Doctrine and Covenants 129

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 216–17


Sometimes the Lord sends angels to minister to people on the earth. The devil can also send his angels to try to deceive. In section 129 the Prophet Joseph Smith gives three grand keys to distinguish between angels of the Lord and angels of the devil.

President Wilford Woodruff said:

“One of the Apostles said to me years ago, ‘Brother Woodruff, I have prayed for a long time for the Lord to send me the administration of an angel. I have had a great desire for this, but I have never had my prayers answered.’ I said to him that if he were to pray a thousand years to the God of Israel for that gift, it would not be granted, unless the Lord had a motive in sending an angel to him. I told him that the Lord never did nor never will send an angel to anybody merely to gratify the desire of the individual to see an angel. If the Lord sends an angel to anyone, He sends him to perform a work that cannot be performed only by the administration of an angel. …

“Now, I have always said, and I want to say it to you, that the Holy Ghost is what every Saint of God needs. It is far more important that a man should have that gift than he should have the ministration of an angel” (Deseret Weekly, Nov. 7, 1896, 641).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • Angels and spirits, even evil ones, must follow the laws of heaven. If we understand those laws we can avoid being deceived (see D&C 129; see also D&C 130:4–7).

Additional Resources

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 129. Angels and spirits, even evil ones, must follow the laws of heaven. If we understand those laws we can avoid being deceived.

(20–25 minutes)

Have students read Alma 30:53 and explain what happened to Korihor. Discuss the following questions:

  • If an angel appeared to you, how would you know whether that angel had been sent by the Lord or by the devil?

  • Why would it be important to distinguish between the two?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 129:9 and look for how many keys are given in section 129 to help us distinguish between different kinds of angels or messengers. Have a student read the statement by President Wilford Woodruff in the introduction to section 129 above. Have another student read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“May I suggest to you that one of the things we need to teach our students, and one of the things which will become more important in their lives the longer they live, is the reality of angels, their work, and their ministry. Obviously I speak here not alone of the angel Moroni, but also of those more personal ministering angels who are with us and around us, empowered to help us, and who do exactly that. …

“Perhaps more of us, including our students, could literally, or at least figuratively, behold the angels around us if we would but awaken from our stupor and hear the voice of the Spirit as those angels try to speak. …

“I believe we need to speak of and believe in and bear testimony to the ministry of angels more than we sometimes do. They constitute one of God’s great methods of witnessing through the veil” (A Standard unto My People [address to religious educators at a symposium on the Book of Mormon, Brigham Young University, Aug. 9, 1994], 11–13).


  • What do you learn about angels from these statements?

  • Why do you think it is important to have a testimony of the reality of the angels spoken of in scripture?

  • While you may never see an angel, why do you think it is important to better understand how they minister on the earth?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 129:1–3 and ask:

  • How many kinds of beings are there in heaven?

  • What is the difference between “angels” and “spirits of just men made perfect”? (see the commentaries for these verses in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, p. 320; see also D&C 130:4–7).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 129:4–9 and look for the three grand keys that can help us know whether a messenger is from God. Discuss the following:

  • What does verse 5 teach?

  • What does Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 say about feelings?

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 129:7, “it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive.” Why do you think communications from the Lord must be true?

  • Read Moroni 7:12–16. What do you learn from these verses about communications from God?

  • What does Doctrine and Covenants 129:8 teach about deception when it comes to evil spirits?

  • How can knowing this help you avoid being led astray in spiritual things?

Testify of God’s love for us. Ask students how the following items show God’s willingness to communicate with us:

  • Scriptures

  • Words of the living prophets

  • Prayer

  • The gift of the Holy Ghost

  • Temples

Invite students to strive to understand the ways God communicates with them and to obey His counsel.