Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 88

/ Doctrina y Convenios 88 / Comentario

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

Verses 1-5

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


After the frightening prophecies found in Doctrine and Covenants 87, the Lord begins this revelation by again referring to Himself as “the Lord of Sabaoth,” or the “Lord of Hosts” (see commentary for D&C 87:7). In section 87, the title “Lord of Hosts” appears in the context of judgment coming down upon the heads of those who would persecute the Saints. Here, the “Lord of Hosts” is used to describe Jesus Christ as a being of infinite power, able to overthrow the forces of wickedness and provide the righteous with their reward. While Doctrine and Covenants 87 discusses a world descending in chaos, the first part of Doctrine and Covenants 88 (verses 1-118) explains the vast power and influence of the Lord. In a world that seems to be spinning out of control, the Savior asserts that He manages an entire universe through His power and that the struggles of our world are only a brief and temporary part of the Father’s grand plan. The righteous will eventually receive their reward and find their names in the book of the sanctified.


In the midst of these challenges, the Savior promises His disciples the peace of the Comforter, or the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of John, the Holy Ghost is the First Comforter. Here, as in John, the Savior tells of another Comforter who brings with Him the promise of eternal life (John 14:16). In an 1839 discourse, Joseph Smith commented on the other Comforter spoken of here and in John 14. He said, “Now what is this other Comforter[?] It is no more or less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself[,] and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter, that when any man obtains this last Comforter he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him or appear unto him from time to time. Even he will manifest the Father unto him and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him and the Lord will teach him face to face.”1


The Holy Ghost, or the First Comforter, brings peace as we endure the trying conditions of our world. The Second Comforter, who is the resurrected Jesus Christ, brings an assurance of eternal life and exaltation in the next life, provided that a person does not commit the unpardonable sin (D&C 76:34–35).


1. Discourse, between circa 26 June and circa 2 July 1839, as Reported by Wilford Woodruff, p. 33, JSP.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 6-13

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


Part of what makes this revelation “the Lord’s message of peace” is the explanation of the vastness of His power. Jesus Christ is a resurrected, glorified being with a body of flesh and bone (D&C 130:22). Jesus ascended up on high by overcoming death and gaining exaltation. He also descended below all things, enduring infinite suffering to provide salvation for all men and women (Alma 34:9–10). He is omniscient. He knows and comprehends all things. Paul and Alma both testified that through His experience and suffering, Jesus gained infinite compassion and understanding for the children of God.


Additionally, Jesus Christ is omnipresent. How can He have a physical body and yet be omnipresent? The answer is through the medium of the Light of Christ. The Light of Christ is different from the Holy Ghost. It is not a personage, but a force, or a power. James E. Talmage referred to it as the “‘divine essence’ by means of which the Godhead operates upon man and in nature.”2 President Joseph F. Smith explained,


The question is often asked, Is there any difference between the Spirit of the Lord and the Holy Ghost? The terms are frequently used synonymously. We often say the Spirit of God when we mean the Holy Ghost; we likewise say the Holy Ghost when we mean the Spirit of God. The Holy Ghost is a personage in the Godhead, and is not that which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. It is the Spirit of God which proceeds through Christ to the world, that enlightens every man that comes into the world, and that strives with the children of men, and will continue to strive with them, until it brings them to a knowledge of the truth and the possession of the greater light and testimony of the Holy Ghost.3


Here the Light of Christ is not just referred to as the power “given to every man, that he may know good from evil,” though that is one of its most important functions (Moroni 7:16). It is the essence of light, the power that makes the universe a livable place. This power “fill[s] the immensity of space” and is that “which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed” (D&C 88:12–13). There is no more direct and comprehensive statement about the power of Jesus Christ anywhere in scripture. The testimony given here assures us that whatever challenges we face, with Christ as our Advocate, we can overcome them. For a being whose stewardship and power bring life to the universe and fills all things, the challenges we face are small by comparison.


2. James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1949, 488.


3. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., 1939, 67–68.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 14-16

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


After explaining the infinite immensity of His power, the Savior pivots to explain the intimate miracles He provides for our redemption. The “soul of man” is described here as “the spirit and the body” that is redeemed with physical resurrection. Resurrection serves as a major theme of this revelation, with the Lord explaining in detail when this blessing comes to all people.


