Doctrine and Covenants 57: The Center Place of Zion Is Revealed

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 66–67

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day” (History of the Church,4:609–10).While translating the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that the American continent would be the site for the latter-day New Jerusalem, or city of Zion (Ether 13:5–8). The Book of Mormon also promises great blessings to those who k to establish Zion in the last days (1 Nephi 13:37). Before the organization of the Church, individuals who went to the Prophet, king to know how they could help in the work, were told to k to establish the cause of Zion (D&C 6:6;11:6;12:6;14:6).After the Church was organized, Zion remained an important topic. Hiram Page created controversy and confusion among Church members by claiming to have received revelation concerning the location of Zion (D&C 28). The Lord, however, corrected Brother Page and said that the city of Zion was “on the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9). The Prophet Joseph Smith learned more about Zion as he worked on the inspired translation of the Bible. The Lord revealed to him a whole section of missing scripture from Genesis that told of the prophet Enoch, who established a city of Zion in the days before the Flood (Moses 6–7). Soon after, the Lord revealed to the Prophet the “law,” which was a revelation concerning the spiritual and temporal laws that the Church needed to live in order to establish Zion (D&C 42). In that same revelation, the Lord promised the Prophet that He would reveal the exact location of the place of Zion.In June 1831 the Lord called several sets of missionaries to travel to Missouri—which was on the border between the United States and Indian (or Lamanite) territory. He promised that after they arrived He would reveal the location of Zion (D&C 52). Some of the group traveling with the Prophet Joseph Smith arrived on July 17, 1831. Other missionaries arrived shortly thereafter. As the Prophet considered the land and the situation, his questions and pleadings to the Lord resulted in the revelation found inDoctrine and Covenants 57.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 57

Compliance(section heading)Obedience 
Varied(section heading)Different kinds 
Contemplating(section heading)Thinking about 
Subsequently(section heading)Afterward 
Consecrated(v. 1)Dedicated, designated as holy 
Tract(vv. 4–5)Piece of land 
Fraud(v. 8)Dishonesty 

Doctrine and Covenants 57:3–4—Purchasing the Center Place

“The city of Independence is situated in one of the most attractive and healthful parts of Missouri. … It is an old town. It was laid out in 1827, but in 1831 it was only a village. It is now a suburb of Kansas City” (Smith and Sjodahl,Doctrine and Covenants Commentary,331).

Doctrine and Covenants 57:4—“The Line Running Directly between Jew and Gentile”

The western border of the state of Missouri was part of the border of the organized United States at the time the revelation in section 57 was given. The land west of Missouri was Indian Territory. The Indians (or Lamanites) are called “Jews” here because they are direct descendants of the house of Israel. The term “Gentile” refers to the white settlers of Missouri (D&C 19:27). By Book of Mormon standards, America is considered a Gentile nation. ( maps 5–6 in the back of your triple combination.)

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or B as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 57.

Activity A iconWhat Should Be at the Center?

  1. 1.

    List the three questions the Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord that are mentioned in the heading toDoctrine and Covenants 57.

  2. 2.

    Review verses 1–5 and explain which question the Prophet received an answer to and write what the answer was.

  3. 3.

    What can we learn from this about what is necessary and important in establishing and building up Zion in our day?

Activity B iconHow to Conduct a Business

There are certain temporal (earthly or material) matters that need to be taken care of in order for Zion to be established. Consequently, much ofDoctrine and Covenants 57has to do with various temporal assignments given to men to help lay the foundation of Zion. The counsel given, however, might apply to anyone who would operate a business acceptable in the sight of the Lord. Read the counsel the Lord gave Sidney Gilbert (vv. 6, 8–10), Bishop Edward Partridge (v. 7), William W. Phelps (vv. 11–12), and Oliver Cowdery (v. 13). From this counsel, write in your notebook at least four important principles regarding how to conduct a business and explain how we might apply those principles today.