and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church for whoso is faithful unto the attaining of these two Priesthoods of which I have spoken and the magnifying there calling are sanctified by the spir[i]t unto the renewing of there bodies that they become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham43 and the church and kingdom and the elect of God and also all they who receive this Priesthood receiveth me saith the Lord for he that receiveth my servants receveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth my father, and he that receiveth my father, receiveth my fathers kingdom, therefore all that my father hath shall be given unto him and this is according to the oath and the covenant which belongeth to the Priesthood, therefore all those. who receive the Priesthood, receiveth this oath and covenant of my father which he cannot break neither can it be mooved, but whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom shall not have forgivness44 in this world nor in the world to come and all those that come not unto this Priesthood, which ye have received, which I now confirm45 upon you who are present this day viz the 23d. day of September AD 1832 Eleven high Priests save one46 by by mine own voice out of the heavens and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine Angels charge concerning you, and I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves to give heed dilligently to the words of eternal life for you shall live by evry word that procedeth forth from the mouth of God47 for the word of the Lord is truth and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is spirit even the spirit of Jesus Christ, and the spirit giveth light to evry man that cometh into the world, and the spirit enlightneth evry man through the world that harkneth to the voice of the spirit, and evry one that harkneth to the voice of the spirit cometh unto God even the father and the father teacheth him of the covenant which he hath renewed and confirmed upon you which is confirmed upon you for your sakes and and not for yours48 only, but for the sake of the whole world, and the whole world lieth in sin and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin and by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin because they come not unto me for whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin, and whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquanted with my word voice. and is not of me, and, by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sins and darkness even now, and your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief and because you have treated lightly the things you have received which vanity and and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation and this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion even all, and thay shall remain [p. ] under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant even the book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say but to do according to that which I have writen49 that they may bring forth fruit meet for there fathers kingdom otherwise there remaineth a scorge and a Judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion for shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land verily Verily I say unto you na[y]. verily, verily, I say unto you who now hear my words which is my voice blessed are you inasmuch as you receive these things for I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of p[r]ayer in bearing testamony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you, therefore go ye into all the world and whatsoever place ye cannot go into ye shall send, that the testamony may go from you into all the world unto every creature,50 and as I said unto mine apostles even so <I> say s unto you, for you are mine Apostles, even Gods High priests ye are they whom my father hath given me, ye are my friends51 therefore as I said unto mine Apostles I say unto you again that evry soul who believeth on your words and are baptized by water for the remission of there sins shall receive the holy-ghost, and these signs shall follow them,52 in my name they shall do many wonderful works, in my name they shall cast out devels. in my name they shall heal the sick in my name they shall open the eyes of the blind and unstop the ears of the deaf, and the tongue of the dumb shall speak, and if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them, and the poison of the <a> serpent shall not [have]53 power to harm them,54 but a commandment I give unto them that they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world for these things are given unto you for your proffet and for salvation, verily, verily I say unto you he who believeth not on your words, and are not baptized by water in my name for the remission of there sins, that they may receive the holy ghost shall be damned and shall not come into my fathers kingdom where my father and I am and this revelation unto you and commandment is in force from this very hour upon all the world, and this gospel is unto all who have not received it, but verily I say unto all those to whom the kingdom has been given from you it must be preached unto them that they shall repent of ther former evil works for they are to be upbraded for there evil hearts of unbelief55 and your brethren in Zion for there rebellion against you at the time I sent you,56 and again I say unto you my friends, for from this time forth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment that you become even as my friends in days when I was with them in travling to preach this gospel in my power for I suffered them not to have purse or scrip, neither two coats57 behold I send you out to proove the world, and the Laborer is worthy of his hire58 and any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom and fail not to continue [p. ] faithful in all things shall not be weary in mind neither darkened neither body limb, limb, or Joint and an hair of your heads shall not fall to the ground unnoti[c]ed59 and they shall not go hungry, neither athirst, therefore take no thought for the morrow for what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink or wherewith all ye shall ye shall be clothed for consider the lillies of the field how they grow they toil not neither do