Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 100

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Find helpful commentary on the verses below to better understand the message of this revelation.

Verses 1-4

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

With so many pressing concerns in the fall of 1833, Joseph and Sidney could have delegated the mission to Perrysburg to other elders, but the Lord assures Joseph and Sidney that their mission to this place will open “an effectual door into the regions round about” (D&C 100:3). The two leaders stayed in the area from October 12 to November 1 and preached to several large, receptive groups. Among those converted were Freeman Nickerson’s two grown sons, Moses and Eleazar. Joseph and Sidney also converted Lydia Bailey, who later married Newel Knight, one of Joseph’s first converts and one of his closest friends. A few weeks after Joseph and Sidney went back to Kirtland, Moses Nickerson wrote to Sidney, “Your labors wile [sic] in Canada have been the beginning of a good work: there are 34 members attached to the Church at Mount Pleasant, all of whom appear to live up to their profession, five of whom have spoke[n] in tongues and three who sing in tongues: and we live at the top of the mountain. For my part, I feel that I cannot be thankful enough for that which I have received: the scriptures have been opened to my view beyond account.”1

 

The most important harvest from the “effectual door” opened by Joseph and Sidney came two years later, when Parley P. Pratt traveled through the region preaching the gospel. Traveling in company with Freeman Nickerson, Parley traveled on his own to Toronto, where he was instrumental in converting hundreds to the Church. Among these converts were future Church President John Taylor and Mary Fielding, who later married Hyrum Smith.2 Mary Fielding became the mother of future Church President Joseph F. Smith, who was in turn the father of future Church President Joseph Fielding Smith. The “effectual door” opened by Joseph and Sidney on this mission eventually became the portal out of which hundreds of Saints and three Church Presidents emerged.3

 

1. The Evening and the Morning Star, February 1834, 134.

 

2. Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow, Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism, 2011, 83–97.

 

3. Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, 2005, 3:253–54.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 5-8

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

As Joseph and Sidney preached in Perrysburg, the Lord’s promises in verses 5, 6, and 8 were fulfilled. The experiences of Lydia Goldthwaite Bailey Knight, who was converted during Joseph and Sidney’s mission to the area, were part of that fulfillment. Lydia later recorded that as she heard Joseph Smith tell of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, she “saw his face become white and shining[,] glow seemed to beam from every feature.”3 Lydia’s biography records that when she was baptized a few days later, she cried out while standing in the freezing water, “Glory to God in the highest. Thanks be to His holy name that I have lived to see this day.”4 At a meeting held the night of her baptism Lydia was caught up in the Spirit and spoke in tongues. According to her biography, “she was enveloped as with a flame, and, unable longer to retain her seat, she arose and her mouth was filled with the praises of God and His glory. The spirit of tongues was upon her, and she was clothed in a shining light, so bright that all present saw it with great distinctness above the light of the fire and the candles.”5

 

Lydia had earlier been abandoned by her husband, and she wondered about her place in this new church. As recorded in her biography, before his departure Joseph Smith told her and others present: “I have been pondering on Sister Lydia’s lonely condition, and wondering why it is that she has passed through so much sorrow and affliction and is thus separated from all her relatives. I now understand it. The Lord has suffered it even as he allowed Joseph of old to be afflicted, who was sold by his brethren as a slave to a far country, and through that became a savior to his house and country. Even so shall it be with her, the hand of the Lord will overrule it for good to her and her father’s family.” Joseph then spoke to Lydia directly, saying, “Sister Lydia, great are your blessings. The Lord, your Savior, loves you and will overrule all your past afflictions for good unto you.”6

 

A few years later Lydia moved to Kirtland, where she met and fell in love with Newel Knight, one of Joseph Smith’s close friends. Their marriage was personally performed by Joseph Smith. During the ceremony Joseph told them that marriage “was an institution of heaven first solemnized in the garden of Eden by God himself, by the authority of everlasting priesthood.”7 Lydia and Newel remained close companions and had seven children together before Newel’s death in 1847 during the trek west. She died in the faith in St. George in 1880.8 Lydia Knight’s conversion is one of the best examples during Joseph and Sidney’s mission that demonstrates the Lord’s assurance that “the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record” (D&C 100:8).

