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Watch videos from Gospel scholars and teachers to learn more about these sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Book of Mormon Central produces weekly videos from Tyler Griffin, Taylor Halverson, John Hilton III, Anthony Sweat, Casey Griffiths, Stephanie Dibb Sorensen and Marianna Richardson. Read commentaries and other resources from KnoWhys, Steven C. Harper, Casey Griffiths, and Susan Easton Black.
Doctrine and Covenants 45
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- Commentary: Section 45 Context, Steven C. Harper
- Scripture: D&C 45:1–10
- Commentary: “Foolish Stories Were Published” - Insight Into D&C 45, Susan Easton Black
- Scripture: D&C 45:11–21
Commentary: The revelations that flesh out the story of Enoch and the City of Zion (Moses 6–7) were revealed in December 1830, just three months prior to this revelation. The connection between the Zion built by the ancient Saints and the modern Zion being built up by the Latter-day Saints is a strong theme in the Doctrine and Covenants. Joseph Smith personally identified with Enoch and his work, even using the alias “Enoch” for himself in later revelations when it was necessary to keep the identities of the individuals named private. And only a few months after section 45 was received, Joseph Smith would be commanded to travel to Missouri to identify the location for the modern city of Zion (D&C 52:1–2).
In a later revelation, the Lord gave the lyrics of a song that was to be sung by the righteous. The lyrics say that Zion would come to earth again in two ways: “The Lord hath brought down Zion from above [the city of Enoch] and the Lord hath brough up Zion from beneath [the New Jerusalem built by the Saints]” (D&C 84:100). The two cities, reaching each other as one descends and the other rises, are brought together at the beginning of Christ’s reign on the earth.
The invocation of Enoch in these verses is significant as it invites the reader to mentally upload the Enochian Covenant as important context to what the Lord is about to explain in this section. Three months earlier Joseph had learned (and recorded in Moses 7) of a covenant God made to Enoch wherein He personally promised him that He would (1) call upon the descendants of Noah (which is all mankind), (2) in the latter-days, (3) by way of flooding the earth with righteousness and truth (which are essentially the truths and ordinances of the gospel) in order to gather out an elect people to a Zion built upon the earth to prepare for Christ’s return. And when Christ returns, He promised, He will bring with Him those in the heavenly Zion above (Enoch’s people) to unite with the earthly Zion below when this earth will finally rest from wickedness and enjoy a one-thousand-year period where righteous people only will live upon its surface (see Moses 7:49–67).
The Lord invokes all of this in verse 12 when he speaks of the promised “day of righteousness” for which Enoch’s city was reserved to return. This promised day of rest and peace was “a day which was sought for by all holy men” down through the ages of time, but “they found it not because of wickedness and abominations” which prevailed on earth during their days. Nevertheless, the Lord explains here in verse 14, “they obtained a promise that they should find it and see it in their flesh.” Such was the case with father Abraham (see JST Gen. 15:9–12), for instance, and with righteous members of the house of Israel (see Ezek. 37), as well as with many of Jesus’s disciples during His mortal ministry, about whom He goes on to speak in the next verses.
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 45:11–15.
- KnoWhy 318: What Did the Early Saints Learn about the Second Coming from the Book of Mormon?
- Scripture: D&C 45:22–33
Quote: In March of 1831, less than a year after the organization of the Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith received from the Lord a comforting and encouraging assurance confirmatory of the predictions which had been made centuries before, which reads as follows:
“And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel”.
That light, my brethren and sisters and friends, has come to the world. It is the light of revelation, and through revelation has come the true interpretation of the Christ, his mission, and his gospel. All men of all nations embraced within the family of the Eternal Father are entitled by his decree to receive the light and to receive an understanding of the true, revealed order of the kingdom of God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, established under the direction of the Father and the Son, is the custodian of the revealed principles of the restored gospel and the authority to administer its ordinances under divine commission. I am aware that by many this will be regarded as an extreme and presumptuous statement. We make it only because we are constrained by the revelations so to do. I assure you it would be much easier to attempt to win a reputation for tolerance by modifying and ameliorating our position. If we did so, we and our message would be of little value to our brothers and sisters in the world, and we should be untrue to our commission.
