“Chapter 34: Doctrine and Covenants 88:70–141,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Chapter 34,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
The Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–126 on December 27 and 28, 1832. About a week later, on January 3, 1833, the Prophet dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88:127–37, after high priests at a conference had prayed to know the Lord’s will concerning the establishment of Zion. The Prophet referred to the revelation as an “‘olive leaf’ … plucked from the Tree of Paradise” (D&C 88, section heading), perhaps because it was a message of peace with the potential to mend the harsh feelings some Saints in Missouri were having toward Church leaders in Kirtland, Ohio (see D&C 84:76). Four additional verses (D&C 88:138–41) were added before the publication of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.
This is the second of two chapters in this student manual that addresses Doctrine and Covenants 88. In the portion of the revelation discussed in this chapter, the Lord instructed the elders of the Church to teach each other and to prepare to serve as missionaries. He also revealed signs of His Second Coming, the general order in which all people will be resurrected, and some events surrounding the final battle with Satan at the end of the Millennium. Additionally, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a house of God in Kirtland and commanded the elders to organize “the school of the prophets” (D&C 88:127) under Joseph Smith’s direction. Those participating in the school were to learn together by study and faith and to show each other love and friendship.
- June 1832–January 1833
Disagreements arose between Church leaders in Missouri and Church leaders in Ohio.
- December 27–28, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–126 was received.
- January 3, 1833
Doctrine and Covenants 88:127–37 was received.
- January 5, 1833
Frederick G. Williams was called by revelation to replace Jesse Gause as a counselor in the Presidency of the High Priesthood.
- January 11, 1833
- January 23, 1833
The School of the Prophets began in Kirtland, Ohio.
- September 1835
Doctrine and Covenants 88 was published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants; it included the revelations received in December 1832 and January 1833 with four additional verses.
On December 27–28, 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–126 in an upstairs room in Newel K. Whitney’s store in Kirtland, Ohio. On January 3, 1833, the Prophet received a separate revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88:127–37. Four additional verses, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88:138–41, were added sometime while the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was being prepared for publication.
The revelation given on December 27–28, 1832, directed the Saints to establish a school where Church elders could be taught “in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God” (D&C 88:78) as well as temporal subjects so that they would be prepared to preach the gospel (see D&C 88:74, 77–80, 118, 122). The revelation given on January 3, 1833, referred to this school as “the school of the prophets” (D&C 88:127, 136–37), suggesting that this school would be similar to the schools of the prophets in Old Testament times. The members of those schools were sometimes called “the sons of the prophets” and received instruction from Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha (see 2 Kings 2:3, 5; 4:38; 6:1; see also 1 Samuel 10:10–11; 19:19–20; Bible Dictionary, “Schools of the Prophets”). Further, the Saints were commanded to “establish … a house of God” where the School of the Prophets was to be held (D&C 88:119).
The Prophet Joseph Smith included this revelation in a letter that he sent to William W. Phelps in Independence, Missouri, on January 11, 1833, and wrote: “You will see that the Lord commanded us in Kirtland to build an house of God, and establish a school for the prophets. This is the word of the Lord to us, and we must—yea, the Lord helping us, we will obey” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others , 367; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization standardized). In his letter the Prophet also described the revelation as an “olive leaf” and a “message of peace” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 365; spelling and capitalization standardized).
For additional historical background for Doctrine and Covenants 88, see chapter 33 in this manual.
Anciently, solemn assemblies were a prominent part of worship among the Israelites and were a time for fasting and praying to the Lord (see Leviticus 23:36; Deuteronomy 16:8; Joel 1:14; 2:15–17). The Lord commanded the members of His restored Church to continue these sacred meetings as an important part of their worship (see D&C 124:39; 133:6). In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88, the Saints were commanded to prepare themselves to hold a solemn assembly where the Lord would fulfill “the great and last promise” of unveiling His face to them (see D&C 88:68–70, 75) and, as He had previously promised, endowing them with “power from on high” (D&C 38:32; see also D&C 95:8–9). They were directed to prepare for this solemn assembly by sanctifying and purifying themselves (see D&C 88:68, 74). Solemn assembly meetings were held in Missouri in 1833 and also in Kirtland, Ohio, from 1833 to 1837, some of which were held in the Kirtland Temple. (See “Solemn assembly,” in Glossary, josephsmithpapers.org/topic/solemn-assembly.) There was an outpouring of spiritual manifestations at some of these meetings.