In most verses in scripture, soul is used as another word for spirit. For instance, Abraham referred to our spirits in the premortal realm as souls (Abraham 3:23), and Alma referred to the deceased in the spirit world as souls awaiting resurrection (Alma 40:11–14). In D&C 88:16, “the redemption of the soul” is the reuniting of the spirit and the body, a gift given by Christ to all people. A unique trait of Latter-day Saint beliefs is the concept that the physical body functions not as a prison but as an essential component of an eternal being. James E. Talmage taught, “It is peculiar to the theology of the Latter-day Saints that we regard the body as an essential part of the soul. Read your dictionaries, the lexicons, and encyclopedias, and you will find that nowhere [in Christianity], outside of the Church of Jesus Christ, is the solemn and eternal truth taught that the soul of man is the body and the spirit combined.”4


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:


One of the “plain and precious” truths restored to this dispensation is that “the spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15; emphasis added) and that when the spirit and body are separated, men and women “cannot receive a fulness of joy” (D&C 93:34). Certainly that suggests something of the reason why obtaining a body is so fundamentally important to the plan of salvation in the first place, why sin of any kind is such a serious matter (namely because its automatic consequence is death, the separation of the spirit from the body and the separation of the spirit and the body from God), and why the resurrection of the body is so central to the great abiding and eternal triumph of Christ’s atonement. We do not have to be a herd of demonically possessed swine charging down the Gadarene slopes toward the sea to understand that a body is the great prize of mortal life, and that even a pig’s will do for those frenzied spirits that rebelled, and to this day remain dispossessed, in their first, unembodied estate.5


4. James E. Talmage, in Conference Report, October 1913, 117.


5. Jeffrey R. Holland, “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments,” BYU Devotional, January 12, 1988.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 17-26

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The Savior reaffirms His promise given in the Sermon on the Mount and the sermon at the temple that the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5; 3 Nephi 12:5). This promise is not a metaphor; the earth itself is part of the plan of salvation and will eventually be resurrected (quickened) and become the celestial kingdom for those who lived here and qualified for its blessings. The work of Jesus Christ saves not only the men and women who live on earth but the entire ecosystem. As the Lord here declares, “the earth abideth the law of the celestial kingdom” (D&C 88:25). How can a planet obey the celestial law? It obeys by simply fulfilling the measure of its creation.


Like us, the earth now exists in a fallen, telestial condition. In a vision, the ancient prophet Enoch “looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?” (Moses 7:48). The earth longs to be cleansed and to achieve its full potential as a celestial kingdom.


The cleansing of the earth will take place in two stages. First, upon Christ’s return, the earth “will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory” (Article of Faith 10). Christ will sweep all things telestial off the earth and destroy every corruptible thing (D&C 101:24–25). After a millennium of peace and a “little season” (D&C 29:22), the earth will die and be resurrected as a celestial kingdom. John saw “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Revelation 21:1). An earlier revelation given to Joseph Smith declares that “all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand” (D&C 29:24–25).


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 27-31

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


A spiritual body is not the same thing as a spirit, or immaterial body. Paul spoke of a person being “raised a spiritual body,” adding, “there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44). In the context of this verse, a spiritual body is defined as a body that is not subject to corruption or death. Yet there are wide variances in the types of bodies given in the Resurrection. Speaking of resurrected bodies, Paul taught, “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. Also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial, and bodies telestial; but the glory of the celestial, one; and the terrestrial, another; and the telestial, another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory” (1 Corinthians 15:39–41; italics denote the Joseph Smith Translation of verse 40).


The mortal body continuously goes through cycles of decay and renewal, but it reflects the body we receive in the Resurrection. At a conference held in April 1843, Joseph Smith responded to a remark by Elder Orson Pratt “that a man’s body changes every seven years” by teaching, “there is no fundamental principle belonging to a human system that ever goes into another, in this world, or in the world to come; I care not what the theories of men are. We have the testimony that God will raise us up, and he has the power to do it, if any one supposes that any part of our bodies, that is, the fundamental parts thereof, ever goes into another body, he is mistaken.”6 Though Joseph Smith did not further elaborate on what he meant by the “fundamental principle” or the “fundamental parts,” it seems safe to say that the resurrected you will still be you. It is true that the components of our bodies change over time, but our bodies in the Resurrection will be a glorified version of ourselves while retaining the fundamentals that make us who we really are.

