Revelation, , Seneca Co., NY, to , [Sept. 1830]. Featured version, titled “30 Commandment AD 1831,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 40–41; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
This revelation was a response to actions by and that raised the question of whether JS was the only one authorized to deliver revelation to the church. The question first arose in summer 1830 when Oliver Cowdery “commanded” JS to change a passage in “Articles and Covenants,” a document outlining the basic beliefs and practices of the . When the church was organized on 6 April 1830, Cowdery was ordained second while JS was ordained first elder, and the two worked closely together to oversee the newly formed organization. Presumably Cowdery worked with JS in preparing Articles and Covenants and was part of the “unanimous voice of the whole congregation” that approved Articles and Covenants at the first conference of the church on 9 June, yet weeks later he sent a letter ordering JS to make a correction to the document. According to JS’s history, Cowdery objected to the requirement that candidates for “truly manifest by their works that they have received the gift of Christ unto the remission of their sins,” and he wrote to JS, “I command you in the name of God to erase those words, that no priestcraft be amongst us.” In response, JS traveled from , Pennsylvania, to , New York, to persuade Cowdery and the Whitmers that they were mistaken. According to JS’s later account, it was “not without both labor and perseverance” that he “could prevail with any of them to reason calmly on the subject.” Finally, with support from , JS convinced Cowdery and the Whitmer family “that they had been in error, and that the sentence in dispute was in accordance of the rest of the commandment.”
The second challenge to JS’s authority came in early September, when JS and moved from to and found to their “great grief” that “Brother had got in his possession, a certain stone, by which he had obtained to certain revelations . . . all of which were entirely at variance with the order of Gods house, as laid down in the new Testament, as well as in our late revelations.” With another of the church approaching, JS initially “thought it wisdom not to do much more than to converse with the brethren on the subject, untill the conference should meet.” But upon finding that many, including and the Whitmer family, supported Page, JS (apparently with Cowdery’s encouragement) decided it would be “best to enquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter.” Before the conference convened, JS dictated the revelation featured here, which addressed the issues surrounding both Cowdery’s role and “the things set forth by this [’s] stone.”
While affirming that was called to teach and would receive revelation, the text stated that he was not to write revelation to the church by and added, “Thou shalt not command him which is at thy head & at the head of the Church for I have given him the keys of the mysteries of the Revelations which are sealed until I shall appoint unto him another in his stead.” The revelation also directed Cowdery to explain to privately that the latter’s revelations were from Satan. The role for JS described herein was ratified at the subsequent conference, convened 26 September, at which JS was appointed “by the voice of the Conference to receive and write Revelations & Commandments for this Church.” Cowdery then read aloud Articles and Covenants, which he had previously criticized, and JS delivered comments on that document.
This revelation also called to preach to the “,” or American Indians, giving specificity to a July revelation for Cowdery that commanded him in general terms to preach the gospel. In addition, the text featured here commanded JS to establish a church among the Lamanites, where “the City [the ] shall be built.” Although the revelation declared that “no man” yet knew the location for the New Jerusalem, Cowdery signed a statement on 17 October declaring that he would preach and “rear up a pillar as a witness where the Temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New-Jerusalem.” A revelation earlier that month had affirmed that church elders would establish the New Jerusalem in America as an apocalyptic fulfillment of both biblical and Book of Mormon prophecy. After other men were called to accompany Cowdery, the group of missionaries left in late October 1830.
