Lesson 46: Doctrine and Covenants 41

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


In December 1830, the Lord commanded the Saints to move to Ohio, where they would receive His law (see D&C 37:3; 38:32). Leman Copley, a member of the Church in Ohio, had offered to provide Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon and their families with “houses and provisions” (section introduction, D&C 41). Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 41 on February 4, 1831, soon after he arrived in Ohio. In this revelation, the Lord instructed the Prophet and other Church leaders to pray to receive His law. In addition, He clarified where Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon should live and called Edward Partridge to be the first bishop of the Church.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 41:1–6

The Lord teaches that true disciples will keep His law

Invite students to consider what it means to delight, or find joy, in doing something.

  • What do you delight in or enjoy doing?

  • What do you think the Lord delights in doing?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 41:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify what the Lord delights in doing.

  • What does the Lord say He delights in doing? (Blessing His people “with the greatest of all blessings.”)

As students respond, write the following incomplete statement on the board: The Lord delights to bless us as …

  • According to verse 1, what must we do in order to receive the blessings the Lord desires to give us? (You may need to explain that to hearken means to listen attentively and obey. Using students’ responses, complete the principle on the board: The Lord delights to bless us as we hear and obey Him. You may want to encourage students to mark words or phrases that teach this principle in their scriptures.)

Ask students to ponder whether they have ever experienced joy as a result of doing something for someone else. Invite one or two students to share their experiences.

  • What does it mean to you to know that the Lord delights to bless you for hearkening to Him?

Remind students that the Lord had commanded the Saints to gather in Ohio. Some of the Saints who moved to Ohio did so at a sacrifice. They sold their property at a loss or simply left their unsold homes and property and went to Ohio in obedience to the command of the Lord given through His Prophet.

Invite a student to read aloud the following account about Lucy Mack Smith (the Prophet Joseph Smith’s mother) and a group of Church members she led to Ohio. Ask the class to listen for an example of how the Lord blessed the Saints as they hearkened to His command to move to Ohio:

Lucy Mack Smith led a group of 80 Church members from Fayette, New York, to Ohio. As they traveled by boat on the Cayuga and Seneca Canal to Buffalo, New York, Lucy reminded the Saints that they were traveling by commandment of the Lord, like Lehi of old when he left Jerusalem. She counseled the Saints that if they would be faithful, they “had the same reasons to expect the blessings of God” (see History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley [1958], 195–96; Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 91).

When they arrived in Buffalo, they found that the harbor was jammed with ice, preventing boats from coming and going. “After several anxious days in Buffalo, a number of the children had become sick, and many of the group were hungry and discouraged. They took deck passage on a boat, put their things on board, and obtained temporary shelter for the women and children until early the next morning. When they were back on board, Lucy persuaded the still murmuring group to ask the Lord to break the twenty-foot clogs of ice that jammed the harbor” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 92).

Lucy exhorted her group to have faith in God and promised that if they would unite in prayer and ask God to break the ice that jammed the harbor, it would be done. Lucy described what happened next: “At that instant a noise was heard, like bursting thunder. The captain cried, ‘Every man to his post.’ The ice parted, leaving barely a passage for the boat, and so narrow that as the boat passed through the buckets of the waterwheel were torn off with a crash. … We had barely passed through the avenue when the ice closed together again” (see History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 197–205).

  • How did these Saints show faith in the Lord in this difficult situation? How does this situation demonstrate that the Lord is aware of us and will help us overcome challenges?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 41:2–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the instructions the Lord gave to the elders of the Church.

  • What did the Lord command the elders of the Church to do? (He commanded them to assemble to agree upon the word, pray with faith, receive His law, and see that His law was kept by the members of the Church.)

  • According to verse 3, what was the purpose of the law the elders were to receive?

  • How might receiving the Lord’s law have been a blessing to the Saints in Ohio?

Point out that the “law” the Lord referred to is the law recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42, the law of the Lord to the Church. Explain to students that they will study this law in detail in the next few lessons.

To prepare students to identify an important truth in Doctrine and Covenants 41:5, write the following words on the board: Believer and Disciple.

  • In what ways are these two concepts the same? In what ways could they be different?

Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 41:5 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior said about His disciples.

  • According to this verse, what is one characteristic of the Savior’s disciples? (You may want to suggest that students mark words or phrases that teach the following principle: Disciples of Jesus Christ receive His laws and obey them.)

  • Why is it important that disciples of Jesus Christ actually keep the commandments and not just be aware of them?

To help students apply this principle, invite them to review the standards in the For the Strength of Youth booklet on their own. Ask them to select one standard and write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they would like to do to live that standard a little better. (Assure students that this is a personal activity and they will not be asked to share their answers with others.)

