Doctrine and Covenants 138: Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 190


“A glorious revelation was given to President Joseph F. Smith concerning the labors of the righteous in the world of spirits. On 3 October 1918, while President Smith was pondering the atonement of Jesus Christ, he opened his Bible and read in1 Peter 3:18–20and 4:6 about the Savior’s preaching to the spirits in prison. While he was meditating on these passages, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon him, and he saw in vision the ‘hosts of the dead’ who were gathered in the spirit world. He saw the Savior appear among them and preach the gospel to the righteous. He was shown that the Lord hadcommissioned others to continue this work of preaching, and that the faithful elders in the present dispensation would also preach to the dead after leaving mortality. Thus all of the dead may be redeemed.“This ‘Vision of the Redemption of the Dead’ was presented by President Smith to the First Presidency and the Twelve, who unanimously accepted it as revelation. In 1976 this revelation was officially added to the standard works of the Church and soon afterward designated as section 138 in the Doctrine and Covenants” (Church History in the Fulness of Times,493).

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 138

Reflecting(v. 2)Thinking, pondering 
Redemption(v. 2)Salvation 
Made manifest(v. 3)Shown 
Reverted(v. 5)Returned 
Primitive(v. 5)Ancient, original, earliest 
Quickened(v. 7)Made alive 
Similitude(v. 13)Likeness or comparison 
Advent(v. 16)Coming 
Sleeping dust(v. 17)Physically dead body 
Conversed(v. 18)Talked 
Defiled themselves(v. 20)Chose sinful lives 
Radiance(v. 24)Glory, light 
Endeavoring(v. 25)Trying 
Commissioned(v. 30)Authorized 
Vicarious baptism(v. 33)Baptisms done by the living in behalf of the dead 
Sojourn(v. 36)Journey 
Foreshadowing(v. 48)Suggesting beforehand 
Bear record(v. 60)Testify 

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 138.

Activity A iconWrite a Letter

Imagine it is October 1918 and you are writing to a friend, explaining the events surrounding President Joseph F. Smith’s vision. Include a paragraph about what President Smith was doing before and during the vision, a brief summary of the vision, and whatDoctrine and Covenants 138:1–6, 11, 28–29teaches about preparing for and receiving revelation from God.

Activity B iconWhat Did President Smith Learn?

From what you learn inDoctrine and Covenants 138, answer the following questions:

  1. 1.

    Where do1 Peter 3:18–20and 4:6 (D&C 138:7–10) teach Jesus Christ went between His death and Resurrection?

  2. 2.

    What further insight doesDoctrine and Covenants 138:11–22give about those the Savior visited and those He did not?

  3. 3.

    What question did President Smith have about Jesus’s visit to the spirit world? What answer did he receive? (vv. 25–37)

  4. 4.

    What did President Smith learn about the importance of temples? (vv. 50–60).

Activity C iconA Vast Congregation of the Righteous

  1. 1.

    FromDoctrine and Covenants 138:38–52, list the names of people who had died that President Smith saw in the spirit world. Explain what happened to them.

    Christ visited Spirit World
  2. 2.

    From verses 53–56, list the names of people from Church history that President Smith saw in the spirit world and write what President Smith “observed” about them.

  3. 3.

    List the names of five additional people you think might have been in the “vast congregation” (vv. 39, 49).

  4. 4.

    List words and phrases that describe the people mentioned in verses 38–56, and list ways you could be more like them.