Lesson 33: Doctrine and Covenants 27

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


In August 1830, Newel Knight and his wife, Sally, traveled to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to visit the Prophet Joseph Smith. Sally Knight and Emma Smith had been baptized earlier in the summer but had not yet been confirmed because of persecution by a mob. During the Knights’ visit to Harmony, it was determined that Sally and Emma should be confirmed and that the group, along with John Whitmer, would partake of the sacrament together. When Joseph went out to obtain wine for the sacrament, he was met by a heavenly messenger who communicated the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 27.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 27:1–4

The Lord gives instructions concerning the emblems of the sacrament

If available, display some potato peelings and ask students to guess what spiritual purpose they might be used for. After a few responses, invite a student to read the following statement from President Ezra Taft Benson’s recollection of his visit to war-torn Europe following World War II:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“I cannot forget the French Saints who, unable to obtain bread, used potato peelings for the emblems of the sacrament” (“Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 33–34).

  • What would you think if you saw potato peelings being used for the sacrament?

  • Why do you think it was acceptable for the French Saints to use something other than bread for the emblems of the sacrament?

To give students the historical context for the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 27, summarize the information given in the introduction to the lesson. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the angel told Joseph Smith about the emblems of the sacrament.

  • What did the messenger teach Joseph Smith about what we should eat or drink as we partake of the sacrament? (What we use as emblems of the sacrament is not as important as what those emblems help us remember.)

  • According to these verses, what should be our focus as we partake of the sacrament? (Students may use different words, but their responses should reflect the following principle: As we partake of the sacrament, we are to remember the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You might want to suggest that students mark this truth in Doctrine and Covenants 27:2. As part of the discussion, you may need to explain that we have “an eye single to [the Lord’s] glory” when we focus on Him and align our will with His.)

To help students feel the importance of this truth and consider how it can apply in their lives, discuss the following questions:

  • What have you experienced when you have reflected upon the Savior’s atoning sacrifice during the administration of the sacrament?

  • What can we do to improve our ability to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and partake of the sacrament “with an eye single to [His] glory”?

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals about what they will do to prepare to partake of the sacrament each week. Encourage them to consider ways to remember Jesus Christ and the meaning behind the emblems of the sacrament. You may want to invite a few of them to share what they have written.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 27:3–4 by explaining that the Lord warned Joseph Smith not to purchase wine or strong drink (any drink with intoxicating qualities) from the enemies of the Church for use in the sacrament. They were to use only wine that was “made new” by the Saints. It may be helpful for your students to know that the Word of Wisdom would not be revealed for another two and a half years (see D&C 89) and that in the Church today we use water for the sacrament.

Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–14

The Lord will partake of the sacrament again on the earth

Ask students to ponder how their experience of partaking of the sacrament might change if they were partaking of it in the presence of the Savior. Invite a few students to share their thoughts.

Remind students that the Savior introduced the ordinance of the sacrament to His Apostles at the Last Supper. On this occasion, Jesus Christ prophesied of a time when He would return to the earth and partake of the sacrament again with His disciples (see Matthew 26:26–29).

Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–12, the Lord specifically named some of the individuals who will attend this meeting. Invite students to scan these verses and identify (1) who these individuals are and (2) if mentioned, what keys or responsibilities they have. Invite a student to list this information on the board as the rest of the class reports what they have found. (You may want to explain that throughout the earth’s history the Lord has given priesthood authority to righteous men to help administer His gospel. He has also given priesthood keys to priesthood leaders so they can direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth.)

When the list is complete, invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify the keys the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

  • What keys did the Lord commit, or give, to the Prophet Joseph Smith? (Invite a student to add Joseph Smith and keys of the Lord’s kingdom to the list on the board.)

Point out that many of the prophets whose names are found in Doctrine and Covenants 27 visited Joseph Smith to bestow keys upon him.

You may want to suggest that students mark the phrase “dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times” in Doctrine and Covenants 27:13.

  • According to this verse, what does the Lord say He will do during the dispensation of the fulness of times? (“Gather together in one all things.”)

Write the following doctrine on the board under the list: The dispensation of the fulness of times gathers together all gospel keys, ordinances, and truths of past dispensations.

