Lesson 41: Doctrine and Covenants 36–37

“Lesson 41: Doctrine and Covenants 36–37,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)

“Lesson 41,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 41

Doctrine and Covenants 36–37


On December 9, 1830, two days before Edward Partridge was baptized, the Lord gave him a revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In this revelation, which is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 36, the Lord forgave Edward Partridge of his sins and called him to preach the gospel. The Lord also issued a commandment for all priesthood holders to preach the gospel. Shortly after receiving this revelation, Joseph Smith received the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 37, in which the Lord commanded the Saints to leave New York and gather to Ohio.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 36:1–3

The Lord forgives Edward Partridge of his sins and calls him to preach the gospel

Bring to class a suitcase (or backpack) containing items a missionary might need when serving a full-time mission. For example, you might include scriptures, white shirts, ties, dress shoes, and a copy of Preach My Gospel. Show students the closed suitcase and invite them to imagine it is packed for a missionary who is on his or her way to serve a full-time mission. Ask what they expect might be in the suitcase. Then open the suitcase and display its contents. (Or, you could invite students to work in pairs to make a list or draw pictures of items that missionaries may need on their missions.)

Explain that there are other things that missionaries need that do not necessarily fit in a suitcase (or backpack). The Lord mentioned some of these things in a revelation addressed to Edward Partridge. That revelation is now found in Doctrine and Covenants 36. Invite students to look for what a missionary needs before he or she is prepared to serve a mission as they study this revelation. (As students identify truths during this lesson, you may want to write those truths on pieces of paper. Then tape or pin the pieces of paper to the outside of the suitcase or backpack for students to see. You could also simply list them on the board.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following background information for Doctrine and Covenants 36. Ask the class to listen for what helped Edward Partridge make the decision to be baptized.

Within a few weeks of the arrival of Elder Oliver Cowdery and his companions in northeastern Ohio, many people had been baptized into the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Although Edward Partridge’s wife, Lydia, had been among those who had been converted and baptized by the missionaries, Edward was still not fully convinced. He desired to visit the Prophet Joseph Smith before making up his mind. He and Sidney Rigdon arrived in Waterloo, New York, as Joseph Smith was in the middle of a sermon. When the Prophet had finished speaking, Edward stood to speak. He reported that on their way to Waterloo, he had spoken with the neighbors near the Smith family farm in Manchester about the character of the Smith family. Satisfied with what he had learned, Edward asked if Joseph would baptize him. (See Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, vol. 1 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers [2013], 197, 199, 224.)

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 36:1 silently, looking for what the Lord told Edward Partridge after he was baptized.

  • What blessing did Edward Partridge receive as a result of his baptism? (The Lord forgave his sins.)

  • What responsibility did Edward have after he was baptized?

  • Why do you think it is important for those who are called to preach the gospel to repent and be forgiven of their sins?

To help students understand why it is important for prospective missionaries to repent of their sins, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (You may want to point out that when Elder Holland uses the phrases “play for the adversary” and “suit up for the Savior,” he is likening the battle between good and evil to an athletic contest.) Consider preparing a copy of this statement for each student.

Holland, Jeffrey R.

“In this battle between good and evil, you cannot play for the adversary whenever temptation comes along and then expect to suit up for the Savior at temple and mission time as if nothing has happened. … God will not be mocked. …

“… The Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things! … The Spirit will not be with you, and the words will choke in your throat as you speak them. You cannot travel down what Lehi called ‘forbidden paths’ [1 Nephi 8:28] and expect to guide others to the ‘strait and narrow’ [2 Nephi 31:18] one—it can’t be done” (“We Are All Enlisted,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 45).

To help students understand what they can do now to be clean for missionary service, invite a student to read aloud the following invitation to repent, also from Elder Holland:

Holland, Jeffrey R.

“Whoever you are and whatever you have done, you can be forgiven. Every one of you … can leave behind any transgression with which you may struggle. It is the miracle of forgiveness; it is the miracle of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. But you cannot do it without an active commitment to the gospel, and you cannot do it without repentance where it is needed. I am asking you … to be active and be clean. If required, I am asking you to get active and get clean” (“We Are All Enlisted,” 45).

Explain that although Edward Partridge had been baptized prior to receiving this revelation, he had not yet received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 36:2–3 silently, looking for what the Lord told Edward about the gift of the Holy Ghost. Invite students to report what they find.

  • Based on what the Lord told Edward Partridge, why do missionaries need the Holy Ghost as their companion?

