You are here
New from BMC
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 46
Doctrine and Covenants 47
Doctrine and Covenants 46
Daily Reading Plan
Structure your personal scripture study by following a 15-minute, day-by-day plan. Each day's assignment includes the required scripture passages from the Come, Follow Me curriculum, as well as suggestions for additional resources to bring context and understanding to your study. For the best experience, use our Reading Plan in the free ScripturePlus app! You can track your progress and have access to the best resources.
- Commentary: Section 46 Context, Steven C. Harper
- Scripture: D&C 46:1–5
Commentary: In answer to the question of who is allowed to attend Church meetings, the Lord instructs the Saints to be as inclusive as possible in their public meetings. Confirmation meetings were open to all who are “earnestly seeking the kingdom” to attend (D&C 46:5). In all of the Church’s public meetings, leaders are expected to follow the promptings of the Spirit and to look after the needs of the members of the Church.
In the modern Church, ordinances such as the sacrament and confirmations can take place in the same meeting. Attendees who are not members of the Church are allowed to choose whether they participate in ordinances such as the sacrament. In a meeting instructing Church leaders, President Russell M. Nelson taught, “Because we invite all to come unto Christ, friends and neighbors are always welcome but not expected to take the sacrament. However, it is not forbidden. They choose for themselves. We hope that newcomers among us will always be made to feel wanted and comfortable. Little children, as sinless beneficiaries of the Lord’s Atonement, may partake of the sacrament as they prepare for covenants that they will make later in life.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:1–6.
- Scripture: D&C 46:6–12
- KnoWhy 299: How Did the Book of Mormon Help the Early Saints Understand Spiritual Gifts?
Commentary: Because the new converts in Kirtland held an unusual regard for spiritual gifts, the Lord takes time in these verses to explain several principles of spiritual gifts. The first counsel He gives the Saints is to earnestly seek the best gifts. The spiritual gifts a person receives in this life are not set in stone. It is true that premortal experiences may predispose a person to one or more gifts of the Spirit. It is also true that sin and transgression may cause a person to lose a spiritual gift. The Lord emphasizes here that men and women have the power to seek gifts that will help them build the kingdom and progress toward eternal life.
What kind of gifts should a person seek? President George Q. Cannon provided this counsel:
If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make them perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. . . . No man ought to say, “Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.” He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength [is] to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them . . . for this purpose he gives these gifts, and bestows them upon [those] who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth, notwithstanding their many weaknesses.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:7–9.
Quote: Again, let me say we know that not only do we have a spark of divinity within us, but that we are actually spirit children of our Heavenly Father and that “every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God”.
With this relationship, we are thus blessed with many talents and possess great possibilities. The Savior set our greatest goal for us when he said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Franklin D. Richards, “Talents: A Blessing and Responsibility,” October 1968 General Conference.
- Scripture: D&C 46:13–20
Commentary: A testimony of Jesus Christ is the most vital of spiritual gifts. Joseph Smith taught, “We believe that no man can know that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost.” Note that the phrasing used here is not “that a person may believe” but “that a person may know” by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ. Testimonies can come through logic, evidence, and study. But to gain true power each of these methods must be supplemented by the witness of the Holy Ghost.
President George Albert Smith taught, “We have another testimony, another evidence that is even more perfect and more convincing than the others, because it is a testimony that comes to the individual when he has complied with the requirements of our Father in Heaven. It is a testimony that is burned into our souls by the power of the Holy Ghost, when we have performed the work that the Lord has said must be performed if we would know that the doctrine be of God or whether it be of man.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:13.
Commentary: Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, early commentators on the revelations, noted that the phrase “differences of administration” has a connection to a phrase Paul used in his discussion of the “different divisions or courses of service the priests and Levites engaged in the temple service” (1 Corinthians 12:5). Because of this connection, Smith and Sjodahl believed the gift described in verse 15 pertains specifically to an understanding of how priesthood holders should be directed in their duties and responsibilities.
More recently, Church leaders have taken notice of the accompanying phrase—that the Lord will “suit his mercies according the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15). Only the Savior understands perfectly the conditions in which individuals find themselves, and He suits the mercies to provide everyone with the gifts they need to handle their own personal challenges. Elder David A. Bednar noted, “Through personal study, observation, pondering, and prayer, I believe I have come to better understand that the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:15.
Commentary: The phrase “diversities of operations” is also found in 1 Corinthians 12:5. In alternate translations of the Greek, the phrase has been written as “differences of ministries” (NKJV) or “different kinds of service” (NIV). In the larger context of Paul’s sermon on the body of Christ, the Lord appears to be noting that there are different kinds of service within the Church and that one of the spiritual gifts is to recognize the value of each type of service. The Apostle Paul notes, “But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:20–21).
