Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 75

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

Verses 1-5

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


These scriptures reiterate that it is important to labor diligently to preach the gospel; they further emphasize the importance of “proclaiming the truth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given unto you” (D&C 75:4). Such stress on the commandments and revelations given in our time highlights the importance of sharing what is unique about our message. There is much to be gained from building on common beliefs with other faiths, but we also need to emphasize why we are different from those of other faiths.


One key difference between our faith and other faiths is the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. During a meeting held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in January 1840, Parley P. Pratt recorded an experience that underlines the importance of emphasizing the Restoration in our teaching. According to Elder Pratt,


A very large church was opened for him [Joseph Smith] to preach in, and about three thousand people assembled to hear him. Brother Rigdon spoke first, and dwelt on the Gospel, illustrating his doctrine by the Bible. When he was through, Brother Joseph arose like a lion about to roar; and being full of the Holy Ghost, spoke in great power, bearing testimony of the visions he had seen, the ministering of angels which he had enjoyed; and how he had found the plates of the Book of Mormon, and translated them by the gift and power of God. He commenced by saying: “If nobody else had the courage to testify of so glorious a message from Heaven, and of the finding of so glorious a record, he felt to do it in justice to the people, and leave the event with God.”

Elder Pratt added, “The entire congregation were astounded; electrified, as it were, and overwhelmed with the sense of the truth and power by which he spoke, and the wonders which he related. A lasting impression was made; many souls were gathered into the fold.”[i]


As illustrated in the way Joseph Smith taught the congregation in Philadelphia, we have an obligation to bear witness of the Restoration of Christ’s gospel. Outreach and understanding to other faiths will always be an important part of our work, but we also have a solemn charge to proclaim the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days through the Prophet Joseph Smith.


[i] Parley P. Pratt, The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 2000, 362.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 6-12

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The second part of this revelation is directed toward William E. McLellin, who had previously been called to serve a mission with Samuel Smith (D&C 68:7–8). The pair left to preach in eastern Ohio on November 16, 1831. On December 15, McLellin fell ill with a violent cold that confined him to bed. The elders’ mission was cut short, and McLellin returned to Hiram, Ohio, on December 29, just forty-four days after his mission began. When Samuel Smith wrote about this brief term in the mission field, he commented, “We went a short distance, but because of disobedience, our way was hedged up before us.”[i] Samuel never elaborated on what the nature of the disobedience was, but in this revelation, McLellin was rebuked for “the murmurings of his heart” (D&C 75:7). He was then assigned to a new field of labor with Luke Johnson instead of with Samuel Smith.


Brother McLellin was not cut off from the Lord because of his disobedience or illness. In fact, during the time between returning from his first mission and receiving this revelation, he had an extraordinary experience. Years after this time, Brother McLellin told Orson Pratt that on January 18, 1832, about a week before Doctrine and Covenants section 75 was given, he found himself alone with Joseph Smith in the translating room of the Johnson home. William asked Joseph to inquire of the Lord regarding an important matter. Joseph replied, “Do you inquire of God [?] . . . I will pray for you that you may obtain.” William complied with the Prophet’s instructions, later recalling: “I did receive and I wrote it. And when I read it to him [Joseph Smith] he shed tears of joy and said to me, ‘Brother William, that is the mind of the will of God, and as much a revelation as I ever received in my life. You have written it by the spirit of inspiration.’”[ii] William later reflected,


I was never vain enough to suppose that “I was planted in Joseph’s stead,” nor that it was my duty or privilege to receive by revelation laws or regulations for the whole church. I knew better. But at that time I saw, heard, and felt what I wrote. There and then I learned a principle, and was put in possession of a power that I shall never forget. I learned to know the voice of the Spirit of God clothed in words. And if I had heeded its voice from that day to this, I should have missed many—very many difficulties through which I have passed.[iii]

Serving as a coda to William’s earlier experience when he was challenged by the Lord to write scripture but failed, this episode shows the tender mercy of the Lord toward his children. Even a troubled soul like William McLellin was inspired to learn that the Lord knew him and his desires (See commentary for D&C 67).


[i] Journals of William E. McLellin, 300.

[ii] Journals of William E. McLellin, 301.

[iii] Journals of William E. McLellin, 301.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 14-22

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In these commandments to various elders, the Lord again emphasizes the elders’ different roles in acting as judges of the people and instructs them to shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against those who reject them (D&C 24:15–16). Along with this, He also instructs the elders to bless the homes that they enter. Those commissioned by the Church have an obligation to both teach, judge, and bless the homes they visit.


An experience shared by William F. Cahoon illustrates how these duties are carried out. When he was just seventeen years old, Cahoon was called as a teacher and asked to visit the homes of the Saints. The family of Joseph Smith was among those he was asked to visit. After receiving this young man warmly into his home, Joseph said, “Brother William, I submit myself and my family into your hands . . . ask all the questions you feel like.” William later recalled, “By this time my fears and trembling had ceased and I said, ‘Brother Joseph are you trying to live your religion?’ He answered ‘Yes.’ I then said ‘Do you pray in your family?’ He said ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you teach your family the principles of the gospel?’ He replied ‘Yes, I am trying to do it.’ ‘Do you ask a blessing on your food?’ He answered ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you trying to live in peace and harmony with all your family?’ He said that he was.”


William then turned to Emma Smith and said “‘Sister Emma, are you trying to live your religion? Do you teach your children to obey their parents? Do you try to teach them to pray?’ To all these questions she answered ‘Yes, I am trying to do so.’ I then turned to Joseph and said, ‘I am now through with my questions as a teacher; and now if you have any instructions to give, I shall be happy to receive them.’ He said ‘God bless you, Brother William; and if you are humble and faithful, you shall have power to settle all difficulties that may come before you in the capacity of a teacher.’ I then left my parting blessing upon him and his family, as a teacher, and took my departure.”


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 23-36

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In the final instructions given to this group of elders, the Lord directs the elders to ensure their families are taken care of before they depart on their missions. The Lord teaches that “every man is obliged to provide for his own family” (D&C 75:28). Both ancient and modern prophets have taught that fathers must fulfill their duties to “provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”[i] Paul, writing to Timothy, declared, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).


In our time, Elder D. Todd Christofferson has taught that “breadwinning is a consecrated activity.” He added, “Providing for one’s family, although it generally requires time away from the family, is not inconsistent with fatherhood—it is the essence of being a good father. ‘Work and family are overlapping domains.’ This, of course, does not justify a man who neglects his family for his career or, at the other extreme, one who will not exert himself and is content to shift his responsibility to others.”


[i] The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995, paragraph 7.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)