Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 86

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“Doctrine and Covenants 86,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 86,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 86

Revelation, 6 December 1832

Source Note

Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 6 Dec. 1832. Featured version, titled “A Revelation explaining the parable of the wheet & the Tears,” copied [between 22 Jan. and ca. 27 Feb. 1833] in Revelation Book 2, pp. 31–32; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 2 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

JS wrote in his journal that on 6 December 1832, he spent part of the day “translating,” or working on his revision of the Bible. It is not known whether he was working that day on the New Testament revision or the Old Testament revision. But on that same day, he “received a Revelation explaining the Parable [of] the wheat and the tears [tares],” found in Matthew 13, suggesting that he may have been working on the New Testament.1 When JS worked on that parable more than a year earlier while revising the New Testament,2 he made few significant changes.3 Between late July 1832 and early February 1833, however, he apparently spent time reviewing his revisions to the New Testament.4 At some point, JS and Sidney Rigdon changed the text of Matthew 13:30 (which JS had originally left intact) from “I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares” to “gather ye together first the wheat into my barn, and the tares are bound in bundles to be burned.”5 This inverted order followed the eschatological sequence of events outlined in a November 1831 revelation: the righteous were to “flee unto Zion” and Jerusalem, leaving the wicked nations behind.6 This 6 December revelation, which has the Lord telling the angels to “first gather out the wheat,” goes in the same direction as that revision, changing the wording slightly regarding the disposition of the tares. Whether the revelation was dictated before or after the revision was made is unclear, as the revision could have been made anywhere within a roughly six-month window of time.7

It is also possible that the “translating” JS mentioned in his 6 December journal entry referred not to his review of his earlier New Testament revisions but to his work of revising the Old Testament, which he was engaged in at the same time. Between July 1832, when Frederick G. Williams became the principal scribe for JS’s revision of the Old Testament, and July 1833, when JS and Williams completed that work, Rigdon filled in as scribe only once—for the revision of Jeremiah 18–24.8 Since an extant copy of the 6 December revelation attests that Rigdon wrote the revelation as JS dictated it, Rigdon may have helped JS with the Bible revision that day, in which case JS may have been revising those chapters in Jeremiah on 6 December. The chapters include passages on the scattering and gathering of Israel, including verses explaining that the Lord would “gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them” and “set up shepherds over them which shall feed them.”9

The revelation on the wheat and the tares emphasizes the gathering of the righteous in the last days. It incorporates elements of the book of Revelation to recast the parable as a history of Christianity from the days of the apostles to the world’s end. The description of a second sowing in the last days clearly depicts the Church of Christ as a restoration of primitive Christianity. Likewise, the end of the revelation expounds on the idea of priesthood, addressing those in “whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers.” The revelation seems to indicate that those ordained to the priesthood are essential to the gathering of Israel, as it counsels them to be a “light unto the Gentiles” and a “savior” to Israel. The priesthood component of the revelation was apparently perceived as its key aspect: upon its publication in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, the revelation bore the heading “On Priesthood.”10

The original manuscript of this revelation is no longer extant. Frederick G. Williams copied it into Revelation Book 2, probably between late January and late February 1833.11

A Revelation explaining the parable of the wheet & <the> Tears [tares]12

[1]Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servants concerning the parable of the wheat and of the tears,13 [2]Behold verily I say that the field was the world and the Apostles were the sowers of the seed [2]and after they have fallen asleep the great persecutor of the Church the apostate, the whore, even Babylon, that maketh all nations <to> drunk drink of her cup, in whose hearts the enemy even Satan sitteth to reign,14 behold he soweth the tears, wherefore the tears choke the wheet15 and drive the church in to the wilderness,16 [4]but behold in the last days, even now while the Lord is begining to bring forth his <the> word, and the blade is springing up and is yet tender, [5]behold verily I say unto you the angels are crying unto the Lord, day and night who are ready, and waiting to be sent forth [p. 31] to reap down the fields.17 [6]but the Lord saith unto them pluck not up the tears while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak) least you distroy the wheat also, [7]therefore let the wheat and the tears grow together untill the harvest is fully ripe then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tears and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo the tears are bound in bund[l]es, and the field remaineth to be burned18 [8]therefore thus saith the Lord unto you with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers, [9]for ye are lawful heirs according to the flesh19 and have been hid from the world with christ in God20 [10]therefore your life, and the Priesthood hath remained and must needs remain through you and your lineage untill the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy Prophets since the world began,21 [11]therefore blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles22 and th[r]ough this Priesthood a saviour23 unto my people Israel the Lord hath said it

Kirtland December 6th. A[D] 1832 given by Joseph the seer and writen by Sidney [Rigdon] the scribe an[d] Councellor,24 & Transcribed by Frederick [G. Williams] assistent scribe and counceller——