Chapter 35: Doctrine and Covenants 89–92

“Chapter 35: Doctrine and Covenants 89–92,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)

“Chapter 35,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual

Chapter 35

Doctrine and Covenants 89–92

Introduction and Timeline

After the School of the Prophets began meeting in early 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord concerning priesthood holders’ use of tobacco during their meetings. On February 27, 1833, in response to Joseph’s inquiry, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 89. In this revelation, which became known as the Word of Wisdom, the Lord warned against the use of harmful substances, encouraged the consumption of wholesome foods, and promised blessings to the obedient.

On March 8, 1833, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 90. This revelation contains instructions to the Presidency of the High Priesthood and was “a continuing step in the establishment of the First Presidency” (D&C 90, section heading).

While working on the inspired translation of the Old Testament, the Prophet inquired of the Lord concerning whether he should include the Apocrypha as part of his translation of the Bible. On March 9, 1833, the Lord responded to Joseph Smith’s question through the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 91 and told him he did not need to translate the Apocrypha.

On March 15, 1833, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 92, instructing Frederick G. Williams to be an active member of the United Firm, which had been established to oversee the welfare and business affairs of the Church.

February 2, 1833Joseph Smith finished reviewing his translation of the New Testament.

February 27, 1833Doctrine and Covenants 89 was received.

March 8, 1833Doctrine and Covenants 90 was received.

March 9, 1833Doctrine and Covenants 91 was received.

March 15, 1833Doctrine and Covenants 92 was received.

March 18, 1833Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were ordained as Presidents (counselors) in the Presidency of the High Priesthood.

Doctrine and Covenants 89: Additional Historical Background

In the 1830s the use of tobacco and alcohol was prevalent in the United States, even among the Latter-day Saints. Beginning in the late 1700s and into the early 1800s, different religious groups began a temperance movement that called for reform and abstinence from the use of alcohol. A temperance society was organized locally in Kirtland, Ohio, in October 1830 before the missionaries arrived from New York to preach the gospel (see Jed Woodworth, “The Word of Wisdom,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg [2016], 184–86, or; see also The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, ed. Gerrit J. Dirkmaat and others [2014], 12).

The School of the Prophets, organized January 23, 1833, began meeting regularly in an upstairs room in the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio. That room was part of the living space in which Joseph and Emma Smith resided. The use of tobacco during these meetings brought about the circumstances that prompted the Prophet Joseph Smith to seek for a revelation.

In a sermon given in 1868, President Brigham Young described the setting in the School of the Prophets: “The brethren came to that place for hundreds of miles to attend school in a little room probably no larger than eleven by fourteen [feet, or three by four meters]. When they assembled together in this room after breakfast, the first they did was to light their pipes, and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom, and spit all over the room; and as soon as the pipe was out of their mouths, a large chew of tobacco would then be taken. Often when the prophet entered the room to give the school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor, made the prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was the result of his inquiry” (“Remarks,” Deseret News, Feb. 26, 1868, 18).

Zebedee Coltrin, one of participants in the School of the Prophets, reported that after the Prophet read this revelation to the brethren, they “immediately threw their tobacco and pipes into the fire” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 15, note 73).

Map 7: Kirtland, Ohio, 1830–1838

Doctrine and Covenants 89

The Lord reveals the Word of Wisdom

Doctrine and Covenants 89:1–2. “Not by commandment or constraint”

Many of the revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith came to the Saints as commandments from the Lord. The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 89, however, was identified as coming “not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom” (D&C 89:2). This revelation came to be known by members of the Church as the Word of Wisdom. Although Church members were not required to live the Word of Wisdom immediately after it was given, Church leaders gradually invited the Saints to more fully live the Word of Wisdom throughout the early history of the Church. During the fall general conference of 1851, President Brigham Young proposed that all Saints formally covenant to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, and whiskey. On October 13, 1882, the Lord revealed to President John Taylor that the Word of Wisdom was to be considered a commandment. In 1919 the First Presidency, under President Heber J. Grant, made the observance of the Word of Wisdom a requirement for receiving a temple recommend. The Word of Wisdom continues to be an important commandment today, and obeying it is a prerequisite for baptism, temple attendance, missionary service, and other worthy service in the Church.

room in the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio, where the School of the Prophets met

Participants in the School of the Prophets threw their tobacco and pipes into the fire when they learned of the revelation that became known as the Word of Wisdom.