 

3. William G. Hartley, Stand By My Servant Joseph: The Story of the Joseph Knight Family and the Restoration, 2003, 214.

 

4. Hartley, 215.

 

5. Hartley, 216.

 

6. Hartley, 217.

 

7. Hartley, 224.

 

8. Lydia Goldthwaite McClellan, Biography, JSP.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 9-12

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

In verse 9, the Lord gives Sidney Rigdon the blessing to be a “spokesman unto my servant Joseph.” This blessing must have reassuring for Sidney given the considerable trauma he had suffered the year before when he was badly beaten and injured during a mob attack at the John Johnson Farm. Sidney was a remarkably gifted preacher and leader—and a vital part of the Restoration. George Q. Cannon later wrote, “Those who knew Sidney Rigdon, know how wonderfully God inspired him, and with what wonderful eloquence he declared the word of God to the people. He was a mighty man in the hands of God, as a spokesman, as long as the prophet lived, or up to a short time before his death.”9

 

Several scriptural commentators have called Sidney’s blessing to serve as a spokesman for Joseph Smith a fulfillment of an ancient prophesy made by Joseph, son of Israel. In the Book of Mormon Joseph is recorded as saying, “And the Lord said unto me also: I will raise up unto the fruit of thy loins; and I will make for him a spokesman” (2 Nephi 3:18).10 This prophecy, however, may have multiple fulfillments: Oliver Cowdery (D&C 28:2–3) and Hyrum Smith (D&C 124:95) also acted as an Aaron to Joseph Smith, the Moses of our dispensation. Passages like the ones mentioned in this paragraph emphasize the divine power of God in raising up not only a prophet to restore the gospel but also a generation of men and women also prepared to build the kingdom.

 

9. Journal of Discourses, 25:126.

 

10. See Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 1985, 425–27; Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler, Revelations of the Restoration, 2000, 725; and Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, 2005, 3:253–54.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 13-17

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

Orson Hyde and John Gould (D&C 100:14) were dispatched in early August to Missouri to find out more information on the plight of the Saints there.11 The two elders traveled in a realm of uncertainty and violence, and it is clear from verse 14 that Joseph and Sidney worried for their safety. The sufferings of the Saints in Zion weighed heavily on them during this time. But rather than simply waiting and worrying in Kirtland for word from Missouri, Joseph and Sidney’s mission to Perrysburg showed their determination to do good when and where they could. Their time in the area was well spent, and their efforts were well rewarded with a rich harvest of souls. Sometimes the best medicine for coping with serious problems that we have limited control over is diving into the service of others.

 

The experiences Joseph and Sidney had in and around Perrysburg left the Prophet with a special love for the Saints in the area. In a letter written just a few weeks after returning to Kirtland Joseph wrote to his friends in Perrysburg, “I remember brother Freeman [Eleazer Freeman Nickerson] and Wife, Ransom also, and sister Lydia [Goldthwaite Bailey], and little Charles, with all the brethren and sisters. I intreat for an interest in all your prayers before the throne of mercy in the name of Jesus. I hope that the Lord will grant that I may see you all again, and above all that we may overcome and sit down together in the Kingdom of our Father.”12

 

Joseph also returned home to find that all was as the Lord had promised: “your families are well; they are in mine hands” (D&C 100:1). The Prophet recorded his gratitude for this fulfilled promise, writing in his journal, “Friday, November 1. [Left] Buffalo, N. Y. at 8 o’clock A.M. and arrived at home Monday the 4th [November 1833] at 10, A.M. found my family all well according to the promise of the Lord, for which blessings I feel to thank his holy name; Amen.”13

11. JS History, vol. A-1, p. 344, JSP.

12. Letter to Moses Nickerson, 19 November 1833, p. 65, JSP.

13. JS Journal, 1832–1834, p. 18, JSP.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)