Explain that a dispensation is “a period of time in which the Lord has at least one authorized servant on the earth who bears the [keys of the] holy priesthood … and who has a divine commission to dispense the gospel” (Bible Dictionary, “Dispensations”) and to administer the ordinances thereof. When the Lord organizes a dispensation, “the gospel is revealed anew so that the people of that dispensation do not have to depend basically on past dispensations for knowledge of the plan of salvation” (Bible Dictionary, “Dispensations”). Adam, Enoch, Noah, Moses, and others were heads of gospel dispensations. Joseph Smith is the head of the dispensation in which we live—the dispensation of the fulness of times. This final dispensation began with the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is called the dispensation of the fulness of times because all keys that the Lord has revealed for the blessing of His children have been restored and all the Lord’s plans and purposes since the world began will be fulfilled.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:14 aloud. Ask the rest of the class to follow along and identify who else will be present at the sacrament meeting described in this section.

  • Whom do you think the phrase “all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world” refers to?

Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“Every faithful person in the whole history of the world, every person who has so lived as to merit eternal life in the kingdom of the Father will be in attendance and will partake, with the Lord, of the sacrament” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 595).

Add you and me to the list on the board.

  • According to Elder McConkie, how must we live in order to be present at this special sacrament meeting?

Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18

The Lord commands His people to put on the whole armor of God

Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18 contains counsel that will help us be worthy to qualify for the Lord’s blessings, including the blessing of attending the sacrament meeting mentioned in verses 4–14.

Ask students what they would want to wear if they knew they were going into battle. Then invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for (1) what the Lord directs us to do to prepare for spiritual battles and (2) what blessing He promises if we follow His direction.

  • What does the Lord counsel us to do to prepare for spiritual battles? (Summarize students’ responses by writing the following on the board: If we take upon ourselves the whole armor of God …)

  • What blessing does the Lord promise those who put on the whole armor of God? (As students respond, complete the principle on the board: If we take upon ourselves the whole armor of God, we will be able to withstand evil.)

person in armor

Copy the accompanying illustration on the board, with lines drawn to each piece of armor mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18. Divide the class into small groups, and assign each group one of the pieces of armor. Give each group a copy of the following statement by President Harold B. Lee and the information and questions in the following section pertaining to their assigned piece of armor. Invite students to work within their groups to answer the questions for their assigned piece of armor and be prepared to share their answers with the class.

President Harold B. Lee

“We have the four parts of the body that the Apostle Paul said [are] the most vulnerable to the powers of darkness. The loins, typifying virtue, chastity. The heart, typifying our conduct. Our feet, our goals or objectives in life and finally our head, our thoughts” (Harold B. Lee, Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Nov. 9, 1954], 2).

“Loins girt about with truth” (see D&C 27:15–16):

President Lee said, “The loins is that part of the body between the lower rib and the hip into which you will recognize are the vital organs which have to do with reproduction” (Feet Shod, 2). To gird implies tying firmly with a belt.

  • Why do you think Satan attacks our purity, virtue, and chastity?

  • How do you think knowing God’s standard of morality can help us stay pure, virtuous, and chaste?

Scripture study helps gird us in truth and helps protect virtue and chastity.

“Breastplate of righteousness” (D&C 27:16):

  • According to President Lee, what does the breastplate protect?

  • How do you think the righteousness of our hearts (our conduct and desires) influences our ability to fight our spiritual battles?

“Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (D&C 27:16):

Having your feet “shod” means wearing shoes or protection on your feet.

  • According to President Lee, what do our feet represent?

  • How does Satan attack our goals and objectives in life?

  • What has God given us to “hold to” in order to help us keep our feet moving along the path of life toward our goals? (See 1 Nephi 8:24.)

  • How can focusing on righteous goals and objectives help us overcome temptation?

“The shield of faith” (D&C 27:17):

  • What do you think it means to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”?

  • How has your faith shielded and protected you?

“The helmet of salvation” (D&C 27:18):

  • According to President Lee, what is protected when our head is covered?

  • Why is it important to protect our thoughts?

  • How does Satan attack our thoughts?

  • What specific things can we do to protect our thoughts?

