Home-Study Lesson: Doctrine and Covenants 121–123; the Establishment of Nauvoo (Unit 26)

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013

Preparation Material for the Home-Study Teacher

Summary of Daily Home-Study Lessons

The following summary of the events, doctrines, and principles students learned about as they studied Doctrine and Covenants 121–123 and the lesson on “The Establishment of Nauvoo” (unit 26) is not intended to be taught as part of your lesson. The lesson you teach concentrates on only a few of these doctrines and principles. Follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit as you consider the needs of your students.

Day 1 (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1–10122)

As students studied about the imprisonment of the Prophet Joseph Smith and others in Liberty Jail, they discovered the following principles: When we call upon the Lord during times of adversity and affliction, we can receive His peace. If we endure trials well in mortality, God will bless us now and in the eternities. Afflictions can give us experience and be for our good. Students also learned that the Savior suffered the pains and afflictions of all people.

Day 2 (Doctrine and Covenants 121:11–33)

After studying about the afflictions and persecutions the Saints experienced from their enemies in Missouri, students learned that the Lord sees and knows all our works and that those who do wrong will receive God’s judgment at His appointed time. They also discovered that God will reveal knowledge to us through the Holy Ghost and that trials can help purify us and prepare us to receive revelation.

Day 3 (Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46)

In this portion of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired letter from Liberty Jail, students learned that priesthood holders can draw upon the powers of heaven only if they live righteously. Students also considered specific actions that can weaken or strengthen the power of a priesthood holder.

Day 4 (Doctrine and Covenants 123; the Establishment of Nauvoo)

As students studied the duty of the Saints in relation to their persecutors, they learned these principles: The Lord will fulfill His promises after we have done our part. There are many who are kept from the truth because they do not know where to find it. Our decision to obey the seemingly small commandments of the Lord can have a great influence on the future. Students also learned about Church headquarters being established in Nauvoo, Illinois, and discovered that the Relief Society is an inspired part of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.


In this lesson students will review some of the teachings from Doctrine and Covenants 121–122 that can help us when we experience difficulties in life. They will also discover that persecution can influence the work of God to go forward rather than stop its progress. Finally, students will learn about the establishment of the Relief Society in Nauvoo, Illinois, and share ways Relief Society blesses people today.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 121–122

The Saints learned important lessons from their experiences with persecution

On the board, write Extermination order, Haun’s Mill, and Liberty Jail. Invite students to use these words to summarize what they have learned about the persecutions the Saints experienced in Missouri in 1838–39.

Write Doctrine and Covenants 121:7–10; 122:7–9 on the board. Remind students that in these verses the Lord revealed principles to the Prophet Joseph Smith to comfort him and the Saints during their trials. Invite students to read these verses silently, looking for ways the teachings in these verses might help them during times of trial. Invite a few students to share what they find.

During the week, students studied Doctrine and Covenants 121:36, 41–42, which is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to ask them to review it by reciting verse 36 together. You may also consider asking them to list righteous actions that the Lord mentioned in verses 41–42.

  • Whom do you know who is an example of these righteous principles?

Share the appreciation you feel for righteous priesthood holders and for the blessings all people can receive through priesthood power.

The Establishment of Nauvoo

Ask students to name things that can extinguish a fire. Then ask what can cause a fire to grow. Explain that Joseph Smith compared the work of God to a fire.

  • Do you think the persecutions the Saints experienced in Missouri were like water that began to extinguish the work of God or like fuel that helped it to grow? Why?

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Explain that the Prophet wrote this statement in a letter to a newspaper editor named John Wentworth on March 1, 1842.

Prophet Joseph Smith

“Persecution has not stopped the progress of truth, but has only added fuel to the flame. …

“… The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (in History of the Church, 4:540).

  • What principle do we learn from this statement? (Students may identify a variety of truths, but emphasize the following: Nothing will stop the progress of God’s work throughout the earth.)

  • What evidence do you see of this principle today?

  • In what ways can you participate in the progress of God’s work?

Explain that at the time the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote this prophecy in his letter to John Wentworth, the Lord had begun to call missionaries to preach the gospel in various countries. That prophecy began to be fulfilled as thousands of people—primarily from Great Britain—were baptized. The new members brought great strength to the Church, and many traveled to join the Saints in Nauvoo.

Inform the class that in Nauvoo, Illinois, women of the Church were a great strength in advancing the work of the Lord. Invite a student to read the following two paragraphs:

In 1842 some women in Nauvoo, Illinois, assembled to discuss ways they could assist with the construction of the Nauvoo Temple. They formed a society and then asked the Prophet Joseph Smith for his opinion about it. He approved it, but he was inspired to organize the Relief Society “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 451; see also Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society [2011], 12).

Emma Smith was called to be the first general president of the Relief Society. Sister Eliza R. Snow, who served as the secretary of the Relief Society in Nauvoo and later was called to serve as the second Relief Society general president, taught: “Although the name [Relief Society] may be of modern date, the institution is of ancient origin. We were told by [the Prophet Joseph Smith] that the same organization existed in the church anciently” (“Female Relief Society,” Deseret News, Apr. 22, 1868, 1; see also Daughters in My Kingdom, 7).

  • What can we learn about the Relief Society from Eliza R. Snow’s statement? (As students respond, write the following truth on the board: Relief Society is an inspired part of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ.)

  • Why do you think it is important for us to understand this truth?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement concerning the purposes of Relief Society:

“Relief Society was established to help prepare daughters of God for the blessings of eternal life. The purposes of Relief Society are to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and provide relief by seeking out and helping those in need” (Daughters in My Kingdom, xi).

Ask students to review what they wrote in their scripture study journals for day 4, assignment 7. (They were asked to talk with a member of Relief Society and write some ways Relief Society has blessed her life and given her opportunities to participate in the Lord’s work.) Invite students to share what they learned from this activity.

Conclude this lesson by sharing your testimony of how the efforts of faithful men and women today are helping the work of the Lord continue to expand throughout the earth. Invite students to live faithfully so they can continue to participate in the Lord’s work.

Next Unit (Doctrine and Covenants 124–128)

Ask students to think about times when they have participated in baptisms and confirmations for the dead. Explain that many of their studies in the coming week will be about the Nauvoo Temple and the restoration of the ordinance of baptism for the dead.