Doctrine and Covenants 129: Three Grand Keys

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 146–147


Appearance of angels
Have you ever wondered about angels? Who are they? How can we know if they are from God? InDoctrine and Covenants 129, the Prophet Joseph Smith answered those questions and gave “three grand keys” (v. 9), or ways to recognize heavenly messengers.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 129

Just men made perfect(v. 3)Persons who have been forgiven and cleansed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ 
Contrary to(v. 7)Against 
Order(v. 7)Rules 

Doctrine and Covenants 129:1—What Is the Difference between an Angel and a Spirit?

Any messenger from God could be referred to as an angel, but inDoctrine and Covenants 129the termangelis limited to “resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones” (v. 1). “Spirits are children of God who have not yet entered [been born into] mortality, and are thus unembodied [without bodies]; or spirits are those whose spirits are separated from their bodies in death” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual,320).

In earlier instructions given to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Nauvoo, the Prophet Joseph Smith “explained the difference between an angel and a ministering spirit; the one [an angel] a resurrected or translated body, with its spirit ministering to embodied spirits—the other [a ministering spirit] a disembodied spirit, visiting and ministering to disembodied spirits. Jesus Christ became a ministering spirit (while His body was lying in the sepulchre) to the spirits in prison, to fulfill an important part of His mission, without which He could not have perfected His work, or enter into His rest. After His resurrection He appeared as an angel [a resurrected being] to His disciples” (inHistory of the Church,4:425; also1 Peter 3:18–20).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 129.

Activity A iconHow Can You Know?

In your own words, list the “three grand keys” revealed by the Prophet Joseph Smith inDoctrine and Covenants 129. Include how you can know whether it is an angel or a spirit sent from God or whether it is the devil.