Feast upon the Word Blog

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D&C Lessons 7 and 8, complete (more or less)

Posted by cherylem on February 17, 2009

(Before diving into these lessons, I wanted to make sure everyone knew this map was available: http://deseretbook.com/misc/dc_map_lg.pdf)

I am going to teach these lessons as one combined lesson, though I will take the full two weeks to do so.

The manual asks us to follow this organization:

Lesson 7: The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel

  • Faith in the Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel
  • Through sincere repentance, we can participate in the blessings of the Atonement
  • Baptism is an essential ordinance
  • Through confirmation, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
  • We need to endure to the end

Lesson 8: The restoration of the Priesthood

  • Definition and purpose of the priesthood
  • Restoration of the Aaronic priesthood

Keys of the ministering of angels
Keys of repentance and baptism

  • Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood

Authority to administer the gospel
Keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church
Right of presidency
Keys of the gathering of Israel, the gospel of the dispensation of Abraham, and the sealing power

  • Blessings of the priesthood for all people.

I have decided (so far) to teach the D&C in more or less numerical sequence, and teach church history chronologically. This puts me at odds with the lesson manual, so I am also attempting to cover the main points of the lessons as we go.

The following notes are long, and quote perhaps more heavily than we like from book sources. I’ve used some of Jim F’s notes, especially re D&C 11 and 13, and also Mack Stirling’s Institute notes. Anyway, here is my contribution for these two lessons. I will NOT put all these in a too-lengthy handout, and in class we will stick to the scriptures and an outline of historical events.

Lesson 7 and 8, using D&C 11-18 as the main text

Historically, we are still in the summer months of 1829, when Joseph Smith is translating the Book of Mormon. At the end of 1828, Moroni returned the plates and the Urim and Thummim (after the Martin Harris episode) and promised a new scribe to assist in the translation. Emma had been helping, but the work was not moving forward. As we’ve already talked about in my SS class, the new scribe was Oliver Cowdery, and Joseph Smith and Oliver began working together on April 7, 1829. As they worked  through the Book of Mormon, they learned important things that were the catalyst for new spiritual experiences and for the restoration of the priesthood.

New people enter the scene: David Whitmer (24 years old), Peter Whitmer Sr (David’s father), Mary Whitmer (David’s mother) David’s sisters Catherine, Nancy, and Elizabeth Ann, and brothers Peter Jr., John, Christian. Martin Harris re-enters the history, and Samuel and Hyrum Smith, as well as Joseph Smith Sr become prominent. Others who play a role include the young printer Egbert B. Grandin (23 years old) and John H. Gilbert, who provided punctuation.

Important dates during this time are:

Fall 1828 Joseph Smith again received the plates and the Urim and Thummim
7 Apr 1829 Joseph resumed translation with the help of Oliver Cowdery
15 May 1829 John the Baptist restored the Aaronic priesthood. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery baptized.
May-June 1829 Peter, James and John restored the Melchizedek Priesthood
1 June 1829 Joseph and Oliver moved to Fayette (to the Whitmer household) to complete the translation
Probably early July 1829 Three witnesses
Probably early July 1829 Eight witnesses (all members of the Smith and Whitmer families)
Probably June 1829 Moroni shows the plates to Mary Whitmer
Fall 1829-Winter 1830 The Book of Mormon first printed in Palmyra
26 March 1830 The Book of Mormon went on sale in Palmyra

D&C 11
Joseph Smith recorded the following account of the events that followed shortly after he and Oliver Cowdery had received the Aaronic Priesthood and had been baptized on May 15, 1829:

Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the Scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of having received the Priesthood and our having been baptized, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood. . . .
After a few days, however, feeling it to be our duty, we commenced to reason out of the Scriptures with our acquaintances and friends, as we happened to meet with them. About this time my brother Samuel H. Smith came to visit us. . . .

Not many days afterwards, my brother Hyrum Smith came to us to inquire concerning these things, when at his earnest request, I inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim, and received for him the following: [Section 11 follows.] (Joseph Smith, HC 1:43-45.)

The following is from: Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants by Lydon W. Cook, © 1981 Deseret Book Company

[The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith]_Brother Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got! Oh may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head, as a reward for the care you have had for my soul! 0 how many are the sorrows we have shared together; and again we find ourselves shackled with the unrelenting hand of oppression. Hyrum, thy name shall be written in the book of the law of the Lord.

Biographical Note. Hyrum Smith.