The gradual manner in which the Lord required the Saints to obey this revelation is an example of God’s mercy and love for His children. President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) explained: “At that time, … if [the Word of Wisdom] had been given as a commandment it would have brought every man, addicted to the use of these noxious things, under condemnation; so the Lord was merciful and gave them a chance to overcome, before He brought them under the law” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1913, 14).

Doctrine and Covenants 89:2. For “the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days”

At the time the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 89 was received, medical science had not yet identified the physical health benefits of abstaining from the use of alcohol and tobacco. The Lord declared in this revelation that the teachings of the Word of Wisdom showed “the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days” (D&C 89:2). This temporal salvation may have reference to a promise of increased physical health and strength. The Lord has revealed that the physical body is a gift from God and is an important part of a person’s eternal future (see Alma 11:43; 40:23; D&C 88:15).

The Lord had earlier taught the Saints, “All things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; … for my commandments are spiritual” (D&C 29:34–35). Therefore, the temporal benefits of living the Word of Wisdom are ultimately spiritual blessings. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained some ways that the physical body can impact the spirit:

“Remarkable as your body is, its prime purpose is even of greater importance—to serve as tenement for your spirit. …

“Your spirit acquired a body at birth and became a soul to live in mortality through periods of trial and testing. Part of each test is to determine if your body can become mastered by the spirit that dwells within it. …

“If you yield to anything that can addict, and thus defy the Word of Wisdom, your spirit surrenders to the body. The flesh then enslaves the spirit. This is contrary to the purpose of your mortal existence. And in the process of such addiction, your life span is likely to be shortened, thereby reducing the time available for repentance by which your spirit might attain self-mastery over your body” (“Self-Mastery,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 30–31).

Doctrine and Covenants 89:3. “A principle with promise”

From the time that the Word of Wisdom was received, Church leaders have interpreted the revelation as prohibiting the use of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. The use of illegal drugs and the abuse of prescription drugs are also prohibited. Beyond that, the Saints are left to decide what other substances may not be in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. Fortunately, the Lord explained that the instructions were “given for a principle with promise” (D&C 89:3), meaning that there is sufficient truth contained in the revelation that can guide a person’s decisions. President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described how the Word of Wisdom embodies specific principles that we can use to guide our decisions:

“The Word of Wisdom was ‘given for a principle with promise’ (D&C 89:3). That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor.

“Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. It’s well known that tea, coffee, liquor, and tobacco are against it. It has not been spelled out in more detail. Rather, we teach the principle together with the promised blessings. There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation.

“Everything harmful is not specifically listed; arsenic, for instance—certainly bad, but not habit-forming! He who must be commanded in all things, the Lord said, ‘is a slothful and not a wise servant’ (D&C 58:26).

“In some cultures, native drinks are claimed to be harmless because they are not specifically mentioned in the revelation. Yet they draw members, particularly men, away from their families to parties which certainly offend the principle. Promises made in the revelation will be denied to the careless or the reckless.

“Obedience to counsel will keep you on the safe side of life” (“The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises,” Ensign, May 1996, 17–18).

Doctrine and Covenants 89:4. “In consequence of evils and designs”

The Lord warned the Saints that “evils and designs … exist in the hearts of conspiring men” (D&C 89:4). President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) explained:

“There is another part of this revelation [D&C 89] that constitutes a pertinent warning to this modern generation. ‘In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation.’ (D&C 89:4.)

“The Lord foresaw the situation of today when motives for money would cause men to conspire to entice others to take noxious substances into their bodies. Advertisements which promote beer, wine, liquors, coffee, tobacco, and other harmful substances are examples of what the Lord foresaw. But the most pernicious example of an evil conspiracy in our time is those who induce young people into the use of drugs.

“My young brothers and sisters, in all love, we give you warning that Satan and his emissaries will strive to entice you to use harmful substances, because they well know if you partake, your spiritual powers will be inhibited and you will be in their evil power. Stay away from those places or people which would influence you to break the commandments of God. Keep the commandments of God and you will have the wisdom to know and discern that which is evil” (“A Principle with a Promise,” Ensign, May 1983, 54–55).

