Church History
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 110

“Doctrine and Covenants 110,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 110,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 110

Visions, 3 April 1836

Source Note

Visions, [Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH], 3 Apr. 1836. Featured version copied [ca. 3 Apr. 1836] in JS, Journal, 1835–1836, pp. 192–193; handwriting of Warren A. Cowdery; JS Collection, CHL. For more information, see the source note for JS, Journal, 1835–1836, on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

A few days following the temple dedication in Kirtland, Ohio, and the solemn assembly that empowered church elders for the ministry, JS’s journal records that JS and Oliver Cowdery had a vision of heavenly messengers in the House of the Lord.1 On the afternoon of Easter Sunday, 3 April 1836, JS helped other members of the church presidency distribute the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to the congregation that had assembled in the lower court of the House of the Lord. After the sacrament, the curtains were dropped, dividing the court into four quarters. According to Stephen Post, who participated in the day’s meetings, the presidency then went to the pulpits for “the confirmation & blessing of the children.”2 At some point during the meeting, more veils were lowered, enclosing the west pulpits and dividing them into their four levels. JS and Cowdery “retired to the pulpit”—apparently the top tier, which was reserved for the presidency—where they bowed “in solemn, but silent prayer to the Most High.”3

According to the journal, after JS and Cowdery prayed, secluded in the curtains and pulpits of the temple, they had a miraculous vision of Jesus Christ, who accepted the House of the Lord as JS had prayed for at the dedication.4 The appearance was a fulfillment of a promise made in earlier JS revelations, that the Lord would show himself in the temple.5 Following the appearance of Christ, the journal records, JS and Cowdery also received visitations from the biblical prophets Moses, Elias, and Elijah, who bestowed upon the two church leaders “the Keys of this dispensation.” These keys authorized JS and Cowdery to exercise in new ways the priesthood they had received from the apostles Peter, James, and John in 1829.6 The bestowal of “the Keys of this dispensation,” particularly those concerning the gathering of Israel and turning “the hearts of the Fathers to the children,” marked a vital moment for Latter-day Saint missionary work and temple ordinances. Just over a year after receiving these keys, JS sent preachers to England to begin the gathering of Israel from abroad.7 Later, in Nauvoo, Illinois, he would teach and administer new temple ordinances that offered salvation to the deceased and bound them to the living, including baptisms for the dead, endowments, and sealings. The Latter-day Saints had shown their willingness to build the Lord a house, and these visitations on 3 April 1836 were not only a continuation of great spiritual outpouring; they were also a beginning for Latter-day Saint understanding of the purpose and power of temples.

JS and Cowdery recounted their visions to some associates shortly after they occurred. In a letter to his wife, Sally Waterman Phelps, written on the same day, William W. Phelps stated that JS and Cowdery experienced “a manifestation of the Lord” in which they learned that “the great & terrible day of the Lord as mentioned by Malichi, was near, even at the doors.”8

Sometime shortly after, Warren A. Cowdery, JS’s scribe and Oliver’s brother, recorded the experience in JS’s journal, which is the source for the text below. Warren wrote the entry referring to JS in the third person, in contrast to the first-person language found throughout the journal.9 He may have relied on another original text, no longer extant, or on oral reports from either or both of the participants. If he was working from a prior text, it would directly parallel the method that produced the third-person 1834–1836 history, which he was composing in early April using JS’s journal.10 By 7 November 1843, Willard Richards, church historian and personal secretary to JS, changed the account into first person for JS’s multivolume history.11 JS and Oliver Cowdery’s vision was added to the Doctrine and Covenants in 1876. That version, and published versions to follow, contained first-person language.

This account of visitations closes JS’s 1835–1836 journal. After more than six months of almost daily recording of developments in Kirtland, entries ceased, and for nearly two years there were no entries written in this or in any other extant JS journal.

West pulpits, lower court, Kirtland House of the Lord.

West pulpits, lower court, Kirtland House of the Lord. 1934. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery reported that while secluded in these pulpits on Sunday, 3 April 1836, they received a vision of Jesus Christ and visitations from ancient biblical prophets. Warren A. Cowdery recorded their experience in Joseph Smith’s 1835–1836 journal. (Courtesy Library of Congress, Washington DC. Photograph by Carl F. Waite.)

[1]The vail was taken from their minds and the eyes of their understandings were opened. [2]They saw the Lord standing upon the breast work of the pulpit before them.12 and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold,13 in color like amber: [3]his eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was like the pure snow,14 his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun,15 and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the Voice of Jehovah, saying, [4]I am the first and the last. I am he who liveth. I am he who was slain.16 I am your Advocate with the Father.17 [5]Behold your sins are forgiven you. You are clean before me, therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice, [6]let the hearts of your brethren rejoice and let the hearts of all my brethren <people> rejoice, who have with their might, built this house to my name. [7]For behold I have accepted this house and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people, in mercy, in this House, [8]Yea I will appear unto my servants and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments and do not pollute this Holy House. [9]Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have already been endowed and shall hereafter be endowed in this House. [10]and the fame of this House shall spread to foreign lands, and this is the beginning of the blessing, which shall [p. 192] be poured out upon the heads of my people. even so amen. [11]After this vision closed, the Heavens were again opened unto them and Moses appeared before them and committed unto them the Keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the Eearth and the leading of the ten tribes from the Land of the North.18 [12]After this Elias appeared and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying, that in them and their seed all generations after them should be blessed.19 [13]After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burts [burst] upon them, for Elijah, the Prophet, who was taken to Heaven without tasting death,20 also stood before them, and said, [14]behold the time has fully come which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi, testifying, that he should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come, [15]to turn the hearts of the Fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse.21 [16]Therefore, the Keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands, and by this ye may know that the great and the dreadful day22 of the Lord is near, even at the doors23 [p. 193]


  1. JS, Journal, 3 Apr. 1836, in JSP, J1:219–222.

  2. Post, Journal, 3 Apr. 1836, in JSP, J1:219; see also William W. Phelps, Kirtland, OH, to Sally Waterman Phelps, Liberty, MO, Apr. 1836, William W. Phelps, Papers, BYU.