Son of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. Born 9 February 1800 at Tunbridge, Orange County, Vermont. Married Jerusha Barden 2 November 1826 in Manchester, New York. Six children: Lovina, Mary, John, Hyrum, Jerusha, and Sarah. One of Eight Witnesses to Book of Mormon 1829. Ordained priest 9 June 1830. Ordained elder before June 1831. Ordained to High Priesthood 3 June 1831. One of committee of three to superintend construction of sacred edifices in Kirtland, Ohio. Member of Zion’s Camp 1834. Member of Kirtland high council. Worked on Kirtland Temple. Participated in Kirtland Temple dedication 1836. Appointed assistant counselor to First Presidency 3 September 1837. Appointed second counselor in First Presidency in Far West, Missouri, 7 November 1837. After death of first wife, married Mary Fielding December 1837. Two children: Joseph Fielding and Martha Ann. Arrested and incarcerated in Liberty Jail November 1838-April 1839 for treason. No conviction. Located in Nauvoo, Illinois, 1839. ordained Patriarch and Assistant President of Church 24 January 1841. Received endowment 4 May 1842. Sealed to wife, Mary, 29 May 1843. Sealed to Mercy R. Thompson for time 11 August 1843. Member of Nauvoo City Council. Arrested and incarcerated in Carthage Jail June 1844. Killed by mob  June 1844 at Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. Nauvoo Temple proxy sealings to Jerusha Barden and Mary Fielding 15 January 1846, to Susan Ivers (born 1789 in Massachusetts) 29 January 1846, and to Lydia Dibble and Polly Miller (born 1795 in New York) 30 January 1846.

“The Lord declared that Hyrum Smith had a gift. The great gift which he possessed was that of a tender, sympathetic heart, a merciful spirit. The Lord on a later occasion said: ‘Blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord.’ (D&C 124:15.) This great gift was manifest in his jealous watch-care over the Prophet lest some harm come to him.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, CHMR 1:52.)

D&C 11 Discussion

v. 3-5        Except for in Alma 26:5, we find this harvest image exclusively in the Doctrine and Covenants. Why is this image particularly appropriate to the last days? Here and in each of the sections that repeat this image, 4, 6, and 12, there is a close connection between the call to take part in the harvest and the admonition to ask and to knock if we wish to receive. What is the connection between those two ideas?

v. 6-7    What does it mean to seek to bring forth Zion?
How do D&C 105:3-5, 78:3-7 relate to this?

How can we come to understand the richness of eternal life?
Ephesians. 1:17-18

Does an understanding of the richness of eternal life play any role in our
pursuit of eternal life?  Hebrews 11:6, 24-27

v. 10 –  v. 21   What gift was to be given to Hyrum Smith?

v. 12-14    “The Spirit”
What “Spirit” is being talked about here?
What effect does it have on our minds and hearts?
Alma 32:28
How do we learn of all good things? Moroni 7:12-13, 16, 19

Prerequisites for teaching the Gospel
1. v. 16, 21-22        first seek to obtain the word
2. v. 15            called
3. v. 17, 27        desire
4. v. 19, 20 (D& 4:5)`    keep commandments

What is our work?  Alma 34:32-34. Repentance.
God’s work: Moses 1:39

v. 21-22 ‡ Mosiah 1:2-5, Alma 17:2-3.
What is the role of scripture study in our lives?
How do we obtain the word of God? (Psalm 1:1-3)

v. 24  “Rock” = Gospel = Doctrine ‡ Jesus Christ
What else is the “rock?” Hel. 5:12, 1 Cor. 10:3-4, Moses 7:53

v. 28-29    Why is the testimony here important to Hyrum? Consider each element of this testimony: Christ is the Son of God, was rejected by his own. Why do you think the Savior chose to use those as his testimony to Hyrum? How might they be significant to Hyrum in particular?

v. 30 What is meant by “the sons of God?”
Rom. 8:14-17; Mosiah 5:5-7; D&C 39:4-6; D&C 76:58

How do we become the sons [and daughters] of God?
Receive Him by receiving His gospel.

Section 12

Through Joseph Smith to Joseph Knight Sr. May 1829

From: Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants by Lyndon W. Cook. 1981 Deseret Book Company.

