Find helpful commentary on the verses below to better understand the message of this revelation.
Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)
After a month of preaching throughout the region, Joseph and Sidney had much success thwarting the work of Ezra Booth, Symonds Rider, and others seeking to injure the work of the Church. When Ezra Booth refused to publicly debate Sidney Rigdon, the Ohio Star ceased publishing his letters criticizing the Church. With their work accomplished, Joseph and Sidney were commanded to return to their translation of the Bible. A few weeks after returning to this task, Joseph and Sidney read John 5:29; doing so led to their vision of the three degrees of glory (D&C 76:15–19). The eighteen months following this revelation were filled with many revelations and other special events. During this time, twenty-three revelations were received (these revelations are now found in D&C 73–96). Among which are some of the most doctrinally important revelations given in this dispensation including D&C 76, 84, 88, and 93.
While answering their enemies was important for Joseph Smith and the other leaders of the Church, studying the scriptures brought the most fruitful moments of the Restoration. Translating the Bible helped the Prophet and his associates look deeply at every word and ponder the meanings. Such pondering opened the door to further revelation and instruction. Speaking of the Bible, Joseph Smith later said that we “can mark the power of Omnipotence inscribed upon the heavens, can also see His own hand-writing in the sacred volume; and he who reads it oftenest will like it best, and he who is acquainted with it, will know the hand wherever he can see it.”[i]
Joseph did not see the Bible as a dead collection of writings but as a portal to living revelation. One reminiscence records him saying, “You may hug up to yourselves the Bible, but, except through faith in it you get revelation for yourself, the Bible will profit you but little.”[ii]
[i] Letter to the Church, circa March 1834, p. 142, JSP.
[ii] David Osborn’s recollection of an 1837 statement, published in the Juvenile Instructor, 15 March 1892. See The Teachings of Joseph Smith, ed. Larry E. Dahl, and Donald Q. Cannon, 1997, p. 73.
(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)