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Explanation of Scripture, 1830 [D&C 74]

Fulfilled & it came to pass that the Children being brought up in subjection to the law of moses & gave heed to the traditions of their Fathers & believed not the Gospel of Christ wherein they became unholy wherefore for this cause the Apostle wrote unto the Church giving unto them a commandment not of the Lord but of himself that a believer should not be united to an unbeliever except the law of Moses should be done away among them that their Children might remain without circumcision & that the tradition might be done away which saith that little children are unholy for it was had among the Jews but little children are holy being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ & this is wat these scriptures mean [p. 61]
Fulfilled & it came to pass that the Children being brought  up in subjection to the law of moses & gave heed to the tradit ions of their Fathers & believed not the Gospel of Christ  wherein they became unholy wherefore for this cause the Apo stle wrote unto the Church giving unto them a comman dment not of the Lord but of himself that a believer should  not be united to an unbeliever except the law of Moses  should be done away among them that their Children  might remain without circumcision & that the tradition  might be done away which saith that little children  are unholy for it was had among the Jews but little  children are holy being sanctified through the atonement of  Jesus Christ & this is wat these scriptures mean [p. 61]
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This “explanation” clarifies a New Testament verse, 1 Corinthians 7:14, which historically had been an important passage for justifying infant baptism.1

According to one modern theologian, “With the exception of the Scripture passage where Jesus blesses little children no passage has been laid under a more laborious contribution to serve the cause of infant baptism than this one.”a The topic of infant baptism was also prevalent in Christian debates during JS’s time.b JS had earlier clarified a biblical passage regarding John the Beloved.c  


aJewett, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, 122.

bSee, for example, Woods, Lectures on Infant Baptism, 75–93; Dwight, Theology: Explained and Defended, 317–318, 324–330; Frey, Essays on Christian Baptism, 38–42; and Jerram, Conversations on Infant Baptism, 64–67.

cAccount of John, Apr. 1829–C [D&C 7].

Like the Book of Mormon, this document rejects the need for infant baptism by explaining that little children are made clean through the atonement of Jesus Christ, without baptism

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

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.2

The Book of Mormon condemned infant baptism as “solemn mockery before God.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 581 [Moroni 8:9].)  


Although it is possible that questions regarding 1 Corinthians 7:14 or infant baptism prompted this explanation, the precise circumstances are unknown.
The date the document was produced is also uncertain. When John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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copied the document into Revelation Book 1 in 1831, he dated it simply “1830.” However, he placed it between documents dated 6 January 1831 and 4 February 1831.3

Revelation Book 1, p. 60. Although most documents in Revelation Book 1 appear in chronological order, there are exceptions. Whitmer copied this document and “Articles and Covenants” about the same time, and Articles and Covenants was dated 10 April 1830, possibly suggesting that this document was also dictated in April. JS dictated another revelation in April that addressed whether new members needed to be baptized into the Church of Christ if they previously had been baptized in a different religion.a Alternatively, if the revelation’s placement in Revelation Book 1 is chronologically correct, it may indicate a relationship to the revelation regarding James Covel, dated 6 January 1831. Though Covel’s personal views about baptism are unknown, other New York Methodists of that time promoted the baptism of infants.b  


The editors of the Book of Commandments did not include this document with JS’s printed revelations in 1833, and when it was included in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, no date was mentioned. Years later, the editors of JS’s history mistakenly wrote that JS dictated this document in January 1832 in conjunction with his revision of the New Testament.4

JS History, vol. A-1, 178. This date cannot be correct because Whitmer copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1 before he carried the book to Missouri in late 1831.  


But the location, which Whitmer identified as Wayne County

First permanent white settlement established, Mar. 1789. Created from Ontario and Seneca counties, 11 Apr. 1823. Bounded on north by Lake Ontario. County seat, Lyons. Erie Canal completed through southern portion of county, near Palmyra, by 1825. Population...

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, New York, indicates that the document was created before JS moved to Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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in the second half of January 1831, and that it could have been written as early as January 1830.5

JS could have been in Wayne County at almost any point during 1830, but there is some likelihood this document was produced during April, when JS was known to be in Wayne County. During that month, JS began baptizing believers and organizing branches of the church in New York; he also dictated two revelations that gave directions regarding baptism.a Conversations with new and prospective converts may also have led to discussion about scriptural passages regarding infant baptism. In early December 1830, JS met recent convert Sidney Rigdon, who opposed infant baptism. JS and Rigdon worked together in December on JS’s Bible revision, and during that period JS dictated a passage about baptism, but at that time JS and Rigdon were working in Seneca County. Similarly, any discussions JS might have had with James Covel would likely have taken place in Ontario or Seneca counties, not in Wayne County.b If this document did result from contact with Covel, it could possibly have been produced in late January 1831 when JS and Rigdon traveled through Wayne County on their way to Ohio.c  


aJS History, vol. A-1, 37–41; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20]; Revelation, 16 Apr. 1830 [D&C 22].

bOld Testament Revision 1, p. 16 [Moses 7:11]; Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 57; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, 5 Jan. 1831 [D&C 39].

cSee Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 76–79; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 10, [8]; and Minute Book 2, 1 Jan. 1831.

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