6. JS History, vol. D-1, p. 1522, JSP.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 32-35

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


“They who remain” are those who will not receive celestial, terrestrial, or telestial glory but will still be resurrected. They are called “sons of perdition” in other revelations (D&C 76:32). These people will have their spirits reunited with their bodies, but with no glory, remaining “filthy still.” However, these individuals will have an advantage over the people who rebelled against God in premortality and did not receive a body (Revelation 12:4; D&C 29:36–38).


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 36-41

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In a later discourse Joseph Smith would explain, “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20–21). The same principle—that blessings, including the blessings of exaltation, come from our observance of the law—is taught here in verses 36–41. Each kingdom, celestial, terrestrial, and telestial, has different laws. In sacred texts, there is often a difference drawn between a rule and a law. The law of Moses, for example, contains hundreds of rules, or dos and don’ts, that together make up the law. The law is the entire collection of rules.


Accepting the law of the kingdom does not mean that a person perfectly obeys all the rules. The law of the celestial kingdom, perhaps best laid out in the sermons Jesus gave in Matthew 5–7 and 3 Nephi 12–14, is a demanding set of standards. To accept the celestial law does not mean, for instance, that you never get angry (Matthew 5:22; 3 Nephi 12:22) or that you never experience feelings of lust (Matthew 5:27; 3 Nephi 12:27). It simply means that we choose to use those rules as standards for governing our behavior and accept the consequences that come when we fail to live up to those standards. We determine our morality based on those standards and strive to live according to them. We first accept the grace of Christ and strive for forgiveness when we fall short.


One of the most beautiful teachings of this passage deals with the nature of God. While God loves us and wants us to live with Him in celestial glory, He does not force His laws upon us. All people possess the light of Christ, which gives them a basic sense of morality. God then seeks to increase the light already within us by teaching true principles and allowing the Holy Ghost to influence us. When we choose to recognize good principles and follow them, our freedom grows. Though laws are sometimes seen as constricting, they help us gain greater freedom. The more we obey the laws of God, the greater our sanctification grows and the more likely it becomes that we will live in the celestial kingdom with God. However, if we choose to abide by a lesser law, God will reward us according to that law.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 42-45

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


God is the great Lawgiver. Whether it is the moral laws that govern our daily interactions with each other or the laws of physics that govern the movement of planets in their orbits, the source of these laws is God Himself. The order of the universe is one of the great proofs of the existence of God. When confronted by the anti-Christ Korihor, Alma argued: “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).


However, we should not assume that the way the laws function for us here on earth is the way they function in all parts of God’s creations. The formula given in verse 44, which equates all minutes, hours, weeks, months, and years as being “one year with God,” contradicts other formulations of time given in the scriptures if it is taken literally (see Abraham 3:4; Facsimile 2:1, Moses 3:17; Abraham 5:13; Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). The overall message of these verses appears to be that time works differently for God than it does for mortal men and women on earth. Rather than taking all of these statements literally, it is probably best to look to the statement of Alma the Younger that “all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men” (Alma 40:8).


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 46-50

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


Some might argue that God is incomprehensible to mortal minds, but both ancient and modern scripture argue to the contrary. The majesty and breadth of God’s power and dominions might be incomprehensible to a mortal, but the character, attributes, and perfections of God are something that a mortal can and must comprehend in order to fully exercise faith in Him. Jesus taught, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Joseph Smith taught that “if men do not comprehend the character of God[,] they do not comprehend themselves.”7 God promises in verse 49 that at some future time (most likely after our resurrection), we will be able to comprehend everything about the nature of God.


Joseph Smith further expounded on this subject in an 1834 letter written to the Church:


God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the more conspicuous are his views, & the greater his enjoyments, until he has overcome the evils of this life and lost every desire of sin; and like the ancients, arrives to that point of faith that he is wrapped in the glory and power of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed into the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, till his mind was capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equity, and consistency of the same.8


7. “Discourse, 7 April 1844, as Reported by Willard Richards,” in Joseph Smith, Journal, 1 March 1844–22 June 1844, p. 67, JSP.


8. Letter to the Church, circa February 1834, p. 135, JSP.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 51-61

One pair of commentators has labeled this passage “the parable of the multitude of kingdoms.”9 This passage, along with others in modern revelation, serves to illustrate that God is not just the God of the whole earth but the Ruler of the universe. There are a multitude of worlds among the creations of God, and many are inhabited by the sons and daughters of God (D&C 76:24). When the Lord spoke unto Moses, He explained:


Worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many. But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them. (Moses 1:33–35)


Each of these worlds undoubtedly has its own history and literature and hosts a multitude of cultures as complex and beautiful as the ones in our world. But the gospel is fundamentally the same no matter where it is taught, and the people of other worlds “are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours; And, of course, are begotten God’s daughters and sons, By the very same truths, and the very same pow’rs.”10 The gospel pattern remains the same— on all of these worlds, God calls prophets who teach and testify of the power of Jesus Christ to save. The work is much bigger in scope than we can conceive. However, the scriptures are clear that even though the work of Christ is infinite, on an individual level it is still intimate for each of us.


9. Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, 2004, 3:51–61.


10. Poem to William W. Phelps, between circa 1 and circa 15 February 1843, JSP.

Verses 62-73

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The Lord shifts here from teaching about the nature of the universe to addressing more earthly concerns among the Saints. The Lord promises that if they will sanctify themselves and make their minds single to the glory of God, “he will unveil his face unto [them]” (D&C 88:68). He also commands them to call a “solemn assembly” (D&C 88:70). Both of these commandments are linked to the construction of the first temple of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio.


Within two weeks of receiving this revelation, Joseph Smith wrote to the Saints in Missouri to tell them about the plans to build a temple in Kirtland. In a letter written on January 11, 1833, Joseph wrote to William W. Phelps to inform him “that the Lord commanded us in Kirtland to build an house of God, & establish a school for the Prophets, this is the word of the Lord to us.”11 A few years later in a meeting with the newly called Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Joseph instructed:


We must have all things prepared and call our solemn assembly as the Lord has commanded us, that we may be able to accomplish his great work: and it must be done in God[’]s own way, the house of the Lord must be prepared, and the solemn assembly called and organized in it according to the order of the house of God . . . it is calculated to unite our hearts, that we may be one in feeling and sentiment and that our faith may be strong, so that Satan cannot over throw us, nor have any power over us,—the endowment you are so anxious about you cannot comprehend now, nor could Gabriel explain it to the understanding of your dark minds, but strive to be prepared in your hearts, be faithful in all things that when we meet in the solemn assembly that is such as God shall name out of all the official members, [we] will meet, and we must be clean every whit.12


The commandment to hold a solemn assembly and the promise that the Lord would unveil His face were both fulfilled during the events surrounding the dedication of the Kirtland Temple (see D&C 109–110).


11. Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 January 1833, p. 19, JSP.


12. Discourse, 12 November 1835, p. 33, JSP.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 74-80

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The commandment to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) was given to the leading elders of the Church but has also been applied to the importance of education for Latter-day Saints. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea—it’s a commandment.”13 The Lord instructs His disciples to gain learning on a number of subjects, both secular and spiritual. Disciples with educated minds are better prepared to “magnify” their callings (D&C 88:80).


President Gordon B. Hinckley echoed the same message: “You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car, sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world.” While education is a commandment and great blessing in our lives, there is no specific field or discipline held above any other. President Hinckley emphasized this when he taught, “The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training.”14


13. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Two Principles For Any Economy,” October 2009 General Conference.


14. Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth” [broadcast, November 12, 2000], Ensign, January 2001.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 81-85

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The phrase “among the Gentiles” is a reference to all nations. The term Gentile, referring to any group of people to whom missionaries are sent forth to preach, is common in the Book of Mormon, which was written to “Jew and Gentile” (title page of the Book of Mormon; D&C 109:60). One of the purposes of missionary work is to warn as many people as possible of the coming calamities linked to the Second Coming of the Savior.


Joseph Smith commented on this passage when he spoke to the Twelve Apostles in 1835. He taught, “When you are endowed and prepared to preach the gospel to all nations[,] kindred[s,] and tongues in their own languages[,] you must faithfully warn all and bind up the testimony and seal up the law (D&C 88:84)[;] and the destroying angel will follow close at your heels and execute his tremendous mission upon the children of disobedience, and destroy the workers of iniquity, while the saints will be gathered out from among them and stand in holy places ready to meet the bride groom when he comes.”15


15. Discourse, 12 November 1835, p. 35, JSP.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 86-94

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


While the revelation given on Christmas Day, 1832 (D&C 87), emphasized the man-made wars and calamities of the last days, this passage emphasizes upheavals within nature before the Second Coming. The description of the natural disasters here closely parallels the signs of the times given in chapters 7–22 of the book of Revelation. Doctrine and Covenants 77, the most valuable guide we have to understanding the book of Revelation, only explains the symbols of John’s revelation up to chapter 11. However, in Doctrine and Covenants 88, verses 86–107 provide a guide to the second half of the book of Revelation. While it does not directly interpret the symbolism in the book of Revelation, this portion does further clarify and explain the second half of Revelation. The language used in this passage also parallels the signs of the times given in many other revelations (see D&C 29:14; 43:18–25; 45:26, 42, 48; 133:22, 49; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15–16; Matthew 24:29–31; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:23–37; Revelation 11:13).


Accompanying the commotion of the earth is the rise of the great church, Babylon, the mother of fornications. This church will persecute the Saints and gain power and influence among the children of men until the Savior intervenes. The “great sign” in verse 93 that appears in heaven is also referenced by the Savior (Mathew 24:30; Luke 21:25–27).


In his time, the Prophet Joseph Smith cautioned against latching onto only a single sign or a small collection of signs and instead urged members to look at the signs collectively. When Hiram Redding, a resident of Ogle County, Illinois, claimed to have seen the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, Joseph Smith wrote back:


I shall use my right, and declare, that notwithstanding Mr. Redding may have seen a wonderful appearance in the clouds, one morning about sun-rise, (which is nothing very uncommon in the winter season) he has not seen the sign of the son of man, as foretold by Jesus; neither has any man, nor will any man, till after the sun shall have been darkened and the moon bathed in blood, for the Lord hath not shown me any such sign, and, as the prophet saith, so it must be: Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (See Amos 3: 7). Therefore, hear this, O earth, the Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843, nor until every thing for the bridegroom is ready.16

16. Letter to the Editor, 28 February 1843, p. 113, JSP.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 95-102

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


Concerning the “silence in heaven for the space of half an hour” that is mentioned in verse 95, Elder Orson Pratt said, “whether the half hour here spoke [sic] is according to our reckoning – thirty minutes, or whether it be according to the reckoning of the Lord[,] we do not know. We know that the word hour is used in some portions of the scriptures to represent quite a lengthy period of time . . . During the period of silence all things are perfectly still; no angels flying during that half hour; no trumpets sounding; no noise in the heavens above; but immediately after this great silence the curtain of heaven shall be unfolded as a scroll is unfolded.”17


Verses 96–102 describe in succession the multiple resurrections that will take place after the return of Christ to the earth. The “first fruits” of the Resurrection will be caught up to meet Christ as He descends from the heavens (2 Thessalonians 4:16–17). After they descend, the second trump shall sound, and those who accepted Christ in the world of spirits shall come forth from their graves as well. We consider both of these groups to be in the First Resurrection, or the resurrection of celestial and terrestrial beings. The third trump is then sounded for the spirits of those who “are found under condemnation,” or telestial beings, who are not resurrected until the end of the millennium (D&C 88:100–101). Finally, those who are “filthy still,” or the sons of perdition, also receive their part in the Resurrection (D&C 88:102).


