Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 35

/ Doctrine & Covenants 35 / Commentary

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

Verses 1-2

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The Lectures on Faith, which Sidney Rigdon assisted in writing, uses the sequence established in these verses to describe the mission of Jesus Christ and how He helps men and women become the sons and daughters of God. Lecture five teaches,


The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh—and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be.


But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin: Showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, and that all who walk not in the law of God, may justly be condemned by the law, and have no excuse for their sins. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son. . . .


The lecture continues, “All those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one” (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835, 53–53, JSP).


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 3-12

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The Lord Himself testified that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the “only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30). This does not mean, however, that Latter-day Saints hold a monopoly on inspiration, the influence of the Holy Ghost, or miracles, signs, and wonders: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (Family Proclamation, 1995, paragraph 2). The Lord’s words to Sidney Rigdon here demonstrates that the Savior works among and inspires people of all faiths, not only the Latter-day Saints. This principle was affirmed in a statement made by the First Presidency in 1978:


Based upon ancient and modern revelation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from common mortal progenitors, but also as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father.


The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals. The Hebrew prophets prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, who should provide salvation for all mankind who believe in the gospel. Consistent with these truths, we believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation, either in this life or in the life to come.


We also declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored to His Church in our day, provides the only way to a mortal life of happiness and a fullness of joy forever. For those who have not received this gospel, the opportunity will come to them in the life hereafter if not in this life. Our message therefore is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father.” (First Presidency Statement, February 15, 1978)


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 13-16

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In the 2013 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants the word thrash was replaced with thresh. This change was in agreement with the earliest versions of the revelation published in the 1833 Book of Commandments and the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (see Book of Commandments, 1833, p. 77; Doctrine and Covenants, 1835, 117, JSP). In Joseph Smith’s time either thrash or thresh would have carried the same meaning, specifically meaning “to beat out grain from the husk or pericarp with a flail” (“Thrash,” American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, accessed Nov. 27, 2020). Threshing or thrashing was an agricultural practice intended to separate the useful part of a plant from the unusable portions.


In the years since the revelation was published, the word thrash has taken on a new meaning, specifically “to beat soundly in punishment; flog” or, alternatively, “to defeat thoroughly” (“Thrash,”, accessed Nov. 27, 2020). The original word used in the revelation, thresh, captures more accurately the Lord’s directive to Sidney and to other missionaries called in the last days. Missionaries’ objective is not to beat or flog thoroughly their opponents but simply to separate the elect from those who will not choose to hear the voice of the Lord (D&C 29:7). Those who choose to heed the voice of the Lord are left “in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day” (Alma 26:7).


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 17-19

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In these verses the Lord affirms that the keys of the kingdom are in the hands of Joseph Smith (D&C 28:7). Later, when the original First Presidency of this dispensation was organized, Sidney Rigdon, who was chosen as First Counselor, was told that he was “accounted as equal with [Joseph Smith] in holding the keys of the last kingdom” (D&C 90:6). Today all three members of the First Presidency hold the keys necessary to lead the Church, though the President of the Church, as the presiding officer, is given the power to direct the use of the keys.


In a later revelation, the Quorum of the Twelve and the Quorums of the Seventy were revealed to hold a position “equal in authority and power” to the First Presidency (D&C 107:23–26). In the same revelation, the Twelve are directed to act “under the direction of the Presidency of the Church” and the Seventy “under the direction of the Twelve” (D&C 107:33–34). This system enables the Twelve to lead the Church in the absence of a First Presidency, justifying their equal authority, but places them under the direction of the First Presidency when fully constituted.


Near the end of his life, Joseph Smith met with the Quorum of the Twelve and bestowed all the keys of the priesthood upon them. Orson Hyde, a member of the Twelve during this time, later recalled,


We were in council with Brother Joseph almost every day for weeks, says Brother Joseph in one of these councils there is something going to happen; I don’t know what it is, but the Lord bids me to hasten and give you your endowment before the temple is finished. He conducted us through every ordinance of the holy priesthood, and when he had gone through with all the ordinances he rejoiced very much, and says, now if they kill me you have got all the keys, and all the ordinances and you can confer them upon others, and the hosts of Satan will not be able to tear down the kingdom, as fast as you will be able to build it up; and now says he on your shoulders will the responsibility of leading this people right, for the Lord is going to let me rest a while. (“Trial of Elder Rigdon,” Times and Seasons 5:651, Sept.15, 1844)


Today, all members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve hold the keys necessary to lead the Church, though all act under the direction of the President of the Church, and in accordance with the hierarchy explained in the Doctrine and Covenants.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 20-27

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


Sidney was directed to write for Joseph; this direction is a reference to the Bible translation project Joseph had embarked upon a few months earlier. Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer had previously acted as scribes, but both had been called to different responsibilities. Most of the original drafts of the Bible translation are in Sidney Rigdon’s handwriting. It appears that the first revelation for which Sidney served as scribe was the inspired translation of Genesis that is now Moses 7 in the Pearl of Great Price (Robert J. Matthews, Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, 1985, 29).


Joseph Smith’s history records of this time,


It may be well to observe here, that the Lord greatly encouraged, and strengthened the faith of his little flock which had embraced the fulness of the everlasting gospel, as revealed to them in the book of Mormon, by giving some more extended information upon the Scriptures; a translation of which had already commenced. Much conjecture and conversation frequently occurred among the saints, concerning the books mentioned and referred to, in various places in the Old and New testaments, which were now nowhere to be found. The common remark was, they are “lost books”; but it seems the apostolic churches had some of these writings, as Jude mentions or quotes the prophecy of Enoch the seventh from Adam. To the joy of the little flock, which in all, from Colesville to Canandaigua, numbered about seventy members, did the Lord reveal the following doings of olden time from the prophecy of Enoch. (JS History, vol. A-1, 80–81, JSP)


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)