  3. JS, Journal, 3 Apr. 1836; Robison, First Mormon Temple, 19, 85. The pulpits at the west end of the House of the Lord were dedicated for the Melchizedek priesthood. In November 1836, Wilford Woodruff, who had not previously seen the finished temple, wrote, “I must confess the scenery is indisscribable … After walking into the Pulpets, erected for the Priesthoods & viewing the curtains all bespeaking that grandure, solemnity & order that nothing Short of wisdom from God could invent.” (Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833; Woodruff, Journal, 25 Nov. 1836.)

  4. Minutes and Prayer of Dedication, 27 Mar. 1836, in JSP, D5:199 [D&C 109], herein.

  5. See Revelation, ca. 2 Nov. 1831, JSP, D2:109–110 [D&C 67:10], herein; Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832, 1832, in JSP, D2:341 [D&C 88:68], herein. In a letter written to William W. Phelps on 11 January 1833, JS stated that inasmuch as church members remained obedient the Lord had promised “great things, yea even a visit from the heavens to honor us with his own presence.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833, in JSP, D2:367.)

  6. See “Joseph Smith Documents Dating through June 1831,” in JSP, D1:xxxviii.

  7. See Recommendation for Heber C. Kimball, between 2 and 13 June 1837.

  8. W. Phelps to S. Phelps, Apr. 1836.

  9. Warren A. Cowdery also penned the 2 April 1836 journal entry in third person. (See Editorial Note in JS, Journal, 1835–1836, in JSP, J1:217.)

  10. See Editorial Note in JS, Journal, 1835–1836, in JSP, J1:217. For more information on JS’s 1834–1836 history, see Historical Introduction to JS History, 1834–1836, in JSP, H1:25–28; and Editorial Note in JS History, 1834–1836, in JSP, H1:91.

  11. Richards, Journal, 7 Nov. 1843; JS History, vol. B-1, 727–728.

  12. A week earlier, JS prayed that the House of the Lord would be a place that the Son of Man would manifest himself to his people. (Minutes and Prayer of Dedication, 27 Mar. 1836, in JSP, D5:199 [D&C 109:5], herein.)

  13. Earlier in 1836, JS saw in vision “the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold.” (Visions, 21 Jan. 1836, in JSP, D5:158 [D&C 137:4], herein.)

  14. See Revelation 1:14; 2:18; 19:12; and Historical Introduction to Minutes, 18 Mar. 1833, in JSP, D3:39–40, 43n259.

  15. See Acts 26:13.

  16. See John 19:19–23; and Revelation 13:8.

  17. See Revelation, Sept. 1830–A, in JSP, D1:179 [D&C 29:5], herein; and Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831, in JSP, D1:275 [D&C 45:3–5], herein.

  18. See Ezekiel 37:21–22; Jeremiah 3:18–19; and Amos 9:9, 14–15. JS’s translation of the Book of Mormon, as well as subsequent prophecies, stated that in the last days the lost ten tribes would return from the “north countries.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 488, 567 [3 Nephi 17:4; Ether 13:11]; Revelation, 3 Nov. 1831, in JSP, D2:118–119 [D&C 133:26–32], herein; Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 14–18.)

  19. JS’s revelations used the generic name “Elias” to refer to various messengers who appeared as “forerunners” to the first or second comings of Jesus Christ. (See, for example, New Testament Revision 2, part 2, p. 106 [Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:26]; New Testament Revision 1, p. 42 [Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 17:13]; Revelation, ca. Aug. 1830 [D&C 27:6–7], herein; see also Genesis 13–15; 17; 22:17–18, 28; Galatians 3:6–18; and Matthew 17:10–13.)

  20. See 2 Kings 2:8–15.

  21. See Malachi 4:5–6; and Revelation, ca. Aug. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 50:2, 1835 ed. [D&C 27:9]. JS later recounted that the visit of Elijah was foretold by the angel Moroni in 1823. He also taught that Elijah restored the keys “of the fulness of the Melchezedek Priesthood,” including the authority to perform ceremonies that would “seal” for eternal duration marriages and parent-child relationships for both the living and the dead. (JS History, vol. A-1, 5–6, in JSP, H1:224; Robert B. Thompson, Sermon Notes, 5 Oct. 1840, JS Collection, CHL; Coray, Notebook, 13 Aug. 1843; JS, Journal, 27 Aug. 1843, in JSP, J3:86–87; Woodruff, Journal, 10 Mar. 1844.)

  22. See Revelation, 3 Nov. 1831, in JSP, D2:120 [D&C 133:48–52, 56], herein; and Isaiah 64:1–7.

  23. See Malachi 4:5; Matthew 24:33; and Mark 13:29.