Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 95

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

Verses 1-6

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

The Lord chastens the Saints for their slothfulness in beginning the work of building the house of the Lord in Kirtland. In March 1833 Levi Hancock captured in his journal some of the frustration felt by Church leaders due to the Saints’ lack of initiative to build the temple. He wrote that the Church members in Kirtland “had no place to worship in.” Hancock noted that “Jared Carter went around with a subscription paper to get signers. I signed two dollars. He made up a little over thirty and presented it to Joseph—the Lord would not accept it and gave a command to build a temple.”1

 

According to Lucy Mack Smith, the Saints in Kirtland also equivocated regarding the importance of the structure they were building. She recorded that when a “council was called and Joseph requested the brethren[,] each one[,] to rise and give his views. After they were through he would give his opinion [on what] they all spoke. Some thought that it would be better to build a frame [house]. Others said that a frame was too costly kind [sic] of a house, and the majority concluded upon the putting up a log house and made their calculations about what they could do towards building it. Joseph rose and reminded them that they were not making a house for themselves or any other man but a house for God.” Joseph then declared, “Shall we brethren build a house for our God of logs? No, brethren, I have a better plan than that[;] I have the plan of the house of the Lord given by himself.” According to Lucy, Joseph “then gave them the plan in full of the house of the Lord at Kirtland with which[,] when the brethren heard[,] they were highly delighted.”2

 

The use of apostle in verse 4 is most likely the general meaning of the term as “one sent forth,” since the first Quorum of the Twelve was called nearly two years after section 95 was received. However, the Lord emphasizes the importance of the temple in “bring[ing] to pass my strange act, that I may pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (D&C 95:4). The priesthood keys given to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple continue to play a key role in the work of the Church around the world.

 

1. Robert J. Woodford, Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants, 1974, 2:1222.

 

2. Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, p. 1, bk. 14, JSP.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 7-10

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

In many of the documents linked to this time, the house of the Lord is referred to as a school or a schoolhouse.3 When it was completed, the Kirtland Temple was used as a multipurpose structure not only for education but also for administration and for worship. Here the Lord emphasizes the endowment that He will give to the Saints within the Kirtland Temple. While this endowment was different than the later ordinance revealed in Nauvoo that is practiced in temples today, the Kirtland endowment ceremony was a vital source of strength to those who participated in it. In a larger sense, the spiritual outpouring that accompanied the dedication of the Kirtland Temple served as an endowment of sorts to the entire community of Saints in Kirtland.

 

Elder Orson Pratt, a participant in both the Kirtland endowment ceremony and the Pentecostal season during the temple’s dedication later recalled, “God was there, his angels were there, the Holy Ghost was in the midst of the people . . . and they were filled from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet with the power and inspiration of the Holy Ghost.”4

 

3. See, for example, Minutes, 4 May 1833, p. 20, JSP.

 

4. Orson Pratt, “Remarks,” Deseret News, January 12, 1876, 788.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 11-17

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

In contrast to the suggestions of some Church members to build the temple as a frame house or even a log cabin, the Lord declares that the temple shall “be built after the manner which I shall show unto three of you, whom ye shall appoint and ordain unto this power” (D&C 94:14). The Lord fulfilled this promise when He gave a remarkable vision on June 3 or 4 to Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Williams described this vision to laborers at the temple: “Carpenter Rolph said, ‘Doctor [Williams], what do you think of the house?’ [Williams] answered, ‘It looks to me like the pattern precisely.’” Williams then related the following:

 

Joseph [Smith] received the word of the Lord for him to take his two counselors, Williams and Rigdon, and come before the Lord, and He would show them the plan or model of the house to be built. We went upon our knees, called on the Lord, and the building appeared within viewing distance, I being the first to discover it. Then we all viewed it together. After we had taken a good look at the exterior, the building seemed to come right over us, and the makeup of the Hall seemed to coincide with that I there saw to a minutiae.5

 

Orson Pratt also confirmed the visionary origins of the Kirtland Temple’s design. In a discourse given in 1871, Elder Pratt declared, “When the Lord commanded this people to build a house in the land of Kirtland, he gave them the pattern by vision from heaven, and commanded them to build that house according to that pattern and order; to have the architecture, not in accordance with architecture devised by men, but to have everything constructed in that house according to the heavenly pattern that he by his voice had inspired to his servants.”6

 

5. Elwin C. Robinson, The First Mormon Temple, 1997, 8.

 

6. Journal of Discourses, 14:273.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)