Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 101
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“Doctrine and Covenants 101,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 101,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 101

Revelation, 16–17 December 1833

Source Note

Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 16–17 Dec. 1833. Featured version copied [between ca. Dec. 1833 and Jan. 1834] in Revelation Book 2, pp. 73–83; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; Revelations Collection, CHL. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 2 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

On 16–17 December 1833, JS dictated a revelation that addressed the November 1833 expulsion of church members from Jackson County, Missouri, and explained the steps they should take to regain their lands. After members of the Church of Christ settled in Jackson County, conflicts between them and their neighbors quickly developed. After incidents of violence occurred in July 1833, including the destruction of the church’s printing office and the tarring and feathering of Edward Partridge, church leaders, hoping to quell the attacks on their people, promised to move church members from Jackson County in two phases: half would leave by January 1834, and the other half would leave by April 1834.1 However, in August 1833, JS counseled Missouri church members to not sell “one foot of land” in Jackson County, stating that God would “spedily deliver Zion.”2 Thereafter, church leaders in Missouri petitioned Governor Daniel Dunklin for protection while they pursued litigation against their assailants. After hearing of the Saints’ efforts to seek protection and prosecute their attackers, other residents believed that the church members were not planning to leave as expected. Other settlers organized themselves and attacked the homes of members of the Church of Christ in late October and early November 1833. A group of Saints confronted their assailants on 4 November, killing two of them, but a militia (consisting of many who were antagonistic to the members of the Church of Christ) confiscated the Saints’ weapons, and within a few days, most church members were driven from Jackson County.3

On 25 November 1833, JS heard a verbal account about the “riot in Zion” from Orson Hyde and John Gould, who witnessed the violence.4 On 10 December, JS received letters from Edward Partridge, John Corrill, and William W. Phelps, all giving more details about the events in Missouri and asking for counsel about what church members in Missouri should do.5 “We are in hopes that we shall be able to return to our houses & lands before a grea[t] while,” Partridge wrote, “but how this is to be accomplished is all in the dark to us as yet.” Partridge had little faith in receiving help from the executive or the judicial system, as they had proved ineffective in preventing the expulsion. He therefore believed that church members would probably return to Jackson County only through “the interposition of God.” He feared, too, that the expulsion was the beginning of church members being “driven from city to city & from sinagouge to sinagouge.” Understanding that JS had counseled church leaders to retain their lands in Jackson County, Partridge declared that he did not want to sell, but “if we are to be driven about for years I can see no use in keeping our possessions here.” Facing these circumstances, Partridge requested “wisdom & light” from JS “on many subjects.”6

As details of the violent events in Missouri reached Kirtland, Ohio, in late fall, JS pleaded to God for answers as to why church members were expelled from Jackson County, what it meant for the gathering to Zion, and what church members should do to regain their lands.7 On 5 December 1833, he wrote to Partridge, telling him that if initial reports that church members had surrendered and were evacuating Jackson County were incorrect, they were to “maintain the ground as Long as there is a man Left,” since it was “the place appointed of the Lord for your inheritance.” Partridge could purchase land in Clay County for a temporary place of refuge but was not to sell land in Jackson County. JS also urged Partridge “to use every lawful means in your power to seek redress for your grievances of your enemies and prosecute them to the extent of the Law.” Such means included petitioning judges, the governor, and the president of the United States for aid.8 Five days later, JS informed Missouri church leaders that the Lord was keeping “hid” from him the larger issues of how Zion would be redeemed, when such redemption would occur, and “why God hath suffered so great calamity to come upon Zion.” The voice of the Lord would only say to him, “Be still, and know that I am God!”9

The 16–17 December 1833 revelation featured here provided the direction that JS and other church leaders sought. The revelation gave clear reasons for the ejection of Missouri church members from Jackson County, stating that they were expelled because of their transgressions. Yet the revelation also provided hope that the Lord would be merciful to the Missouri church members and that Zion would not be moved out of her place. It reiterated that church members were not to sell their lands in Jackson County and that they were to seek redress through the judicial system, the governor of Missouri, and the president of the United States. Through a parable of a nobleman and his vineyard, the revelation indicated how members of the church were to reclaim their lands: by gathering up the “strength of mine house which are my wariors my young men and they that are of middle age” and sending them to Zion to redeem it. In addition, branches of the church outside of Missouri were to continue to raise money for land purchases and to gather to the area, thereby strengthening the church’s membership in Zion.