Historical Note. Joseph Knight, Sr., a resident of Colesville, New York, in 1829, was one of the first individuals to step forward and assist the Prophet during the translation of the Book of Mormon by supplying money, food, and writing materials. He also paid attorney’s fees for Joseph Smith. The Prophet, who always maintained a great love and high esteem for Joseph Knight, Sr., said,

For fifteen years he has been faithful and true, and even-handed and exemplary, and virtuous and kind, never deviating to the right hand or to the left. Behold he is a righteous man, may God Almighty lengthen out the old man’s days; and may his trembling, tortured, and broken body be renewed, and in the vigor of health turn upon him if it be Thy will, consistently, O God; and it shall be said of him, by the sons of Zion, while there is one of them remaining, that this was a faithful man in Israel; therefore his name shall never be forgotten.

Of his early acquaintance with the Prophet, Joseph Knight, Sr., wrote,
He came to me perhaps in November [1826] and worked for me until about the time that he was Married, which I think was in February [January 1827]. And I paid him the money and I furnished him with a horse and Cutter to go and see his girl Down to Mr. Hails. And soon after this he was Married . . . .

He had talked with me and told me the Conversation he had with the personage which told him if he would Do right according to the will of God he mite obtain [the plates].

Old Mr. Smith and Martin Harris Come forrod to Be Baptize for the first. They found a place in a lot a small Stream ran thro and they were Baptized in the Evening because of persecution. . . . I had some thots to go forrod, But I had not red the Book of Morman and I wanted to exeman a little more I Being a Restorationar and had not examined so much as I wanted to. But I should a felt Better if I had gone forward. But I went home and was Baptised in June with my wife and familey.


From: Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, by Susan Easton Black, 1997, Deseret Book Company.

Joseph Knight Sr.
D&C 12; 23
Birth: 3 November 1772, Oakham, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Son of Benjamin and Hannah Knight.
Death: 2 February 1847, Mount Pisgah, Harrison County, Iowa.

In 1808 Joseph Knight Sr. and his family moved to Bainbridge, New York, and two years later to Colesville, New York, where they resided for nineteen years. Father Knight, as Joseph was affectionately known by the Saints, purchased a farm on the Susquehanna River and built a gristmill. Biographer William G. Hartley wrote that he was “not rich, yet he possessed enough of this world’s goods to secure to himself and family, not only the necessaries, but also the comforts of life.” His religious orientation was the Universalist doctrine. 1

Father Knight first became acquainted with Joseph Smith in 1826. While lodging at the Knight home Joseph spoke of his glorious visitations. “My father and I believed him,” wrote Joseph Knight Jr., “and I think we were the first to do so, after his own family.” 2 When Joseph Smith obtained the Book of Mormon plates, he used Father Knight’s horse and carriage as his means of conveyance.

Joseph Knight wrote of assisting the young prophet on another occasion: “I let him have some little provisions and some few things out of the store, a pair of shoes, and three dollars in money to help him a little.” He also wrote, “I gave Â… Joseph a little money to buy paper to translate.” 3 Joseph Smith praised Father Knight for his donations that “enabled us to continue the work when otherwise we must have relinquished it for a season.”

Discussion, Section 12:

v. 8    What qualifies us to assist in the work? What is the role of humility? (how does this relate
to priesthood?) Ether 12:27

Section 13: The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood May 15, 1829

From Lyndon Cook (see above)
Section 13
Date. 15 May 1829.
Place. Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.

Historical Note. Section 13 contains part of the instructions and prayer of ordination given by John the Baptist on 15 May 1829. This heavenly messenger informed Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery that he was ministering under the direction of Peter, James, and John, three of the Lord’s ancient apostles. Within a few days of John the Baptist’s visit, these three apostles also appeared to the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood. Several accounts of the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods were written and published fewer than six years after the events. (See, for example, Messenger and Advocate [October 1834].) Consider the following 1835 account in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery:

[Joseph Smith] was ordained by the angel John, unto the lesser or Aaronic priesthood, in company with myself, in the town of Harmony, Susquehannah county, Pennsylvania, on Friday the 15th day of May, 1829: after which we repaired to the water, even to the Susquehannah river, and were baptized: he first ministering unto me, and after, I do him. But before baptism our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer, to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit according to the order of God, and we diligently sought for the right of the fathers and the authority of the holy Priesthood, and the power to administer in the same; for we desired to be, followers of righteousness and the possessors of greater knowledge, even the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Therefore we repaired to the woods, even as our father Joseph said we should, that is, to the bush, and called upon the name of the Lord, and he answered us out of the heavens: and while we were in the heavenly vision the angel came down and bestowed upon us this priesthood: and then, as I have said, we repaired to the water and were baptized. After this we received the high and holy priesthood: but an account of this will be given elsewhere, or in another place.