Stephen L. Richards, “Hunger for Religion,” October 1958 General Conference.
Quote: The Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that establishes how we may know today which voices to listen to—what standards to follow. In this revelation, our time, or generation, was referred to as a time when men would “see an overflowing scourge” and “a desolating sickness [would] cover the land.”
The Lord then gave the standard of safety that will protect faithful followers. He said, “But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved.”
The Brethren of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are disciples who stand in holy places. They are not moved or swayed by changing times from what has been established as true in all prior generations. The standards of the Church are firm and true. They are for your safety and eternal security. When you commit to live them, you are measured against time-proven standards that are approved by God.
Earl C. Tingey, “For the Strength of Youth,” April 2004 General Conference.
- Scripture: D&C 45:34–46
Commentary: Doctrine and Covenants 45:24 marks the transition between the Savior’s description of Jerusalem’s destruction in His time and the signs of the last days in our time. There is a long tradition of speculation about the Second Coming among Latter-day Saints and Christians of other denominations. While the scriptures contain vast amounts of information about the last days, people often become obsessed with the end times and rely on questionable sources for their information. In 1973 Harold B. Lee, then the President of the Church, gave the following counsel: “There are among us many loose writings predicting the calamities which are about to overtake us. Some of these have been publicized as though they were necessary to wake up the world to the horrors about to overtake us. Many of these are from sources upon which there cannot be unquestioned reliance. . . . We need no such publications to be forewarned, if we were only conversant with what the scriptures have already spoken to us in plainness.”
President Lee then provided his own inspired list of readings to know the signs of the Second Coming:
Let me give you the sure word of prophecy on which you should rely for your guide instead of these strange sources which may have great political implications. Read the 24th chapter of Matthew—particularly that inspired version as contained in the Pearl of Great Price. (JS—M 1.) Then read the 45th section of the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord, not man, has documented the signs of the times. Now turn to section 101 and section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants and hear the step-by-step recounting of events leading up to the coming of the Savior. Finally, turn to the promises the Lord makes to those who keep the commandments when these judgments descend upon the wicked, as set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 38.
Brethren, these are some of the writings with which you should concern yourselves, rather than commentaries that may come from those whose information may not be the most reliable and whose motives may be subject to question.
When the signs in verses 24-33 occur, grim though some of them may be, Christ’s disciples are not to be troubled, but rather are to take heart knowing that these signs indicate “that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled.” With the passing of each of these signs, disciples of Jesus Christ are to recognize that we are steadily approaching the millennial “day of righteousness” spoken of in verse 12 and the promised “day of redemption” spoken of in verse 17, as surely as summer follows the budding of spring leaves on fig trees in Jerusalem.
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 45:24–38.
Commentary: Many of the signs the Savior speaks of in this passage have undoubtedly already begun. However, members of the Church must be careful in the way we interpret the signs and their fulfillment. Signs can be fulfilled in surprising ways, and rather than following private interpretations, we need to look to the authorized servants whom God has called to offer their interpretations of the signs. In an 1843 discourse, Joseph Smith taught,
Christ says no man knoweth the day or the hour when the Son of man cometh. . . . Did Christ speak this as a general principle throughout all generations? Oh no, he spake in the present tense; no man that was then living upon the footstool of God knew the day or the hour. But he did not say that there was no man throughout all generations that should not know the day or the hour. No, for this would be in flat contradiction with other scripture, for the prophet says that God will do nothing but what he will reveal unto his Servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). Consequently, if it is not made known to the Prophets it will not come to pass.
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 45:39–47.
