Doctrine and Covenants 51: Further Instruction about the Law of Consecration

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 61–62

InDoctrine and Covenants 48:2, the Lord commanded Church members in Ohio to divide their lands for the use of the Saints gathering there from the eastern United States. A group from Colesville, New York, arrived shortly before the revelation inDoctrine and Covenants 51. They were in Thompson, Ohio (near Kirtland), where Leman Copley (who was introduced inD&C 49) had over 700 acres of land he was making available for the gathering Saints. Previous revelations (D&C 41–42) had set up the bishop as the one who was responsible for helping with the temporal affairs of Church members. Bishop Edward Partridge asked the Prophet Joseph Smith for guidance on how he should act in his office and help the Colesville Saints settle in Thompson. The Prophet took Bishop Partridge’s questions to the Lord and in section 51 is the Lord’s further instruction regarding the law of consecration. (This law was revealed inD&C 42:30–55.)As you studyDoctrine and Covenants 51, think about what you do to help the needy in your area. How do the principles in this revelation help you better understand what you ought to do?

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 51

Migrating(section heading)Moving 
Portions(vv. 3–5)The amount of land, goods, and so forth needed to live 
Deeded unto him(v. 5)Recorded on a legal document as his property 
Steward(v. 19)Person in charge of and having responsibilities for something 

Doctrine and Covenants 51:5—“He Shall Not Retain the Gift”

Doctrine and Covenants 51:3–5explains that when people are living under the law of consecration, they give, or consecrate,everything to the Church. The bishop then gives them what they need and want “according to [their] circumstances” (v. 3). Furthermore, the bishop gives them the deed to the property—meaning they own whatever they receive from the bishop. When the amount a person gives to the Church is more than what he or she needs in return, that extra is put in the bishops’ storehouse to be used to take care of the needy. This is “the gift” spoken of in verse 5. This revelation states that if a person leaves the Church, what was deeded to him or her may be kept, but what was put into the storehouse would not be given back.

Doctrine and Covenants 51:10–11—Giving Consecrated Monies to “Another Church”

“Another church” refers to another branch of the Church. The meaning of the counsel given here is that “the property owned by the Colesville Branch could not be claimed by any other Branch” (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl,Doctrine and Covenants Commentary,rev. ed. [1972], 299). Bishops are encouraged to help the poor, regardless of what church they belong to.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 51.

Activity A iconWhat Does It Mean?

According toDoctrine and Covenants 51:3, what does it mean that everyone will receive an “equal” portion under the law of consecration?

Activity B iconHow Is It Done Today?

  1. 1.

    Ask a Church leader how the bishop takes care of the needy in the Church today. Write what you learn in your notebook.

  2. 2.

    Explain what you can do to assist the poor that is similar to the way given inDoctrine and Covenants 51. Include also what the “storehouse” is in today’s Church and what you can give to it.