  • According to verse 2, what would the Holy Ghost teach Edward Partridge? What do you think it means to learn “the peaceable things of the kingdom”? (To help students answer this question, have them read Doctrine and Covenants 42:61.)

You might invite students to share experiences they have had when the Holy Ghost has taught them the peaceable things of the kingdom. (Remind students that some experiences are too sacred or personal to share.)

Doctrine and Covenants 36:4–8

The Lord issues a commandment regarding those who are called to preach the gospel

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 36:4–5, 7 aloud. Before the student reads, point out that in these verses, the Lord is speaking to “the elders of [His] church” (D&C 36:7). Ask the class to follow along, looking for a responsibility the Lord gave to priesthood holders.

  • What responsibility did the Lord give to priesthood holders? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Priesthood holders are called to preach the gospel.)

To help students understand the importance of this truth and how it applies in our day, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson.

Monson, Thomas S.

“I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much” (“As We Meet Together Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 5–6).

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 36:5, what do priesthood holders need to do before they are ordained and sent forth to preach the gospel?

  • How can a young man show the Lord that he embraces the commandment to preach the gospel?

  • Who do you know who has embraced the commandment to preach the gospel? How has this person’s example influenced you?

You may want to explain that although full-time missionary service is a priesthood duty, young women may also serve. President Thomas S. Monson said:

Monson, Thomas S.

“A word to you young sisters: while you do not have the same priesthood responsibility as do the young men to serve as full-time missionaries, you also make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome your service” (“As We Meet Together Again,” 6).

Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 36:6 silently, looking for the basic message the Lord commands His missionaries to teach. To help students understand the phrase “garments spotted with the flesh,” explain that in ancient Israel, clothing that was contaminated with disease was burned to prevent the disease from spreading. In this verse, the Lord compares disease with sin and thus commands us to avoid anything associated with sin. (See Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:428.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 36:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the manner in which priesthood holders should embrace their calling.

  • How can a priesthood holder “embrace [his calling] with singleness of heart”? (Answers might include being committed to his calling and serving with sincerity and integrity.)

If you have served a full-time mission, consider sharing your experience of embracing the call to preach the gospel.

Doctrine and Covenants 37

The Lord commands His Church to gather to Ohio

Explain that while Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge were investigating the Church in Ohio, persecution of the Saints in New York was increasing. In some cases, threats were made on the lives of Church leaders, and their enemies were meeting in secret to plot their destruction (see D&C 38:13, 28–29). Near the end of December 1830, a few weeks after Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge arrived in New York, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which the Lord commanded the Saints to escape their enemies and move to Ohio.

Invite three students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 37:2–4. Ask the class to follow along, looking for preparations the Lord wanted Joseph to make before he went to Ohio. Invite students to report what they find.

  • Why did the Lord command Joseph Smith to go to the Saints in Colesville?

  • What principles can we learn from these verses about prayer? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principles: If we pray in faith, the Lord will answer our prayers. The Lord often uses others to answer our prayers.)

  • When has another person been an answer to your prayers?

As prompted by the Spirit, share your testimony of the doctrines and principles discussed in this lesson. Invite students to act upon what they have felt as they studied these revelations.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 36. Edward Partridge

Edward Partridge first heard the restored gospel around October 1830, when the missionaries who had been sent to the Lamanites stopped in Kirtland, Ohio, on their way to Missouri (see D&C 28:8; 32:2–3). He was not baptized, however, until about two months later. Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet’s mother, wrote the following about Edward Partridge’s decision to be baptized: “In December of the same year [1830], Joseph appointed a meeting at our house. While he was preaching, Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge came in and seated themselves in the congregation. When Joseph had finished his discourse, he gave all who had any remarks to make, the privilege of speaking. Upon this, Mr. Partridge arose, and stated that he had been to Manchester, with the view of obtaining further information respecting the doctrine which we preached; but, not finding us, he had made some inquiry of our neighbors concerning our characters, which they stated had been unimpeachable, until Joseph deceived us [them] relative to the Book of Mormon. He also said that he had walked over our farm, and observed the good order and industry which it exhibited; and, having seen what we had sacrificed for the sake of our faith, and having heard that our veracity was not questioned upon any other point than that of our religion, he believed our testimony, and was ready to be baptized, ‘if,’ said he, ‘Brother Joseph will baptize me’” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley [1958], 191–92). Edward Partridge was baptized by Joseph Smith on December 11, 1830.