they spin and the kingdoms of the world in all ther glory are not arayed like one of them for your father who art in heaven knoweth that you have need of all these thing therefore let the morrow take thought for the things of itself,60 neither take ye thought before hand what ye shall say but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life and it shall be given you in the very hour that po[r]tion that shall be meeted unto evry man61 therefore let no man among you (for this commandment is unto all the faithful who are called of God in the church unto the ministry) therefore let no man from this hour take purse or scrip that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom62 behold I send you out to reproove the world of all there unrighteous deeds and to t[ea]ch63 them of a Judgment which is to come and whoso receiveth you there I will be also for I will go before your face I will be on your right hand and on your lift [left] and my spirit shall be in your hearts and mine Angels round about you to bear you up, whoso receiveth you receiveth me and the same will feed you and clothe you, and give you money and he who feedeth you or chothe you or giveth you money shall in no wise loose his reward64 and he that doeth not these things is not my deciple, by this you may know my deciples he that receiveth you not, go away from him, alone by yourselves and cleanse your feet even with water, pur water, whether in heat or in cold65 and bare testamony of it unto your father which is in heaven and return not again unto that man, and in whatsoevr village or city ye enter do likewise, nevertheless search dilligently and spare not, wo unto that house, or that village or city that rejecteth you or your words or testamony concerning me, wo I say again unto that house or that village or city that rejecteth you or your words or your testamony of me for I the Almighty have laid my hand upon the nations to scorge them for ther wickedness and plagues shall go forth and it shall not be taken from the earth untill I have completed my work which shall be cut short in righteousness66 until all shall know me who remain even from the least to67 the greatest68 and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord and shall see eye to eye,69 and shall lift up the voice,70 and with the voice together sing this new song,71 saying the lord hath brought again Zion72 the Lord hath redeemed his people Israel, according to the election of grace73 which was brought to pass by the faith and covenant of ther fathers, the Lord hath redeemed his people and Satan is bound74 and time is no longer75 the Lord hath gathered all things in one the Lord hath brought down Zion from above the Lord hath brought up Zion from benieth76 the earth hath travailed and brought forth her [p. ] strength and truth is established in her bowels and the heavens hath smiled upon her and she is clothed with the glory of her God for he standeth in the midst of his people, glory and honor and power and might be ascribed to our god77 for he is full of mercy Justice grace and truth and peace for ever and ever Amen——
And again verily verily I say unto you it is expedient that evry man who goes forth to proclaim mine everlasting gospel that in asmuch as they have families and receive monies by gift they should send it unto them or make use of it for there benifit as the Lord shall direct them for thus it seemeth me good78 and let all those who have not families who receive monies send it up unto the Bishop in Zion or unto the Bishop in Ohio that it may be consecrated for the bringing forth of the revelations and the printing thereof79 and for establishing of Zion and if any shall give unto any of you a coat, or a suit take the old and cast it unto the poor and go your way rejoicing and if any man among you be strong in the spirit let him take with him he that is weak that he may be edefied in all meekness that he may become strong also80 therefore take with you those who are ordained unto the lesser Priesthood, and send them before you to make appointments and to prepare the way, and to fill appointments that yourselves are not able to fill, behold this is the way that mine Apostles in ancient days built up my church unto me, therefore let evry man stand in his own office, and labour in his own calling and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand, also the body hath need of evry member that all may be edefied together that the systim may be kept perfect,81 and behold the high Priest
hood should travel also and and also the Elders and also the lesser Priests, but the Teacher82 and deacons should be appointed to watch over the church to be a standing minister unto the church,83 and the Bishop84 also should travel round about and among all the churches searching after the poor to administer to ther wants by humbling the rich and the proud he should also imploy an agent for to take charge of and to do his seccular business as he shall direct nevertheless let the Bishop85 go unto the city of New York and also to the city of Albany and also to the city of Boston and warn the people of those cities with the sound of the gospel with a loud voice of the desolation and utter abolishment which awaits them if they do reject these things,86 for if they do reject these things the hour of thei[r] Jodgment is nigh and there house shall be left unto them dessolate,87 let him trust in me and he shall not be confounded and an hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed, but <any> <and> verily I say unto you the rest of my servants go ye forth as your circumstances shall permit in your several callings unto the great and notable cities and villages reprooving the world in righteousness of <all> ther unrighteous and ungodly deeds setting forth clearly and [p. ] understandingly the dessolation of abomination in the last days88 for with you saith the Lord Almighty I will rend there kingdoms I will not only shake the earth but the star[r]y heavens shall tremble also89 for I the Lord have put forth mine hand to exhert the powers of heaven ye cannot see it now, yet a little while and ye shall see it and know that I am and that I will come and reign with my people I am Alpha and Omega90 the begining and the end Amen——
Transcribed by F[rederick] G, Williams
For N[ewel] K, Whitney and Joseph the Seer [p. ]