Revelation, 22–23 September 1832 [D&C 84]
Revelation, , OH, 22–23 Sept. 1832; Featured version copied [ca. 23 Sept. 1832]; handwriting of ; six pages; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes redactions, docket, and archival marking.Three leaves, measuring 9⅞ × 8¼ inches (25 × 21 cm). Inscribed in a homemade manuscript book. Along the left margin are ten holes from an unevenly sewn binding; the threads are not extant. Each of the leaves has a vertical compression mark at the edge of its former binding. The revelation was subsequently removed from its binding, folded in half, and then tri-folded. The verso of the last page contains a graphite docket in the handwriting of : “A Revelation | relative to order of P.H | to N.K.W going to | Sept 23. 1832”. Several textual redactions in ink are in an unidentified handwriting. The pages are brittle and have marked moisture damage.This and several other revelations, along with many other personal and institutional documents kept by , were inherited by his daughter Mary Jane Whitney, who married Isaac Groo. This collection was passed down in the Groo family and donated by members of the family to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University during the period 1969–1974.
Andrus, Hyrum L., Chris Fuller, and Elizabeth E. McKenzie. “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” Sept. 1998. BYU.
After JS relocated from to , Ohio, on 12 September 1832, who had returned from preaching in the eastern came to JS to report on their proselytizing. While JS and these elders were “together in these seasons of joy,” a later history recounts, JS “inquired of the Lord and received” a revelation dated 22 and 23 September 1832. The beginning of the revelation identified its audience as JS and six elders, but partway through the revelation, the audience shifted to “Eleven save one.” Because JS was living in ’s , the revelation was probably dictated in either the store’s upstairs “translating room” or the upstairs “council room,” places where JS frequently worked.The revelation was dictated over the course of two days, most likely beginning the evening of 22 September and continuing into the early morning hours of 23 September. Textual evidence indicates a pause in the dictation at some point on 23 September. The three existing manuscript copies of the revelation (one in the handwriting of , another by Williams and JS, and one by ) all contain a clear break between the phrase “for he is full of mercy Justice grace and truth and peace for ever and ever Amen” and the phrase “And again verily verily I say unto you it is expedient . . . ,” marking an interruption in the dictation. Whitmer’s copy even adds “Received on the 23 day of September 1832” between those two lines. However, the three manuscripts also include “viz 23d. day of September AD 1832” as a notation several pages before this break, indicating that material presented before the interruption was also dictated on 23 September. It may be that the dictation went into the early morning hours of 23 September, halted for a period of time, and then recommenced later that day.The index of Revelation Book 2, one of the volumes in which this revelation was recorded, designated the revelation as one “explaining the two and commissioning the to preach the gospel.” An understanding of priesthood was still developing among followers of JS, especially in terms of its connection to different offices in the church. The Book of Mormon indicated that authority from God was necessary to perform certain ordinances, such as and conferring the , which led JS and to petition God for such authority as they worked together in that record. Later accounts indicate that in May 1829 and sometime thereafter, they received angelic visitations that provided them first with the authority to baptize and later with the authority to officiate in other . However, extant records up to June 1831 did not call such authority “priesthood”; that term—while appearing in both the Book of Mormon and in JS’s Bible revision—did not appear in any other contemporary documents until the minutes of a June 1831 , which noted that several individuals “were ordained to the .” Moreover, the “Articles and Covenants” of the church explained the different duties of apostles, elders, , , and but did not explicitly associate these offices with the priesthood.By late 1831, the high priesthood was understood to refer to both the office of high priest and to a broader authority. The office, according to an 11 November 1831 revelation, was superior to other offices in the church, just as the authority seemed to be the highest authority. This revelation stated that after the offices of deacon, teacher, priest, and elder came “the high Priest hood which is the greatest of all.” A history JS began writing around summer 1832 suggests that he had received two separate powers with different responsibilities. In that history, JS noted that “the ministring of—” gave him an authority that allowed him “to adminster the letter of the Gospel.” He also recorded receiving “the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God,” which gave him “power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit.”This 22–23 September revelation similarly delineated the existence of two priesthoods: a greater priesthood that contains to the mysteries of the kingdom and to the knowledge of God, and a holding the keys of the ministering of angels and of the gospel of repentance and baptism. The revelation traced the lineage of the two priesthoods, noting that the greater priesthood