Revelation, between circa 8 and circa 24 March 1832
Revelation, [between ca. 8 and ca. 24 Mar. 1832]. Featured version copied [ca. Mar. 1832]; handwriting of ; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes docket and archival marking.
One leaf. The uneven left edge of the recto indicates the leaf was cut from a book. The excised leaf measures 12½ × 7⅝ inches (32 × 19 cm). The leaf was later folded for filing and bears two dockets in graphite by : “Duty of | To Joseph & | m” and “Duty of Bishops & c | To Joseph & Sidney | march 1832”. The first docket is overwritten by the second.
This document 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.
JS dictated this revelation dealing with the responsibilities of in the church circa March 1832. This revelation built on several 1831 revelations about a bishop’s duties. , for example, was told in two revelations that he should serve as a judge in Israel while also overseeing the of property and providing “” to the Saints in the . On 4 December 1831, a revelation appointed to serve as a bishop in , Ohio. Whitney was told that his responsibilities were “to keep the Lord’s to receive the funds of the church in this part of the vinyard to take an account of the as before has been commanded and to administer to their wants.”
This circa March 1832 revelation also had a more immediate context. A 1 March 1832 revelation called for the establishment of a to oversee the church’s publishing and mercantile efforts, declaring that such a firm would help the church in its quest to be “equal in earthly things.” The firm’s mandate on the one hand and ’s and ’s financial responsibilities as bishops on the other overlapped somewhat, which may have prompted a clarification of the bishop’s role. As JS continued revising the New Testament in March, he may have had questions about bishops after reading Paul’s statements in 1 Timothy 3 about qualifications of bishops. It is also possible that, prior to dictating this revelation, JS received a January 1832 letter from that included minutes from a held on 23–24 January. This conference passed a resolution that “moneys or properties” consecrated to the church “be expended for the use and benefit of this church” and that if a bishop was removed from office, “such money or properties . . . shall be handed over to his successor.” This resolution may have invited clarification. Whatever the reasons, this revelation, which was directed to JS and , reiterated the bishop’s duties to oversee the consecration of property to the church. But it also emphasized what an 11 November 1831 revelation had declared: that “the office of a Bishop is not equal” to the .
recorded this revelation, which was then apparently given to . Even though the instructions pertained to bishops in general, there is no indication that either JS or Rigdon ever discussed this revelation with or gave him a copy of it, or that it was ever provided to the general church membership. The revelation itself indicates that it was for JS’s and Rigdon’s “own prophet [profit] and instruction” and not necessarily for the bishops’ use, which may be one reason why it was not sent to Partridge. The only known copy of the revelation is the one Whitney owned, which Whitney docketed as “Duty of Bishops & c To Joseph & Sidney march 1832.”
The March 1832 date assigned this revelation in his docket is likely correct. The revelation was likely written sometime between 8 March and 24 March: JS wrote a note dated 8 March 1832 that detailed his recent activities but did not mention this revelation, which suggests that this revelation was dictated after 8 March. On the night of 24–25 March, JS and were attacked by a group of men in . Rigdon was incapacitated for several days, after which he moved back to before leaving for in April. Because Rigdon served as scribe for this revelation, it is unlikely that the revelation was dictated after the attack, when Rigdon was seriously injured and likely not capable of performing scribal duties.
Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servent and Joseph I reveal unto you for your own prophet [profit] and instruction concerning the of my what is their duty in the church behold it is their duty to stand in the office of their and to fill the judgement seat which I have appointed unto them to and to administer the benefits of the church or the overpluss of all who are in their according to the as they are severly appointed and the property or that which they receive of the church is not their own but belongeth to the church wherefore it is the property of the Lord and it is for the poor of the church to be administered according to the law for it is the will of the Lord that the church should be made equal in all things wherefore the bishops are accountable before the Lord for their stewardships to administer of their stewardship in the which they are appointed by commandment jointly with you my servents under <unto> the Lord as well as you my servents or the rest of the church that the benefits of all may be dedicated unto the Lord that the Lords may be filled always that ye may all grow in temporal as well as spiritual things and now verily I say unto you the bishops must needs be seperated unto their bishoppricks and judgement seats from care of business but not from claim neither from council wherefore I have given unto you commandment that you should be joined together by covenent and bond wherefore see that ye do even as I have Commanded and unto the office of the I have given authority to preside with the assistence of his councellers over all the Concerns of the church wherefore stand ye fast claim your in authority yet in meekness and I am able to make you abound and be fruitfull and you shall never fall for unto you I have given the of the kingdom and if you transgress not they shall never be taken from you, wherefore feed my sheep even so amen [p. ]
The process of consecrating property and receiving back a stewardship was explained in a February 1831 revelation known as the “Laws of the Church of Christ.” In addition, a November 1831 revelation instructed that those who had been appointed “stewards over the revelations” should be supported from “the profits” of their stewardship. If any surplus remained after taking care of their necessities, it was to be deposited into the church storehouse. (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:30–38, 71–72]; Revelation, 12 Nov. 1831 [D&C 70:3–8].)
A 12 November 1831 revelation commanded members of the church, “In all your temporal things you shall be equal in all things & this not grudgeingly otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the spirit shall be withheld.” (Revelation, 12 Nov. 1831 [D&C 70:14].)
This commandment reiterated an injunction in a 4 February 1831 revelation directing Edward Partridge to “leave his merchandise & spend all his time in the labours of the Church.” One historian records that, despite this commandment, Newel K. Whitney “did not leave his merchandise but continued operating his store to support himself and his family.” (Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41:9]; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 242.)
Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.
An 11 September 1831 revelation proclaimed, “I have given unto you the Kingdom & the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom shall not be taken from my Servent Joseph while he liveth in-as-much as he obeyeth mine ordinances.” Likewise, a 30 October 1831 revelation declared, “The keys of the kingdom of God is committed unto man on the Earth.” (Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:4–5]; Revelation, 30 Oct. 1831 [D&C 65:2].)