Historical Context and Background of D&C 53

Early Copy of D&C 53
Early Copy of D&C 53
Source: JosephSmithPapers.org

Video Overview

Brief Synopsis by Steven C. Harper

Sidney Gilbert was an entrepreneur, a business partner of Newel Whitney in northern Ohio, when the first missionaries to that area converted him in 1830. In the late spring of 1831 Sidney may have felt left out. He was not named in section 52 among the many missionaries called by the Lord to journey to Missouri that summer, and Joseph had prophesied that “the elders would soon have large congregations to speak to and they must soon take their departure into the regions west.” So Sidney asked Joseph what the Lord had in mind for him to do.1

The Lord had important work for Sidney and his family to do. He and his wife Elizabeth traveled to Missouri with Joseph Smith to obey section 53. There, at the Lord’s command (section 57), Sidney established a store to provide for the Saints. He helped Bishop Partridge purchase land for Zion. When the Saints were driven from Jackson County in 1833, Sidney was among the Church leaders who tried to pacify the mob and then obtain justice. The dreaded disease cholera slew Sidney in the summer of 1834. Until the end he was anxiously engaged in the cause of Zion.

1. “Historical Introduction, Revelation, 8 June 1831 [D&C 53],” The Joseph Smith Papers; “History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834],” p. 121, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed July 30, 2020.

Additional Context by Casey Paul Griffiths

From Doctrine and Covenants Minute

Algernon Sidney Gilbert was the business partner of Newel K. Whitney. The two men had opened a small store in Kirtland under the name of N. K. Whitney and Company. Their store became a hub for Church activity after Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland. Along with his business partner, Sidney Gilbert was baptized in 1830 when Oliver Cowdery and the first missionaries arrived in Kirtland (Cook, Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 84). He may have been present at the conference of elders held in Kirtland in early June, but he was not among those who were called to travel to Missouri in the revelation given at that time (D&C 52). Two days later, at the request of Sidney Gilbert, Joseph received this revelation on his behalf (Joseph Smith—History, vol. A-1, 121, JSP).

See “Historical Introduction,” Revelation, 8 June 1831 [D&C 53]