In 1848, when Cowdery returned to the Church, he gave a similar testimony concerning the restoration of the Priesthood:

I was present with Joseph when an holy angle from god came down from heaven and confered, or restored the Aronic priesthood. And Said at the Same time that it Should remain upon the earth while the earth Stands. I was also present with Joseph when the Melchesideck priesthood was confered by the holy angles of god.—which we then confirmed on each other by the will and commandment of god. This priesthood is also to remain upon the earth untill the Last remnant of time. This holy priesthood we confered upon many. And is just as good and valid as if god had confered it in person.

Publication Note. Section 13 was first published in the Times and Seasons (1 August 1842) and was later included in the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Section 13 Discussion

JSH1: 68-72  Oliver Cowdery’s note: paragraphs 4 and 5

  • How does the LDS concept of divine authority differ from the Protestant?    Priesthood of all believers (Martin Luther, John Calvin)
  • The Catholic?     Priesthood derived from Peter, through the line of  Popes
  • Why do we believe the way we do?     Because of what happened to Joseph Smith: the historical events in the restoration of the Gospel

Some functions of the Aaronic Priesthood:
1. Keys of ministering of angels
2. Keys of the preparatory gospel (faith, repentance, baptism)
3. To help prepare the Sons of Levi to make an offering to the Lord in righteousness

Who are the “sons of Levi?”
1. Literal descendants of Levi, of the priests who performed the animal sacrifices and other rituals in Ancient Israel.
2. Those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood. See D&C 84:31-34.

What is the offering in righteousness the sons of Levi are to offer?

  1. Joseph Fielding Smith believed that literal descendants of Levi will at some point offer blood sacrifices in our dispensation (but what about Alma 34:10, 13-14?)
  2. Is there any other possibility?
  • Malachi 3:2-3; D&C 128:24  What must happen to the Sons of Levi so they can make an offering?
  • D&C 124:37-39 Where will the offering be made?
  • What was Jesus in the “ultimate temple?”

Heb. 7:17, 26-28    sacrifice
Heb. 10:5-10, 14, 19-20        great High Priest
See also Heb. 8:1-2

  • Where do we, at least ritually, become both High Priests and Sacrifice? The Temple.
  • What is the sacrifice that God desires from us?

Omni 26   our whole souls
Romans 12:1-2  our bodies as living sacrifices

  • When can we make an acceptable offering?
  • A possible conclusion: We are the spiritual sons (and daughters) of Levi. The Aaronic Priesthood helps prepare us to become both sacrifices and priests in the House of God, just like our Savior was. In the Temple we, the sons of Levi, offer our offerings in righteousness: our purified/sanctified selves. The Aaronic Priesthood will no longer be necessary when we al have become acceptable sacrifices to God in this sense.

The following from Jim F’s notes: http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2005/02/sunday-school-lesson-8/

How does the use of the word “keys” here differ from its use in Matthew 16:19? How are they the same?

Numbers 18 spells out the responsibilities of the Aaronic priesthood anciently: They are to bear the sin of Israel and prevent others from getting too close to the tabernacle and its holy vessels (verses 1- 5). As priesthood bearers, they are a gift to Israel, and they should understand their priesthood service as a gift they give to Israel (verses 6- 7). Speaking to Aaron, the Lords says that he is in charge of the holy sacrifices and should depend on the Lord for his inheritance (verses 8- 20; the same things are repeated in verses 21- 32, speaking to the Levites as a whole). Compare these responsibilities of the ancient Aaronic priesthood with the responsibilities of the latter- day Aaronic priesthood (D&C 20:46- 59; 107:13- 14, and 20). How is priesthood service a gift to give? What does “authority” mean when we think of it in those terms? How might priesthood bearers today understand the instruction to depend on the Lord for their inheritance?

What is the ministering of angels? Is it related to Jesus’ experience after his forty- day fast (Matthew 4:11 and Mark 1:13)? Does the fact that it a telestial privilege (D&C 76:88) help us understand what it means to us? Sherem confesses that angels minister as part of his repentance (Jacob 7:17); Amaleki lists it among the things in which he believes (Omni 1:25); when, after Christ’s appearance, the disciplines receive the Holy Ghost, angels minister to them (3 Nephi 19:15); Moroni mentions the ministering of angels as something by which people have faith (Moroni 7:25), and he tells us that it is one of the gifts of the Spirit (Moroni 10:14). The fact that the ministering of angels is one of only two things mentioned by John the Baptist, the other being the gospel, suggests that it is something very important. Can you explain specifically what it is in a way that gives it its importance? Where do we find the ministering of angels today?

