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Revelation, 6 April 1830 [D&C 21]

17th. Commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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AD 18291

Oliver Cowdery later crossed out “1829” and inserted “Ap[r]il 1830.” Still later, John Whitmer inserted “6” to make the date “Ap[r]il 6 1830.”  


A Revelation to Joseph the Seer

The Book of Mormon identified a seer as a “revelator, and a prophet also,” specifying, however, that a seer was “greater than a prophet.” A seer could “know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come.” The work of a seer included translation...

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by way of commandment to the Church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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given at Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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Seneca County State of New York
Behold there Shall a Record be kept among you2

For an extended treatment of this injunction, see “Joseph Smith and His Papers;” see also Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47].  


& in it thou shalt be called a seer & Translater & Prophet3

See 1 Samuel 9:9; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 172–173, 216 [Mosiah 8:13; 28:13–16].  


an Apostle

A title indicating one sent forth to preach; later designated as a specific ecclesiastical and priesthood office. By 1830, JS and Oliver Cowdery were designated as apostles. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church explained that an “apostle is an elder...

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of Jesus Christ an Elder

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

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of the Church4

In the Book of Mormon, Jesus’s twelve disciples “were called the Elders of the church.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 575 [Moroni 3:1].)  


through the will of God the Father & the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof & to build it up unto the most holy faith which Church was Organized & established in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight Hundred & Thirty in the forth Month on the Sixth day of the month which is called April Wherefore meaning the Church thou shalt give heed unto all his words & commandments which he ghall shall give unto you as he receiveth them walking in all holyness before me for his word ye shall receive as if from mine own mouth in all Patience & faith for by doing these things the gaits of Hell shall not prevail against you yea & the Lord God will disperse the Powers of darkness from before you & cause the Heavens to shake for your Good & his names glory for thus saith the Lord God him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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in Mighty power for good & his dilligence I know & his prayers I have heard yea his weeping for Zion I have seen & I will cause that [p. 28]
17th. Comm andment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
AD 18291

Oliver Cowdery later crossed out “1829” and inserted “Ap[r]il 1830.” Still later, John Whitmer inserted “6” to make the date “Ap[r]il 6 1830.”  


A Revelation to Joseph the Seer

The Book of Mormon identified a seer as a “revelator, and a prophet also,” specifying, however, that a seer was “greater than a prophet.” A seer could “know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come.” The work of a seer included translation...

View Glossary
by way of comm andment to the Church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
given at Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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Seneca County  State of New York
Behold there Shall a Record be kept among you2

For an extended treatment of this injunction, see “Joseph Smith and His Papers;” see also Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47].  


 & in it thou shalt be called a seer & Translater & Prop[h]et3

See 1 Samuel 9:9; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 172–173, 216 [Mosiah 8:13; 28:13–16].  


 an Apostle

A title indicating one sent forth to preach; later designated as a specific ecclesiastical and priesthood office. By 1830, JS and Oliver Cowdery were designated as apostles. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church explained that an “apostle is an elder...

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of Jesus Christ an Elder

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of the Church4

In the Book of Mormon, Jesus’s twelve disciples “were called the Elders of the church.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 575 [Moroni 3:1].)  


through  the will of God the Father & the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ  being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation  thereof & to build it up unto the most holy faith which  Church was Organized & established in the year of our Lord  one thousand Eight Hundred & Thirty in the forth Month  on the Sixth day of the month which is called April  Wherefore meaning the Church thou shalt give heed unto  all his words & commandments which he ghall [shall] give unto  you as he receiveth them wa[l]king in all holyness before  me for his word ye shall receive as if from mine own  mouth in all Patience & faith for by doing these things  the gaits of Hell shall not prevail against you yea & the  Lord God will disperse the Powers of darkness from before  you & cause the Heavens to shake for your Good & his  names glory for thus saith the Lord God him have I inspired  to move the cause of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

View Glossary
in Mighty power for good &  his dilligence I know & his prayers I have heard yea  his weeping for Zion I have seen & I will cause that [p. 28]
Next
JS dictated this revelation at the home of Peter Whitmer Sr.

14 Apr. 1773–13 Aug. 1854. Farmer. Born at Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer and likely Maria Salome. Member of Presbyterian church. Married Mary Musselman, before 1798, in Pennsylvania. Lived in Lebanon Township, Dauphin Co., by...