A solemn assembly was held three days after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple on March 27, 1836, and may have been a fulfillment of the command to “call a solemn assembly … of those who are the first laborers in this last kingdom” (D&C 88:70; see also D&C 88:117; 95:7; 108:4; 109:6, 10). The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded that on March 30, 1836, a congregation of about three hundred Church leaders and members met in the Kirtland Temple and participated in the ordinances of the washing of feet and the sacrament. The Prophet gave instruction, and Church leaders pronounced blessings and prophesied. Joseph Smith recorded that he left the meeting “at about 9 o’clock in the evening,” and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles continued the meeting, during which there was “exhorting, prophesying and speaking in tongues until 5 o’clock in the morning—the Savior made His appearance to some, while angels ministered unto others, and it was a Pentecost and [an] endowment indeed, long to be remembered” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, 215–16; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization standardized).
Solemn assemblies continue to be held in modern times, as explained by Elder David B. Haight (1906–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “A solemn assembly, as the name implies, denotes a sacred, sober, and reverent occasion when the Saints assemble under the direction of the First Presidency. Solemn assemblies are used for three purposes: the dedication of temples, special instruction to priesthood leaders, and sustaining a new President of the Church” (“Solemn Assemblies,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 14).
The phrase “tarry ye in this place” (D&C 88:70) is reminiscent of the Lord’s command to His ancient disciples “that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). The disciples were to receive power through the Holy Ghost that would qualify them to be the Lord’s witnesses in Jerusalem and throughout the world (see Acts 1:8). That promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” and they preached the message of the gospel with convincing power (Acts 2:4; see Acts 2:1–6, 41).
The Saints had learned previously that they could be “endowed with power from on high” (D&C 38:32, 38). Through that endowment of power bestowed upon the Saints in the house of the Lord, they would be prepared to take the gospel to others (see D&C 43:15–16; 95:8–9; 105:33; 109:22–23). At the Kirtland Temple dedication and in subsequent gatherings, the Lord poured out the promised manifestations of spiritual power. On April 3, 1836, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple and confirmed that the endowment of power had been given and that “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 been endowed in this house” (D&C 110:9).
The Lord assured the early leaders and missionaries of the Church that the restored gospel was His work and that He would “hasten [His] work in its time” (D&C 88:73). President Thomas S. Monson described how this promise has been fulfilled in our day through missionary work and temple service:
“Do you realize that the restored Church was 98 years old before it had 100 stakes? But less than 30 years later, the Church had organized its second 100 stakes. And only eight years after that the Church had more than 300 stakes. Today we are [thousands of] stakes strong.
“Why is this growth taking place at an accelerated rate? Is it because we are better known? Is it because we have lovely chapels?
“These things are important, but the reason the Church is growing today is that the Lord indicated it would. In the Doctrine and Covenants, He said, ‘Behold, I will hasten my work in its time’ [D&C 88:73].
“We, as spirit children of our Heavenly Father, were sent to earth at this time that we might participate in hastening this great work.
“The Lord has never, to my knowledge, indicated that His work is confined to mortality. Rather, His work embraces eternity. I believe He is hastening His work in the spirit world” (“Hastening the Work,” Ensign, June 2014, 4).
The Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church elders to establish a school where they would “be perfected in [their] ministry” to preach the gospel and prepare God’s children for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (D&C 88:84; see also D&C 88:80, 127). He instructed them to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom” as well as all other topics relating to “things both in heaven and in the earth, … things which are at home, things which are abroad” (D&C 88:77, 79). These instructions illustrate the importance of learning both spiritual and temporal truths in preparation for preaching the gospel.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency emphasized the importance of both spiritual learning and secular learning:
“It is clear that our first priority should go to spiritual learning. For us, reading the scriptures would come for us before reading history books. Prayer would come before memorizing those Spanish verbs. A temple recommend would be worth more to us than standing first in our graduating class. But it is also clear that spiritual learning would not replace our drive for secular learning.