Doctrine and Covenants 89:5–7. “Wine or strong drink”

While the consumption of alcoholic beverages was a common practice in the early 1800s in America, some religious groups and community organizations argued against its use (see Woodworth, “The Word of Wisdom,” in Revelations in Context, 184–86, or Soon after the Church was organized, the Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith to use only homemade wine with the sacrament and warned him against purchasing it from his enemies (see D&C 27:3–4). The 1833 revelation on the Word of Wisdom indicated that the use of “wine or strong drink” was “not good” (D&C 89:5). However, homemade wine continued to be acceptable for use as part of the sacrament.

When the Word of Wisdom was first made known to the Saints, some Church members immediately stopped drinking alcohol, while others saw occasional or moderate use to be acceptable. Others viewed it as appropriate to drink alcohol for medical needs (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 15–17). At the time this revelation was given, medicines were rare and alcohol was a valuable cleansing agent and disinfectant for wounds. Over time, the Word of Wisdom was understood by Church leaders and members to prohibit the drinking of any alcohol (see Woodworth, “The Word of Wisdom,” in Revelations in Context, 186, or

Doctrine and Covenants 89:9. What does the phrase “hot drinks” refer to?

The Prophet Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were reported to have specifically identified coffee and tea as the “hot drinks” mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, and President Brigham Young later confirmed this explanation (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 14).

Doctrine and Covenants 89:18–21. “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise”

The Lord promised specific blessings to those who follow the teachings in the Word of Wisdom and who also walk “in obedience to the commandments” (D&C 89:18). The promise of finding “wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:19) can refer to the ability to gain increased access to personal revelation. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “When we obey the Word of Wisdom, windows of personal revelation are opened to us and our souls are filled with divine light and truth. If we keep our bodies undefiled, the Holy Ghost ‘shall come upon [us] and … dwell in [our] heart[s]’ [D&C 8:2] and teach us ‘the peaceable things of immortal glory’ [Moses 6:61]” (“Windows of Light and Truth,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 76).

young couple jogging together

Temporal and spiritual blessings are promised to those who keep the Word of Wisdom along with all of the Lord’s commandments (see D&C 89:18–21).

President Boyd K. Packer taught:

“I have come to know … that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation. …

“If someone ‘under the influence’ [of harmful substances] can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings?

“As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically” (“Prayers and Answers,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 20).

Increased physical health can also be a blessing received from keeping the Word of Wisdom. Some members of the Church, however, are obedient to the Word of Wisdom and still suffer from ill health. It may be helpful to consider how some of the promises associated with the Word of Wisdom have greatest fulfillment after this mortal life, in the Resurrection. For example, the obedient are promised that they “shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:20). The prophet Isaiah used similar phrases to describe the tireless strength of God Himself and prophesied that “they that wait upon the Lord” will become like God and receive the same unending strength (see Isaiah 40:28–31; see also Romans 8:11; Alma 11:42–45).

Doctrine and Covenants 90: Additional Historical Background

In April 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were sustained as “the first elder” and “the second elder” of the Church (D&C 20:2–3). At that time the Lord did not implement the organizational structure of the Church that we are familiar with today. In November 1831 a revelation instructed the Saints that “it must needs be that one be appointed of the High Priesthood to preside over the priesthood, and he shall be called President of the High Priesthood of the Church” (D&C 107:65; see D&C 107, section heading for the date of this revelation). In a conference held in Amherst, Ohio, in January 1832, Joseph Smith was ordained as the President of the High Priesthood in fulfillment of that divine instruction (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2013], 491–92). Then, on March 8, 1832, Joseph Smith called Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon to serve as his counselors in the Presidency of the High Priesthood. Jesse Gause did not remain faithful, however, and the Lord called Frederick G. Williams to take Brother Gause’s place in the Presidency on January 5, 1833 (see the additional historical background for Doctrine and Covenants 81 in this manual). On March 8, 1833, the Lord clarified that Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were to be “equal with [the Church President] in holding the keys of this last kingdom” (D&C 90:6). They were subsequently ordained as counselors in the Presidency of the High Priesthood on March 18, 1833. The Prophet Joseph Smith described the events of that day:

“I laid my hands on Brothers Sidney and Frederick, and ordained them to take part with me in holding the keys, of this last kingdom, and to assist in the presidency of the high priesthood, as my counselors; after which, I exhorted the brethren to faithfulness, and diligence in keeping the commandments of God, and gave much instruction for the benefit of the saints, with a promise, that the pure in heart should see a heavenly vision; and, after remaining a short time in secret prayer, the promise was verified; for many present had the eyes of their understanding opened by the Spirit of God so as to behold many things. …

“After [partaking of the sacrament] many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision of the Savior, and concourses of angels, and many other things, of which each one has a record of what he saw” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 281,; spelling standardized).

