Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 12

/ Doctrine & Covenants 12 / Commentary

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

Verses 1-6

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

This inspired introduction closely mirrored the words earlier given to Joseph Smith Sr., Oliver Cowdery, and Hyrum Smith (see D&C 4:1–4; 6:1–5; 11:1–9). The words take on particular significance when applied to the travails faced by the family of Joseph Knight Sr. during the early years of the Restoration. Though Father Knight does not appear to have been present at the organization of the Church in April 1830, a few months later, in June, the Knight family and several of their neighbors were baptized. This small group “became the nucleus of the first branches organized in the Church.” The neighbors who joined the Church included the “Pecks, DeMilles, Stringhams, Culvers, Slades, Badgers, Hineses, and Carters” (Joseph F. Darowski, “The Journey of the Colesville Branch,” Revelations in Context: The Stories Behind the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, 2016, 41).


The saga of the members of this branch, with the Knight family at the center, is a window into the trials and miracles witnessed by the early members of the Church. The Saints of the Colesville Branch witnessed the first miracle in the Church, when Joseph Smith cast out an evil spirit influencing Newell Knight (see History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, p. 41). Later, almost all of the Colesville Saints sold their property in Colesville to obey the Lord’s command to “gather to the Ohio” (D&C 37:1–4). When they arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, they agreed to live the newly revealed law of consecration but were forced to relocate when Leman Copley withdrew his resources from the Church (D&C 54). Journeying to Missouri, the Knight family and the Colesville Saints were present when Joseph received the revelation identifying the location of the city of Zion to be built in the latter days (D&C 57–59). They suffered trials and travails in Missouri and Nauvoo, and they eventually crossed the plains to settle in Utah. Historian Larry Porter wrote, “From the very inception of ‘Mormonism’ the Saints comprising the Colesville Branch linked their lives inexorably with the Restored Gospel. . . . They relinquished family, friends, homes and material comforts in pursuit of their testimonies” (Larry C. Porter, “The Colesville Branch and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies, 10:3 [1970], 13). (Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 7-9

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

Until the end of his life, Joseph Knight Sr. remained a faithful supporter of Joseph Smith. In 1842 the Prophet, reminiscing about his friends and family, recorded a reflection on Father Knight. The memory was written thirteen years after Joseph received Doctrine and Covenants 12 and is the fulfillment of the charge given by the Lord in this revelation. Joseph Smith wrote,


While I contemplate the virtues and the good qualifications and characteristics of the faithful few, which I am now recording in the Book of the Law of the Lord, of such as have stood by me in every hour of peril, for these fifteen long years past; say for instance; my aged and beloved brother Joseph Knight Sen, who was among the number of the first to administer to my necessities, while I was laboring, in the commencement of the bringing forth of the work of the Lord, and of laying the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: for fifteen years has he been faithful and true, and even handed, and exemplary and virtuous, and kind; never deviating to the right hand nor to the left. Behold he is a righteous man. May God Almighty lengthen out the old man’s days; and may his trembling, tortured and broken body be renewed, and the vigor of health turn upon him; if it can be thy will, consistently, O God; and it shall be said of him by the sons of Zion, while there is one of them remaining; that this man, was a faithful man in Israel; therefore his name shall never be forgotten (Reflections and Blessings, 16 and 23 August 1842, JSP). (Doctrine and Covenants Minute)