John the Baptist describes the gospel in two ways: it is the gospel of repentance, and it is the gospel of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins? Why do you think that he chooses those particular ways of describing the gospel, rather than others?

John speaks of keys, in the plural, but then he says “this shall never be taken from the earth,” using a singular pronoun. To what does the word “this” refer? So what?

Sections 14, 15, 16, to David, John and Peter Whitmer, June 1829

Section 14 (Cook, see above)
Date. June 1829.
Place. Fayette, Seneca County, New York.

Historical Note. Most of the Book of Mormon was translated between April and June 1829 in Harmony, Pennsylvania. As the work of translation continued, meager financial conditions and local animosity prompted Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to find assistance in finishing the work. The Prophet and Oliver, both of whom had become acquainted with the Whitmer family in Fayette, New York, decided to ask the Whitmers for help. (The Whitmers knew of the translation: before going to Pennsylvania, Oliver had conversed with David Whitmer about the ancient record and, after arriving in Harmony, had sent the Whitmers a small transcript of the translation.) Oliver Cowdery wrote, explaining the situation in Harmony and asking if they could live with the Whitmer family while completing the translation. In response David Whitmer traveled the 135 miles to Harmony to help with the move. The party left for Fayette about 1 June. Section 14 was received in Fayette shortly after their arrival.

David Whitmer later said of Joseph Smith and the translation;

He was a religious and straight forward man. He had to be, for he was illiterate and he could do nothing himself. He had to trust in God. He could not translate unless he was humble and possessed the right feelings toward everyone. To illustrate so you can see: One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma his wife, had done. Oliver and I went up stairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard, and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour—came back to the house, and asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were, and then the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.

Publication Note. Section 14 was first published as chapter 12 in the Book of Commandments in 1833.

Biographical Note. David Whitmer.

Son of Peter Whitmer and Mary Musselman. Born 7 January 1805 near Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. One of Three Witnesses of Book of Mormon 1829. Baptized, and possibly ordained apostle, June 1829. Married Julia Ann Jolly, daughter of William Jolly, 9 January 1831 at Seneca County, New York. Two children: David J. (born in Missouri), and Julia A.E. (born in Ohio). Ordained elder 6 April 1830. Moved to Kirtland, Ohio, by June 1831. Ordained high priest 25 October 1831. Moved to Jackson County, Missouri, by October 1832. Chosen and ordained successor to Joseph Smith and President of the Church in Missouri 7July 1834. Chosen to receive “endowment” in Kirtland Temple 23 June 1834. Left Missouri for Kirtland by September 1834. Assisted in choosing twelve apostles 1835. Appointed as general agent for Literary Firm September 1835. Participated in Kirtland Temple dedication 1836. Paid personal property tax on one horse and one cow in Kirtland 1836. Expressed sympathy to apostate sentiments in Kirtland 1837. Returned to Missouri before 29 July 1837. Rejected by Missouri Saints as president of Church in Missouri 5 February 1838. Excommunicated from Church 13 April 1838 at Far West, Missouri, for apostasy. After leaving Church, located in Richmond, Ray County, Missouri; operated a livery stable. For fifty years maintained strict separation from Church. Recognized by peers as prominent citizen and businessman. Elected to fill unexpired term of mayor in Richmond 1867-68. Died 25 January 1888 at Richmond, Ray County, Missouri.

Section 15

Date. June 1829.
Place. Fayette, Seneca County, New York.
Historical Note. See Historical Note for section 14.

Publication Note. Section 15 was first published as chapter 13 in the Book of Commandments in 1833.

Biographical Note. John Whitmer.