Details behind the immediate circumstances of the revelation are scant. According to a later account from Ira Ames, a church member living in Kirtland at the time, the revelation came to JS and Oliver Cowdery over the course of one night. Ames explained that he and Martin Harris went to JS’s house in Kirtland early one December morning and “found Joseph and Oliver Cowdry at breakfast.” Cowdery greeted the two by saying, “Good morning Brethren, we have just received news from heaven.” That news was the revelation featured here, the manuscript copy of which was lying on the table.10 Ames did not give the specific date of this encounter, and the earliest known copy of the revelation—made by Frederick G. Williams in Revelation Book 2 soon after the revelation’s dictation—also provided no date. Sometime before 24 January 1834, the church’s printing office in Kirtland published a broadsheet of the revelation, again without a date.11 A copy that John Whitmer made sometime in 1834 in Revelation Book 1, however, dated the revelation to 16–17 December 1833; a copy of the revelation in the journal of George Burket, probably made in 1835, bears that same date.12

Although it is possible that David W. Patten and William Pratt took a copy of the revelation with them to Missouri when they left Kirtland on 19 December 1833, carrying “dispatches” for the Missouri church leaders,13 it appears that JS first sent the revelation to Missouri in a letter dated 22 January 1834.14 According to a 24 January 1834 article in the Painesville Telegraph, the printed broadsheet of the revelation had also been “privately circulated” among church members.15 According to Eber D. Howe, editor of the Telegraph and one of JS’s detractors, “The publication of this proclamation … was taken up by all their priests and carried to all their congregations, some of which were actually sold for one dollar per copy.”16 Church leaders also included the revelation in a petition they sent to Missouri governor Daniel Dunklin, and they planned to send it with a petition to President Andrew Jackson, although it is unclear whether the revelation was ever sent to the president.17 In February 1834, JS began implementing the revelation’s instructions to gather up the strength of the Lord’s house, declaring that he “was going to Zion to assist in redeeming it” and requesting “volunteers to go with him.”18 For the next several weeks, JS and others recruited participants for what was called the Camp of Israel, and in May 1834 the expedition started for Missouri.19


20[1]Verily I say unto you concerning your brethren who have been afflicted and persecuted and cast out from the Land of their inheriten[ces]21 [2]I the Lord have suffered the affliction to come upon them wherewith they have been afflicted in consequence of their transgressions [3]yet I will own them and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels22 [4]Therefore they must needs be chastened and tried even as Abraham who was commanded to offer up his only son23 [5]for all those who will not endure chastening but deny me cannot be sanctified [6]Behold I say unto you there were jar[r]ings and contentions envyings and strifes and lustful and covetous desires among them Therefore by these things they poluted their inheritances24 [7]they were also slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God Therefore the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers to answer them in the day of their trouble [8]In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my council25 but in the day of their trouble of necessity they feel after me26 [9]Verely I say unto you notwithstanding their sins my bowels are filled with compassion towards them27 I will not utterly cast them off and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy [10]I have sworn and the decree hath gone forth by a former commandment which I have given unto you that I would let fall the sword of mine indignation in the behalf of my people28 and even as I have said [p. 73] it shall come to pass [11]mine indignation is soon to be poured without measure upon all nations and this will I do when the cup of their eniquity is full29 [12]and in that day all who are found upon the watch tower or in other words all mine Israel shall be saved30 [13]and they that have been scattered shall be gathered [14]and all they who have mourned shall be comforted [15]and all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned31 [16]Therefore let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion for all flesh is in mine hands32 be still and know that that I am God33 [17]Zion shall not be moved out of her place34 notwithstanding her children are scattered [18]they that remain and are pure in heart shall return and come to their inheritances35 they and their children with songs of everlasting joy36 to build up the waste places of Zion37 [19]and all these things that the prophets might might be fulfilled [20]and behold there [is]38 none other place appointed than that which I have appointed neither shall there be any other place appointd that [than]39 that which I have appointed for the work of the gathering of my saints [21]until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them40 and they shall be called stakes for the curtains of Zion or strength of Zion41