“The Lord clearly values what you will find in that history book and in a text on political theory. Remember His words. He wants you to know ‘things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations’ (D&C 88:79). And He favors not only Spanish verbs but the study of geography and demography. You remember that His educational charter requires that we have ‘a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms’ (v. 79). There is also an endorsement for questions we study in the sciences. It is clear that putting spiritual learning first does not relieve us from learning secular things. On the contrary, it gives our secular learning purpose and motivates us to work harder at it” (“Education for Real Life,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 17–18).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife Sister Kristen M. Oaks taught why seeking a broad education is important for Church members: “Our quest for truth should be as broad as our life’s activities and as deep as our circumstances permit. A learned Latter-day Saint should seek to understand the important religious, physical, social, and political problems of the day. The more knowledge we have of heavenly laws and earthly things, the greater influence we can exert for good on those around us and the safer we will be from scurrilous and evil influences that may confuse and destroy us” (“Learning and Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Apr. 2009, 22–23).
In November 1831 the Lord declared that “all people” were to hear the warning message of the gospel “by the mouths of my disciples” (D&C 1:4). The gospel of Jesus Christ invites people to come unto the Savior and warns them to repent of their sins and to prepare for the Lord’s Second Coming. The Lord instructed the Saints that this warning must be given to their neighbors “in mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41; see also D&C 88:81).
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught about our responsibility to share the gospel:
“We all share this great responsibility [of missionary work]. We cannot avoid it. Let no man or woman think that because of where we live, or because of our place in society, or because of our occupation or status, we are exempt from this responsibility.
“Membership in the Lord’s Church is a gift and a blessing which the Lord has given us in mortality, and He expects us to share that blessing with those who do not have it” (“Our Responsibility to Share the Gospel,” Ensign, May 1985, 8).
Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ prophesied that Jerusalem and the great temple would be destroyed. He referred to these events as “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:12; see also Daniel 11:31; 12:11). The Lord also prophesied that in the last days, after the gospel is “preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, … again shall the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, be fulfilled” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31–32). The Lord repeated this prophecy in 1832 when He told the assembled elders to prepare “to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, … and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come; that their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come” (D&C 88:84–85).
See also the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 84:117 in this manual.
The Lord instructed His elders to prepare themselves to preach the gospel so that they could “prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come” (D&C 88:84; see also D&C 24:19; 39:19–21; 43:28). The impending “hour of judgment” includes the events that will take place before and during the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Lord declared that after the testimony of His servants, He will send forth the testimony of earthquakes, lightnings, tempests, and other destructive forces upon the inhabitants of the earth (see D&C 88:88–90). The destruction described in these verses can be worrisome, but their purpose is to prepare the earth and its inhabitants for the return of Jesus Christ.
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) explained why so many severe judgments will be poured out upon the wicked world in the last days: “It is not the will of the Lord that there should come upon the people disaster, trouble, calamity, and depression … , but because man himself will violate the commandments of God and will not walk in righteousness, the Lord permits all of these evils to come upon him” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie , 3:27–28).
Seven trumpets, each sounded by a different angel, will signal key events surrounding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Among these events are the fall of “the mother of abominations” (see D&C 88:94, 105), the orderly resurrection of the dead (see D&C 88:95–102), the announcement that “the hour of [God’s] judgment is come” (see D&C 88:103–4), and the proclamation that God’s work is finished (see D&C 88:106). The seven angels will sound their trumpets a second time, and each will announce a review of 1,000 years of the earth’s history, from the Fall of Adam to the Millennium (see D&C 88:108–10).
Although Doctrine and Covenants 88:93 does not reveal what the “great sign in heaven” will be, it does say that “all people shall see it together.” The Lord taught His disciples in Jerusalem that “after the tribulation of [the last] days, … then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:36; see also Matthew 24:29–30).
Describing the signs preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) declared: “Then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 252–53).
After sharing that declaration by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “All people shall see it together! It shall spread over all the earth as the morning light! ‘For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.’ [Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:26.] Surely this is that of which Isaiah said: ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.’ (Isa. 40:5.) Surely this is that of which our revelation speaks: ‘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 off, and all flesh shall see me together.’ (D&C 101:23.) Surely this is that day of which Zechariah prophesied: ‘The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. … And the Lord shall be king over all the earth.’ (Zech. 14:5–9.)” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 419–20).
