Doctrine and Covenants 37–38

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 72–73


The Church grew rapidly in Kirtland, Ohio, because of the visit of missionaries on their way to the Lamanite mission (see D&C 32:1–3). Within three weeks there were more members of the Church in Ohio than in New York and Pennsylvania. When the missionaries left Kirtland to continue on to Missouri, they wrote to the Prophet Joseph Smith and suggested that someone with experience come to Kirtland and assist the Church. The Prophet sent John Whitmer. In December 1830 “Joseph received a letter from John Whitmer, desiring his immediate assistance at Kirtland in regulating the affairs of the Church there” (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor [1996], 251). The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received section 37, which commanded all Church members to move to Ohio. This was the beginning of the gathering of the Latter-day Saints to a central place.

Section 38 “reaffirmed the importance of the Church’s move to the Ohio. [See vv. 31–32.] This revelation also contained counsel and instructions that would assist the saints to make this move with a greater faith and confidence in the Savior who led them” (Otten and Caldwell, Sacred Truths, 1:181).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 89–101.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 74–79.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 37; 38:9, 15, 31–33, 39–42. The Lord gathers His people together for physical and spiritual blessings. Members are responsible to help gather the Saints by sharing the gospel.

(15–20 minutes)

Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“What was the object of gathering … the people of God in any age of the world? …

“The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose. …

“It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc.” (History of the Church, 5:423–24).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 37, and ask:

  • According to verse 1, why were Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon told to stop translating?

  • What were they translating and why? (see footnote 1a; Bible Dictionary, “Joseph Smith Translation,” 717).

  • What three things did the Lord want Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to do instead?

  • Why did the Lord want them to gather to Ohio? (see v. 1).

  • How would gathering protect them against the enemy mentioned in verse 1?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 38:9, 15, 23–27, 31–33, 39–42 as you discuss the following questions:

  • What other reasons did the Lord give for gathering to Ohio?

  • What is our responsibility toward the poor? (see vv. 23–27).

  • How can we “esteem” our brothers as ourselves? (vv. 24–25).

  • Where would one go to be “endowed with power from on high”? (v. 32).

  • How would the points mentioned in these verses protect the Saints from their enemies?

  • What enemy opposes faithful members of the Church today?

  • How does being righteous and temple-worthy protect us from our enemy today?

  • What is our responsibility to others? (see v. 41).

Note how the Lord protects the Saints if they obey His revelations. Testify that living prophets warn the Saints of danger from Satan and his followers. Testify of the importance of listening to the living prophets.

Doctrine and Covenants 38:1–8. Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament, the Creator of the earth, and the Judge of all at the end of the world.

(10–15 minutes)

Ask students to name important truths they know about Jesus Christ, and list them on the board. Have them read Doctrine and Covenants 38:1–8, and add what they learn about Jesus Christ to the list on the board. Ask:

  • How would knowing these things help you if you had a nice home in New York, and the Lord asked you to move to Ohio, whether you could sell your house or not?

  • How would knowing these things help you live Church standards, even when they seem difficult or others are not living them?

Point out that when the Lord said “I am in your midst” (v. 7), He was expressing His love and concern. Ask: How does it make you feel to know the Lord watches over you?

Read the following statement by President Harold B. Lee:

“And so I come to you today, with no shadow of doubting in my mind that I know the reality of the person who is presiding over this church, our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. I know that he is. I know that he is closer to us than many times we have any idea. They are not an absentee Father and Lord. They are concerned about us, helping to prepare us for the advent of the Savior, whose coming certainly isn’t too far away because of the signs that are becoming apparent” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 180; or Ensign, July 1973, 124).

Doctrine and Covenants 38:8–12, 17–22. At the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the righteous will be preserved and the wicked will be burned.

(15–20 minutes)

Write on the board the sentences I want the Lord to delay His coming because and I look forward to the coming of the Lord because. Invite students to choose the sentence that best describes how they feel. Have them write on a piece of paper a brief paragraph that completes the sentence they selected.

Discuss reasons people give for wanting or not wanting the Lord to come. (Allow students to share what they wrote if they wish.) Read Doctrine and Covenants 38:8–12 and look for words or phrases that describe why some people fear the Lord’s coming. Ask:

  • Who are the only ones who will “abide the day”? (v. 8).

  • What do you think the phrase “clean, but not all” means? (v. 10).

  • Read Moroni 10:32–33. According to these verses, how can we prepare for the Savior’s coming?

Testify that the blessings the Saints will enjoy when the Lord comes are worth preparing for. Read Doctrine and Covenants 38:17–22 and list the blessings that the faithful will receive when the Lord comes again. Read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“I don’t know when the Savior will come. I’m ready for Him. I hope it isn’t too long in this evil-filled world. I do not know. ‘Come, O thou King of Kings’; I can sing that with conviction” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 577).

Encourage students to begin to acquire a similar attitude about the Second Coming.