By 1835 the Presidency of the High Priesthood became known as the First Presidency (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 26).

Doctrine and Covenants 90

The Lord instructs the members of the First Presidency concerning their duties and authority

Doctrine and Covenants 90:1–4. The Prophet Joseph Smith holds the keys of the kingdom

In a revelation received in April 1829, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery learned that the Lord had given His ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John “the keys of this ministry until I come” (D&C 7:7), bestowing upon them priesthood authority to be the earthly leaders of His Church at that time. Many hundreds of years later, Peter, James, and John, as heavenly messengers, bestowed the same priesthood keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (see Joseph Smith—History 1:72; D&C 27:12–13; 128:20). These keys are “the right of presidency” (D&C 107:8), the directing power by which the priesthood is governed (see D&C 42:69; 65:2; 90:2–3).

In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 90, the Prophet Joseph Smith was reminded that he held the keys of the kingdom and would continue to do so in the next life (see D&C 90:2–3). The Lord also explained that under the keys held by this Presidency, the “oracles,” or revelations of God, would be given (D&C 90:4).

depiction of Joseph Smith standing and teaching

The Prophet Joseph Smith held “the keys of the kingdom” (see D&C 90:2–3).

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) explained how the priesthood keys have continued from Joseph Smith to the current living prophet in this dispensation: “That same authority which Joseph held, those same keys and powers which were the very essence of his divinely given right to preside, were by him conferred upon the Twelve Apostles with Brigham Young at their head. Every president of the Church since then has come to that most high and sacred office out of the Council of the Twelve. Each of these men has been blessed with the spirit and power of revelation from on high. There has been an unbroken chain from Joseph Smith, Jr., to [the current prophet]. Of that I bear solemn witness and testimony before you this day” (quoted in Teachings of the Living Prophets [Church Educational System manual, 2016], 14).

Doctrine and Covenants 90:4–5. The Prophet receives “oracles” for the entire Church

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles explained one meaning of the term oracles: “Revelations given by God through his prophets are oracles. (Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2; Heb. 5:12.) The First Presidency are appointed ‘to receive the oracles for the whole church.’ (D. & C. 124:126.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 547).

The term oracles also can refer to those divinely authorized persons who receive revelation from God (see 1 Peter 4:11). President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency referred to the responsibilities and qualifications of living oracles:

“Through the ages, God’s messages to his children generally have been revealed through prophets. Amos tells us, ‘Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.’ (Amos 3:7.) These are the prophetic oracles who have tuned in over the centuries to the ‘celestial transmitting station,’ with a responsibility to relay the Lord’s word to others. The principal qualifications of a prophet in any age are not wealth, title, position, physical stature, scholarship, or intellectual attainment. The two qualifications are that a prophet must be called as such by God, by open prophecy, and ordained by one known to have legal and spiritual authority, and he must receive and declare revelation from God. (See D&C 42:11.) No man knows the ways of God except they be revealed unto him. (See Jacob 4:8.). …

“This Church constantly needs the guidance of its head, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This was well taught by President George Q. Cannon: ‘We have the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; but all these books, without the living oracles and a constant stream of revelation from the Lord, would not lead any people into the Celestial Kingdom’ [Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of George Q. Cannon, comp. Jerreld L. Newquist [1987], 252]” (“Continuous Revelation,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 8–10).

Members of the Church are warned of the condemnation that will come to those who do not receive the oracles, meaning the Lord’s servants as well as the counsel and revelations they provide. Those Saints who treat the oracles lightly will “stumble and fall” (D&C 90:5; see also D&C 124:45–46).

Doctrine and Covenants 90:6–9. “Accounted as equal with thee in holding the keys”

With the ordination of Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams on March 18, 1833, as counselors to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Presidency of the High Priesthood, a quorum was established and became known as the First Presidency (see D&C 107:22; 124:125–26). These counselors held the keys of the kingdom jointly with the President. However, to be “accounted as equal” with the President meant that what Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams did under the direction of the President of the Church should be considered the same as if it were done by the President (see Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler, Revelations of the Restoration [2000], 659). The counselors were not to act independently from the direction and consent of the Church President. When the President of the Church dies, the Quorum of the First Presidency is automatically dissolved. The Counselors who served in the First Presidency then return to their places of seniority within the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles if they were members of that Quorum before they were called as Counselors.