As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88:96–102, the order of the Resurrection will be announced by the sounding of the trump by angels of God. The resurrection of the dead is made possible through Jesus Christ and His Atonement (see D&C 88:14, 16; see also D&C 76:39). All who have lived upon the earth will be resurrected. The order they will come forth from the grave will be according to their obedience to the law of Christ (see D&C 88:21–24).
The righteous will come forth first in the resurrection of the just, also known as the First Resurrection (see D&C 76:64–65). President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “While there was a general resurrection of the righteous at the time Christ arose from the dead, it is customary for us to speak of the resurrection of the righteous at the Second Coming of Christ as the first resurrection. It is the first to us. … The Lord has promised that at the time of his Second [Coming] the graves will be opened, and the just shall come forth to reign with him on the earth for a thousand years” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:295).
The righteous who are alive during the Lord’s Second Coming “shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him” (D&C 88:96). Those who will inherit the celestial kingdom will be resurrected first (see D&C 88:96–98). After those who will inherit the celestial kingdom are resurrected, those who will inherit the terrestrial kingdom will be resurrected (see D&C 88:99; see also D&C 76:71–79). These are individuals who did not receive Jesus Christ while they were alive but received Him in the spirit world (see D&C 88:99). After the Millennium, the “last resurrection” (D&C 76:85), or the resurrection of the unjust, will occur. These individuals are those who will inherit the telestial kingdom and, lastly, the sons of perdition “who shall remain filthy still” (see D&C 88:100–102).
Relating their vision of the kingdoms of glory in February 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon recorded that those who inherit the celestial kingdom “are they into whose hands the Father has given all things” and “who have received of his fulness, and of his glory” (D&C 76:55–56). In the revelation on the priesthood received in September 1832, the Savior promised that the Saints would inherit “all that my Father hath” (see D&C 84:33–38). In Doctrine and Covenants 88, the Lord emphasized this same glorious doctrine again, proclaiming that “the saints shall be filled with [God’s] glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him” (D&C 88:107).
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that to be “heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ” means “to inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until [they] arrive at the station of a god, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 222). He further explained: “God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. E-1, page 1971, josephsmithpapers.org).
At the conclusion of the Savior’s Millennial reign—the 1,000-year period of righteousness and peace—Satan “shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies” (D&C 88:111; see also D&C 43:30–31). Satan and his hosts of hell shall fight against the hosts of heaven led by Michael, or Adam. Satan and his followers will be defeated and cast out forever (see D&C 88:112–15). For more information, see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 29:22 in this manual.
To help prepare the Saints for the events that will precede “the hour of judgment” (D&C 88:84), the Lord commanded them to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) and hold a solemn assembly (see D&C 88:70, 117). He commanded the elders to seek learning both in the gospel and in all other fields of study (see D&C 88:78–80). The Lord also explained that we are to learn “by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118).
To learn by faith means that “we have an honest desire to know the truth (see Moroni 10:4–5) and are willing to live according to that which God has revealed (see John 7:17). Our sincere desire will lead us to seek truth through prayer (see James 1:5–6; 2 Nephi 32:8–9) and a serious study of the word of God (see 2 Timothy 3:15–17; 2 Nephi 32:3)” (Doctrinal Mastery Core Document [Church Educational System manual, 2016], 2).
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what is required of us to learn by faith and the blessings that result:
“A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. It is in the sincerity and consistency of our faith-inspired action that we indicate to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our willingness to learn and receive instruction from the Holy Ghost. …
“The learning I am describing reaches far beyond mere cognitive comprehension and the retaining and recalling of information. The type of learning to which I am referring causes us to put off the natural man (see Mosiah 3:19), to change our hearts (see Mosiah 5:2), to be converted unto the Lord, and to never fall away (see Alma 23:6). Learning by faith requires both ‘the heart and a willing mind’ (D&C 64:34). Learning by faith is the result of the Holy Ghost carrying the power of the word of God both unto and into the heart. Learning by faith cannot be transferred from an instructor to a student through a lecture, a demonstration, or an experiential exercise; rather, a student must exercise faith and act in order to obtain the knowledge for himself or herself” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 64).
