Doctrine and Covenants 98: A Response to Persecution

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 111–112

On July 20, 1833, an anti-Mormon mob charged into the Church’s printing office, which was also the home of W. W. Phelps. They destroyed the printing press and most of the copies of the nearly completed Book of Commandments, threw furniture into the street, and tore up much of the building. They then caught Bishop Edward Partridge and Brother Charles Allen and demanded that these two men deny their testimonies of the Book of Mormon or be forced to leave the county. They refused, and the mob tarred and feathered them.Three days later, mobs returned and destroyed homes and businesses belonging to Church members. Some of the Church leaders offered their lives to the mob if the mob would promise to leave the rest of the Saints alone, but this offer was refused. Instead they forced Church leaders to sign an agreement to leave Jackson County, Missouri, by January. Oliver Cowdery was sent to Ohio to inform the Prophet Joseph Smith about these events. Before Brother Cowdery arrived, the Prophet had received the revelation found inDoctrine and Covenants 98and sent it back to the Saints in Missouri.Imagine how those Church members might have felt. Perhaps you have had experiences that help you understand. In such situations we might ask: “Why do bad things sometimes happen when we are trying to do what the Lord has asked? What should we do about it? What lessons can we learn during these times? If someone is hurting us, is it right to k revenge?” As you readDoctrine and Covenants 98, remember that its words are those of the Lord Jesus Christ. It teaches how He wants us to respond to persecution. Try to not only understand what this revelation meant to the Saints in Missouri, but consider also how it applies to you today.
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Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 98

Inclination(section heading)Natural feeling 
Retaliation(section heading)Repaying a wrong action with another wrong action 
Immutable(v. 3)Cannot be changed 
Justifiable(v. 5)Acceptable, able to be defended as right 
Cleave(v. 11)Hold, cling 
Precept(v. 12)Commandment, direction 
Abide in(v. 15)Live in, obey 
Renounce(v. 16)Reject 
Detestable(v. 20)Wicked, offensive to the Lord 
Revile(vv. 23, 25)Insult, speak abusively 
Accounted unto you(v. 24)Considered 
Meted out as a just measure unto you(v. 24)Something that was deserved 
Ancients(v. 33)People who lived a long time ago 
Vengeance(vv. 28, 48)Justifiable punishment 
Avenged, avenge(vv. 37, 45)Administered justifiable punishment 

Doctrine and Covenants 98:16—“Renounce War and Proclaim Peace”

In a statement given during World War II, after quoting the first part ofDoctrine and Covenants 98:16, the First Presidency said:

“Thus the Church is and must be against war. The Church itself cannot wage war, unless and until the Lord shall issue new commands. It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing—by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.

“But the Church membership are citizens or subjects of sovereignties over which the Church has no control. The Lord Himself has told us to ‘befriend that law which is the constitutional law of the land’: [They quoteDoctrine and Covenants 98:4–7.]

“While by its terms this revealed word related more especially to this land of America, nevertheless the principles announced are worldwide in their application, and they are specifically addressed to ‘you’ (Joseph Smith), ‘and your brethren of my church.’ When, therefore, constitutional law, obedient to these principles, calls the manhood of the Church into the armed service of any country to which they owe allegiance, their highest civic duty requires that they meet that call” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 94).

Doctrine and Covenants 98:23—“Bear It Patiently”

Bishop Edward Partridge was an example of the counsel the Lord gave in the last half ofDoctrine and Covenants 98. Speaking of the time in Jackson County, Missouri, when he was tarred and feathered by a mob, he wrote: “I bore my abuse with so much resignation and meekness, that it appeared to astound the multitude, who permitted me to retire in silence, many looking very solemn, their sympathies having been touched as I thought; and as to myself, I was so filled with the Spirit and love of God, that I had no hatred towards my persecutors or anyone else” (inHistory of the Church,1:391).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 98.

Activity A iconNot Easy

InDoctrine and Covenants 98, the Lord’s counsel to the persecuted Saints in Missouri might not be n as a natural or easy response to the situation.

  1. 1.

    Think about the situation of the Missouri Saints who were being persecuted and driven from their homes. What counsel inDoctrine and Covenants 98:1–3do you think they might have found difficult?

  2. 2.

    Write about a time when you experienced, or saw someone else experience, much affliction but could “fear not,” “be comforted,” “rejoice evermore,” “give thanks,” or later that it worked “together for your good.”

Activity B iconGive Some Advice

Imagine that a new convert to the Church asked you the Church’s position on an upcoming election. UsingDoctrine and Covenants 98:4–10as a guide, what ideas would you explain to this person? Write at least three ideas, noting the verses that support each idea.

Activity C iconCommandments and Promises

  1. 1.

    Make two columns in your notebook and label them “Commandments” and “Promises.” List each commandment and promise you find inDoctrine and Covenants 98:11–18in the appropriate column.

  2. 2.

    If you had been living in Missouri at the time this revelation was given, which of those commandments and promises would have most affected you? Why?