[22]Behold it is my will that all they who call on my name and [p. 74] worship me according to mine everlasting gospel should gather to gether and stand in holy places42 [23]and prepare for the revelation which is to come when the veil of the covering of my temple in my tabernacle which hideth the earth shall be taken off43 and all flesh shall see me together44 [24]and evry coruptable thing both of man or of of the beasts of the field or of the fowls of heaven or of the fish of the sea that dwell upon all the face of of the earth shall be consumed45 [25]And also that of element shall melt with fervant heat and all things shall become new46 that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth47 [26]and in that day the enmity of man and the enmity of beasts yea the enmity of all flesh shall cease from before my face48 [27]And in that day whatsoever any man ask shall ask it shall be given unto him [28]and in that day shall satan shall not have power to tempt any man49 [29]and there shall be no sorrow because there is no death50 [30]In that day an infant shall not [die]51 until he is old and his life shall be as the age of a tree52 [31]and when he dies he shall not sleep that is to say in the earth but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye and shall be caught up and his rest shall be glorious53 [32]yea verely I say unto you in that day when the Lord shall come he shall reveal all things54 [33]things which have passed and hidden things which no man know [p. 75] things of the earth by which it was made and the purpose and the end thereof [34]things most precious things that are above and things that are benieth things that are in the earth and upon the earth and in heaven [35]All they that suffer persecution for my name and endure in faith though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory [36]wherefore fear not even unto death55 for in this world your joy is not full but in me your joy is full [37]therefore care not for the body neither for the Life of the body but care for the soul and for the Life of the soul [38]and seek the face of the Lord always that in patience ye may possess your souls56 and ye shall have eternal life [39]when men are called unto mine everlasting gospel and covenant with an everlasting covenant they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men [40]they are called to be the savor of men there fore if that salt of the earth hath Lost its savor behold it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and troden under the feet of men57 [41]Behold here is wisdom concerning the children of Zion even many but not all they were found transgressors therefore they must needs be chastened58 [42]he that exalteth himself shall be abased and he that abaseth himself shall be exalted59 [43]And now I will shew unto you a parable that you may know my will concerning the redemption of Zion [44]A certain noblemen had a spot of Land very choice and he [p. 76] said unto his servants go ye into my vineyard even upon this very choice piecce of land and plant twelve olive trees [45]and set watchmen60 round about them and build a tower that one may overlook the Land round about to be a watchman upon the tower that mine olive trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take unto themselves the fruit of my vineyard [46]Now the servants of this nobleman went and did as their Lord commanded them and planted the olive trees and built a hedge round about and set watchmen and began to build the tower [47]and while they were yet Laying the foundation thereof they began to say among themselves and what need hath my Lord of this tower [48]and consulted for a Long time saying among themselves what need hath my Lord of this tower seeing this is a time of peace [49]might not this money be given to the exchangers for there is no need of these things [50]and while they were at varience one with another they become very slothful and they harkened not unto the commandment61 of their Lord [51]and the enemy came by night and broke down the hedge and and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted and fled and the enemy distroyed their works and broke down the Olive trees

[52]Now behold the nobleman the Lord of the [p. 77] vineyard called upon his servants and said unto them why what is the cause of this great evil [53]ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you and after you had planted the vineyard and built the hedge round about and set watchmen upon the walls thereof built the tower also and set a watchman upon the tower and watched for my vineyard and not have fallen asleep lest the enemy should come upon you [54]And behold the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof and saved my vineyard from the hands of the distroyer [55]And the Lord of the vineyard said unto one of his servants,62 go and gather togethe[r] the residue of my servants and take all the strength of mine house which are my wariors my young men and they that are of middle age also among all my servants who are the strength of mine house save th◊◊63 only whom I have appointed to tarry [56]and go ye straitway unto the Land of my vineyard and redeem my vineyard for it is mine I have bought it with money [57]therefore get ye straitway unto my Land break down the walls of mine enemies th[r]ow down their tower and scatte[r] their watchmen [58]and inasmuch as they gather to gether against you avenge me [p. 78] of mine enemies that by and by I may come with the residue of mine house and possess the Land [59]And the servant said unto his Lord when shall these things be [60]And he said unto his servant when I will64 go ye strait way and do all things whatsoever I have commanded you and [61]and this shall be my seal and blessing upon you a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house a ruler in my kingdom— [62]And his servant went straitway and done all things whatsoever his Lord commanded him and afte[r] many days all things were fulfilled

