D&C 84 | Background & Context
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Date: 22 and 23 September 1832

Place: Kirtland, Ohio

Joseph Smith (President)

The Elders during the month of September began to return from their missions to the Eastern States, and present the histories of their several stewardships in the Lord's vineyard; and while together in these seasons of joy, I inquired of the Lord, and received on the 22nd and 23rd of September, the following revelation on Priesthood [see D&C 84]. (History of the Church, 1:286-287)

Steven C. Harper (LDS Scholar)

A "beardless boy" named Evan Greene was an experienced missionary by the time he noted his eighteenth birthday near the end of his 1832 journal. Fresh from the mission field, he was one of several elders who met with Joseph Smith to report their missions. "While together in these seasons of Joy," Joseph's history says, "I enquired of the Lord and received the following" revelation. Evan rarely spoke of the sacred experience. When he did he emphasized the solemnity of uniting in prayer with Joseph and witnessing "the glory which shown upon his countenance" and hearing "the exquisite cadence of the voice in which he spoke. It was as if they beheld the face of the Lord Jesus. And they did hear his voice as He declared those sacred truths."

Joseph rose from his knees and began to dictate the revelation just as Oliver Cowdery entered the room and sat near the fire. The other brethren "sat as if transfixed, watching and listening." Joseph finished. "Boys, have you got that written," Oliver asked. But no one had thought of writing. As he had so often done, Oliver then put his pen to the paper to scribe for the revelator. Joseph made a few corrections as Oliver read the text aloud. (Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, p.294, (2008), © Deseret Book Company. Used by Permission.)

Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion

Historical evidence confirms that the revelation as it is now recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants was three separate but interrelated revelations received on consecutive days—22 and 23 September. The first was received in the presence of six elders of the priesthood and is recorded in verses 1 to 41 or 42. The second, verses 41 or 42 through 102, was received in the presence of ten high priests on 23 September, and the third, verses 103 through 120, on the same day. (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, p.787, (2012), © Deseret Book Company. Used by Permission.)

Aftermath and Outcomes of D&C 84

Steven C. Harper (LDS Scholar)

It is clear that Joseph had the temple on his mind. The Lord had already revealed to him the site for a temple in Independence, Missouri. Joseph had dedicated the ground. This revelation tells the Saints to build the temple and forges the gospel links between their missionary work, the gathering of scattered Israel, the fulfillment of ancient prophecies, and the building of New Jerusalem, crowned with its holy temple.

Section 84 is a landmark revelation with a breathtaking scope. Joseph's history designates it a "Revelation ... On Priesthood." It is certainly that and can just as accurately be described as a revelation on temple ordinances, covenants, the gathering of Israel, missionary work, the law of consecration, and the imminent coming of the Savior to "reign with my people," in Zion, as he says in closing (v. 119)....

One would think the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84 would have provided the Saints enough incentive to begin building a temple on the dedicated site in Independence, Missouri—Zion. But they did not. There are several complicated reasons why, and later revelations will address them.

The Lord condemned the Saints for treating lightly what he had given them, including the Book of Mormon and the law of consecration (see v. 57). Temples and holy cities are not built by covenanting to consecrate. They are built by keeping the covenant to consecrate....

If the Saints have been scourged for their part of the failure to fulfill the instruction in section 84 to build the temple in Independence, Missouri, they have worked to fulfill many of its commands and have received many of its promised blessings. Temples were built by Saints who were present when section 84 was revealed. They received the priesthood endowment section 84 describes.

The Saints obeyed section 84 in other specific ways. A council of high priests assigned Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith to write a rebuke of the Church leaders in Missouri as verse 76 commanded [see Letter to Zion]. As instructed in verses 112–114, Bishop Whitney and Joseph Smith left Kirtland "to fulfill the Revelation," making important contacts in New York City, visiting Albany, and prophesying in Boston.

Evan Greene went over and over again into the mission field, as have so many since, in response to the instructions in section 84 to preach the gospel to "all who have not received it" (v. 75) and "to teach them of a judgment which is to come" (v. 87). Many have made the covenant of the priesthood—to receive, obtain, and magnify it according to the oath and covenant outlined in section 84. Many if not all have obeyed the law of consecration as instructed in verses 103–6.

Perhaps the most important result of section 84 is that it taught Joseph more about the fundamental importance of priesthood and, inseparably, the temple. He had listened attentively at age seventeen as Moroni explained the imperative need to obtain the restored priesthood and seal the human family together before the Savior's coming, and the doctrine of the priesthood distilled on Joseph like dew from heaven (D&C 121:45). Much of this knowledge was given September 22–23, 1832, as Doctrine and Covenants 84 explained the priesthood's past and projected its future use in temples. (Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, p.295, 301-303, (2008), © Deseret Book Company. Used by Permission.)

From Revelations of the Restoration (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler)

In the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, section 20—which directs the organization of the Church and discusses the duties of elders, priests, teachers, and deacons—constituted section [2]; ... section [107] came next, followed by ... section [84], which also deals with matters pertaining to the priesthood. Clearly, this arrangement points to the importance of the organization of the Church and of the restoration of the authority upon which it is founded.

Section 84 gives us a meaningful understanding of what took place anciently regarding the priesthood and dramatizes that ours is truly a restored church, possessing the authority held by prophets of Old and New Testament times. This revelation centers on the restoration of the priesthood to Moses and his desire to give the fulness of its blessings to his people, who refused it and thus had it taken from them....

In our day the Melchizedek Priesthood has been restored for the same purpose. Under the direction of a modern Moses, Israel is once again to be gathered that she might be offered the blessings the Lord sought to give her fathers at Sinai. The place of the gathering is the New Jerusalem, where the mountain of the Lord's house is to be built. Here, the gathered hosts of Israel can sanctify themselves that they might stand where their forefathers would not: in the presence of their God. (Revelations of the Restoration, p.586-587)