“The sword of my Spirit” (D&C 27:18):

  • How can the Spirit help us overcome Satan’s attacks?

  • What advantage does having the Spirit give us in our fight against evil?

  • How does the word of God help us use the sword of the Spirit?

  • What can you do to invite the Spirit into your life more?

After students have reported their answers, read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask students to listen for how we put on and strengthen the armor of God:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“I like to think of this spiritual armor not as a solid piece of metal molded to fit the body but more like chain mail. Chain mail consists of dozens of tiny pieces of steel fastened together to allow the user greater flexibility without losing protection. I say that because it has been my experience that there is not one great and grand thing we can do to arm ourselves spiritually. True spiritual power lies in numerous smaller acts woven together in a fabric of spiritual fortification that protects and shields from all evil” (“Be Strong in the Lord,” Ensign, July 2004, 8).

  • What are some small acts that, combined in their strength, will help protect us against temptation and evil?

Invite students to look back at the opening lines of Doctrine and Covenants 27:15. Then ask the following question:

  • What attitude should we have as we put on the armor of God? (We should “lift up [our] hearts and rejoice.”) Why should we have this attitude?

Ask students to consider what they have learned in today’s lesson, and invite them to choose one specific thing they can do to better put on the armor of God. Encourage them to write what they will do on a piece of paper that they can refer to often as a reminder of their commitment.

To conclude this lesson, invite a few students to share their testimonies of the truths taught in the lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 27:2. “It mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament”

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained why the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 27:2 was given and what it meant:

“[A] heavenly messenger told Joseph Smith that it mattered not what should be used for the Sacrament, and he was not to purchase wine or strong drink from his enemies. The reason for this is obvious, for the Prophet had many enemies. However, this reason went further than merely protection against his enemies, for it was a caution against evil and designing persons who would adulterate these things. (See Word of Wisdom, Sec. 89.) Joseph Smith was also told that wine should not be used for the Sacrament unless it was made by the Saints, and should be had new among them. While the Church did not adopt the custom of using water exclusively in the Sacrament at that early time, yet it was from this time that water was used as a substitute for wine, which had been used principally because of its resemblance to blood. Today throughout the Church water is used in the Sacrament in remembrance of the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for the remission of sins in behalf of all who repent and accept the Gospel” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:132; see also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 55).

Doctrine and Covenants 27:2. “An eye single to my glory”

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described how we can develop an eye single to the glory of God:

“Imagine, if you will, a pair of powerful binoculars. Two separate optical systems are joined together with a gear to focus two independent images into one three-dimensional view. To apply this analogy, let the scene on the left side of your binoculars represent your perception of your task. Let the picture on the right side represent the Lord’s perspective of your task—the portion of His plan He has entrusted to you. Now, connect your system to His. By mental adjustment, fuse your focus. Something wonderful happens. Your vision and His are now the same. You have developed an ‘eye single to the glory of God’ (D&C 4:5; see also Mormon 8:15)” (“With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible,” Ensign, May 1988, 34).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–14. The Lord will partake of the sacrament again on the earth

You may want to use the following activity to help students discover (1) who will be present at the sacrament meeting described in Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–14 and (2) the keys or responsibilities these individuals have.

Before class, prepare seven pieces of paper or paper cutouts of keys. On each paper or key, write one of the following scripture references: D&C 27:5; D&C 27:6; D&C 27:7–8; D&C 27:9; D&C 27:10; D&C 27:11; D&C 27:12. Each scripture reference names one or more of the individuals the Savior said would be present at the great sacrament meeting described in Doctrine and Covenants 27. Hand the keys out to a few students as they walk into class (for smaller classes, some students may receive more than one key). Instruct the students to look up the scripture reference and identify the individual or individuals mentioned in the passage and (where applicable) what keys or responsibilities they hold (note that some verses do not specifically identify keys or responsibilities).

Invite those who received keys at the beginning of class to briefly report who was mentioned in their assigned verses and what keys or responsibilities they hold. As students report what they have found, you may want to invite a student to list their findings on the board. You might also want to suggest that students mark the names and the keys or responsibilities (if stated) in each verse.