Feast upon the Word Blog

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D&C Lesson 5

Posted by cherylem on January 27, 2009

I apologize for not posting notes for last week’s lesson. I didn’t have a lot of time last week; if I can I will eventually post something on Lesson 4.

Here are Jim F’s notes on this lesson. They are excellent: http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2005/01/sunday-school-lesson-5/

And here, again, are Mack Stirling’s institute notes for D&C 6, 8,  and 9. I’ve interspersed some information from Lyndon Cook’s book on the D&C. I may post more later, but hopefully this will prove useful.

D&C 6, 8, 9


Revelations to Oliver Cowdery




D&C 6:


Date. April 1829 (on or after 7 April; see Historical Note below).


Place. Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.


Historical Note. While Joseph Smith was still residing in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Oliver Cowdery was teaching school in Palmyra. Because it was customary for school teachers to board with the families of their pupils, Oliver Cowdery came to live with the Smith family, where he first learned about Moroni’s appearances to Joseph Smith and the translation of the plates. When school closed in the spring, Oliver Cowdery traveled to Harmony to meet the Prophet. Arriving on 5 April 1829, he received a first-hand account of the glorious work of the Restoration, and on 7 April he began serving as Joseph Smith’s scribe.


Concerning Cowdery‘s involvement in the translation, Joseph Knight, Sr., wrote,


In the spring of 1829 Oliver Cowdery a young man from Palmyra went to see old Mr. Smith about the Book that Joseph had found. And he told him about it and advised him to go Down to Pennsylvany and see for him self and to write for Joseph. He went Down and Received a Revelation Concerning the work and he was Convinced of the truth of the work and he agreed to write for him till it was Done. Now Joseph and Oliver Came up to see me if I Could help him to some provisions, [they] having no way to Buy any. . . .I Bought a Barral of Mackrel and some lined paper for writing. . . .some nine or ten Bushels of grain and five or six Bushels taters and a pound of tea, and I went Down to see him and they ware in want. Joseph and Oliver ware gone to see if they Could find a place to work for provisions, and found none. They returned home and found me there with provisions, and they ware glad for they ware out.


Of his experience with Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery wrote,


These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or as the Nephites would have said, “Interpreters,” the history, or record, called “The Book of Mormon.”


Publication Note. Section 6 was first published as chapter 5 in the Book of Commandments in 1833.


Biographical Note. Oliver Cowdery.


Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Born 3 October 1806 at Wells, Rutland County, Vermont. Became acquainted with and began writing for Joseph Smith as scribe on translation of gold plates April 1829. With Joseph Smith received Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods in spring of 1829. One of Three Witnesses to Book of Mormon June 1829. Charter member of Church 6 April 1830. First scribe to assist Joseph Smith in translating Bible. Led Lamanite mission to Missouri in winter of 1830. Returned to Ohio August 1831. Ordained to High Priesthood 28 August 1831 by Sidney Rigdon. Accompanied by John Whitmer to Missouri November-December 1831 with manuscript revelations for printing. Member of Literary and United firms. Married Elizabeth Ann Whitmer 18 December 1832. Six children: Maria Louise, Elizabeth Ann, Josephine Rebecca, Oliver Peter, Adeline Fuller, and Julia Olive. No grandchildren. Left Missouri for Ohio in July 1833 to confer with Joseph Smith concerning persecution in Jackson County. Arrived in Kirtland before 18 August 1833. Traveled to New York October 1833 to purchase printing materials. Member of Kirtland high council. Assisted in administering Church affairs during summer of 1834 while Joseph Smith was in Missouri. Ordained Assistant President of Church 5 December 1834. Assisted in choosing twelve apostles 1835. Appointed Church recorder 1835. Participated in dedication of Kirtland Temple 1836. With Joseph Smith received priesthood keys from Elijah, Elias, and Moses 3 April 1836. Returned to Missouri 1837. Arrived in Far West 20 October 1837. Excommunicated from Church for apostasy 12 April 1838 at Far West, Missouri. Practiced law in Tiffin, Ohio, and Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Ran unsuccessfully for state legislature in Wisconsin 1848. Rebaptized by Orson Hyde 12 November 1848 at Kanesville, Iowa. Died 3 March 1850 in Richmond, Ray County, Missouri.




Note: Oliver was young year younger, better educated than Joseph Smith.


Note: Essentially the entire Book of Mormon, as we have it, was writing between April 7, 1829 and June 30, 1829, dictated by Joseph with Oliver as scribe. (less than 90 days)


Sections 6, 7, 8 and 9 were received at this time.


Section 6: Given to Oliver by Joseph via the Urim & Thummim.


v. 3

What is one way to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven?

v. 4-5

What is one circumstance in which we can expect answers to our prayers?

v. 6-8, 11

also see

D&C 8:11

What should be our ultimate goal as we serve in the Church?

