Doctrine and Covenants 23: "Under No Condemnation"

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 35


During this early period in the Church’s history, five brethren went to the Prophet Joseph Smith for a personal revelation about what they should be doing. Although there are similarities in the counsel given to each one, pay careful attention to some important differences.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 23

Condemnation(vv. 1, 3–5)Declaration of guilt 
Henceforth(v. 2)From now on 
Exhortation(v. 3)Preaching, encouraging 
Manifest(v. 6)Reveal 

Doctrine and Covenants 23:1—“Oliver, … Beware of Pride”

President James E. Faust, a counselor in the First Presidency, after reading the Lord’s warning to Oliver Cowdery inDoctrine and Covenants 23:1, said:

“Oliver had great intellect and enjoyed marvelous spiritual blessings. However, over time he forgot the Lord’s warning, and pride entered into his heart. Brigham Young later said of this pride:

“‘I have n men who belonged to this kingdom, and who really thought that if they were not associated with it, it could not progress. One man especially, whom I now think of, … was peculiarly gifted in self-reliance and general ability. He said as much to the Prophet Joseph a number of times as to say that if he left this kingdom, it could not progress any further. I speak of Oliver Cowdery. He forsook it, and it still rolled on, and still triumphed over every opposing foe, and bore off safely all those who clung to it’ (inJournal of Discourses,11:252)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 4; orEnsign,May 1996, 5–6).

Ten years after leaving the Church, Oliver Cowdery returned and was rebaptized, but he had lost the blessings he would have had if he had remained faithful ( “People and Terms in the Doctrine and Covenants,” pp. 231–32).

Doctrine and Covenants 23:6—What Does It Mean to “Take Up Your Cross”?

The Lord said that “for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself of all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments” (JST,Matthew 16:26).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 23.

Activity A iconCompare the Instructions

ReviewDoctrine and Covenants 23and answer the following questions:

  1. 1.

    Who was warned against pride? What do you learn in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section that shows that counsel was needed?

  2. 2.

    What was the difference between the state of Oliver Cowdery’s heart and Hyrum Smith’s?

  3. 3.

    Of the five men addressed in this revelation, only Joseph Knight Sr. had not yet been baptized. What did the Lord say to him that he did not say to the others? What did the Lord say to the others that He did not say to Joseph Knight?

  4. 4.

    What is the “reward of the laborer” (v. 7)? (D&C 4:2–4).