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Revelation, 27–28 December 1832 [D&C 88:1–126]

grace, shall attend you, that ye may be instructed more perfectly, in theory, in principle, in doctrine in the law of the Gospel, in all things, that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that is expedient, for you, to understand, of things, both in heaven, and in the earth, and under the earth, things which have been, things, which are, things, which must shortly, come to pass, things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars, and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments, which are on the land, and a knowledge also, of Countries, and of kingdoms; that ye may be prepared, in all things when I shall send you again, to magnify the calling, whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which, I have commissioned you, behold I send you out, to testify, and to warn the people, and it becometh evry man, who hath been warned, to wan his neighbour, therefore they are left without excuse, and there sins are upon your own heads, he that seeketh me early, shall find me, and shall not be forsaken, therefore tarry ye, and labour diligently, that you may be perfected, in your ministry to go forth among the gentiles

Those who were not members of the House of Israel. More specifically, members of the church identified gentiles as those whose lineage was not of the Jews or Lamanites (understood to be the American Indians in JS’s day). Certain prophecies indicated that ...

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, for the last time, as many, as the mouth, of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law, and seal up the testamoy [testimony] and to prepare the saints, for the hour of judgments, which is to come, that there souls may escape the wrath of God, the dessolation, of abomination, which awaiteth the wicked, both in this world, and in the world to come, verely I say unto you, let those who are not the first elders

In 1830, JS was designated by revelation as the “first elder” in the specific sense of his authority as the church’s presiding priesthood officer. During the period before the elaboration of church offices, he functioned in this role with Oliver Cowdery as...

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, continue in the vineyard untill the mouth of the Lord shall call them, for there [p. 41]
grace, shall attend you, that ye may be inst[r]ucted  more perfectly, in theory, in principle, in doctrine  in the law of of the Gospel, in all things, that pertain  unto the kingdom of God, that is expedient, for you,  to understand, of things, both in heaven, and in the  earth, and under the earth, things which have been,  things, which are, things, which must shortly, come  to pass, things which are at home, things which  are abroad; the wars, and the perplexities of the  nations, and the judgments, which are on the  land, and a knowledge also, of Countries, and of  kingdoms; that ye may be prepared, in all things  when I shall send you again, to magnify the  calling, whereunto I have called you,29

A September 1832 revelation explained: “whoso is faithful unto the attaining of these two Priesthoods . . . 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.” (Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:33–34].)  


and the  mission with which, I have commissioned you,  behold I send you out, to testify, and to want warn  the people, and it becometh evry man, who hath  been warned, to wan his neighbour,30

See, for example, Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:37]; Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 1:4]; and Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:114].)  


therefore  they are left with<out> excuse, and there sins are  upon your own heads,31

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 124, 219 [Jacob 1:19; Mosiah 29:30].  


he that seeketh me early,  shall find me,32

See Proverbs 8:17.  


and shall not be forsaken,  therefore tarry ye, and labour diligently, that  you may be perfected, in your ministry to  go forth among the gentiles

Those who were not members of the House of Israel. More specifically, members of the church identified gentiles as those whose lineage was not of the Jews or Lamanites (understood to be the American Indians in JS’s day). Certain prophecies indicated that ...

View Glossary
, for the last time, as  many, as the mouth, of the Lord shall name,  to bind up the law, and seal up the testamoy [testimony]33

See Isaiah 8:16.  


 and to prepare the saints, for the hour of  judgments, which is to come, that there souls  may escape the wrath of God, the dessolation,  of abomination,34

See Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:117]; Matthew 24:15; and Daniel 11:31; 12:11.  


which awaiteth the wicked,  both in this world, and in the world to come,  verely I say unto you, let those who are not the  first elders

In 1830, JS was designated by revelation as the “first elder” in the specific sense of his authority as the church’s presiding priesthood officer. During the period before the elaboration of church offices, he functioned in this role with Oliver Cowdery as...

View Glossary
, continue in the vineyard untill  the mouth of the Lord shall call them, for there [p. 41]
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JS dictated a lengthy revelation at a conference of high priests in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, on 27–28 December 1832.1

For additional information on this conference, see Minutes, 27–28 Dec. 1832.  


The revelation’s heading, which was probably provided by Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, states that the revelation was addressed to the “first Elders” of the church. The text of the revelation describes its audience as those who had congregated at the conference in Kirtland “to receive his [God’s] will concerning you.” Although in later years the term “first Elders” generally referred to the leading elders of the church, here it appears to have a less hierarchical meaning, equating the elders to whom the revelation was addressed with “the first Elders labourers, in this last kingdom” who were referenced in a parable presented in this revelation.2

See, for example, Revelation, 22 June 1834, in Revelation Book 2, p. 97, in JSP, MRB:611 [D&C 105:7]; and JS, Journal, 5 Oct. 1835, in JSP, J1:68.  


A later JS history emphasizes that the revelation came two days after a revelation describing an outbreak of wars and slave rebellions that would precede Christ’s second coming.3
JS called this revelation “the Olieve leaf which we have plucked from the tree of Paradise” and “the Lords message of peace to us.” Perhaps JS described the revelation in this way because it offset the stark apocalyptic imagery of the 25 December revelation or perhaps because he saw its messages regarding the conduct of church members and the need for unity as a way to heal ongoing difficulties with Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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church leaders.4 Like the 25 December prophecy of war, the 27–28 December revelation discusses eschatological events, but interspersed throughout the revelation are explanations of the requirements to enter the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms in the life to come and an exposition on light and its relation to Jesus Christ.5

For more information on these kingdoms, see Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76].  