For what should we seek?

How does this relate to bringing about Zion?

v. 13

What is the greatest of the gifts of God?

v. 10,


What gift was given to Oliver Cowdery?

v. 14-17,


Oliver’s previous spiritual experience, in NY before he came down to Joseph Smith

What can we learn about the nature of spiritual experiences from these verses?

1.     v. 14. direct us in the path God would have us go

2.     v. 15. enlighten our minds – personal revelation

3.      v. 23. feeling of peace

Did Oliver have any doubts after this experience?

Is doubt sinful?

v. 28-30

Oliver as the 2nd Witness of the Restoration.

What do these verse allude to? (John 15:20)

Who “took Oliver’s place?” D&C 135:3

v. 32-37

How did God comfort Joseph and Oliver in their challenges?

v. 36-37

What do these verses mean?

How do they relate to the sacrament?






Section 8 


Date. April 1829 (after 7 April).


Place. Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.


Historical Note. Anxious to exercise the gift of translation that the Lord had bestowed upon Oliver Cowdery (see D&C 6:25), Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery inquired of the Lord and received the revelation now identified as section 8. 23


Textual Note. In the Book of Commandments verses 6 and 7 read differently. Compare the following:


Book of Commandments 1981 Edition


Now this is not all, for you have 6. Now this is not all thy gift; for
another gift, which is the gift of you have another gift, which is the
working with the rod: behold, it has gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you
told you things; behold there is no many things;
other power save God, that can 7. Behold, there is no other
cause this rod of nature, to work power, save the power of God, that
in your hands can cause this gift of Aaron to be 
with you.
8. Therefore, doubt not, for it is 
the gift of God you shall hold it 
in your hands, and do marvelous 
works; and no power shall be able 
to take it away out of your hands, 
for it is the work of God.


The original text suggests that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery may have had a tangible instrument other than the Urim and Thummim with which to translate. This idea is further substantiated in verse 8 of the 1981 edition, wherein the Lord said, “You shall hold it in your hands.”


Publication Note. Section 8 was first published as chapter 7 in the Book of Commandments in 1833.



v. 2-4

More information to Oliver about his gift of translation.

v. 2      What do we learn about revelation from this verse?

v. 3-4. What does God compare the Exodus to in Oliver’s personal life?

             How does this relate to us?

             Who are our enemies?

1.     natural man

2.     great/abominable Church (members of)

3.     Satan

How do we escape them? (personal revelation).

v. 6-9

Oliver’s other gift

Book of Commandments 1833:

Now this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the

rod: behold there is no other power-save God, than can cause this rod of nature,

to work in your hands.


Possible interpretations:

1.     The “gift of Aaron” or “rod” is a metaphor for the face that Oliver had the same

as a metaphor for the fact that Oliver had the same relationship to Joseph as

Aaron to Moses.

2.     Sidney B. Sperry suggests that Oliver actually had Aaron’s rod.




Section 9


Date. April 1829 (after 7 April).


Place. Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.


Historical Note. According to his desire on the one hand and the Lord’s permission and blessing on the other, Oliver Cowdery proceeded to translate the Book of Mormon, even as Joseph Smith. But upon doing so, Oliver began to fear and failed to exercise sufficient faith to receive the necessary inspiration. Pursuant to this failure, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord and received section 9. Therein the Lord instructed Oliver Cowdery to resume his role as scribe and promised that Oliver would assist in future translations. 24


Publication Note. Section 9 was first published as chapter 8 in the Book of Commandments in 1833.



v. 1,


Why did Oliver fail to translate?

v. 11

Does this verse make sense?

Couldn’t God have taught Oliver how to translate?

Why did Oliver have to go through this experience?

What did he learn from it?


v. 7-9. What do we learn about personal revelation from these verses?


Further reflection on D&C 6:36-37: “look to me in every thought . . . behold the wounds”

  • Eye single to God. D&C 4:5
  • Healthy fear of God (awe, respect, seeking). D&C 3:7
  • True worship (opposite of idolatry) D&C 1:16
  • Being a member of the Church of Christ. D&C 10:66-67
  • Being in the path to eternal life. 1 Ne. 8:31; 1 Ne. 1:24, 2 Ne. 31:17-20

2 Responses to “D&C Lesson 5”

  1. Cheryl: Thanks for your hard work on these lessons. I always check here as I prepare for class. The biographical and historical stuff is particularly interesting. I was particularly struck this week by Oliver Cowdery’s humble and faithful response to his experience in sections 6-9.

    For those who are interested, I have started a blog that I hope will be like a virtual gospel doctrine class, with lots of great discussion. Check it out at Gospel Doctrine Underground. I would love to hear everyone’s comments comments.

  2. cherylem said

    Thanks for your comments. I’m glad these notes are helpful.

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