was held by Moses, who received it from a line of individuals (including Melchizedek) who had ultimately received it from God. Aaron, meanwhile, held the lesser priesthood, which was passed to his descendants until it reached John the Baptist. Both priesthoods, the revelation posited, are eternal, and men in the could become the “sons of Moses” and the “sons of Aaron” by receiving these priesthoods and “magnifying there calling.” Doing so would enable these “sons” to enter the that the Saints would construct in , allowing them to receive God’s glory that would fill the temple. Some of this information seems a culmination of ideas first expressed in JS’s revisions to passages in Hebrews, Genesis, and Exodus, which were completed in the six months leading up to September. The revelation also explained how the different offices in the church are connected to the two priesthoods. The offices of elder and , it states, are “appendages” to the high priesthood, or to the office of high priest; the offices of teacher and deacon, meanwhile, are appendages to the lesser priesthood, or to the office of priest. High priests, elders, and priests, the revelation continued, have an obligation to travel to proclaim the gospel, while teachers and deacons are responsible for watching over the church in local congregations.After providing a detailed explanation of the greater and lesser priesthoods, their offices, and their duties, the revelation emphasized the necessity of preaching to the world and provided an extensive discussion of many aspects of missionary work. Revelations from 1830, 1831, and 1832 called specific individuals on missions, but few revelations gave general procedural instructions about missionary work. This 22–23 September revelation, however, provided direction on who should serve missions, how they should serve, how they should receive sustenance while serving, what they should proclaim, and what would happen to those who did not accept their message. These instructions parallel New Testament accounts of the resurrected Jesus Christ’s directions to the eleven apostles before his ascension into heaven. As in those accounts, Christ tells the high priests in this revelation that they have a responsibility to preach to all nations and to baptize those who believe. Signs will follow the believers, the revelation continues, and the Lord will go before them, just as Christ promised the ancient apostles that he would be with them always, “even unto the end of the world.” The revelation specifically refers to “Eleven high Priests save one” (perhaps a reference to the eleven apostles to whom Christ spoke in the New Testament) and calls these high priests “apostles” and “friends” of Jesus Christ. Although many had preached the gospel before this time, this revelation seemed to launch a more urgent and comprehensive missionary campaign, even including in its preaching assignments individuals such as Bishop , who generally oversaw temporal, not spiritual, concerns., who was serving as JS’s scribe, probably recorded the revelation as JS dictated it. Williams also inscribed a copy of this revelation that was given to , stating that he was transcribing it “for N K, Whitney and Joseph the Seer.” Whitney and JS traveled together in and other states in October 1832, and the copy was likely made for the two men to carry with them on that trip. Williams and JS also made a copy of the revelation in Revelation Book 2, probably soon after the revelation was dictated. Parts of the revelation—including a “new song” on millennial themes, a condemnation of the church for neglecting the Book of Mormon, and the explanation of appendages to the greater and lesser priesthoods—were discussed in early 1833 issues of the church’s periodical The Evening and the Morning Star. A conference of high priests also wrote a letter in January 1833 calling church members in to repentance in conformance with instructions given in the revelation. Since at least six elders and ten high priests heard portions of the revelation while it was dictated, it is probable that information in it was also spread through word of mouth.
Richards, Lula Greene. “Brief Sketch of the Life of Evan M. Greene.” Typescript. Private Possession.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Campbell, Alexander. Delusions. An Analysis of the Book of Mormon; with an Examination of Its Internal and External Evidences, and a Refutation of Its Pretences to Divine Authority. Boston: Benjamin H. Greene, 1832.
Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.
Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.
Old Testament Revision 2 / Old Testament Revision Manuscript 2, 1831–1833. CCLA. Also available in Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004), 591–851.
Godfrey, Matthew C. “A Culmination of Learning: D&C 84 and the Doctrine of the Priesthood.” In You Shall Have My Word: Exploring the Text of the Doctrine and Covenants, edited by Scott C. Esplin, Richard O. Cowan, and Rachel Cope, 167–181. Provo, UT : Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2012.
McLellin, William E. Journal, Apr.–June 1836. William E. McLellin, Papers, 1831–1836, 1877–1878. CHL. MS 13538, box 1, fd. 6. Also available as Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, eds., The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836 (Provo, UT: BYU Studies; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).
Richards, Lula Greene. “Brief Sketch of the Life of Evan M. Greene.” Typescript. Private Possession.
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.