Son of Peter Whitmer and Mary Musselman. Born 27 August 1802 in Pennsylvania. Baptized June 1829 by Oliver Cowdery. One of Eight Witnesses of Book of Mormon June 1829. Assisted Joseph Smith in arranging and copying revelations July 1830. Ordained elder 9 June 1830. Served as scribe to Joseph Smith in translation of Bible. Called by revelation as Church historian 8 March 1831; ordained contrary to his wishes 9 April 1831 in Kirtland. Ordained high priest 3 June 1831 by Lyman Wight. Began history of Church, called “The Book of John Whitmer,” which spanned years 1831-38. Appointed to accompany Oliver Cowdery to Jackson County, Missouri, with revelations for printing November 1831. Left Ohio 20 November 1831, stopped in Winchester, Indiana, for week, and arrived in Jackson County, Missouri, 5 January 1832. Member of Literary and United firms. Married Sarah Jackson 10 February 1833 in Jackson County, Missouri. Five children: Nancy Jane, John Oliver, Sarah Elizabeth, Jacob David Jackson, and Alexander Peter Jefferson. Ordained counselor to David Whitmer as one of presidents of Church in Missouri 8 July 1834. Chosen to receive “endowment” in Kirtland Temple 23 June 1834. Left Clay County, Missouri, for Kirtland 28 April 1835; arrived 17 May 1835. Appointed editor of Messenger and Advocate in Kirtland 18 May 1835, contrary to his wishes. Edited publication June 1835-March 1836. Participated in dedication of Kirtland Temple 1836. Paid personal property tax on one horse and one cow in 1836 in Kirtland. Returned to Clay County, Missouri, by 25 July 1836. In 1836-37, together with W.W. Phelps, began to administer affairs of Church in Missouri independent of high council. With W.W. Phelps, located gathering place at Far West, Missouri; identified temple site; and purchased property in own names with Church funds—all without approval of Church high council or membership. (These actions created much confusion and difficulty for Church in Missouri and finally resulted in Whitmer’s excommunication.) Held title to hundreds of acres in Caldwell County, Missouri. Despite difficulties, upheld as counselor to David Whitmer November 1837. Rejected 5 February 1838. Excommunicated 10 March 1838 at Far West, Missouri. Left Far West 19 June 1838 and resided in Richmond until after Saints were forced out of Missouri 1839. Recognized as excellent farmer and stock raiser. Resided in Far West, Missouri, until death, 11 July 1878.

Section 16

Date. June 1829.
Place. Fayette, Seneca County, New York.
Historical Note. See Historical Note for section 14. 42

Publication Note. Section 16 was first published as chapter 14 in the Book of Commandments in 1833.

Biographical Note. Peter Whitmer, Jr.

Son of Peter Whitmer and Mary Musselman. Born 27 September 1809 at Fayette, Seneca County, New York. One of Eight Witnesses of Book of Mormon June 1829. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery and ordained elder by 9 June 1830. Called by revelation with others September 1830 to preach gospel to Lamanites. Party of four left New York latter part of October 1830. Arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, area by 1 November 1830; there made numerous converts. Arrived in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, 13 December 1830; there employed as tailor. Left Missouri for Ohio after 4 August 1831. Arrived in Ohio 1 September 1831; there suffered few weeks of illness. Attended conferences of Church in Hiram and Portage, Ohio, 11 and 21 October 1831. Ordained high priest 25 October 1831. At conference said, “My beloved brethren ever since I have had an acquaintance with the writing of God, I have eternity with perfect confidence.” Attended conferences in Hiram, Ohio, November 1831; there appointed to have inheritance in Zion for assisting Joseph Smith in bringing forth sacred writings, particularly revelations. Returned to Independence, Missouri, by 24 August 1832. Married Vashti Higley 14 October 1832 in Jackson County, Missouri. Ceremony performed by Oliver Cowdery. Three children: Emma, Kate, and Vashti P.; last child born 20 May 1837, after Whitmer’s death. Appointed to receive “endowment” in Kirtland Temple 23 June 1834. Arrived in Kirtland before 6 January 1836; appointed and set apart as high councilor for Missouri (to fill vacancy occasioned by death of brother Christian). Returned to Clay County, Missouri, by September 1836. Died of tuberculosis near Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, 22 September 1836.

To summarize:

David Whitmer    One of three witnesses
(Excommunicated 1838)

John Whitmer:     One of the 8 witnesses
1st Church Historian
(Excommunicated 1838)

Peter Whitmer:    One of the 8 witnesses
Died 1836

Discussion D&C 14

D&C 14:7    What is the greatest of God’s gifts?
How is this represented in Lehi’s dream? 1 Ne. 15:36
What is eternal life? Becoming like God. Live same life as God.

D&C 14:8    What is the only way we can stand as witnesses of Christ and the restoration of the
Gospel? (see D&C 42:14)

D&C 14:9-10    Why can’t Jesus be hidden in and by the darkness?
D&C 88:6-7

Why does “the darkness” try to hide Jesus?
D&C 10:21; Jo9hn 3:19-21

What are some ways those in the darkness try to hid the light? (D&C 10:32-33, 1 Nephi 13:4-6)

Discussion D&C 15, 16

D&C 15:6     What is of the most worth?
D&C 16:6

How many D&C themes can you find in these six verses? Certain themes should be easily recognized – almost a part of our D&C DNA by now.

