Section 69

DC 69 Historical Background

The scriptures in November 1831 consisted of the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon. Yet, approximately half of the revelations which would make up the Doctrine and Covenants had already been received. Frequently, the Prophet would receive revelation in the midst of a conference, giving special instruction to those in attendance. However, the individuals mentioned in the revelations didn't have copies of the word of the Lord. Imagine having received a patriarchal blessing but never receiving a copy of the blessing. The elders were inspired to understand that these invaluable revelations must be published.

Joseph Smith

It had been decided by the conference that Elder Oliver Cowdery should carry the commandments and revelations to Independence, Missouri, for printing, and that I should arrange and get them in readiness by the time that he left, which was to be by-or, if possible, before-the 15th of the month [November]. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 229.)

Joseph Smith

My time was occupied closely in receiving the commandments and sitting in conference, for nearly two weeks; for we held from the first to the twelfth of November, four special conferences. In the last, which was held at brother Johnson's, in Hiram, after deliberate consideration, in consequence of the book of Revelations, now to be printed, being the foundation of the church in these last days and a benefit to the world, showing that the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom of our Savior, are again entrusted to man; and the riches of eternity within the compass of those who are willing to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, therefore the conference prized the revelations to be worth to the church the riches of the whole earth, speaking temporally. The great benefits to the world, which result from the Book of Mormon and the revelations, which the Lord has seen fit, in his infinite wisdom to grant unto us for our salvation, and for the salvation of all that will believe, were duly appreciated. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 235 - 236.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

It is an erroneous thought to believe that the Prophet selected all of the revelations he had received and placed them in the collection which was to become The Book of Commandments. Each of the revelations selected for that volume was placed there because the Prophet considered that it had some value to the Church in regard to its teachings. There are some revelations still in possession of the Church which were not included. Some of these we can readily believe were not included because the inspiration of the Prophet was that it was not necessary, or because some of them had an application which was not intended for publication and to be sent to an unbelieving world.

The preparation for the printing was soon completed, but this took a great deal of the Prophet's time from the first of November to the twelfth, and in that time there had been held four special conferences. However, the revelations were ready for delivery to Oliver Cowdery and his companion by the fifteenth of that month. Before they were sealed and delivered the Prophet dedicated them by prayer and after he had done this he inquired of the Lord and received the revelation known as Section sixty-nine. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 20 - 21.)

DC 69:1 It is not wisdom in me that he should be entrusted with the commandments and the moneys... except one go with him

This instruction of the Lord is an important reminder of the wisdom of the Lord's pattern in sending missionaries out as companions. Not only are missionaries much more likely to avoid the pitfalls of temptation if their faithful companion is by their side, but they are also safer from physical harm.

B. H. Roberts

This passage has been much discussed by anti-Mormon writers as implying distrust in Oliver Cowdery's honesty, and hence one "who will be true and faithful" must go with him. The fact was that much of the journey between Kirtland and Independence, or Zion, was through a sparsely settled country, the western portion of it through a frontier country where there is always a gathering, more or less, of lawless people; and it was at considerable risk that a person traveled through such a country, especially when alone and carrying money with him. It was wisdom then, for the sake of Oliver Cowdery, and to insure the safety of the money and the sacred things he was to carry with him, that one should go with him that would be a true and faithful companion, hence the appointment of John Whitmer. (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 1: 278, footnotes.)

DC 69:2 John Whitmer, should go with my servant Oliver Cowdery

John Whitmer

About this time it was in contemplation for Oliver Cowdery to go to Zion and carry with him the revelations and commandments; and I also received a revelation to go with him. We left Ohio on the 20th of November, 1831, and arrived in Zion, Missouri, January 5, 1832.

When we arrived at Zion we found the Saints in as good situation as we could reasonably expect. (The Book of John Whitmer, typescript, [Provo: BYU Archives and Manuscripts], chap. 10.)

DC 69:3 he shall continue in writing and making a history

"It appears that Oliver Cowdery was the accredited historian of Joseph Smith and the Church from April, 1829, until the eighth of March, 1831, when John Whitmer was appointed by revelation to succeed him.

"From the subsequent history of the Prophet Joseph Smith, it is apparent that John Whitmer retained this office until he was excommunicated by action of a High Council on the tenth of March, 1838, at Far West, Missouri." (Contributor, vol. 11 (November 1889-October 1890), Vol. Xi. September, 1890. No. Ii. 402.)

"[John Whitmer's] ninety-six written pages are considered by some historians to be the most authoritative history of the Church before 1838.

John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery hand-carried the scribed revelations to Independence, Missouri. There W. W. Phelps began the typesetting and printing, but mob action prevented their intended publication as the Book of Commandments." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 332.)

DC 69:3 a history of all the important things

Do we make a history of all the important things? John Whitmer's history is almost 100 pages, but it would be great if he had given us even more. Perhaps those who follow us will think the same thing about our personal and family histories.

Joseph Fielding Smith

It is necessary for us to keep an accurate record of our families and record accurately the dates of births, marriages and deaths, and ordinances and everything that is vital. Every important event in our lives should be placed in a record, by us individually. We do not do it. Some people keep a daily record; about like this: "Got up in the morning, made the beds, washed the dishes, went to the picture show, came home, went to bed"; and so it goes. That means nothing. If you have accomplished something worth while during the day, put it down; it may be of use to posterity. If our fathers had only done this, it would have been a great help to us today in gathering records of our dead... It is just as important for me to know the date of my baptism as it is to know the date of my birth. Why? Because it is a vital thing in my life. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 204-205.)

Orson Pratt

If every elder had, during the last nineteen years, kept a faithful record of all that he had seen, heard, and felt of the goodness, wisdom and power of God, the Church would now have been in possession of many thousand volumes, containing much important and useful information. How many thousands have been miraculously healed in this Church, and yet no one has recorded the circumstances. Is this right? Should these miraculous manifestations of the power of God be forgotten and pass into oblivion? Should the knowledge of these things slumber in the hearts of those who witnessed them, and extend no further than their own verbal reports will carry them? . . . We should keep a record because Jesus has commanded it. We should keep a record because the same will benefit us and the generations of our children after us. We should keep a record because it will furnish many important items for the general history of the Church which would otherwise be lost. (Roy W. Doxey, The Doctrine and Covenants Speaks [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 1: 333.)

Joseph Smith

For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings, for I have kept several good, faithful, and efficient clerks in constant employ: they have accompanied me everywhere, and carefully kept my history, and they have written down what I have done, where I have been, and what I have said; therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:409)

DC 69:6 the land of Zion shall be a seat and a place to receive and do all these things

While most of the Church resided in Ohio, the revelations and focus of the membership was on the redemption of Zion. Section 133, just received at the November conference, might have given the saints the impression that the redemption of Zion was imminent. We understand, of course, that the redemption of Zion would take much longer. Still, the saints were focused on Missouri, and they seemed to understand that the headquarters of the Church was going to move yet again. So they were instructed to publish the revelations in Independence rather than Kirtland.