Lesson 47: Doctrine and Covenants 42:1–29

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


In December 1830, the Lord commanded the Saints to gather to Ohio (see D&C 37:3). In January 1831, He promised that they would receive His law (see D&C 38:32). On February 9, 1831, shortly after arriving in Kirtland, 12 elders of the Church gathered together and united in prayer, as the Lord had commanded them (see D&C 41:2–3). On this occasion, Joseph Smith received a revelation that now comprises Doctrine and Covenants 42:1–73. He received further instruction on February 23 (see D&C 42:74–93). Taken together, these revelations are known as “the law of the Church” (D&C 42 section heading). Doctrine and Covenants 42 will be divided among three lessons. This lesson covers verses 1–29, which provided instruction on teaching the gospel and set forth general laws of conduct for members of the Church.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 42:1–10

The Lord calls upon the elders to teach the gospel and build up His Church

At the top of the board, write Laws and Commandments.

Underneath write the following words:

Restriction Blessing Burden Annoyance Gift Limit Reward

Begin by asking students to consider which of the words on the board they might choose to describe laws and commandments. Invite a few students to share the word or words they chose and explain why. After students have shared their thoughts, ask the following questions:

  • Why can it sometimes be difficult to keep the commandments?

  • Why might some people feel that laws and commandments are a gift or a blessing?

Remind students that after the Lord commanded the Saints in New York to go to Ohio, He promised that once they were there, He would give them His law (see D&C 38:32). Most of the Saints in New York obeyed the command to gather to Ohio. After some of them had arrived in Kirtland, 12 elders met with the Prophet Joseph Smith and called upon the Lord. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 42:1–3 aloud. Encourage the class to follow along, looking for the reason why the elders had assembled.

  • Why had the elders assembled at this time? (The Lord had commanded them to gather together to receive His law.)

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 42:4–10 by explaining that the Lord instructed the elders to go forth two by two as missionaries to spread the gospel and build up the Church in every region to which they were called until all the people were called to gather as one.

Doctrine and Covenants 42:11–17

The Lord sets forth principles of teaching the gospel

Ask students to imagine that they are sitting in the chapel waiting for sacrament meeting to begin. The members of the bishopric or branch presidency have been delayed and have not yet arrived. Someone from the congregation gets up and explains that he would like to extend a few callings and teach some new doctrine that has been revealed to him.

  • How would you react in this situation? Why?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 42:11 aloud, and ask the class to look for who the Lord says is authorized to teach and to build up His Church.

  • Who did the Lord say is authorized to teach and to build up His Church? (Students should identify the following doctrine: Those who teach and build up the Church must be called of God and ordained or set apart by the authorized leaders of the Church.)

  • According to verse 11, those who are called to teach the gospel are to have their callings made known to the Church. How do Church members today learn that a person has received a ward or stake calling and will be set apart or ordained by Church leaders? (The names of those who are called are presented to the membership of the Church for a sustaining vote. This is known as the principle of common consent. See D&C 26:2.)

  • How can the procedure of sustaining Church leaders and teachers protect the Church and its members? (Sustaining Church leaders helps us know who has been called to lead and teach in the Church. It can also help prevent individuals from assuming responsibilities that have not been assigned to them and for which they have no authority.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 42:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for responsibilities given to people who teach and lead in the Church, including full-time missionaries.

  • According to these verses, what responsibilities does the Lord give to those He calls to teach or lead in the Church?

  • Why do you think it is important for teachers and leaders to teach the principles of the gospel as found in the scriptures?

  • How have you been blessed when your teachers or leaders have lived by the doctrines and principles they have taught?

Ask students to review Doctrine and Covenants 42:13 silently, looking for what should direct us as we teach the gospel to others. After students report what they have found, invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what those who teach the gospel should do to obtain the influence of the Spirit.

  • How can we obtain the influence of the Spirit to help us teach others the gospel? (If we pray in faith, we can receive the Spirit to help us teach others. You may want to suggest that students mark the words in verse 14 that teach this principle. Point out that in addition to praying in faith, we need to be worthy to receive the Spirit.)

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

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“The scriptures say, ‘The Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach’ (D&C 42:14). This teaches not just that you won’t teach or that you can’t teach or that it will be pretty shoddy teaching. No, it is stronger than that. It is the imperative form of the verb. ‘Ye shall not teach.’ Put a thou in there for ye and you have Mount Sinai language. This is a commandment” (“Teaching, Preaching, Healing,” Ensign, Jan. 2003, 41).

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 and Elder Holland’s statement, who is to be the real teacher in any Church classroom? (The Spirit.)

  • What are some ways that students can help teach by the Spirit?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 42:16–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the role of the Holy Ghost. Before the student reads, it may be helpful to remind students that the term Comforter used in these verses is another name for the Holy Ghost.

  • According to verse 17, what does the Holy Ghost know and do? (You may want to suggest that students mark the following doctrine in their scriptures: The Holy Ghost knows all things and bears record of the Father and the Son.)

  • Based on this doctrine, why is it important for us to have the Holy Ghost with us when teaching the gospel?

  • How can having the Holy Ghost with you help those you teach?

Invite students to reflect on the following questions (you may want to write these questions on the board before class or prepare them as a handout):

When have you experienced the power and influence of the Holy Ghost as you were teaching (sharing, explaining, or testifying of) the gospel?

When have you felt the Holy Ghost bear testimony to you of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

After sufficient time, invite a few students to choose one of the questions and share their experiences with the class. You may wish to add your testimony of the vital role the Spirit plays in teaching and learning the gospel.