Much like the first chapter of the book of John (which JS revised in late 1831 or early 1832 as part of his Bible revision6

Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 69.  


), the first part of this revelation connects Christ with light and the creative process. This explanation expanded on ideas expressed in earlier revelations. Revelations in 1829, for example, generally used the concept of light to represent Jesus Christ.7

See Revelation, Apr. 1829–A [D&C 6:21]; Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10:58]; and Revelation, June 1829–A [D&C 14:9].  


By 1831, revelations were also using light as a metaphor for the gospel and as a more abstract representation of truth and knowledge.8 The 27–28 December revelation brings such ideas together by explaining that Christ’s light, which the revelation defines as truth and knowledge, is in all things, is the power by which they were created, and is the law governing them. Such concepts were not entirely novel; in the 1700s, Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, for example, argued that “the light which proceeds from the Lord as a sun is Divine Truth, from which the angels derive all their wisdom and intelligence,” but this revelation goes further in its connection of light to the creative and governing processes.9

Miscellaneous Theological Works, 148, 154–155; Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 206–207.  


While it explored theological themes, the revelation also issued concrete directives, instructing the elders to sanctify themselves at a “solemn assembly,” to construct a house of God, and to be taught there in both spiritual and temporal matters before embarking on their missions to the Gentiles “for the last time.” These instructions came in response to specific prayers that God show “his will . . . concerning the upbuilding of Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

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,” which suggests that the revelation would apply only to church members in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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. Saints in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, however, took the direction as a call to action.10 Just two weeks after JS dictated this revelation, he informed church leaders in Missouri that the revelation provided a commandment from God “to build an house of God, & establish a school for the Prophets” in Kirtland. Regarding the direction as “the word of the Lord to us,”11 JS and the Saints in Kirtland promptly began to organize the “school for the Prophets.” A revelation dictated less than a week after the 27–28 December revelation, which would later become associated with it, provided more instructions on establishing the school.12

Revelation, 3 Jan. 1833 [D&C 88:127–137].  


Over the next several months, church leaders took steps to construct a schoolhouse for “the Elders who should come in to receive ther education for the ministry” and broke ground for the building they called the House of the Lord

JS revelation of Jan. 1831 directed Latter-day Saints to migrate to Ohio, where they would “be endowed with power from on high.” JS Revelation of Dec. 1832 directed Saints to “establish . . . an house of God.” JS Revelation of 1 June 1833 chastened Saints...

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.13

Minute Book 1, 4 May 1833; see also Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 84:5, 1835 ed. [D&C 90:13–15]. Apparently, the Saints did not act quickly enough: a June 1833 revelation condemned them for not having begun construction. Site location and groundbreaking occurred soon thereafter. The House of the Lord was completed and dedicated in March 1836. (Revelation, 1 June 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 95, 1835 ed. [D&C 95:3, 8, 13–17]; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 14, [1]–[2]; JS, Journal, 27, 29, 30, and 31 Mar. 1836, in JSP, J1:200–216.)  


Many Saints focused more on the revelation’s immediate directives than on its metaphysical aspects. Samuel Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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, for example, wrote in his journal that the revelation instructed “the first labourers in this last vinyard” to “call a sollem assembly” where they could “sanctify themselves & wash their hands & feet for a testimony” against an unbelieving generation. He also highlighted the revelation’s requirement to “appoint a teacher among” the elders so that they could obtain “knowledge of countries & languages.”14

Samuel Smith, Diary, Dec. 1832.  


Nowhere in his journal did Samuel Smith refer to the eschatology of the revelation or its other doctrinal points. Likewise, when William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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printed part of the revelation in the February 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, he chose portions explaining the solemn assembly15

The phrase “solemn assembly” is found a number of times in the Old Testament, usually referring to a gathering of elders in a spirit of fasting and prayer. (See, for example, Joel 1:14; and 2:15.)  


and the construction of the House of the Lord

JS revelation of Jan. 1831 directed Latter-day Saints to migrate to Ohio, where they would “be endowed with power from on high.” JS Revelation of Dec. 1832 directed Saints to “establish . . . an house of God.” JS Revelation of 1 June 1833 chastened Saints...

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.16

“Revelation,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Feb. 1833, [5].  


As the note at the end of the inscription indicates, Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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wrote this revelation as JS dictated it. The original manuscript is not extant; Williams copied the revelation into Revelation Book 2, probably between late January and late February 1833. Soon after dictating the revelation, JS transmitted it to the Saints in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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by enclosing a copy of the text in a letter to Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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, explaining that its contents showed “that the Lord approves of us & has accepted us, & established his name in kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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for the salvation of the nations.”17 This revelation was first published in its entirety on a broadside in late 1833 or early 1834.18

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, who have assembled yourselves together, [Kirtland, OH: ca. Jan. 1834], copy at BYU [D&C 88–89]. A portion of the revelation was published earlier, in The Evening and the Morning Star. (“Revelation,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Feb. 1833, [5].)  


It was later combined and printed with the revelation of 3 January 1833.19

Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 and 3 Jan. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 7, 1835 ed. [D&C 88].  


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