Section 17

From Lyndon Cook (see above)
Date. June 1829.
Place. Fayette, Seneca County, New York.

Historical Note. In March 1829, before Joseph Smith became acquainted with Oliver Cowdery, the Lord revealed the following promise: “And the testimony of three witnesses will I send forth of my word” (D&C 5:15). During the translation the Prophet and his scribe discovered Moroni’s instruction to the modern translator that he would be privileged to “show the plates unto three.” The Prophet noted, “Almost immediately after we had made this discovery, it occurred to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the aforesaid Martin Harris. . that they would have me inquire of the Lord to know if they might not obtain of him the privilege to be these three special witnesses.” Accordingly the Prophet inquired of the Lord and received section 17. David Whitmer stated that the viewing of the plates occurred about the end of June 1829.

Publication Note. Section 17 was first published in the Messenger and Advocate (September 1835), and was included as section 42 in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. The 1835 edition was available for purchase about mid-September 1835.

Discussion of Section 17:
• To the three witnesses before viewing the plates.
• Through the Urim and Thummim (June 1829)
• Read 2 Nephi 11:3; 2 Ne. 27:12; Ether 5:2-4

What were the witnesses to see? (v. 1)

v. 6:    God again declares the Book of Mormon to be true.
v. 8:    What was the responsibility of the Three Witnesses?
(v. 3, 5)

What was the promise given them?

Did they fulfill their responsibility? Yes.
Will God keep his promise to them? Yes.

What did they see?

Of this significant event, Oliver Cowdery later said (Oct. 21, 1848, Council Bluffs, Iowa)

I beheld with my eyes. And handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was translated. I also beheld the Interpreters. That book is true. Sidney Rigdon did not write it. Mr. Spaulding did not write it. I wrote it myself as it fell from the Lips of the prophet. It contains the everlasting gosple, and came in fulfillment of the revelations of John where he Says he seen an angle come with the everlasting gosple to preach to every nation tunge and people. It contains principles of Salvation. And if you will walk by its light and obey it[s] precepts you will be Saved in the everlasting Kingdom of God.

David Whitmer made the following statement concerning the viewing of the plates (“The Saints’ Herald,” Plano, IL Marcy 1, 1882):

I was plowing in the field one morning and Joseph and Oliver came along with a revelation stating that I was to be one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. I got over the fence and we went out into the woods near by, and sat down on a log and talked awhile. We then kneeled down and Joseph prayed. We then got up and sat on a log and were talking, when all at once a light came down from above us and encircled us for quite a little distance around; and the angel stood before us. He was dressed in white, and spoke and called me by name and said “Blessed is he that keepeth His commandments.” This is all that I heard the angel say. A table was set before us and on it the records were placed. The Records of the Nephites, from which the Book of Mormon was translated, the breast plates, the Ball or Directors, the Sword of Laban and other plates. While we were viewing them the voice of God spoke out of heaven saying that the Book was true and the translation correct.

Martin Harris is recorded as saying, “as many of the plates as Joseph Smith translated I handled with my hands, plate after plate.” He also affirmed, “The angel did show to me the plates containing the Book of Mormon.”

Section 18
From Lyndon Cook (see above):

Date. June 1829 (before 14 June).

On 14 June 1829 Oliver Cowdery addressed a letter to Hyrum Smith from Fayette, New York, which contained portions of section 18. (Note particularly verses 10-13 and 42.) The letter, included below, verifies that Section 18 was received before the date of the letter:

Fayette June the 14 1829

Dear Brother Hyrum

These few lines I write unto you feeling anxious for your steadfastness in the great cause of which you have been called to advocate and also feeling it a duty to write you at every opportunity remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God behold the Lord your God suffered death upon the cross after the manner of the flesh wherefore he suffered the pains of all men that all men might repent and come unto him and he hath risen again from the dead that he might bring all men unto him upon conditions of repentance and how great is his joy in the soul that repents and behold he commandeth all men everywhere to repent and baptized and not only men but women children which have arrived to the years of accountibility Stir up the minds of our friends against the time we come unto you that then they may be willing to take upon them the name of Christ for that is the name by which they shall be called at the Last day and if we know not the name by which we are called I fear we shall be found on the hand I have many things to write but if the Lord will I shall shortly come unto Zion Please tell Mrs. Rockwell that those shoes fit well and I received them as from the Lord tell him that whatever he does in the cause of Zion he will in no way loose his reward. Now may the grace of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ be and abide with you all Amen this from your Bro. Oliver A fellow labourer in the cause of Zion

PS give my love to all those who anxiously inquire after my property &c
[The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith]_Oliver Cowdery

Place. Fayette, Seneca County, New York

Historical Note. This revelation, received for Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, explains the eternal worth of the human soul, the importance of the Atonement, and the obligation of the Saints to preach the gospel. It also states that twelve apostles will be called and that Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer will choose them. In fulfillment of this revelation, the twelve apostles were chosen in February 1835 by the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon.

