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 et al., “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” 5–6.
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.
A life sketch of Evan Greene (who was presumably present) gives the revelation’s date as “the night of the 22nd and 23rd of September, 1832.” (Richards, “Brief Life Sketch of Evan Melbourne Greene,” 2.)
Richards, Lula Greene. “Brief Sketch of the Life of Evan M. Greene.” Typescript. Private Possession.
Positing the existence of multiple priesthoods was not unique. In 1827, Alexander Crawford, a Scottish minister living in Canada, discussed three distinct priesthoods: a patriarchal priesthood (which he also called a priesthood after the “order of Melchizedec”), an Aaronical priesthood (originally held by Aaron), and a priesthood held by Jesus Christ. Alexander Campbell and the Disciples of Christ were influenced by Crawford’s ideas, though Campbell differed somewhat in his conception of the priesthood, arguing that God had given a “priesthood” to the tribe of Levi and a “high priesthood” to Aaron and his sons. As a former associate of Campbell, Sidney Rigdon was probably familiar with these ideas. (Campbell, Delusions, 11; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 148–151.)
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 et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 69–71. See also, for example, New Testament Revision 2, pp. 139–140 (second numbering) [Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 7:3, 19–21, 25–26]; Old Testament Revision 1, p. 34 [Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:27–40]; and Old Testament Revision 2, p. 70 [Joseph Smith Translation, Exodus 34:1–2]; see also Godfrey, “Culmination of Learning,” 175.
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).
A version of the life sketch of Evan Greene in the possession of Greene’s descendants states that Oliver Cowdery came into the room as JS was dictating the revelation and then, after discovering that no one was writing it down, served as scribe. This account is suspect, however, because minutes from Missouri meetings place Cowdery in Missouri at both the end of August and the first of October, making it highly unlikely that he was in Kirtland in late September. (Richards, “Brief Life Sketch of Evan Melbourne Greene,” 1; Minute Book 2, 24 Aug. and 2 Oct. 1832.)
Richards, Lula Greene. “Brief Sketch of the Life of Evan M. Greene.” Typescript. Private Possession.
“The Book of Mormon,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1833, ; “Some of Mormon’s Teaching,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1833, ; “The Church of Christ,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Mar. 1833, –; Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 14 Jan. 1833.
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
before the face of his people to prepare them for the coming of the Lord in whose hand is given all power, and again, the offices of & are necessary appendages belon[g]ing unto the , and again the offices of and are necessary appendages belonging to the , which was confirmed upon Aaron and his sons therefore as I said, concerning the Sons of Moses, for the sons of Moses, and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an aaceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord which house shall shalt be built unto the Lord in this generation upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed and the sons of Moses, and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord upon mount Zion in the Lords house whose sons are ye, and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my for whoso is faithful unto the attaining of these two Priesthoods of which I have spoken and the magnifying there calling are sanctified by the spir[i]t unto the renewing of there bodies that they become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham and the church and kingdom and the elect of God and also all they who receive this Priesthood receiveth me saith the Lord for he that receiveth my servants receveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth my father, and he that receiveth my father, receiveth my fathers kingdom, therefore all that my father hath shall be given unto him and this is according to the oath and the covenant which belongeth to the Priesthood, therefore all those. who receive the Priesthood, receiveth this oath and covenant of my father which he cannot break neither can it be mooved, but whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom shall not have forgivness in this world nor in the world to come and all those that come not unto this Priesthood, which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day viz the 23d. day of September AD 1832 Eleven save one by by mine own voice out of the heavens and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine Angels charge concerning you, and I now give unto you a to beware concerning yourselves to give heed dilligently to the words of eternal life for you shall live by evry word that procedeth forth from the mouth of God for the word of the Lord is truth and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is spirit even the spirit of Jesus Christ, and the spirit giveth light to evry man that cometh into the world, and the spirit enlightneth evry man through the world that harkneth to the voice of the spirit, and evry one that harkneth to the voice of the spirit cometh unto God even the father and the father teacheth him of the covenant which he hath renewed and confirmed upon you which is confirmed upon you for your sakes and and not for yours only, but for the sake of the whole world, and the whole world lieth in sin and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin and by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin because they come not unto me for whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin, and whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquanted with my word voice. and is not of me, and, by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sins and darkness even now, and your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief and because you have treated lightly the things you have received which vanity and and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation and this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion even all, and thay shall remain [p. ]
According to the New Testament, when John was eight days old, he was to be circumcised and named. John’s father, Zacharias, stated that he would “be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.” The Bible does not identify John’s authority or where he obtained it, although Zacharias was a priest. (Luke 1:5, 59, 76.)
“To give new assurance of truth or certainty”; “to fix more firmly”; “to strengthen; to ratify.” The elders and high priests in attendance presumably had already been ordained to the greater priesthood. (“Confirm,” in American Dictionary , 177.)
An American Dictionary of the English Language; Exhibiting the Origin, Orthography, Pronunciation, and Definitions of Words. Edited by Noah Webster. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1845.