“The Doctrine and Covenants: An Overview,” For the Strength of Youth, Jan. 2021, 14–15.
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of modern revelations from God received mainly through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Many of these revelations were given in answer to questions that Joseph and other early members of the Church asked of God.
During the early days of the Church, there were only a few handwritten copies of these revelations. In 1831, Church leaders decided to print and publish the revelations in a Book of Commandments. At a November 1831 conference discussing the Book of Commandments, Joseph received the revelation that is now section 1, the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants.
The first collection of revelations was called the Book of Commandments. Later collections were called the Doctrine and Covenants because they added a series of lectures “on the doctrine of the church,” known as the “doctrine” for short (now called the Lectures on Faith). Since the 1921 edition, the Lectures on Faith were no longer included, but the title Doctrine and Covenants stayed the same.1
The remainder of the book contained revelations received by Joseph Smith. This portion was known as the “covenants and commandments of the Lord” or “covenants” for short. The early Saints used “covenants” or “commandments” to refer to these revelations received by the Prophet in order to tell them apart from Joseph Smith’s other writings, such as inspired sermons and his translations of the Bible.2
The Doctrine and Covenants contains revelations from Jesus Christ to His people. It teaches us that God knows each of us by name, that He hears our prayers and answers our questions, and that God still speaks today. It also teaches valuable doctrine about the plan of salvation and gives us additional insight into Jesus Christ’s Atonement. It provides comfort by illustrating how God loves us and still calls us to come to Him even when we make mistakes.