Note verse 9 which designates Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer apostles.

Publication Note. Section 18 was first published as chapter 15 of the Book of Commandments in 1833.

Discussion: Section 18

• To Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, June 1829.
• Given in response to questions on the Melchizedek Priesthood.

v. 2, 18, 35    How would Oliver Cowdery know what he had written was true?
What had he written?
(Note: he had already seen John the Baptist and possibly also Moroni, Peter, James, John)

v. 3-5        What was Oliver to rely upon “the things that were written” for?

v. 9-14        Apostle = one who is sent (from God)
to be a special witness of the atonement (v. 11) with a calling to cry repentance to
all men (v. 9, 14)
See Jacob 5:61, 74
What is of most worth to God? (v. 10)
What is of most worth to us? (D&C 15:6, 16:6)

v. 11         What is the very possibility of our repentance dependent on?
v. 12-13      What is the only way Christ can bring us to him?
Why? Alma 42:25; Alma 34:15-16

v. 15-16          The joy of working with God in the great plan of redemption

v. 20         What is the church of the Devil (Opposite of D&C 10:67-68)?
Hint: who are its members?
Those who love their sins more than repentance
= those who love darkness more than light
= those who follow the voice of Satan
= those on the broad path to Death (Matt 7:13-14; Alma 5:38-39; D&C 10:20-21; D&C 86:1-7)

How do we contend with the Church of the Devil? See v. 14, 19

v. 23-25  Being called by the name of Christ: Alma 5:38-39
What does this mean?

  1. When does it begin? Mosiah 5:7, 10-12
  2. When does it continue? 3 Nephi 18:10-11
  3. When does it culminate? Rev. 7:1-4, 14:1-2; 22:3-4

v. 26-34  Information about the future Quorum of 12 Apostles

  1. Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer (and later Martin Harris, JD VI p. 29) were called as apostles
  2. This implies that the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood had already taken place.
  3. In the early LDS Church, the three witnesses called the first quorum of 12 Apostles (v. 37-39, in 1835) and stood as apostles above them in the Church.

What are the characteristics and function of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
1. v. 26, 28, 41, 44
2. v. 27
3. v. 29, 32
4. v. 31
5. v. 40
see 1 Ne. 8:31; 1 Ne. 11:24

How were the 12 apostles to be found? See v. 37-39  (God didn’t simply hand them a list).

4 Responses to “D&C Lessons 7 and 8, complete (more or less)”

  1. This is really great. I especially appreciate the timelines highlighting significant dates and the information on Whitmers. I have always loved the story of Mary Whitmer seeing the plates. Thanks for all your hard work.

  2. Cherylem said

    Thanks for your comments. And yes, the story of Mary Whitmer is very interesting, and not often told anymore, I think.

    I’m hoping my notes will get more cohesive as we go along. The D&C awes me, actually, and additionally I do not like what our manuals are doing to this year’s study. These notes (above) were what I put together in order to get my own brain to focus, and I am ready to teach now, I think, tomorrow.

    We will see as we go along how helpful these are.


  3. Popslc said

    Thanks for your efforts to prepare this material. Due to Ward Conference a couple of weeks ago we are on Lesson 7 today. You introduce your material by indicating you don’t like the way the manuals for this year are organized. I concur. What is more, my class has expressed extreme frustration in trying to get a grasp on the history of the Church and the Doctrine and Covenants by the way the manual and study guides are structured. I try to maintain a correlation to the church materials – to cross that path as often as I can – but ultimately I understand that my job is not to teach lessons, it is to teach people who I care for about the gospel, about the history of the Church and about the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. In my case I think the type of approach you have presented supports that responsibility better than conventionally following the lesson manual. However, I do not disparage the efforts of the committee that prepared the material. They just need to reconsider the standardized approach to how the material is organized.

  4. Cherylem said

    Thanks for this comment. I very much appreciated your take on being a GD teacher – “my job is not to teach lessons, it is to teach people who I care for about gospel, about the history of the Church and about the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants.”

    Thanks for this affirmation.


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