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in Fayette Township

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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, New York, after the meeting at which the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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was organized.1

JS History, vol. A-1, 37; see also Anderson, “Who Were the Six?,” 44–45; and Porter, “Study of the Origins,” 374–386, appendix H.  


Such a meeting had been anticipated by JS and his followers for over a year, in part because JS’s revelations had foretold the establishment of a church. A March 1829 revelation to Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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, for example, prophesied that a church would be established after three witnesses testified that they had seen the gold plates

A record engraved on gold plates, which JS translated and published as the Book of Mormon. The text explained that the plates were an abridgement of other ancient records and were written by an American prophet named Mormon and his son Moroni. The plates ...

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and after the words found on the plates were “sent forth.”2

See Revelation, Mar. 1829 [D&C 5:11–20] .  


Another JS revelation in spring 1829 confirmed that a church would be established,3

Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10:53].  


even as the texts translated from the gold plates prompted JS and Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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to consider questions foundational to a church organization and described how Christ established his church in ancient America.4

See, for example, Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 191–194, 574–576 [Mosiah 18; Moroni 2–6]; see also Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:15.  


By June, a revelation commanded Cowdery to “build up my church,” and he subsequently drafted a text, which he titled “A commandment from God unto Oliver how he should build up his Church & the manner thereof.”5 The document read as though it was intended for immediate implementation.
JS, however, later reported that he was directed to delay the establishment of the Church of Christ. His history explained that a revelation “pointed out to us the precise day upon which, according to his will and commandment, we should proceed to organize his Church once again, here upon the earth.” Apparently once a separate June 1829 text, it was incorporated as part of “Articles and Covenants,” a foundational document outlining the governing beliefs, principles, and offices of the church.6

JS History, vol. A-1, 29; see also Historical Introduction to Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20].  


JS’s history described another divine communication, received that June at the home of Peter Whitmer Sr.

14 Apr. 1773–13 Aug. 1854. Farmer. Born at Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer and likely Maria Salome. Member of Presbyterian church. Married Mary Musselman, before 1798, in Pennsylvania. Lived in Lebanon Township, Dauphin Co., by...

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in Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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, New York, when the “word of the Lord” instructed JS and Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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to wait to ordain

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

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each other elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

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“untill, such times, as it should be practicable” to meet with all the believers who would vote “to accept us as spiritual teachers, or not.” JS and Cowdery were instructed that when the time came they should “then call out such men as the Spirit should dictate, and ordain them, and then attend to the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost

A right or privilege bestowed through the confirmation ordinance. Individuals were confirmed members of the church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands. The Book of Mormon explained that remission of sins requires not only...

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.”7

JS History, vol. A-1, 27.  


Describing the fulfillment of those instructions, JS’s history explained that JS and his associates “met together for that purpose, at the house of . . . Mr Whitmer [Peter Whitmer Sr.]

14 Apr. 1773–13 Aug. 1854. Farmer. Born at Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer and likely Maria Salome. Member of Presbyterian church. Married Mary Musselman, before 1798, in Pennsylvania. Lived in Lebanon Township, Dauphin Co., by...

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” on 6 April 1830.8

JS History, vol. A-1, 37. David Whitmer, one of the few attendees who wrote about the event, stated: “We attended to our business of organizing, according to the laws of the land, the church acknowledging us six elders as their ministers; besides, a few who had recently been baptized and not confirmed were confirmed on that day; some blessings were pronounced, and we partook of the Lord’s supper.” (Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, 33.)  


Those who attended the meeting, the history further explained, “consented by an unanimous vote. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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and ordained him an Elder . . . after which he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church.” They then partook of the sacramental

Primarily referred to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, as opposed to other religious sacraments. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed “that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord...

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bread and wine and “then laid . . . hands on each individual member of the Church present that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ.” Then, while the group was “yet together,” JS dictated the revelation featured below.9

JS History, vol. A-1, 37.  


It began, “Behold there Shall a Record be kept among you,” and affirmed that in that record JS would be known as a “seer

The Book of Mormon identified a seer as a “revelator, and a prophet also,” specifying, however, that a seer was “greater than a prophet.” A seer could “know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come.” The work of a seer included translation...

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& Translater & Prop[h]et an Apostle

A title indicating one sent forth to preach; later designated as a specific ecclesiastical and priesthood office. By 1830, JS and Oliver Cowdery were designated as apostles. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church explained that an “apostle is an elder...

