Unit 7: Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 28

“Unit 7: Day 3, Doctrine and Covenants 28,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)


Between April and September of 1830, some Church members misunderstood the principles that govern revelation in the Church. These misunderstandings produced challenges for the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 28, the Lord revealed truths that provided solutions to these challenges.

Doctrine and Covenants 28:1–7

The Lord explains that revelation to govern His Church is given through His appointed prophet

There are many examples in the world of things that are merely imitations of things that are authentic, real, and better. When might it be harmful to mistake an imitation for something that is real?

Spiritual imitations are a significant danger. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned: “The devil is the father of lies, and he is ever anxious to frustrate the work of God by his clever imitations” (“Two Lines of Communication,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 84).

Read the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 28 in your scriptures. As you read, look for an imitation Satan used to deceive some early members of the Church. You may want to mark what you find.

Because of the seeming similarities between Hiram Page’s claims of receiving revelation through a stone and the way they thought God revealed truth to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Church members, including Oliver Cowdery, may have been more likely to believe in the false revelations Satan conveyed to Hiram Page. As you study the Lord’s words to Oliver in Doctrine and Covenants 28, look for important truths that can help prevent you from being misled by Satan’s imitations or counterfeits.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 28:1–5. One important truth we learn is that the President of the Church is the only person who can receive revelation for the whole Church. You may want to write this principle in the margin of your scriptures near these verses.

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, answer the following questions:

    1. How can knowing this principle help Church members avoid being deceived?

    2. What were the differences between Oliver Cowdery’s responsibilities as second elder in the Church and Joseph Smith’s responsibilities as President of the Church?

Not long before the Lord gave the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 28, something happened that illustrates how Oliver Cowdery did not yet fully understand the differences between his responsibilities in the Church and the role of Joseph Smith as the prophet and President of the Church.

While living in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Joseph Smith received a letter from Oliver Cowdery, who was in Fayette, New York. The Prophet recorded:

Brother Joseph

“He wrote to inform me that he had discovered an error in one of the commandments [in the revelation that is now found in section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants], and added: ‘I command you in the name of God to erase those words, that no priestcraft be amongst us!’

“I immediately wrote to him in reply, in which I asked him by what authority he took upon him to command me to alter or erase, to add to or diminish from, a revelation or commandment from Almighty God.

“A few days afterwards I visited him and Mr. Whitmer’s family, when I found the family in general opinion concerning the words … , and it was not without both labor and perseverance that I could prevail with any of them to reason calmly on the subject. However, … finally, … I succeeded in bringing not only the Whitmer family, but also Oliver Cowdery to acknowledge that they had been in error” (in History of the Church, 1:105).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 28:6–7, and identify the Lord’s direction to Oliver Cowdery. Verse 6 helps us understand that in the Church of Jesus Christ, individual members do not receive revelation to direct someone who presides over them.

Joseph Smith

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “It is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instructions for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them; but if any person have a vision or a visitation from a heavenly messenger, it must be for his own benefit and instruction; for the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 197–98).

  1. journal iconAnswer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can understanding and following the principles governing receiving revelation in the Church help us support and sustain our Church leaders?

Doctrine and Covenants 28:8–10

The Lord calls Oliver Cowdery to preach the gospel to the Lamanites

Look at the roles and callings listed below, and circle those that you think individuals have the right to receive revelation to help them in their responsibilities.


General Authority

Home or visiting teacher

Bishop or branch president

Sunday School teacher


Mia Maid or teachers quorum president

Relief Society president

We can learn who has the right to receive revelation to help them in their responsibilities from what the Lord told Oliver Cowdery in Doctrine and Covenants 28:8–10. Read these verses, and identify what the Lord called Oliver to do.

In the Book of Mormon, the term Lamanites refers to a specific group of people, some of whom were descendants of Laman, the eldest son of Lehi. The term Lamanites in Doctrine and Covenants 28:8 refers to the Native Americans living on the western border of the United States, some of whom may have been descendants of that Book of Mormon people.

Mark the promise and counsel the Lord gave Oliver in Doctrine and Covenants 28:8 that would help us know who has the right to receive revelation to help them in their responsibilities.

The Lord told Oliver Cowdery that he could receive revelation to help him in his missionary labors. Doctrine and Covenants 28:8 helps us understand that we may receive revelation for our own benefit and to help us in the callings and assignments we are given.

You could have circled each of the roles and callings listed at the beginning of this section because each of those individuals has the right to receive revelation for their respective responsibilities. For whom do you think it would be helpful for these individuals to receive revelation? How could receiving revelation for those they have responsibilities for help them?

Think about how revelation may help you in your personal life or in a Church calling or assignment you have.

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned that personal revelation does not qualify a person to receive revelation to direct someone who presides over him or her and gave counsel about personal revelation:

President Boyd K. Packer

“Revelation comes in an orderly way in the Church. We are entitled to personal revelation. However, unless we are set apart to some presiding office, we will not receive revelations concerning what others should do.

“Revelation in the Church comes to those who have been properly called, sustained, ordained, or set apart. …

“An unusual spiritual experience should not be regarded as a personal call to direct others. It is my conviction that experiences of a special, sacred nature are individual and should be kept to oneself.

“Few things disturb the channels of revelation quite so effectively as those who are misled and think themselves to be chosen to instruct others when they are not chosen” (“Revelation in a Changing World,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14–15).

Doctrine and Covenants 28:11–16

The Lord directs Oliver Cowdery to correct Hiram Page and help settle the Church

Review the section heading to Doctrine and Covenants 28. Then read the Lord’s instructions to Oliver Cowdery in Doctrine and Covenants 28:11–14. What was Oliver commanded to do to help resolve the problem with Hiram Page?

From Doctrine and Covenants 28:11–14 we learn that Church leaders have the responsibility to correct those who are leading others astray. Notice the phrase “thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone” (D&C 28:11). This teaches that correction should be done privately and carefully.

Doctrine and Covenants 28:13 also teaches that in the Church of Jesus Christ, all things must be done in order.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 28:15–16 to learn the Lord’s concluding counsel to Oliver Cowdery. Soon after the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 28, a conference was convened. Joseph Smith wrote, “The subject of the stone previously mentioned was discussed, and after considerable investigation, Brother [Hiram] Page, as well as the whole Church who were present, renounced the said stone, and all things connected therewith, much to our mutual satisfaction and happiness” (in History of the Church, 1:115).

  1. journal iconTo help you apply the principles and doctrines taught in Doctrine and Covenants 28, read each of the following scenarios, and then, in your scripture study journal, write one of the bolded truths from today’s lesson that you feel best applies. The first one is answered for you as an example.

    1. You are preparing to speak in sacrament meeting and have found many scriptures, quotations, and stories you could include in your talk. You aren’t sure which ones to use or what you should say.

      Principle: We may receive revelation for our own benefit and to help us in the callings and assignments we are given.

    2. You receive an email message that claims to have information about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. However, the information is not in harmony with the teachings of the living prophet.

    3. A friend is upset with her bishop, who has just called a new president of the Young Women in her ward. Your friend feels a different sister should have been called.

    4. Your older sister has been dating a member of the Church. He told her that, as a priesthood holder, he received revelation that she should marry him. However, she has prayed about this decision and has not received a clear answer but has felt unsettled and pressured.

  2. journal iconWrite the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 28 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: