DC 73 Historical Background
On December 1, 1831, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who had been engaged in translating the New Testament, were commanded to preach the gospel in response to anti-Mormon newspaper articles written by apostate Ezra Booth (see Section 71). In the revelation, Joseph and Sidney were to continue on this mission "even until it shall be made known unto you" (D&C 71:2). Section 73 is the revelation which instructed Joseph and Sidney that they had fulfilled their mission-it was time to return to the translation of the scriptures.
From this time (early December) until the 8th or 10th of January, 1832, myself and Elder Rigdon continued to preach in Shalersville, Ravenna, and other places, setting forth the truth, vindicating the cause of our Redeemer; showing that the day of vengeance was coming upon this generation like a thief in the night; that prejudice, blindness and darkness filled the minds of many, and caused them to persecute the true Church, and reject the true light; by which means we did much towards allaying the excited feelings which were growing out of the scandalous letters then being published in the Ohio Star, at Ravenna, by the before-mentioned apostate, Ezra Booth. On the 10th of January, I received the following revelation (Section 73) making known the will of the Lord concerning the Elders of the Church until the convening of the next conference. (History of the Church, 1:241-242)
DC 73:4 preach in the regions round about until conference
For the last couple of months, Joseph Smith had been in Hiram, Ohio in the John Johnson home or on this mission with Sidney Rigdon. He was not attending meetings regularly with the Kirtland saints. Therefore, work in the various congregations was always needed, as were frequent general conferences of the church. Here, the Prophet is instructed to exhort the Ohio congregations for a couple of weeks prior to a church conference scheduled for 25 January 1832. After this conference, held in Amherst, the work of translation was recommenced.
While commonly referred to by the Prophet and the Lord as "the work of translation," the Prophet was not translating the English text into another language. Rather, he was translating the language of the text into the language of the Spirit. A careful look at the Joseph Smith Translation reveals on many occasions that he is not returning the text to the original intent of the author as much as teaching true principles and defusing Satan's power to use the text as a weapon against the saints (JST Heb. 6:1, JST 1 Pet. 1:9, JST 1 Pet. 4:8). Only a seer with the spirit of prophecy and revelation could perform such a work.
DC 73:4 it is expedient to continue the work of translation until it be finished
"From March 1831 until February 1833, the Prophet and his scribes continued to work through the New Testament, making hundreds of corrections and additions, and a few deletions. On 10 January 1832, the Lord encouraged the Brethren to continue the translation 'until it be finished.' (D&C 73:3-4.)
"Although there were many interruptions, the work progressed, and on 2 February 1833, in Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet recorded in his journal: 'I completed the translation and review of the New Testament on the 2nd of February, 1833, and sealed it up, no more to be opened till it arrived in Zion.' (History of the Church, 1:324.) 'Zion' meant Independence, Missouri, where William W. Phelps had established the Church printing press. In April 1833, an inquiry was received from Brother Phelps as to whether he should print the new translation in the monthly issues of The Evening and the Morning Star. The Prophet's reply, dated 21 April 1833, reads:
"'It is not the will of the Lord to print any of the new Translation in the Star; but when it is published, it will all go to the world together, in a volume by itself; and the New Testament and the Book of Mormon will be printed together.' (History of the Church, 1:341.)" (Robert J. Matthews, "Joseph Smith's Efforts to Publish His Bible 'Translation,'" Ensign, Jan. 1983, 59-60)