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of Jesus Christ an Elder of the Church.” The revelation instructed “Oliver

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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mine Apostle” to ordain JS. David Whitmer

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

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, who was at the meeting, wrote that “Joseph received a revelation that he should be the leader; that he should be ordained by Oliver Cowdery as ‘Prophet Seer and Revelator’ to the church, and that the church should receive his words as if from God’s own mouth.”10

Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, 33.  


When Cowdery was later asked, “To what did you ordain Joseph on the 6th of April, 1830?” he answered, “I ordained him to be a Prophet, Seer, &c., just as the revelation says.”11

[William E. McLellin], “The Successor of Joseph the Seer,” Ensign of Liberty, Dec. 1847, 42.  


Eyewitness accounts affirm the date and place this document was dictated; nevertheless, early documents indicate some confusion about both.12

David Whitmer explained, “The reason why we met on that day was . . . that we should organize according to the laws of the land. On this account we met at my father’s house in Fayette, N. Y., on April 6, 1830.” Whitmer also referred to this revelation being given at that occasion. (Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, 33; see also An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Religious Societies [5 Apr. 1813], Laws of the State of New-York [1813], vol. 2, p. 214, sec. 3; see also JS History, vol. A-1, 37.)  


In the heading to the text itself in Revelation Book 1, the earliest extant copy, and in the table of contents to that volume, 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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dated the revelation to 1829.13

See Revelation Book 1, pp. 28, [207].  


Later, that date was crossed out multiple times by Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, who subsequently inserted “April 1830,” after which John Whitmer inserted the number “6” to specify the date as 6 April. Whitmer may have originally written “1829” because the revelation was situated in Revelation Book 1 next to a revelation that does date from 1829. In any case, the text of the revelation supports Cowdery’s redaction by referring to the establishment of the church in the past tense.
Even though this, the earliest extant version of the revelation, gives Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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, New York, as the place of dictation, the earliest printed version changed the location to Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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. The mistake seems to have been the result of confusion on the part of typesetter and printer 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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in Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, Missouri, as he prepared this and other revelations for publication in the 1833 Book of Commandments.14

For the historical background of the Book of Commandments, see its historical introduction.  


Phelps, who joined the church in June 1831 and therefore had no firsthand knowledge of the date or place of organization, added “6” to five short April 1830 revelations from Manchester and then followed them with this 6 April text—but he ignored the statement “given at Fayette Seneca County” on the manuscript and instead inserted Manchester to match the others for which he had supplied the same date.15

See Revelation Book 1, pp. 28–30; and Revelations, 6 Apr. 1830 and Apr. 1830–A through E, in Book of Commandments, 17–22 [D&C 21, 23].  


Although Phelps and others elsewhere repeated that the church was organized in Manchester,16

William W. Phelps, for example, stated in The Evening and the Morning Star that the church was established in Manchester.a A pamphlet by Orson Pratt published in 1840 likewise named Manchester, but in the 1848 edition of the pamphlet, Pratt changed the establishment location from Manchester to Fayette.b William E. McLellin is another who believed the organizational meeting took place in Manchester.c For other accounts pointing to a Manchester establishment, see JS, “Church History,” Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1842, 3:708; Smith, William Smith on Mormonism, 14; William H. Kelley, Interview of Benjamin Saunders, ca. Sept. 1884, in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2:138–139; and “C. R. Stafford,” Naked Truths about Mormonism (Oakland, CA), Jan. 1888, 3.  


a“Prospects of the Church,” The Evening and the Morning Star, 1 Mar. 1833, [4]; see also “Communicated,” The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 160.

bPratt, Interesting Account, 23–24; Pratt, Remarkable Visions, 12.

c[William E. McLellin], Editorial, Ensign of Liberty, Mar. 1847, 2.

the earliest manuscript and later eyewitness accounts, as well as early financial and legal documents, confirm the correct location as Fayette Township.17

The minutes of a meeting held 3 May 1834, approving a change in the name of the church, include an attestation that the church was originally organized 6 April 1830 in Fayette. JS and Oliver Cowdery both signed the minutes. The deed of purchase for church lands in Ohio likewise identified Fayette and was signed by Oliver Cowdery. (“Communicated,” The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 160; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 18, pp. 478–479, 5 May 1834, microfilm 20,237, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  


Facts