President Dallin H. Oaks has noted,
At this conference we have seen the release of some faithful brothers, and we have sustained the callings of others. In this rotation—so familiar in the Church—we do not ‘step down’ when we are released, and we do not ‘step up’ when we are called. There is no ‘up or down’ in the service of the Lord. There is only ‘forward or backward,’ and that difference depends on how we accept and act upon our releases and our callings.
In 1951, President J. Reuben Clark was released from serving as the First Counselor in the First Presidency and was called instead to serve as the Second Counselor. Leaders in many other organizations would have seen this change as a demotion. However, rising to speak, President Clark noted, “In the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one takes the place to which one is duly called, which place one neither seeks nor declines.” While all officers of the Church are expected to be worthy of the callings they hold, blessings and righteousness are not measured according to the office held, only by the dedication shown in carrying out the service the Lord asks of a person.
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:16.
Commentary: Though the phrase “word of wisdom” would eventually be associated with the law of health given to the Lord’s Church in the last days, that revelation did not come until nearly two years later in February 1833. In these verses, the Lord refers to knowledge and wisdom as two separate gifts. Stephen L Richards, a counselor in the First Presidency, defined wisdom as “the beneficent application of knowledge in decision.” He added, “I think of wisdom not in the abstract but as functional. Life is largely made up of choices and determinations, and I can think of no wisdom that does not contemplate the good of man and society. . . . I do not believe that wisdom can be exercised in living without a sound fundamental knowledge of truth about life and living. . . . The fundamental knowledge which the Church brings you will bring understanding. Your testimony, your spirit, and your service will direct the application of your knowledge; that is wisdom.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:17–18.
- Scripture: D&C 46:21–26
Commentary: Miracles large and small took place among the early Saints, and they still take place in the Church today. The prophet Moroni chastised those who believe the day of miracles has passed: “O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles” (Mormon 9:15).
Levi Curtis recalled a conversation with William D. Huntington in which William described a time that Joseph Smith exercised the power to raise the dead. Levi wrote that William recalled how he had become deathly ill while living in Joseph Smith’s home in Nauvoo:
He said he had been sick some weeks and kept getting weaker, until he became so helpless that he could not move. Finally, he got so low he could not speak, but had perfect consciousness of all that was passing in the room. He saw friends come to the bedside, look at him a moment and commence weeping, then turn away.
He further stated that he presently felt easy, and observing his situation found that he was in the upper part of the room near the ceiling, and could see the body he had occupied lying on the bed, with weeping friends, standing around as he had witnessed in many cases where people had died under his own observation.
About this time he saw Joseph Smith and two other brethren come into the room. Joseph turned to his wife Emma and asked her to get him a dish of clean water. This she did; and the Prophet with the two brethren accompanying him washed their hands and carefully wiped them. Then they stepped to the bed and laid their hands upon the head of his body, which at that time looked loathsome to him, and as the three stretched out their hands to place them upon the head, he by some means became aware that he must go back into that body and started to do so. The process of getting in he could not remember; but when Joseph said “amen,” he heard and could see and feel with his body. The feeling for a moment was most excruciating, as though his body was pierced in every part with some sharp instruments.
As soon as the brethren had taken their hands from his head he raised up in bed, sitting erect, and in another moment turned his legs off the bed. At this juncture Joseph asked him if he had not better be careful, for he was very weak. He replied, “I never felt better in my life,” almost immediately adding, “I want my pants” . . . every looker-on was ready to weep for joy . . . every hand was anxious to supply the wants of a man who, a few moments before was dead, really and truly dead! . . . Joseph listened to the conversation and in his turn remarked that they had just witnessed as great a miracle as Jesus did while on the earth. They had seen the dead brought to life.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:21.
Commentary: The gift of speaking in tongues was common in the early Church and manifested abundantly among the Saints in Kirtland. Elizabeth Ann Whitney reported that after she received her patriarchal blessing from Joseph Smith Sr. she received an unusual expression of the gifts of the Spirit, singing in tongues. She wrote, “I received the gift of singing inspirationally, and the first Song of Zion ever given in the pure language was sung by me then, and interpreted by Parley P. Pratt, and written down; of which I have preserved the original copy. It describes the manner in which the ancient patriarchs blessed their families, and gives some account of ‘Adamoni Ahman.’ . . . The Prophet Joseph promised me that I should never lose this gift if I would be wise in using it; and his words have been verified.”