Doctrine and Covenants 42:18–29

The Lord reveals laws and commandments for the members of the Church

Write the following scripture references on the board (do not include the words in parentheses):

D&C 42:18–19 (killing); D&C 42:20 (stealing); D&C 42:21 (lying); D&C 42:22–23 (lusting after others); D&C 42:24–26 (adultery); D&C 42:27 (speaking evil of others)

Explain that in this revelation, the Lord revealed laws and commandments pertaining to all members of the Church. Divide students into groups of three or six. Assign each student one or two of the scripture references listed on the board, and explain that each passage contains the Lord’s instructions concerning a specific commandment. Ask students to study their assigned passages and then use the outline below to prepare to teach their group what they have discovered. (You may want to display the outline on the board or prepare it as a handout. You may want to encourage students to use the For the Strength of Youth booklet or the Guide to the Scriptures for additional help. If your class is small enough, you might want to invite students to teach the whole class rather than their groups.)

  1. 1.

    Invite a member of your group to read the assigned scripture passage aloud. You may want to suggest that the members of your group mark the commandment or law in the passage.

  2. 2.

    Identify a doctrine or principle we can learn from the verses.

  3. 3.

    Explain why you feel this commandment is important and how our obedience to it can affect our spiritual welfare.

  4. 4.

    Share an idea of something we could all do to more fully keep this commandment (or guard against breaking it). You may also want to invite the rest of your group to share their ideas.

Be sure to allow enough time for students to prepare and then teach their groups. As students teach each other, walk around and give help and encouragement when needed.

After students have finished teaching their groups, write the following incomplete statement on the board: By serving God and keeping His commandments, we show …

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 42:29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that complete this principle. Invite a student to fill in the blank on the board so the statement is similar to the following principle: By serving God and keeping His commandments, we show our love to God. (You may want to suggest that students mark this principle in their scriptures.)

  • How does keeping God’s laws and commandments show our love for Him?

  • How has keeping the commandments brought you closer to the Lord?

Ask students to reflect on their attitudes toward the Lord’s laws and commandments. Invite them to select one commandment that they will strive to keep more fully as a way to show their love to Heavenly Father and the Savior. Conclude by sharing how keeping the commandments has strengthened your relationship with the Lord.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 42:4–7. Missionary opportunities for young men and young women

President Thomas S. Monson emphasized the Lord’s command that elders preach the gospel. He also explained the role of sisters in missionary work:

“First, to young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and to you young men who are becoming elders: I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord. Maintain your health and strength. Study the scriptures. Where such is available, participate in seminary or institute. Familiarize yourself with the missionary handbook Preach My Gospel.

“A word to you young sisters: while you do not have the same priesthood responsibility as do the young men to serve as full-time missionaries, you also make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome your service” (“As We Meet Together Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 5–6).

Doctrine and Covenants 42:11. “It is known to the church that he has authority”

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained one reason why it is important to sustain those called to positions in the Church:

“This common procedure occurs whenever leaders or teachers are called or released from office or whenever there is reorganization in a stake or a ward or a quorum or in the auxiliaries (see D&C 124:123, 144; see also D&C 20:65–67; 26:2). It is unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We always know who is called to lead or to teach and have the opportunity to sustain or to oppose the action. It did not come as an invention of man but was set out in the revelations … ([see] D&C 42:11). In this way, the Church is protected from any imposter who would take over a quorum, a ward, a stake, or the Church” (“The Weak and the Simple of the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 6).

Doctrine and Covenants 42:22. “Cleave unto her and none else”

President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

“‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else’ (D&C 42:22). To my knowledge there is only one other thing in all scripture that we are commanded to love with all our hearts, and that is God Himself. Think what that means!

“This kind of love can be shown for your wives in so many ways. First and foremost, nothing except God Himself takes priority over your wife in your life—not work, not recreation, not hobbies. Your wife is your precious, eternal helpmate—your companion.

“What does it mean to love someone with all your heart? It means to love with all your emotional feelings and with all your devotion. Surely when you love your wife with all your heart, you cannot demean her, criticize her, find fault with her, or abuse her by words, sullen behavior, or actions.

“What does it mean to ‘cleave unto her’? It means to stay close to her, to be loyal and faithful to her, to communicate with her, and to express your love for her” (“To the Fathers in Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 50).

Doctrine and Covenants 42:22–24. “He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed the following about love and lust:

“Why is lust such a deadly sin? Well, in addition to the completely Spirit-destroying impact it has upon our souls, I think it is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality—the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever. Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence. True love endures. But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. True love we are absolutely giddy about—as I am about Sister Holland; we shout it from the housetops. But lust is characterized by shame and stealth and is almost pathologically clandestine [obsessively secretive]—the later and darker the hour the better, with a double-bolted door just in case. Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people. Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence. Love comes with open hands and open heart; lust comes with only an open appetite.

“These are just some of the reasons that prostituting the true meaning of love—either with imagination or another person—is so destructive. It destroys that which is second only to our faith in God—namely, faith in those we love. It shakes the pillars of trust upon which present—or future—love is built, and it takes a long time to rebuild that trust when it is lost. Push that idea far enough—whether it be as personal as a family member or as public as elected officials, business leaders, media stars, and athletic heroes—and soon enough on the building once constructed to house morally responsible societies, we can hang a sign saying, ‘This property is vacant’” (“Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 44–45).

See also the Mormon Messages video “Watch Your Step” (LDS.org).