Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 27

/ Doctrine & Covenants 27 / Commentary

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

Verses 1-4

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

This revelation allowed for substances other than wine or bread to be used as sacramental emblems in worship services in the Church. In February 1833, Joseph Smith received the revelation now known as the Word of Wisdom. In the revelation, the Lord taught “that inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or Strong drink among you behold it is not good, neither mete in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves in your Sacraments before him, & behold this should be wine of your own make” (Revelation, 27 February 1833, JSP). Sanctioned by the instructions given in this revelation, the practice among today’s Latter-day Saints is to use water instead of wine in their sacramental services. The teachings found in Doctrine and Covenants 27 opened the door for this change in practice.

           

However, the revelation did not condemn the use of wine; it only opened the door for other substances to be used instead. The Saints continued to use wine in the sacrament until the early twentieth century. After receiving this revelation, Joseph Smith noted, “In obedience to the above we prepared some wine of our own make and held our meeting. . . . We partook of the sacrament, after which we confirmed these two sisters [Emma Smith and Sally Knight] into the Church, and spent the evening in a glorious manner. The Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon us. We praised the God of Israel, and rejoiced exceedingly” (JS History, vol. A-1, 51).

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 5-9

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

In these verses, the Lord renews a promise He made in the Gospels of Mark and Luke: that He will return and drink of the fruit of the vine with His faithful disciples “in the kingdom of God” after “the kingdom of God shall come” (Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). He also provides a list of those who will be present with Him at this prophesied of day. This list of individuals is the most comprehensive register of the angels involved in the Restoration. Along with a second account Joseph Smith gave in Doctrine and Covenants 128:19–21, this list provides us with a view into the different prophets and apostles of past eras who participated in the opening of this last dispensation.

           

Several important scriptural connections are made in the revelation. Moroni is identified as one of the attendees at this meeting with the Savior, and the Book of Mormon is directly identified as the stick of Ephraim, the sacred record of the descendants of the patriarch Joseph. This record was seen in vision by the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:15–28). A second visitor is identified as Elias. The 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants adds to this figure the title of “the restorer of all things” (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835, p. 180, JSP). Elias is a title used to identify several different prophets. The Elias in these verses is the angel who visited Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, and informed Zacharias that he and his wife Elisabeth would have a son. At the time, the angel called himself Gabriel (Luke 1:5–19). Later in his life, Joseph Smith identified Gabriel as the ancient prophet Noah (JS History, vol. C-1, 11, JSP).

           

An angel identified as Elias also appeared in the Kirtland Temple and gave Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” (D&C 110:12). Further adding to the confusion is the fact that Elias is the Greek form of the name Elijah, and in some instances in the New Testament, Elias does directly refer to the prophet Elijah (Luke 4:25–26; James 5:17; Matthew 17:1–4). At the same time, Elias is used as a title for a forerunner (JST Matthew 11:13–15; 17:10–14). But because no single angel brought back all of the keys of this dispensation, Elias can be used as a general term to describe all of the angels of the Restoration. The Lord’s words in the New Testament support this usage of the term; in the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 17:13–14, the Savior asked, “Who is Elias?” and answered, “Behold this is Elias, whom I send to prepare the way before me.”

           

John the Baptist, who previously appeared to Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, is mentioned in these verses as well. The Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:20–28 associates John the Baptist with the title of Elias and discusses the concept of multiple individuals holding the title. The passage explains that John “denied not that he was Elias; but confessed, saying, I am not the Christ. And they asked him; How then art thou Elias? And he said, I am not that Elias who was to restore all things.” The Savior also identified John the Baptist as an Elias (Matthew 17:10–13). In Doctrine and Covenants 27:9, the Lord also distinctly refers to Elijah, marking him as a different person than Elias.

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute) 

Verses 10-11

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

In verses 10 and 11, the Lord identifies more of those who will drink of the fruit of the vine with Him, including the patriarchs Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham. The Lord also identifies Adam as the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13, 22) and as Michael, the archangel who led the forces of righteousness during the War in Heaven (Revelation 12:7–9). The visitation of Moroni and the identification of Michael with a mortal, Adam, mark the beginning of the revelation to Joseph Smith that angels can be human messengers, or humans in different stages of eternal progression. Joseph would later teach that angels could be “resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bone” and other types of being existed in heaven such as  “the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory” (D&C 129:1–3). For example, Abraham, mentioned in verse 10, is later spoken of as having “received all things,” and the Lord declares that Abraham “hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne” (D&C 132:29).

 

Because Adam is mentioned as one who will be present at this future meeting of the drinking of the fruit of the vine, this appearance is often connected with another revelation given to Joseph in 1838. While visiting a Church settlement at Spring Hill, Missouri, Joseph prophesied that the area was “named by the mouth of [the] Lord and was called Adam Ondi Awmen [Adam-ondi-Ahman], because said he it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet” (JS Journal, March–September 1838, 43–44, JSP; see D&C 116).

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute) 

Verse 12

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

This passage is the scriptural companion to Doctrine and Covenants 13, which describes John the Baptist bestowing on Joseph and Oliver the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood. At some time before this revelation (D&C 27) was given, the Lord sent the ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John to ordain and confirm Joseph and Oliver as Apostles and to commit priesthood keys into their hands. We do not know the exact time or circumstances of the appearance of Peter, James, and John, nor is there an official account of their appearance. But the keys bestowed by these three Apostles contained the power to organize that which was necessary to bring about the “dispensation of the fulness of times,” which the Apostle Paul himself taught would “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).  

           

The Apostle Erastus Snow likewise taught, “This Priesthood conferred upon them by those three messengers embraces within it all offices of the Priesthood from the highest to the lowest. As has been often taught us that the keys of the presidency of this Apostleship represent the highest authority conferred upon man in the flesh. And by virtue of these keys of Priesthood the Prophet Joseph from time to time proceeded to ordain and set in order the Priesthood in its various quorums as we see it today in the Church” (Journal of Discourses, 23:183).

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute) 

Verse 14-18

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

These verses reveal that along with the collection of prophets and apostles from past dispensations, the last group of people given to drink of the fruit of the vine includes every Saint whom the Father has given to the Savior from “out of the world” (verse 14). Simply put, every worthy person who has given their life to the Savior —those living and those who have already passed beyond the veil—will be granted the privilege of drinking of the fruit of the vine with Jesus Christ. This event, which will almost certainly occur as one of the grand events associated with the Second Coming of Christ the king, will include as invited guests all who have overcome the world and become part of the kingdom of God on earth.

           

Recognizing the obstacles and dangers between here and our reunion with Him, the Lord also reiterates a teaching of the Apostle Paul: to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:12–18). To this counsel the Lord adds the admonition to “be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me,” thus tasking the Saints with finding unity in their prayers and their aims. 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)