Because of its dramatic nature, the gift of tongues is often sought after by believers in Jesus Christ, but the gift comes with some warnings. Paul described speaking in tongues as a lesser gift of the Spirit than the gift of charity, which isn’t as conspicuous (1 Corinthians 13:8). President Joseph F. Smith warned,
There is perhaps no gift of the spirit of God more easily imitated by the devil than the gift of tongues. Where two men or women exercise the gift of tongues by the inspiration of the spirit of God, there are a dozen perhaps who do it by the inspiration of the devil. . . . So far as I am concerned, if the Lord will give me ability to teach the people in my native tongue, or in their own language, to the understanding of those who hear me, that will be sufficient gift of tongues to me. Yet if the Lord gives you the gift of tongues, do not despise it, do not reject it.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith counseled, “Be not so curious about tongues, do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present; the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners, and if persons are very anxious to display their intelligence, let them speak to such in their own tongues. The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God does not intend, they prove an injury, a snare, and a curse instead of a blessing.”
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:24–26.
- Scripture: D&C 46:27–33
Commentary: We should not assume that the list the Lord gives in these verses, or the list Moroni gives in the Book of Mormon’s concluding chapter, or the list Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 12–13 represent all of the gifts of the Spirit. “Spiritual gifts are endless in number and infinite in variety,” taught Elder Bruce R. McConkie. “Those listed in the revealed word are simply illustrations of the boundless outpouring of divine grace God gives those who love and serve him.”
Apostle Marvin J. Ashton listed a few of the gifts of the Spirit not mentioned in the scripture canon. He said, “Taken at random, let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable.” Elder Ashton took a moment to
review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.”
While the lists provided in the scriptures provide a useful start in understanding the gifts God offers His children, they are not a comprehensive list of all spiritual gifts. Our own spiritual gifts are discovered through study, revelation, and earnest labors in the service of God.
Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Minute, Doctrine and Covenants 46:28–33.
Quote: Young men and older men, please take special note of what I will say now. As we exercise the undoubted power of the priesthood of God and as we treasure His promise that He will hear and answer the prayer of faith, we must always remember that faith and the healing power of the priesthood cannot produce a result contrary to the will of Him whose priesthood it is. This principle is taught in the revelation directing that the elders of the Church shall lay their hands upon the sick. The Lord’s promise is that “he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed”. Similarly, in another modern revelation the Lord declares that when one “asketh according to the will of God … it is done even as he asketh”.
From all of this we learn that even the servants of the Lord, exercising His divine power in a circumstance where there is sufficient faith to be healed, cannot give a priesthood blessing that will cause a person to be healed if that healing is not the will of the Lord.
Dallin H. Oaks, “Healing the Sick,” April 2010 General Conference.
- Commentary: Section 47 Context, Steven C. Harper
- Scripture: D&C 47:1–4
- Commentary: The Church Historian - Insight Into D&C 47, Susan Easton Black
Doctrine and Covenants 46
Steven C. Harper, “Section 46,” Doctrine and Covenants Contexts (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021), 102–103.
Susan Easton Black, “Gifts of the Spirit - Insight Into D&C 46,” in Restoration Voices Volume 2: Insights and Stories of the Doctrine and Covenants (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021).
Elizabeth Maki, “Religious Enthusiasm among Early Ohio Converts,” 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. “How Did the Book of Mormon Help the Early Saints Understand Spiritual Gifts? (Moroni 10:8).” KnoWhy 299 (April 12, 2017).
Craig K. Manscill and Derek Mock, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Religious Educator 6, no. 2 (2005): 69–84.
David M. Whitchurch, “They Unifying Power of Spiritual Gifts,” Shedding Light on the New Testament: Acts–Revelation, ed. Ray L. Huntington, Frank F. Judd Jr., and David M. Whitchurch (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 98–127.
“Gifts of the Spirit,” Church History Topics.
“Gift of Tongues,” Church History Topics.
Book of Mormon Central, “Why Did Nephi Work So Hard to Preserve the Wisdom He Had Received? (1 Nephi 6:5-7),” KnoWhy 262 (January 16, 2017).
Doctrine and Covenants 47
Steven C. Harper, “Section 47,” Doctrine and Covenants Contexts (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021), 104–105.
Susan Easton Black, “The Church Historian - Insight Into D&C 47,” in Restoration Voices Volume 2: Insights and Stories of the Doctrine and Covenants (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021).
Susan Easton Black, “John Whitmer,” in Restoration Voices Volume 1: People of the Doctrine and Covenants (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021).
Brian Reeves, “The Book of John Whitmer,” 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, “Why Is It Important to Keep Records? (1 Nephi 9:5),” KnoWhy 345 (July 28, 2017).
Doctrine and Covenants 48
Steven C. Harper, “Section 48,” Doctrine and Covenants Contexts (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021), 106–107.
Susan Easton Black, “Property in Kirtland - Insight Into D&C 48,” in Restoration Voices Volume 2: Insights and Stories of the Doctrine and Covenants (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021).