Historical Context and Background of D&C 30

Early D&C 30 Copy
Early Copy of D&C 30
Source: JosephSmithPapers.org

Video Overview

Brief Synopsis by Steven C. Harper

Section 28 resolved the tension Joseph felt between him and Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmers. The second quarterly conference of the young Church of Christ, held in September 1830 at the Whitmer home in Fayette, New York, culminated when “the Holy Ghost came upon us, and filled us with joy unspeakable; and peace, and faith, and hope, and charity abounded in our midst.” In that setting, Joseph received revelations for Whitmer brothers David, Peter Jr., and John.

David, the Lord said, had misplaced his devotion and his faith. Rather than loving God with all his mind, he became preoccupied with the things of the earth. Here the Lord is probably not accusing David of being worldly. The Lord uses the word world, as in D&C 1:16, when he wants to describe the fallen earth, to suggest evil, or what we might call worldliness. The revelations use the word earth positively. The world is bad; the earth is good. What, then, is the problem? David’s priorities. He is a farmer. It is harvest time. He is preoccupied with dirt and crops instead of their “Maker.” David is looking down rather than up. His earthly cares have led him to neglect his commission to harvest souls (D&C 14; 17; 18).

Peter remembered that “the word of the Lord came unto me by the Prophet Joseph Smith . . . saying Peter thou shalt go with Brother Oliver to the Lamanites.”[1] Peter covenanted to obey the command, and he did, traveling nearly 1,000 miles, trudging much of it through snow. As with so many missionaries, they did not succeed as they hoped. Baptist missionaries and government agents opposed their efforts, and they eventually returned east without converting any Native Americans. Taking the Book of Mormon to that remnant of Israel would have to wait. Meanwhile, the missionaries had great success with another intended audience of the Book of Mormon. “Strange as it may appear,” a northern Ohio newspaper reported,

it is an unquestionable fact, that this singular sect have, within three or four weeks, made many proselytes in this county. The number of believers in the faith, in three or four of the northern townships, is said to exceed one hundred—among whom are many intelligent and respectable individuals.[2]

The Lord calls John Whitmer to proclaim the gospel like a trumpeter. Using the home of the friendly Philip Burroughs as a headquarters, John is to labor for Zion with his whole soul, preaching the gospel without fear, for the Lord is with him. Early missionaries had success preaching the gospel at the Burroughs home in Seneca Falls, New York.[3] John apparently did so for about six months, from this September 1830 calling until his March 1831 calling to keep a history and transcribe for Joseph (see section 47).

[1] Peter Whitmer Jr., Journal, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT.

[2] Western Courier (Ravenna, Ohio), May 26, 1831. Levi Jackman wrote that “something like one hundred persons joined the Church from that place [Kirtland], with many other branches of the Church organized in adjoining towns and counties. See Jackman, Autobiography, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

[3] Scot Facer Procter and Maurine Jensen Proctor, editors, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Revised and Enhanced Edition (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 2000), 39. Samuel Smith, Journal, April 24, 1832, Church History Library, Salt Lake City. Lee Yost to Deidrich Willers, May 18, 1897, cited in Larry C. Porter, “A study of the origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the states of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831,” (PhD dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1971), 109.

Additional Context, by Casey Paul Griffiths

From Doctrine and Covenants Minute

Doctrine and Covenants 30 consists of three revelations given to David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., and John Whitmer. The revelations came around the same time that the Church held its second conference in Fayette, New York. The conference minutes note that thirty-five members had joined since the last conference, making the total number of Church members sixty-two. During the conference Joseph Smith read Isaiah 5, which speaks of the broken state of scattered Israel and then prophesies of “an ensign to the nations” raised to signal the beginning of the gathering of the Lord’s people (Isaiah 5:26). Oliver Cowdery read the Articles and Covenants of the Church (D&C 20), with Joseph Smith offering comments. Everyone at the meeting sang and prayed on behalf of Oliver and Peter Whitmer Jr., who were preparing to embark on their mission to the Lamanites (Minutes, 26 September 1830, JSP).

Joseph Smith later wrote that during this “time we had much of the power of God manifested amongst us; the Holy Ghost came upon us, and filled us with joy unspeakable; and peace, and faith, and hope, and charity abounded in our midst” (JS History, vol. A-1, 58, JSP). Doctrine and Covenants 30 was first published as three separate revelations in the 1833 Book of Commandments, then combined into one revelation in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants and has remained in this form in every subsequent edition (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835, 182, JSP).

Historical Introduction, Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–4

Historical Introduction, Doctrine and Covenants 30:5–8

Historical Introduction, Doctrine and Covenants 30:9–11