Doctrine and Covenants 5: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon Are Promised

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 19–20


Martin Harris repented for his disobedience that caused the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon translation to be lost (Doctrine and Covenants 3), but he still wanted some physical proof that the Prophet Joseph Smith actually had the plates. Contrary to what many people in the world believe, the Lord always provides evidence to support the truths His servants teach. That evidence is often provided by specially called witnesses. The Lord promised that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). The Book of Mormon contains a prophecy that three witnesses would be shown the plates “by the power of God” (2 Nephi 27:12). InDoctrine and Covenants 5, Martin Harris was promised that he would be granted his desires and be one of those witnesses if he met certain conditions.Doctrine and Covenants 17is a revelation to the three men who became these special witnesses. As you read these sections, look for why the Lord did not allow the Prophet Joseph Smith to show the plates to everyone.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 5

Ordained(vv. 6, 17)Given authority, appointed 
Reserved(v. 9)Kept secret 
Entrusted unto you(v. 9)Trusted you to care for 
Desolating scourge(v. 19)Destructive plague 
Verified(v. 20)Shown to be true 
Acknowledge(v. 28)Admit, confess 
Prolonged(v. 33)Extended 

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 5.

Activity A iconExplain It to a Friend

Suppose you were discussing the Book of Mormon with a nonmember friend and were asked if the gold plates were in a museum. UseDoctrine and Covenants 5:1–9to explain why the angel Moroni took the plates back after Joseph Smith was finished with the translation.

Activity B iconWrite a Definition

Doctrine and Covenants 5:10–16tells of three witnesses who would testify of the truth of the Book of Mormon.

  1. 1.

    From your study of those verses, write a simple definition of the wordwitnessso that a Primary child could understand why these men were called witnesses.

  2. 2.

    ReviewDoctrine and Covenants 5:25and “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” in the front of the Book of Mormon. Explain what it means to you to know that these men saw the plates and testified of the truth of the Book of Mormon.

Activity C iconWhat Will Happen If … ?

InDoctrine and Covenants 5:16–24, the Lord made several promises about what would happen if people do or do not do certain things.

  1. 1.

    What did the Lord promise those who believe His words? (v. 16).

  2. 2.

    What did He say would happen if people hardened their hearts and did not repent? (vv. 18–20).

  3. 3.

    What did the Lord command Joseph Smith to do? What would happen if he obeyed? (vv. 21–22).

  4. 4.

    What did the Lord command Martin Harris to do? What would happen if he obeyed? (v. 24).