Doctrine and Covenants 118: New Apostles

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 134–135


Some members of the Church lost their testimonies during the problems in Kirtland in 1837–38. The situation was so difficult that four members of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (William E. McLellin, Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson, and John Boynton) fell into apostasy and were excommunicated. This left vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve that needed to be filled. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for the Prophet Joseph Smith to lose some of his closest associates? We must admire those who remained faithful in the face of persecution and difficulty. You will recognize the names of some of those called as new Apostles at that time to complete the quorum—two of them later became Presidents of the Church.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 118

Fallen(v. 1)Apostatized 
Effectual(v. 3)Effective 
Promulgate(v. 4)Announce, declare 

Doctrine and Covenants 118:4—Where Were the Apostles to Go the Next Spring?

The “great waters” mentioned inDoctrine and Covenants 118:4are the Atlantic Ocean. The Lord called the Twelve Apostles to cross the ocean and take the gospel to England.

Doctrine and Covenants 118:5—Did the Apostles Return to Far West?

“The people of Missouri apparently knew of the Lord’s injunction to meet on 26 April 1839, nearly a year later, and they were determined to impede the work of the Twelve and stop Mormonism. During the time between the revelation and the appointed day, ‘the whole Church was driven out of the State of Missouri, and it was as much as a man’s life was worth to be found in the State if it was known that he was a Latter-day Saint; and especially was this the case with the Twelve. When the time came for the corner stone of the Temple to be laid, as directed in the revelation, the Church was in Illinois, having been expelled from Missouri by an edict from the Governor. Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Parley P. Pratt were in chains in Missouri for the testimony of Jesus. As the time drew nigh for the accomplishment of this work, the question arose. “What is to be done?” Here is a revelation commanding the Twelve to be in Far West on the 26th day of April, to lay the cornerstone of the Temple there; it has to be fulfilled. The Missourians had sworn by all the gods of eternity that if every other revelation given through Joseph Smith werefulfilled, that should not be, for the day and date being given they declared that it would fail. The general feeling in the Church, so far as I know, was that, under the circumstances, it was impossible to accomplish the work; and the Lord would accept the will for the deed.’ (Wilford Woodruff, inJournal of Discourses,13:159.)

Apostles meet at Far West

“But the Apostles were not to be put off their commanded duty: ‘On the night of April 25, 1839, the little band of apostles with a small company of faithful brethren, high priests, elders and priests, arrived at Far West. Shortly after midnight, on the morning of April 26th, they assembled on the temple lot in Far West, and there they held a conference.’ (Smith,Church History and Modern Revelation,pp. 196–97.)

“Brigham Young presided; John Taylor, the clerk, wrote:

“‘The council then proceeded to the building spot of the Lord’s House; when the following business was transacted: Part of a hymn was sung, on the mission of the twelve.

“‘Elder Alpheus Cutler, the master workman of the house, then recommenced laying the foundation of the Lord’s House, agreeably to revelation, by rolling up a large stone near the southeast corner.

“‘The following of the twelve were present: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, John E. Page, and John Taylor, who proceeded to ordain Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith … to fill the places of those who had fallen.’ (History of the Church,3:336–38.)

“After several of the Apostles had offered prayers, the assembly sang ‘Adam-ondi-Ahman,’ and the Apostles left” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual,291–92).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or B as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 118.

Activity A iconList the Reasons

Read the “Understanding the Scriptures” section along withDoctrine and Covenants 118.

  1. 1.

    List reasons why it would have been difficult for the Apostles to meet in Far West, Missouri; list reasons why they went.

  2. 2.

    From what the Lord said inDoctrine and Covenants 118, what might have helped them have the courage to go?

Activity B iconExplain How

InDoctrine and Covenants 118, find what the Lord gave as some characteristics of effective missionaries. Explain how those characteristics can lead to success in missionary work.