Elder John A. Widtsoe (1872–1952) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 90, “the preeminence of the President of the Church was maintained. The question as to whether the Counselors held the same power as the President was soon debated among the people. What could the Counselors do without direct appointment from the President? These questions were answered in a meeting on January 16, 1836. The Prophet there said, ‘The Twelve are not subject to any other than the First Presidency … and where I am not, there is no First Presidency over the Twelve’ [see History of the Church, 2:374]. In other words were the President taken, the Counselors would have no authority. The Counselors do not possess the power of the President and cannot act in Church matters without direction and consent of the President” (Joseph Smith: Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God [1951], 303). Furthermore, only the President of the Church can receive revelation for the entire Church (see D&C 28:2; 43:2–5).

President Gordon B. Hinckley explained how counselors are to function in a bishopric or presidency:

“In some circumstances, a counselor may serve as a proxy for his president. The power of proxy must be granted by the president, and it must never be abused by the counselor. The work must go forward notwithstanding absences of the president for reasons of illness, employment, or other factors beyond his control. In these circumstances, and in the interest of the work, the president should give his counselors authority to act with full confidence, he having trained them as they have served together as a bishopric or presidency. …

“… During the time that President Kimball was ill, President Tanner’s health failed and he passed away. President Romney was called as First Counselor, and I as Second Counselor to President Kimball. Then President Romney became ill, thus leaving to me an almost overwhelming burden of responsibility. I counseled frequently with my Brethren of the Twelve, and I cannot say enough of appreciation to them for their understanding and for the wisdom of their judgment. In matters where there was a well-established policy, we moved forward. But no new policy was announced or implemented, and no significant practice was altered without sitting down with President Kimball and laying the matter before him and receiving his full consent and full approval. …

“President Benson is now ninety-one years of age and does not have the strength or vitality he once possessed in abundance. Brother Monson and I, as his counselors, do as has been done before, and that is to move forward the work of the Church, while being very careful not to get ahead of the President nor to undertake any departure of any kind from long-established policy without his knowledge and full approval” (“In … Counsellors There Is Safety,” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 50).

missionaries teaching investigators

The Lord has promised that in the last days “every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language” (see D&C 90:11).

Doctrine and Covenants 90:24: “All things shall work together for your good”

The Lord promised the members of the First Presidency that “all things [would] work together for [their] good” if they were righteous and remembered the covenant they had made (D&C 90:24). All Church members can find hope in the Lord’s promise that all things will work together for their good as they follow the pattern given in Doctrine and Covenants 90:24 (see also Mormon 9:27). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled: “We are to ‘search diligently, pray always, and be believing[. Then] all things shall work together for [our] good, if [we] walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted’ [D&C 90:24]. The latter days are not a time to fear and tremble. They are a time to be believing and remember our covenants” (“The Ministry of Angels,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 30).

Doctrine and Covenants 90:25–27. “Let your families be small, … as pertaining to those who do not belong to your families”

In 1833, because many of the Saints were in temporal need, Church leaders, including the Prophet Joseph Smith’s father, had opened their homes to assist them. This circumstance had the potential of hindering Church leaders’ efforts to accomplish the Lord’s work. The counsel to “let your families be small” (D&C 90:25) did not refer to the number of children the Saints might choose to have in their families but rather was a caution to Joseph Smith Sr. and other Church leaders to exercise wisdom and judgment in giving of their temporal resources to those outside their own families and to not include more in their household than they could adequately care for.

Doctrine and Covenants 90:28–31. “My handmaid Vienna Jaques”

Emma Smith and Vienna Jaques are the only women who are mentioned by name in the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 25; 90:28). Vienna Jaques is an example of the faithfulness of many early Latter-day Saints. She was born June 10, 1787. After she met the missionaries in Boston, Massachusetts, she traveled to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831. She stayed there six weeks and was baptized. Upon returning to Boston, Vienna was active in missionary work, helping to bring several members of her family into the Church, and helped the missionaries establish a small branch of the Church there. She then “settled up her business, and went back to Kirtland to unite her interests forever with the Church” (“Home Affairs,” Woman’s Exponent, July 1, 1878, 21; see also “In Memoriam,” Women’s Exponent, Mar. 1, 1884, 152; Brent M. Rogers, “Vienna Jaques: Woman of Faith,” Ensign, June 2016, 42).

