Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 96

/ Doctrine & Covenants 96 / Commentary

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

Verses 1-5

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

During this time there were only two stakes in the Church, one in Ohio and one in Missouri. Edward Partridge was appointed to serve as the bishop in Missouri (D&C 58:14–17) while Newel K. Whitney served as the bishop in Ohio (D&C 72:7–8). Bishop Whitney’s assignment to take charge of the land mentioned in verses 2 and 3 is an early indication of the role that the Presiding Bishopric would eventually fill within the Church. The role of the Presiding Bishopric is further explained in Doctrine and Covenants 107, which teaches that “the office of the bishop is in administering in all temporal things” (D&C 107:68).

 

Today the Presiding Bishopric takes the lead in overseeing the temporal affairs of the Church, including the construction of temples. Some of the roles filled by the Presiding Bishop include “involvement in receiving, distributing, and accounting for member tithes, offerings, and contributions; administration of programs to assist the poor and needy; design, construction, and maintenance of places of worship; and auditing and transferring records of membership. Men chosen to be Presiding Bishops have been recognized for their business and management skills as well as their religious commitment.”1

 

1. “Presiding Bishopric,” accessed April 21, 2021, newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 6-9

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)

 

John Johnson is highlighted here for his faithfulness and Joseph Smith is directed to make Johnson part of the united firm, or united order. Because of his generosity, Johnson was already a key figure in several important events in Church history. The conference that discussed publishing Joseph Smith’s revelations was held at his home in Hiram, Ohio. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon spent much of the winter of 1831–32 staying with Johnson’s family and working on the new translation of the Bible. In the Johnson home in February 1832, Joseph and Sidney saw their vision of the three degrees of glory. Later, Joseph and Sidney were tarred and feathered by an angry mob that dragged the Prophet from the Johnson home. During the attack Johnson, armed only with a club, bravely rushed into the midst of the mob that was accosting Sidney. In the melee Johnson was knocked down and broke his collarbone. He later was given a blessing by David Whitmer and recovered.2

 

Johnson later relocated to Kirtland and opened an inn near the Newel K. Whitney store. In the inn he displayed the mummies and papyri purchased from Michael Chandler and associated with the Book of Abraham. Two of Johnson’s sons, Luke and Lyman, were chosen as members of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Johnson also served as a member of the Kirtland high council when it was formed in February 1834. Unfortunately, Johnson and his sons became disaffected from the Church during the Kirtland apostasy of 1837-38. He withdrew from the Church, dying in Kirtland in 1843. Lyman Johnson, an Apostle, also withdrew from the Church during this time and never returned. One son from the Johnson family, Luke, did return to the Church though he was never placed back into the Quorum of the Twelve. John Johnson’s wife, Elsa, withdrew from Church fellowship in 1838, but lived close to her daughter Emily, who continued to worship with the Saints who remained in Kirtland. After Emily’s death in 1855, Elsa and her remaining sons traveled from Kirtland to Iowa. Elsa died in Iowa while traveling to the West. The oldest daughter of the Johnsons, also named Elsa remained in the church and passed away in Nauvoo. Another daughter, Nancy Marinda Hyde, remained in the Church, traveling to Salt Lake City where she remained a stalwart in the Church until her passing in 1886.3

2. Mark L. Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 2009, 352–53.

3. Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1997, 152–53; John Johnson, biography, JSP; Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1985, 199. “Nancy Marinda Johnson,” biography, JSP, Curtis Ashton, “Kirtland Through the Eyes of the Johnson Family,” churchofjesuschrist.org, accessed June 29, 2021.

 

(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)