Edward Partridge later became the first bishop of the Church and suffered many persecutions in Missouri. He died a faithful member of the Church in 1840 in Nauvoo, Illinois, at the age of 47. (For more information about Edward Partridge, see Doctrine and Covenants 36:1–7; 41:9–11; 42:10; 50:39; 51:1–4, 18; 52:24; 57:7; 58:14–16, 24–25, 61–62; 60:10; 64:17; 124:19; see also Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 82; Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 72.)

Doctrine and Covenants 36:4–8. Every young man should serve a mission

President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

Benson, Ezra Taft

“The question is frequently asked, Should every young man fill a mission? The answer to this inquiry has been given by the Lord. It is yes. Every young man should fill a mission.

“While every young man should serve a mission, we realize that every young man is not physically, emotionally, or morally prepared. As a consequence, some may be deprived of missionary opportunities. But all should prepare to go—to be worthy to serve the Lord” (“Our Commission to Take the Gospel to All the World,” Ensign, May 1984, 45).

President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

Kimball, Spencer W.

“The question has been often asked, Is the mission program one of compulsion? And the answer, of course, is no. Everyone is given his free agency. The question is asked: Should every young man fill a mission? And the answer of the Church is yes, and the answer of the Lord is yes. Enlarging this answer we say: Certainly every male member of the Church should fill a mission, like he should pay his tithing, like he should attend his meetings, like he should keep his life clean and free from the ugliness of the world and plan a celestial marriage in the temple of the Lord” (“Planning for a Full and Abundant Life,” Ensign, May 1974, 87).

Doctrine and Covenants 36:4–8. Sister missionaries

The Lord has commanded all members of His Church to share the gospel. Some women embrace this commandment by serving full-time missions, even though they are not under the same obligation to do so as are the young men.

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

Benson, Ezra Taft

“Remember, young women, you may also have the opportunity to serve a full-time mission. … Some of our finest missionaries are young sisters” (“To the Young Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 83).

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:

Hinckley, Gordon B.

“We need some young women. They perform a remarkable work. They can get in homes where the elders cannot.

“… The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve are united in saying to our young sisters that they are not under obligation to go on missions. I hope I can say what I have to say in a way that will not be offensive to anyone. Young women should not feel that they have a duty comparable to that of young men. Some of them will very much wish to go. If so, they should counsel with their bishop as well as their parents” (“Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 52).

Doctrine and Covenants 36:6. What is an “untoward generation”?

The word untoward means unruly and difficult to manage. Therefore, an untoward people is an unruly, rebellious people whose lives are not turned toward the Lord. President Joseph Fielding Smith, in reference to those of the latter days, said, “This is an untoward generation, walking in spiritual darkness” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:163). This expression is also found in Acts 2:40. (See also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 73.)

Doctrine and Covenants 36:6. What does it mean to “come forth out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh”?

Referring to Jude 1:23, which contains language similar to the Lord’s words in Doctrine and Covenants 36:6, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote: “To stay the spread of disease in ancient Israel, clothing spotted by contagious diseases was destroyed by burning. (Lev. 13:47–59; 15:4–17.) And so with sin in the Church, the saints are to avoid the remotest contact with it; the very garments, as it were, of the sinners are to be burned with fire, meaning that anything which has had contact with the pollutions of the wicked must be shunned. And so also with those yet in the world who are invited to join the kingdom” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:428). (See also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 73.)

Doctrine and Covenants 37:1. “Not … translate any more”

Doctrine and Covenants 37:1 refers to the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The Prophet Joseph had finished the translation of the Book of Mormon. But though his work on the Bible was very important, the need to move to Ohio “because of the enemy” took priority (D&C 37:1). He continued the work on the revision of the Bible later in Ohio. (See also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 74.)

Doctrine and Covenants 37:3. Assemble in Ohio until the return of Oliver Cowdery

Oliver Cowdery had been on a mission since the middle of October 1830 (see D&C 30:5–6; 32:2). This mission took him and his companions on a 1,400-mile journey through New York, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio to Missouri, where they were to preach to the Native Americans who lived along the western Missouri border and designate the place where the temple and the New Jerusalem would be built (see “Covenant of Oliver Cowdery and Others, 17 October 1830,” in Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, vol. 1 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers [2013], 202–5). The Saints were commanded to move to Ohio and await Oliver Cowdery’s return. This move to Ohio was in preparation to receive further instructions concerning the establishment of Zion (see D&C 38:31–33). Ultimately, Oliver Cowdery did not return, but he sent Parley P. Pratt in his stead. (See also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 74.)