In 1833, Vienna donated a substantial amount of money to the Church during a time when the money was desperately needed to purchase land in Kirtland, including land for the temple, and in Missouri. On March 8, 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation directing her to “go up unto the land of Zion [Missouri], and receive an inheritance” (D&C 90:30). She traveled to Missouri, but soon after she arrived she suffered persecution with the Saints there. In June 1834, when the company of Zion’s Camp was stricken with cholera, she was among those who helped attend to the sick. Heber C. Kimball wrote, “I received great kindness from them and also from sister Vienna Jaques, who administered to my wants and also to my brethren—may the Lord reward them for their kindness” (“Extracts from H. C. Kimball’s Journal,” Times and Seasons, Mar. 15, 1845, 839–40; see also The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, ed. Gerrit J. Dirkmaat and others [2014], 289, 291; Rogers, “Vienna Jaques,” 42–43).

With the other Saints in Missouri, Sister Jaques was driven from her home to Nauvoo, Illinois. She eventually traveled west to Utah in 1847 and, at the age of 60, drove her own wagon across the plains. She settled in Salt Lake City and for the rest of her life worked hard to support herself and diligently study the scriptures. Vienna died on February 7, 1884, at the age of 96. One remembrance written about her stated, “She was true to her covenants and esteemed the restoration of the Gospel as a priceless treasure” (“In Memoriam,” Woman’s Exponent, Mar. 1, 1884, 152; see also Rogers, “Vienna Jaques,” 44–45).

Doctrine and Covenants 91: Additional Historical Background

The Old Testament Apocrypha is a collection of ancient texts that were not included in the Hebrew Bible but were included in the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. These ancient texts subsequently became part of the Christian Bible until Martin Luther placed them in a separate section titled “Apocrypha.” Over time, many Bible editions removed this section, while others preserved it. The Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Bible using a King James edition that contained a section labeled “Apocrypha” located between the Old and New Testaments. After completing the New Testament translation and while continuing to work on books in the Old Testament, the Prophet wondered whether he was to translate the Apocrypha when he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 91 (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 32–33).

Doctrine and Covenants 91

The Lord instructs Joseph Smith not to translate the Apocrypha

Doctrine and Covenants 91. “Whoso readeth [the Apocrypha] … and … is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom”

The Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery purchased a copy of the King James Version of the Bible on October 8, 1829, from E. B. Grandin in Palmyra, New York (see “Bible Used for Bible Revision,” It was a large pulpit-style edition that contained the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha. It had been printed in 1828 by the H. and E. Phinney Company, located in Cooperstown, New York (for images of this Bible, see “Bible Used for Bible Revision,” This was the book that the Prophet used for his inspired translation of the Bible.

As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 91:1–3, in response to the Prophet’s inquiry about whether to translate the Apocrypha, the Lord said that it contains truths as well as errors and instructed Joseph not to translate it. The Lord further explained that those who wish to benefit from the study of these ancient texts should seek to have the Lord’s Spirit to help them discern those things which are true (see D&C 91:4–6). Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “To gain any real value from a study of apocryphal writings, the student must first have an extended background of gospel knowledge, a comprehensive understanding of the standard works of the Church, plus the guidance of the Spirit” (Mormon Doctrine, 42). The Bible Dictionary in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible contains an entry titled “Apocrypha,” which provides a brief overview of each of the texts that often comprise the Apocrypha.

Doctrine and Covenants 92: Additional Historical Background

Frederick G. Williams was called on January 5, 1833, to replace Jesse Gause as a counselor in the Presidency of the High Priesthood. On March 15, 1833, the Lord directed that Brother Williams also become a member of the United Firm. This meant that he was to join the previously called nine members of the United Firm in managing the literary and mercantile operations of the Church.

Doctrine and Covenants 92

Frederick G. Williams is called to join the United Firm

Doctrine and Covenants 92. The United Firm

After Frederick G. Williams was called to be a new member of the First Presidency, the Lord directed him to join the group of men who had charge over the financial and temporal matters of the Church (see D&C 78:1–8; 82:11–12, 15–24). This group was called the United Firm or the United Order.