- Scripture: D&C 45:47–53
Commentary: One addition Doctrine and Covenants 45 makes to the Olivet Discourse is a focus on the prophecies of Zechariah, a prophet from around 520 BC. Zechariah spoke at length about the return of a remnant of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and of their fate in the last days. He prophesied that all nations would gather to battle against Jerusalem and that half the city would be taken into captivity. In this dark moment, he said, “then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations” (Zechariah 14:4). In section 45 the Savior makes reference to Zechariah’s prophecy about when the Lord “shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4). He also connects this moment to an earlier prophecy by Zechariah in which this remnant of the Jews will meet the Lord and ask, “What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6).
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 45:48–53.
- Scripture: D&C 45:54–65
Commentary: After the Savior returns to the earth in glory, the members of the Church will carry out two great labors: temple work and missionary work. In the temples of God, Latter-day Saints will do work of inviting those who are deceased to receive Christ through His everlasting covenant. President M. Russell Ballard taught, “We’re building these temples not only for us in this moment of our history, but we’re building temples which will be used during the Millennium when this great work will be carried on in the house of the Lord . . . under the direction and supervision of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.”
Second, missionary work will be carried out throughout the world to invite those who have not yet received Christ through His everlasting covenant to do so. The term “heathen nations” (vs. 54) generally refers to those who are neither Christian nor Jewish. While the word heathen often carries negative connotations, there is no suggestion that those referred to here are barbarous or uncivilized, just unfamiliar with the teachings of the Bible. These sons and daughters of God are not cast off in His sight. Nephi taught that the Lord “remembereth the heathen, and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). After the Savior’s return to earth, righteous individuals of all faiths will remain on the earth.
In 1842 Joseph Smith taught,
To say that the heathen would be damned because they did not believe the gospel would be preposterous; and to say that the Jews would all be damned that do not believe in Jesus, would be equally absurd; for, “how can they believe on him of whom they have not heard; and how can they hear without a preacher; and how can he preach except he be sent;” consequently neither Jew, nor heathen, can be culpable for rejecting the conflicting opinions of sectarianism, nor for rejecting any testimony but that which is sent of God, for as the preacher cannot preach except he be sent, so the hearer cannot believe without he hear a sent preacher; and cannot be condemned for what he has not heard; and being without law will have to be judged without law.”
To the faithful Jews, Gentiles, and heathen in this day of promise “the earth shall be given … for an inheritance,” they will continue in glorious family life as “their children … grow up without sin unto salvation,” and they will rest secure as “the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon then, and he will be their king and lawgiver” (vs. 58–59).
President Brigham Young summarized the conditions of this time of peace when he declared that “the Millennium consists in this—every heart in the Church and Kingdom of God being united in one; the Kingdom increasing to the overcoming of everything opposed to the economy of heaven, and Satan being bound, and having a seal set upon him. All things else will be as they are now, we shall eat, drink, and wear clothing.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 45:54–59.
Commentary: The day after Doctrine and Covenants 45 was revealed, March 8, 1831, Joseph Smith and his scribes began translating the New Testament. In the months following, the Prophet’s study of the New Testament was particularly fruitful and led to some of the most important revelations given to Joseph Smith. These sections included Doctrine and Covenants 74, which clarified questions about infant baptism; section 76, which outlined the different degrees of glory in the next world; and section 77, which answers crucial questions about the book of Revelation. In addition, Doctrine and Covenants 86, 88, and 93 are all linked closely to the Prophet’s translation of the New Testament.
Upon completing his work on the New Testament, Joseph returned to the Old Testament. He noted in the Old Testament manuscripts that the project was completed on July 2, 1833. The impact of Joseph Smith’s Bible translation project as a springboard to further revelations can hardly be overstated. Joseph received a large majority of the Doctrine and Covenants, roughly every revelation from section 29 to section 96, during the time he was translating the Bible. The study of the scriptures brought revelation for Joseph Smith, as it does for men and women in any time.