[63]And again verely I say unto you I will shew unto you wisdom in me concerning all the churches in asmuch as they are willing to be guided in a right and proper way for their salvation [64]that the work of the gathering to gether of my saints may continue that I may build them up unto my name upon holy places for the time of harvist is come65 and my word must needs be fulfilled [65]therefore I must gather to gether my people according to the parable of the wheat and the tares66 that the wheat may be secured in the garner to possess eternal life and be crowned with celestial glory67 when I come in the Kingdom of my fathe[r] to reward evry man according as his work shall be [66]whilst the tares shall be bound in bundles and their bands made strong that they may be burned with unquenchable fire,68 [67]therefore [p. 79] a commandment I give unto all the churches that they shall continue to gather to gether into the places which I have appointed, [68]nevertheless as I have said unto you in a former commandment let not your gathering be in haste nor by flight but let all things be prepared before you69 [69]and in order that all things be prepared before you observe the commandments which I have given concerning these things [70]which saith or teacheth to purchace all the Land by mony which can be purchaced for mony in the regions round about the Land which I have appointed to be the Land of Zion for the begining of the gathering of my saints [71]all the Land which can be purchaced in Jackson County and the counties round about and leave the residue in mine hand70 [72]Now verily I say unto you let all the churches gather to gether all their monies let these things be done in their time lo not in haste and observe to have all things prepared before you [73]and let honorable men be appointed even wise men and send them to purchace the lands [74]and every church in the eastern countries when they are built up if they will harken unto the council they may buy Lands and gather together upon them and in this way they may establish Zion71 [75]there is even now already enough in store a sufficient yea even abundence to redeem Zion [p. 80] and establish her waste places no more to be thrown down were the churches who call themselves after my name willing to hear harken to my voice [76]and again I say unto you those who have been scattered by their enemies it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress and redemption by the hand of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you [77]according to the Law and constitution of the people which I have suffered to be established and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh according to just and holy principles,72 [78]that evry man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity according to the moral agency which I have given unto them that evry man may be accountable for his own sin in sins [in] the day of judgment73 [79]therefor it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another [80]and for this purpose have I established the constitution of this Land by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose and redeemed the Land by the shedding of blood, [81]Now unto what shall I liken the children of Zion I will liken them to unto the parable of the woman and the unjust judge74 (for men ought always to pray and not faint75) which saith [82]there was in a city a judge which feared not God neither regarded man [83]and there was a widow in that city and she came unto him saying [p. 81] avenge me of mine adver[s]ary [84]and he would not for a while but afterward he said within himself though I fear not God nor regard man yet because this widow troubleth me I will avenge her lest by her continual coming she weary me [85]thus will I liken the children of Zion [86]let them impertune at the feet of the judge76 [87]and if he heed them not let them impertune at the feet of the Govoner77 [88]and if the Govoner heed them not let them importune at the feet of the President78 [89]and if the President heed them not then will the Lord arise and come forth out of his <hiding> place & in his fury vex the nation [90]and in his hot displeasure79 and in his fierce ander [anger]80 in his time will cut off these wicked unfaithful and unjust stewards and appoint them their portion81 among hypocrits and unbelievers [91]even in outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth82 [92]pray ye therefore that their ears may be opened to unto your cries that I may be merciful unto them that these things come not upon them [93]what I have said unto you must needs be that all men may be left without excuse [94]that wise men and rulers may hear and know that which I <they> have never considered [95]that I may procede to bring to pass my act my strange act and perform my work my strange work83 that men [p. 82] may desern between the righteous and the wicked saith your God [96]and again I say unto you it is conterary to my commandment and my will that my servant Alge[r]non Sidney Gilbert should sell my store house which I have appointed unto my people unto <into> the hands of mine enemies84 [97]let not that which I have appointed be poluted by mine enemies by the consent of those who call themselves afte[r] my name [98]for this is a very soar and grievous sin against me and against my people in consequence of those85 things which I have decreed and are soon to <be>fall the nations86 [99]therefore it is my will that my people should claim and hold claim upon that which I have appointed unto them though they should not be permited to dwell thereon [100]nevertheless I do not say they shall not dwell thereon for in as much as they bring forth fruit and works meet for my kingdom they shall dwell thereon [101]they shall build and anothe[r] shall not inherit it they shall plant vineyards and they shall eat the fruit thereof87 even so amen