Historical Context and Background of D&C 81

Jesse Gause's name blotted out
Jesse Gause's name blotted out and replaced with Frederick G. Williams. Image via Joseph Smith Papers.

Video Overview

Brief Synopsis by Steven C. Harper

It is very good to have your sins blotted out. It is not good to have your name blotted out. Before erasers and delete keys, scribes used a blot of heavy ink to expunge the record. God keeps meticulous records. In them he blots out the sins of the repentant and the names of the rebellious unrepentant (Isaiah 44:22; Nehemiah 4:5; Alma 6:3; Moroni 6:7; D&C 109:34).

Joseph chose and ordained Jesse Gause as a counselor in the Presidency of the High Priesthood in March 1832.[1] A week later Joseph received section 81, giving Jesse instructions for his calling.[2]

Section 81 announces that the keys of the kingdom belong to the Presidency of the High Priesthood. The Lord commanded Jesse to “be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5). The Lord promises to bless Jesse on the specific conditions that he remain faithful, pray always, and proclaim the gospel. The revelation closes with a reiteration of the Lord’s covenant with Jesse: “If thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality and eternal life which I have prepared for thee in the mansions of my Father” (v. 6).

Jesse Gause forsook his covenant and his calling by 1833. In an early manuscript of section 81, the name of Jesse Gause is blotted out and replaced by the name of Frederick Williams. It was a tragic ink blot for Jesse but not a hindrance to God’s plan. Here, as elsewhere in the revelations, the Lord simply replaced Jesse and the kingdom rolled forward (see D&C 56 and 124:91–95).

[1]Note, 8 March 1832,” p. 10, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed September 7, 2020. For more on Jesse Gause, see https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/jesse-gause.

[2]  “Revelation, 15 March 1832 [D&C 81],” p. 17, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed September 7, 2020.

Additional Context, by Casey Paul Griffiths

From Doctrine and Covenants Minute

* Casey Griffith’s Text Here *