Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 137

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“Doctrine and Covenants 137,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 137,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 137

Visions, 21 January 1836

Source Note

Visions, [Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH], 21 Jan. 1836. Featured version copied [ca. 21 Jan. 1836] in JS, Journal, 1835–1836, pp. 136–138; handwriting of Warren Parrish; JS Collection, CHL. For more information, see the source note for JS, Journal, 1835–1836, on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

The winter of 1835–1836 was a time of meetings and instruction in Kirtland, Ohio, as the Latter-day Saints prepared for the forthcoming solemn assembly in the House of the Lord and for the divine endowment of power long promised to be received there. On the afternoon of 21 January 1836, JS and the church presidency met in the council room above the printing office to take another step in preparation for the endowment.1 Following biblical precedent, these church leaders washed their bodies with water and perfumed themselves with a sweet-smelling wash “preparatory to the annointing with the holy oil.”2 At sunset the church presidency and several others, including JS’s scribe Warren Parrish and the bishoprics of Missouri and Kirtland, met on the third floor of the Kirtland House of the Lord in the “president’s room,” also called the “west school room,” to administer the anointing ordinance. The Kirtland and Missouri high councils also came to the House of the Lord, but they “waited in prayer” separately until after the first anointings.3 According to Oliver Cowdery, the members of the church presidency were “annointed with the same kind of oil and in the man[ner] that were Moses and Aaron, and those who stood before the Lord in ancient days.”4 The presidency first anointed church patriarch Joseph Smith Sr.’s head with consecrated oil and gave him a blessing. The patriarch then anointed the church’s presidents in the order of their ages. When Joseph Smith Sr. anointed the head of JS, he “sealed upon [him], the blessings, of Moses, to lead Israel in the latter days.”5

After the patriarch blessed his son, JS received blessings and prophecies under the hands of “all of the presidency,” after which the “heavens were opened” and JS and others beheld “visions and revelations.”6 Warren Parrish recorded JS’s narrative of those heavenly manifestations, including a description of the celestial kingdom and the individuals who would dwell therein, in JS’s journal; that text is featured here. This vision of the celestial kingdom added details to JS’s 1832 vision that depicted the separation of the afterlife into three kingdoms of heavenly glory: celestial, terrestrial, and telestial.7

Bishop Edward Partridge recorded that a number of others present at the evening meeting also saw visions.8 JS’s journal notes that “some of them saw the face of the Saviour, and others were ministered unto by holy angels,” and also that “the power of the highest rested upon, us the house was filled with the glory of God, and we shouted Hosanah to God and the Lamb.”9 The next morning, instead of studying as usual, JS and others “spent the time in rehearsing to each other the glorious scenes that transpired” the evening before.10

Cowdery demurred to record the details of the evening’s events in his journal. “The glorious scene is too great to be described in this book,” he wrote, “therefore, I only say, that the heavens were opened to many, and great and marvelous things were shown.”11 JS’s journal reports additional visionary experiences that were had during the week following 21 January 1836.12 Between 21 January and 6 February, JS and other senior church leaders gave instruction and performed washings, anointings, and other blessings as the solemn assembly neared.13

[1]The heavens were opened upon us and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God,14 and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell,—15 [2]I saw the transcendant beauty of the gate that enters, through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire, [3]also the blasing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son,— [4]I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold— [5]I saw father Adam, and Abraham and Michael16 and my father and mother, my brother Alvin that has long since slept,17 [6]and marvled how it was that he had obtained this an inheritance <in> this <that> kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life, before the Lord <had> set his hand to gather Israel18 <the second time> and had not been baptized for the remission of sins—19 [7]Thus said came the voice <of the Lord un>to me saying all who have [p. 136] died with[out] a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it, if they had been permited to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God— [8]also all that shall die henseforth, with<out> a knowledge of it, who would have received it, with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, [9]for I the Lord <will> judge all men according to their works20 according to the desires of their hearts— [10]and again I also beheld the Terrestial kingdom I also beheld that all children who die before they arive to the years of accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven—21 I saw the 12, apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth22 who hold the keys of this last ministry,23 in foreign lands, standing together in a circle much fatiegued, with their clothes tattered and feet swolen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus <standing> in their midst, and they did not behold him, he the Saviour looked upon them and wept— I also beheld Elder McLellen [William E. McLellin] in the south,24 standing upon a hill surrounded with a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him, supported by his crutches, he threw them down at his word, and leaped as an heart [hart] by the mighty power of God

Also Eldr Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far southwest, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of colour, who, appeared hostile [p. 137] He was preaching to them in their own toung, and the angel of God standing above his head with a drawn sword in his hand protecting him, but he did not see it,— and I finally saw the 12 in the celestial kingdom of God,— I also beheld the redemption of Zion, and many things which the toung of man, cannot discribe in full,—