Doctrine and Covenants 41:7–8

The Lord instructs the Saints to build a house where the Prophet can live and translate

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 41:7–8 by explaining that the Lord instructed the Saints to provide a home in which the Prophet and his family could live and Joseph could continue his work of translating the Bible. The Lord also provided brief instruction for Sidney Rigdon.

Doctrine and Covenants 41:9–12

The Lord calls Edward Partridge to be the first bishop of the Church

Invite students to imagine that their ward needs a new bishop. Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 41:9–10 on their own, looking for what is involved in calling a bishop.

  • According to this verse, what is involved in the calling of a new bishop? (Bishops are called of God, sustained by the voice of the members, and ordained by the proper authority. You may want to write this doctrine on the board. You may need to explain that today bishops of wards are not commanded to spend all their time “in the labors of the church,” as the Lord called Edward Partridge to do.)

  • What does it mean to be “appointed by the voice of the church”? (It means the members of the Church have pledged their support to, or sustained, the person who has been called of God.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 41:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for attributes Edward Partridge had that would help him in his calling.

  • What attributes did Edward Partridge have that might have helped him in his calling? (As students answer, you might need to explain that to have guile is to be deceitful or hypocritical. Therefore, having “no guile” means being honest and sincere.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 41:12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the warning the Lord gave at the conclusion of this revelation.

  • What do you think it means to beware how we hold the Savior’s words? (You may want to explain that to Joseph Smith and others, this was a command to preserve the scriptures.) How does this relate to what we have learned about disciples of Jesus Christ?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Each day we decide the degree of our discipleship” (“My Servant Joseph,” Ensign, May 1992, 39).

Invite students to share how the truths they learned in this lesson can help them be better disciples of Jesus Christ.

scripture mastery icon Scripture Mastery Review

If time permits, you may want to review the scripture mastery passages you have taught so far this year. Invite a student to come to the front of the classroom with his or her scriptures. Ask the student to turn to one of the scripture mastery passages without showing it to anyone else. (If scripture mastery cards are available, you might invite the student to use these instead.) Invite the student to write one word from the scripture mastery passage on the board. (Encourage the student to choose key words from the passage rather than less distinguishing words such as and or the.) Invite the rest of the class to search their scriptures for the scripture mastery passage they think the word comes from. If no one can find the correct passage using one word, ask the student to write another word from the scripture mastery passage on the board.

Repeat this process until at least one student has located the correct passage. Invite the rest of the class to turn to the passage, and ask students to recite it together. Repeat the activity with another student and a different scripture mastery passage.

Commentary and Background Information

Joseph Smith arrives in Kirtland

In late January 1831, Joseph and Emma Smith left New York to travel nearly 300 miles by sleigh to Kirtland, Ohio. When Joseph and Emma arrived in Kirtland, they stopped in front of the Gilbert & Whitney Store:

“[Joseph] springing up the steps walked into the store and to where the junior partner was standing. ‘Newel K. Whitney! Thou art the man!’ he exclaimed, extending his hand cordially, as if to an old and familiar acquaintance. ‘You have the advantage of me,’ replied [Newel K. Whitney], as he mechanically took the proffered hand, ‘I could not call you by name as you have me.’ ‘I am Joseph the Prophet,’ said the stranger smiling. ‘You’ve prayed me here, now what do you want of me?’” (History of the Church, 1:145–46).

Joseph explained that he had previously received a vision in which Newel was praying for him to go to Kirtland. The Whitneys received Joseph and Emma Smith with kindness, and Joseph and Emma lived with them for a time. (See History of the Church, 1:146; see also Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 90–91.)

Doctrine and Covenants 41:11. “His heart is pure”

Edward Partridge’s willingness to “leave his merchandise” (D&C 41:9) and spend his time building up the Church is confirmed in the following account:

“Partridge’s daughter later recalled that after this revelation was dictated, her father sold his property and ‘realized but little’ from the transactions. She added, ‘My fathers course in joining the mormon religion and sacrificing his property caused his friends of the world to think him insane. They could not see what there was in religion to make a man give up all worldly considerations for it’” (Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, vol. 1 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers [2013], 244).

Edward Partridge and Sidney Rigdon had journeyed to New York to meet the Prophet Joseph Smith. “According to Philo Dibble, Partridge also went in behalf of others. [Philo Dibble] was told by a neighbor, ‘We have sent a man down to York State to find out the truth of this work, and he is a man who will not lie.’ [Dibble, “Philo Dibble’s Narrative,” p. 77.]” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 82). Joseph described Edward as “a pattern of piety, and one of the Lord’s great men” (in History of the Church, 1:128).