In one sense, it could be said, Joseph Smith never fully completed his translation of the Bible. He kept working on it right up until the end of his life. For him, translation meant a deep engagement with the sacred texts, a practice that continued to the end of his life. After Joseph’s death, Brigham Young remarked that “he should not be stumbled if the prophet should translate the bible forty thousand times over and yet it should be different in some places every time, because when God speak[s], he always speaks according to the capacity of the people.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 45:60–62.
Commentary: Another contribution of Doctrine and Covenants 45 is to provide information about the conditions of the last days in the Western Hemisphere. Most prophecies of the last days focus on the regions surrounding Jerusalem. In these verses the Lord warns the Saints to gather from the eastern lands and warns of wars happening in the regions close to their own location. Two years after this revelation was given, Joseph Smith declared, “I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass, away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation.”
This prophecy found partial fulfillment in the American Civil War (1861–1865), which remains the deadliest war in American history. By one estimate, the war took the lives of 10 percent of Northern men between the ages of 20 and 45, and 30 percent of all Southern white men between the ages of 18 and 40. But the American Civil War was not the only calamity spoken of in Joseph Smith’s prophecies. The Prophet also declared that “pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel.” Further, Joseph Smith received another revelation explaining that “the days will come when war will be poured out upon all nations” (D&C 87:2) but counseling the Saints to “stand ye in holy places and be not moved until the day of the Lord come” (D&C 87:8).
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 45:63–65.
- Scripture: D&C 45:66–75
Commentary: In the midst of a world descending into deepening chaos, the New Jerusalem will be built as a place of refuge and safety for the Saints and for those who choose to gather with them. Inhabitants of every nation will flee unto Zion seeking escape from the worsening conditions of the world. These verses serve as a reminder that Latter-day Saints must do more than simply wait for the Savior to descend and cure the ills of the world. We build Zion as we create places of safety for all people around us. Refuge will be found not only in the New Jerusalem but in the stakes of Zion built around the world (D&C 115:5–6).
In an 1839 discourse, Joseph Smith taught, “Some may have cried peace, but the Saints and the world will have little peace from henceforth. Let this not hinder us from going to the Stake[s]; for God has told us to flee not or we shall be scattered, one here another there.” He continued,
We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. When wars come, we shall have to flee to Zion, the cry is to make haste. The last revelation says ye shall not have time to have gone over the earth until these things come. It will come as did the cholera, war and fires, burning, earthquakes, one pestilence after another, until the Ancient of Days come, then judgment will be given to the Saints. . . . There your children shall <be> blessed and you in the midst of friends where you may be blessed. The Gospel net gathers in [people] of every kind.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 45:66–75.
Doctrine and Covenants 45
Steven C. Harper, “Section 45,” Doctrine and Covenants Contexts (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021), 102–103.
Susan Easton Black, ““Foolish Stories Were Published” - Insight Into D&C 45,” in Restoration Voices Volume 2: Insights and Stories of the Doctrine and Covenants (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021).
Elizabeth Maki, “Joseph Smith's Bible Translation,” Revelations in Context: The Stories Behind the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2016.
Book of Mormon Central. “What Did the Early Saints Learn about the Second Coming from the Book of Mormon? (3 Nephi 29:2).” KnoWhy 318 (May 26, 2017).
Robert L. Millet, “The Second Coming of Christ: Questions and Answers,” in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Craig K. Manscill (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004), 202–220.
Gerald N. Lund, “Jesus Christ: Second Coming of Jesus Christ,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York, New York: Macmillan, 1992).
“Holy Places,” Saints, Volume 1: The Standard of Truth (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2018), 1:163–164.
“Gathering of Israel,” Church History Topics.
“Prophecies of Joseph Smith,” Church History Topics.
“Zion/New Jerusalem,” Church History Topics.
Book of Mormon Central, “Why Do the Prophets Speak of Multiple Jerusalems? (Ether 13:3-6),” KnoWhy 247 (December 7, 2016).
Book of Mormon Central, “What Do Nephi and Isaiah Say about the End Times? (2 Nephi 23:6),” KnoWhy 46 (March 3, 2016).