17. Journal of Discourses, December 28, 1873, 16:327–28.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 103-107

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


At the sounding of the fifth trump, “every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” the power of Jesus Christ. All people will acknowledge Christ’s victory, and those mortal men and women that remain on earth, both celestial and terrestrial beings, will see Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This does not mean, however, that other religions will not exist on the earth at the beginning of the Millennium. On one occasion Brigham Young taught, “In the millennium men will have the privilege of being Presbyterians, Methodists, or Infidels, but they will not have the privilege of treating the name and character of Deity as they have done heretofore. No, but every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father that Jesus is the Christ.”18 All the mortals who remain will be just according to the light and truth they have been given. But not all will choose to receive the fulness of the gospel, including all the ordinances necessary for exaltation (D&C 76:77).


The beautiful reunion of Christ with His people is described in more detail in a revelation God gave to Joseph Smith just a few months before (See D&C 133:36–45).


18. Journal of Discourses 12:274.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 108-116

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The seven angels described in verses 108–110 will then sound seven trumps, each representing one thousand years of the earth’s existence (D&C 77:6–7). This process is described as a review of the history of men and women during each of the thousand-year periods, including “the secret acts of men, and the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and the mighty works of God” (D&C 88:109). Not only will the future destiny of the earth and its people become clear but any fog surrounding humanity’s past will be dispelled as well. At last we will have a true accounting of the history of the world (D&C 101:32–33).


Verse 110 also speaks of Satan’s restrictions during the Millennium. Satan will be bound through the combined power of God and the righteousness of the people who will live in the Millennium. The Apostle John described the binding of Satan, writing, “I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:1–3).


The seal that binds Satan will be kept in place because of the righteousness of the men and women who will live in the Millennium. Nephi explained that “because of the righteousness of his [God’] people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth” (1 Nephi 22:26). That Satan is loosed at the end of the thousand years implies that there may be some kind of apostasy at the end of the Millennium that allows Satan to gain power again for a brief space of time.


We do not know how long Satan will be unrestrained at the end of the Millennium. Some scriptural commentators have speculated that it may be another thousand years.19 What is clear is that this is the final conflict, the last gasp of Satan’s power. Michael, the great prince who holds the keys of salvation under the direction of Christ (D&C 78:16), will lead the charge against Satan and banish him once and for all from the earth. The earth will then become a celestial kingdom and our eternal home (D&C 88:16–31, 116).


19. Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, 1982, 22.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 117-126

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In verses 117–19, the Lord repeats His command to call a solemn assembly and gives a direct commandment to build a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, and order—in short, a house of God. The Saints fulfilled this commandment by constructing the house of the Lord in Kirtland, the first temple of this dispensation. In the months before and after the dedication of the Kirtland temple, many members of the Church received instruction within its walls. A small group of men also received some of the preparatory ordinances of the temple. As outlined here, the Kirtland Temple was not only a place for ordinances and instruction but was also a multipurpose facility in which worship meetings, school, and other Church functions could be held. Every chapel, seminary building, university, and temple in the Church can trace its lineage back to this first house of the Lord built in Kirtland.


To prepare the Saints to receive a temple in their midst, the Lord outlines a program of behavior intended to ready them for this blessing. In keeping with instructions already given in other revelations, the Lord gives commandments for the Saints’ spiritual health in parallel with ones regarding the Saints’ temporal health. For example, the Lord gives a commandment to His disciples to have charity for each other and follows it with a commandment to receive the proper amount of rest. In all things, the spiritual and temporal are mingled together to create a holistic approach toward healthy living. The Lord commands His people to seek learning “even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). He indicates that the Saints should study the best works of literature, science, and art alongside the sacred books of scripture. Rather than becoming anti-intellectual, the Saints are commanded to embrace the best in all branches of learning.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 127-133

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


Doctrine and Covenants 88:127–41 consists of a separate revelation received a few days later on January 3, 1833. It was most likely combined with the first revelation because it commands Joseph Smith and his associates to set up a “school of the prophets” in the house of God (D&C 88:136). The School of the Prophets would eventually meet in the Kirtland temple, but the Saints began organizing it almost immediately after receiving this revelation. The School of the Prophets was the beginning of an educational structure that would eventually come to include all of the quorums and organizations affiliated with the Church, all of whom regularly meet in classes to receive instruction and inspiration.