The Lord’s commandment to the Saints to establish “a house of God” (D&C 88:119) refers specifically to the building of a temple, the first in this dispensation (see D&C 95:8, 11). The Lord’s temple was not only to be a place of worship but also “a house of learning” (D&C 88:119), or a place where missionaries could be prepared to preach the gospel.
The Lord’s commandment to establish a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, and order—a house of God—applies to more than the construction of a temple. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how the standards that the Lord established for His house can be applied to our own homes: “In order to keep the temple and those who attend it sacred and worthy, the Lord has established standards through His servants, the prophets. We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a ‘house of the Lord.’ The admonition to ‘establish … a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God’ [D&C 88:119] provides divine insight into the type of home the Lord would have us build. Doing such begins the construction of a ‘spiritual mansion’ in which we all may reside regardless of our worldly circumstance” (“Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 102).
Many of the instructions in Doctrine and Covenants 88 were directed to those who would participate in the School of the Prophets. The principles taught in Doctrine and Covenants 88:121–26 would help Church elders become spiritually and mentally ready to receive instruction in the house of God. However, all Latter-day Saints can apply these principles to invite the Holy Ghost to help them learn and to prepare them for temple worship. Elder L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy shared the following regarding our preparation to attend the temple:
“When we enter the temple, we should leave the world behind. We should feel what it would be like when we enter the presence of the Lord. We may consider what thoughts we would think and what communications we would have in His holy presence. If we can catch the vision of this eventual event, it will help us in preparing to enter His presence and in leaving the world behind as we enter His temple. …
“As we enter the temple grounds, we should leave our worldly thoughts behind and focus on the sacred responsibilities that are ours as we serve in the house of the Lord. …
“The Savior has given us great counsel concerning our communications in the temple. He said: ‘Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, … from all your pride and light-mindedness’ (D&C 88:121).
“Just as we leave our worldly thoughts behind as we enter the temple grounds, we should also leave our worldly discussions behind. It is inappropriate to discuss matters of business, pleasure, or current events in the temple.
“It is important not only what we speak in the temple, but also the manner in which we speak. We must always speak in soft and subdued tones in all places in the temple” (“Enhancing Our Temple Experience,” Ensign, May 2001, 79).
In the revelation received on December 27–28, 1832, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a “house of God” and to establish a school for the elders (see D&C 88:1–126). On January 3, 1833, the Lord gave further instruction regarding the organization and operation of the School of the Prophets (see D&C 88:127–37).
Even though the temple was not yet constructed, the School of the Prophets was organized on January 23, 1833, as part of a two-day conference in an upstairs room in the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio. Although the school was intended for men who had been ordained to the priesthood, both men and women attended the first meeting of the conference on January 22. During this meeting, “great and glorious were the divine manifestation[s] of the Holy Spirit, praises were [sung] to God [and] the Lamb besides much speaking [and] praying all in tongues” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 381). During the second day of the conference, the Prophet Joseph Smith washed Church elders’ hands, faces, and feet, an act that could be considered “the defining ceremony in the establishment of the School of the Prophets” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 380).
“Unlike a conventional school, with semesters and set schedules in a fixed location, the School of the Prophets was intermittent and moved around. In farming communities such as Kirtland, winter months provided more time for such activities as schooling. The first session lasted about three months and closed in April. Subsequent sessions, called variously the ‘school of the prophets,’ the ‘school of mine apostles,’ and ‘Elders school,’ were held that summer in Missouri and again in Kirtland in fall 1834 and winter 1835–36 in the Church’s printing office or in the attic floor of the unfinished Kirtland Temple” (Nathan Waite, “A School and an Endowment,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg , 175–76, or history.lds.org).
The Prophet Joseph Smith instituted the ceremony or ordinance of washing feet in conjunction with organizing the School of the Prophets on January 23, 1833. Each of those present washed their own hands and feet, and then Joseph Smith washed the feet of each individual, symbolizing their purification. In doing so, he was following the example set by Jesus Christ (see John 13:4–17). This important ceremony was repeated at other meetings of the School of the Prophets and also during some meetings in the Kirtland Temple after it was completed. (See Waite, “A School and an Endowment,” in Revelations in Context, 177, or history.lds.org.)