Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 30

/ Doctrine & Covenants 30 / Commentary

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

Verses 1-4

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

The reproof given to David Whitmer in this revelation is most likely linked to the recent episode surrounding the revelations Hiram Page received through his seer stone (see D&C 28). David repented of his folly regarding these revelations and a few months later obeyed the Lord’s commandment to relocate to Ohio (D&C 37:3). David was also called on a mission to journey to Missouri as part of the group that identified the land of Zion (D&C 52:25). He was instrumental in helping Church members who fled as refugees from Jackson County, Missouri, in 1833. In 1834 David was appointed as president pro tem of the Church in Missouri (Susan Easton Black, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, 2012, 678).

 

During a financial crisis in 1838 David became embittered against Joseph Smith. He was involved in a plot to remove Joseph as Church president. A few months later David was excommunicated from the Church,  and he never returned. In 1887, the year before his death, he authored a seventy-five page pamphlet entitled An Address to All Believers in Christ. It is difficult to know if the pamphlet reflected David’s feelings when he was in the Church, or if he had grown bitter during the decades after he was expelled from the faith. David was harshly critical of Joseph Smith, especially after Joseph stopped using a seer stone to receive his revelations. According to David, Joseph told him “that we would have to be guided into truth and obtain the will of the Lord” (An Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887, Kindle Edition, 38). It is possible that the Lord’s warnings to David that he had “not given heed unto my Spirit, and to those who were set over you” (D&C 30:2) is a reference to David’s feelings at the time.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 5-8

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

Peter Whitmer Jr. was the first of three missionaries commanded to accompany Oliver Cowdery on his mission to the American Indians (see D&C 28:8; 32:1–3). He departed with the other missionaries in October 1830, preaching to the Seneca Nation near Buffalo, New York. Later, the missionaries found great success in Kirtland, Ohio, where they converted more than 100 people, many of them future Church leaders including Sidney Rigdon, Isaac Morley, John Murdock, Lyman Wight, and Edward Partridge (Richard Dilworth Rust, “A Mission to the Lamanites,” Revelations in Context, 2016).

 

Leaving Kirtland, the missionaries pressed on in their journey to the borders of the United States. Parley P. Pratt, another of the missionaries, recalled the difficulty of traveling during the winter months. He wrote that the missionaries had struggled “for three hundred miles through vast prairies and through trackless wilds of snow—no beaten road; houses few and far between; and the bleak northwest wind always blowing in our faces with a keenness which would almost take the skin off the face.” Parley continued, “After much fatigue and some suffering we all arrived in Independence, in the county of Jackson, on the extreme western frontiers of Missouri, and of the United States” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 2000, 58).

 

After they arrived in Independence, Peter took on work as a tailor to support the other missionaries, who pressed on to Indian Territory. One of Peter’s clients during this time was Alexander Doniphan, who was later instrumental in helping the Saints during the difficulties they faced in Missouri. After his mission, Peter returned to settle in Missouri with his family. Mary Elizabeth Lightner, who served as one of Peter’s employees during this time later recalled, “I went to work for Peter Whitmer who was a tailor by trade, and just married. He was crowded with work, and Lilburn W. Boggs offered him a room in his house, as he had just been elected lieutenant governor, and wanted Peter to make him a suit for inauguration ceremonies. Peter did make [the suit], and I stitched the collars and faced the coat. Mr. Boggs often came in to note the progress of the work” (Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, autobiography, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, 17 [July 1926], 196). Peter remained with the Saints in Missouri, serving in a number of different positions in Church leadership, until his death on September 22, 1836 (Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1997, 336).

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 9-11

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

John Whitmer, rather than embarking with the missionaries bound for the frontier, was commanded to preach at the home of Phillip Burroughs, a farmer who lived near the Whitmers in Fayette, New York. Earlier in the month, Parley P. Pratt, a new convert who was baptized and ordained only days before, had preached a successful sermon at the Burroughs’ home. Pratt later recalled, “On the next Sabbath [after his baptism] I preached to a large concourse of people, assembled at the house of a Mr. Burroughs. The Holy Ghost came upon me mightily. I spoke the word of God with power, reasoning out of the Scriptures and the Book of Mormon. The people were convinced, overwhelmed in tears, and four heads of families came forward expressing their faith, and were baptized” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 2000, 39).

 

John Whitmer was called on to follow up after Parley’s success. Despite the successful meetings held in his home, it is unknown if Phillip Burroughs was ever baptized. Diedrich Willers, a local resident, later recorded that Phillip was “at one time, attracted to the LDS Church, but did not become a member.” Contrary to this, in 1832 Samuel H. Smith and Orson Hyde visited the Burroughs’ home, noting, “He [Phillip] was glad to see us and Sister Burroughs was strong in the faith. [We] held a meeting in the school house. A considerable number of people came to hear and paid good attention.” Orson Hyde wrote, “Brother B. [was] rather low, but left him about persuaded to go to Zion.” Phillip Burroughs apparently never heeded the call to Zion and as late as June 1860 was still living in New York along with his family (Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1997, 41–42).

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)