Over the next few years, several different schools were organized in Kirtland and Missouri. The initial School of the Prophets met from January 23 to April 1, 1833, in an upper room of the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland. Joseph Smith presided over the school and selected Orson Hyde to be its teacher. This school consisted of a small group, probably never exceeding twenty-five people. Zebedee Coltrin, a member of the school, recalled that the teacher “saluted the brethren with upheld hands” as they entered and “they also answered with uplifted hands.” Attending the school was a holy activity for those involved, with Coltrin remembering that “before going to school we washed ourselves and put on clean linen.” Members of the school came fasting at sunrise and remained until around four o’clock in the evening.20


Dramatic spiritual manifestations occurred in this School of the Prophets. Zebedee Coltrin shared the following experience, which occurred in one of the meetings of the School of the Prophets:


At one of these meetings after the organization of the school . . . Joseph having given instructions, and while engaged in silent prayer, kneeling, with our hands uplifted[,] each one praying in silence, no one whispered above his breath, a personage walked through the room from east to west, and Joseph asked if we saw him. I saw him and suppose the others did[,] and Joseph answered[, “]that is Jesus, the Son of God, our elder brother.[”] Afterward Joseph told us to resume our former position in prayer, which we did. Another person came through; he was surrounded as with a flame of fire. He [Brother Coltrin] experienced a sensation that it might destroy the tabernacle as it was of consuming fire of great brightness. The Prophet Joseph said this was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I saw Him.


When asked about the kind of clothing the Father had on, Brother Coltrin said:


I did not discover his clothing[,] for he was surrounded as with a flame of fire, which was so brilliant that I could not discover anything else but his person. I saw his hands, his legs, his feet, his eyes, nose, mouth, head and body in the shape and form of a perfect man. He sat in a chair as a man would sit in a chair, but this appearance was so grand and overwhelming that it seemed I should melt down in his presence, and the sensation was so powerful that it thrilled through my whole system and I felt it in the marrow of my bones. The Prophet Joseph said: [“]Brethren, now you are prepared to be the apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son and know that they exist and that they are two separate personages.[”]21


20. Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1985, 186–87.


21. “Remarks of Zebedee Coltrin,” Minutes, Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, October 3, 1883, in Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1985, 187-188.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 134-141

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The Lord emphasized holiness in the School of the Prophets through the ordinance of the washing of the feet. This touching ordinance is described in some detail in the Gospel of John. After the Last Supper, Jesus “pour[ed] water into a basin, and began to awash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” John recalled that Simon Peter at first resisted the ordinances, pleading, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” Jesus, emphasizing the importance of the act, answered Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” In return, Simon Peter replied, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” After the ordinance was completed, the Savior instructed the Apostles, saying, “Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:3–15).


Following the instructions given in verses 139–141 and the pattern set down in the thirteenth chapter of John, the ordinance of the washing of the feet was carried out in the first meeting of the School of the Prophets on January 23, 1833. The minutes of that meeting described the act as follows:


Wednesday January 23rd. Meet agreeable to adjournment. Conference opened with Prayer by the President [Joseph Smith, Jr.] and after much speaking, praying, and singing, all done in tongues, [we] proceeded to washing hands, faces & feet in the name of the Lord as commanded of God, each one washing his own, after which the president girded himself with a towel and again washed the feet of all the Elders, wiping them with the towel. [After] his father present[ed] himself, the President asked of him [Joseph Smith, Sr.] a blessing before he would wash his feet, which he obtained by the laying on of his father’s hands, pronouncing upon his head that he should continue in his Priest’s office until Christ come.

At the close of which scene, Br. F[rederick] G. Williams, being moved upon by the Holy Ghost, washed the feet of the President as a token of his fixed determination to be with him in suffering or in rejoicing, in life or in death, and to be continually on his right hand, in which thing he was accepted. The President said after he had washed the feet of the Elders, “as I have done, so do ye; wash ye therefore one another’s feet,” pronouncing at the same time through the power of the Holy Ghost that the Elders were all clean from the blood of this generation, but that those among them who should sin willfully after they were thus cleansed and sealed up unto eternal life should be given over unto the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption. Having continued all day in fasting and prayer before the Lord, at the close they partook of the Lord’s supper, which was blessed by the president in the name of the Lord. All ate and drank and were filled, then [they] sang a hymn and went out.22


22. Minutes, 22–23 January 1833, pp. 7–8, JSP, spelling and punctuation modernized.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)