JS History, vol. A-1, 53–54. Newel Knight recalled that Page “had quite a roll of papers full of these revelations, and many in the church were led astray by them.” Ezra Booth, who wrote a series of antagonistic letters denouncing JS after leaving the church in the fall of 1831, explained his understanding of Page’s seer stone: “[He] found a smooth stone, upon which there appeared to be writing, which when transcribed upon paper, disappeared from the stone, and another impression appeared in its place. This when copied, vanished as the former had done, and so it continued alternately appearing and disappearing; in the meanwhile, he continued to write, until he had written over considerable paper. It bore most striking marks of a Mormonite revelation, and was received as an authentic document by most of the Mormonites, till Smith, by his superior sagacity, discovered it to be a Satanic fraud.” George A. Smith later stated that the stone was black and explained that on it Page saw “certain characters” that he copied down as revelations. Emer Harris also recalled that Page’s stone was black; he added that it was destroyed. (Knight, History, 146; “Letters from David and John C. Whitmer,” Saints’ Herald, 5 Feb. 1887, 90; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—Nos. VIII–IX,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 8 Dec. 1831, ; George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses, 15 Nov. 1864, 11:2; Provo, UT, Central Stake, General Minutes, 6 Apr. 1856, vol. 10, p. 273.)
Knight, Newel. History. Private possession. Copy in CHL. MS 19156.
Saints’ Herald. Independence, MO. 1860–.
Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.
Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855–1886.
Provo, UT, Central Stake. General Minutes, 1852–1977. CHL. LR 9629 11.
Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.
Even as Aaaron to declare faithfully the & the Revelations with power & authority unto the & if thou art led at any time by the comforter to speak or teach or at all times by the way of Commandment unto the Church thou mayest do it But thou shalt not write by way of Commandment unto the Church but by wisdom & thou shalt not command him which is at thy head & at the head of the Church for I have given him the of the mysteries of the Revelations which are sealed until I shall appoint unto him another in his stead & now Behold I say unto you that thou shalt go unto the & Preach my Gospel unto them & cause my Church to be established among them & thou shalt have Revelations but write them not by the way of Commandment & Now Behold I say unto you that it is not Revealed & no man knoweth where the shall be built But it shall be given hereafter Behold I say unto you that it shall be among the Lamanites[.] thou shalt not l[e]ave this place until after the & my servent Joseph shall be appointed to rule the conference by the voice of it & what he saith to thee that thou shalt tell And again thou shalt take thy Brother Between him & thee alone & tell him that those things which he hath written from that Stone are not of me & that Satan deceiveth him for Behold those things have not been appointed unto him Neither shall any thing be appointed unto any of this Church contrary to the Church Articles & Covenants for all things must be done in order & by Common consent in the Church by the prayer of faith & thou shalt settle all these things according to the Covenants of the Church before thou shalt take thy Journey among the Lamanites & it shall be given thee from the time that thou shalt go until the time that thou shalt return what thou shalt do & thou must open thy mouth at all times declaring my Gospel with the sound of Rejoiceing even so amen [p. 41]
Earlier in September, a revelation decreed that God’s elect “shall be gethered in unto one place upon the the face of this land.” The place, here referred to as “the City,” was to be the New Jerusalem that the Book of Mormon predicted would be built upon the American continent. This statement that “no man knoweth” the location may also be in response to one of Hiram Page’s revelations “concerning the upbuilding of Zion.” Later accounts indicate that Zion was identified in July 1831, and Thomas B. Marsh explained in an April 1831 letter that at that time the location was still unknown. He wrote, “Perhaps it will be to take our march to the Grand preraras [prairies] in the Missouri teretori [territory] or to the shining mountains which is 1500 to 2000 miles west from us,” speculating about its whereabouts. (Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:8]; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 566 [Ether 13:2–8]; JS History, vol. A-1, 54; Thomas B. Marsh and Elizabeth Godkin Marsh to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, [ca. 11 Apr. 1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL; see also Covenant of Oliver Cowdery and Others, 17 Oct. 1830.)
Abbott Family Collection, 1831–2000. CHL. MS 23457.
The expectation that the New Jerusalem would be built “among the Lamanites,” or the Indians, reflected the Book of Mormon teaching that the city was to be built “unto the house of Israel,” who were a “remnant of the seed of Joseph.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 566 [Ether 13:5–6].)
The earliest publication of this revelation, in the Ohio Star in December 1831, has “by commandment” instead of “by Common consent in the Church.” (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—Nos. VIII–IX,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 8 Dec. 1831,  [D&C 28:14].)