Unit 11: Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 47–48

“Unit 11: Day 4, Doctrine and Covenants 47–48,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)


In March 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 47 and 48. In Doctrine and Covenants 47, the Lord appointed John Whitmer to replace Oliver Cowdery as Church historian and recorder. In Doctrine and Covenants 48, the Lord instructed the Saints in Ohio to help those Church members coming from New York. The Lord also directed Church members to prepare to purchase land for the building of the city of Zion in Missouri.

Doctrine and Covenants 47

The Lord appoints John Whitmer to keep a recorded history of the Church

Think of a past event with spiritual significance that you participated in and feel is worth remembering (for example: a temple dedication, a Church meeting, or a family activity like a wedding or funeral).

If possible, tell a family member about this event and share your answers to the following questions. (If a family member is not available, simply ponder these questions.)

  • What impressed you most about this event?

  • What value is there in remembering this event?

  • How could knowledge of this event bless your posterity 100 years from now?

Revelation Book I

John Whitmer copied revelations Joseph Smith had previously received into a book now known as Revelation Book I. This book contains many of the earliest transcripts of these revelations.

Read the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 47 and verses 1–3 of this section to discover what the Lord called John Whitmer to do. Why do you think it is important for someone to write the history of the Church?

Think of an event from Church history that is inspiring to you. How did you learn about that event?

We know about past events in Church history because someone made and kept records of them to be preserved for our day and future generations. Recall that in a previous revelation the Lord said, “There shall be a record kept among you” (D&C 21:1). There is a historian and recorder today in the Church who is appointed by the First Presidency. However, the historian cannot observe and record everything happening in the Church, so he is instructed to collect histories from others. In a general sense, the experiences of Church members are part of the history of the Church and can influence future generations.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, who served as Church historian and recorder from 2005–12, taught, “Many of the Church’s greatest stories are contained in personal and family histories, and these are a part of our individual and family heritages” (“There Shall Be a Record Kept among You,” Ensign or Liahona, Dec. 2007, 31).

  1. journal iconAnswer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why does your personal history matter?

  2. journal iconThink about spiritually significant events in your life that you feel are worth remembering. Imagine that your children and grandchildren are going to read your personal account of one of these events. In your scripture study journal, tell what the event was and answer the following questions:

    1. What part of the event would you write about?

    2. What would you want your descendants to feel and know about the event?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 47:4 to learn what the Lord promised John Whitmer would be given in his efforts “to keep the church record and history continually” (D&C 47:3).

Based on what you read in Doctrine and Covenants 47:4, complete the following principle: If we , the Spirit can help us .

The Holy Ghost can bring things to our remembrance (see John 14:26) and help us write about events and situations in ways that will bless family members and others in future generations. Pray for and live worthy of the help of the Spirit as you make an effort to keep a personal history.

Ponder other ways you can improve in your efforts to keep a personal journal or write a personal history of significant events, ordinances, and people in your life.

Doctrine and Covenants 48

The Saints in Ohio are to assist those coming from New York and prepare for their inheritance in Zion

Imagine that Church members in a distant area were recently affected by a natural disaster and had to be evacuated from their homes. Church leaders have asked you and your family to house some of the displaced people for several months. What questions and concerns would you and your family have? What concerns and feelings do you think those moving into your home would have?

Look at Church history map 3 in your scriptures: “The New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Area of the USA.” Locate Palmyra, New York, and Kirtland, Ohio. Approximately how many miles or kilometers separate these cities?

In February 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith moved from Palmyra, New York, to Kirtland, Ohio. Many Church members followed during the next few months. These members had left many earthly goods and resources to follow God’s command and come to Ohio, and they were in need of assistance. What do you think the Lord might require of you if you were living in Ohio and witnessed some of these Saints moving into your area with no home and very little means to live?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 48:1–3 to discover what the Lord told Church members in Ohio to do for Church members moving into the region. One principle we learn from these verses is that the Lord commands Latter-day Saints to share what they have with those in need. You may wish to write this principle next to verse 2.

Notice in Doctrine and Covenants 48:3 that the Lord expected those with resources and means who were moving to Ohio to purchase land there. Likewise, the Lord expects us to use our resources when we have them and not rely on others to provide for us.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following question in your scripture study journal: What are some ways we can share what we have with others in the Church today?

Consider how a young man fulfilled the commandment to impart to those in need as you read the following account told by President James E. Faust of the First Presidency:

President James E. Faust

“Some years ago a priests quorum decided to gather food for the needy as a service project. Jim, one of the priests, was excited to participate and was determined to collect more food than anyone else. The time arrived when the priests met at the chapel. They all went out at the same time and returned at a specified time later in the evening. To everyone’s surprise, Jim’s cart was empty. He seemed rather [quiet], and some of the boys made fun of him. Seeing this and knowing that Jim had an interest in cars, the adviser said, ‘Come outside, Jim. I want you to look at my car. It’s giving me some trouble.’

“When they got outside, the adviser asked Jim if he was upset. Jim said, ‘No, not really. But when I went out to collect the food, I really got a lot. My cart was full. As I was returning to the chapel, I stopped at the home of a nonmember woman who is divorced and lives within our ward boundaries. I knocked on the door and explained what we were doing, and she invited me in. She began to look for something to give me. She opened the refrigerator, and I could see there was hardly anything in it. The cupboards were bare. Finally, she found a small can of peaches.

“‘I could hardly believe it. There were all these little kids running around that needed to be fed, and she handed me this can of peaches. I took it and put it in my cart and went on up the street. I got about halfway up the block when I just felt warm all over and knew I needed to go back to that house. I gave her all the food.’

“The adviser said, ‘Jim, don’t you ever forget the way you feel tonight, because that’s what it is all about’” (“Spiritual Nutrients,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 54).

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. What do you think was happening to Jim when he felt that he should go back?

    2. When the adviser said that the way Jim felt was “what it is all about,” what do you think he meant?

  2. journal iconIdentify one way you can help meet the needs of someone else, perhaps by sharing what you have. For example, you could help a family member, a friend, someone in one of your Church classes or quorum, or someone in your neighborhood or school. In your scripture study journal, write down what you will do to help the person you thought of, and then follow through with your plan.

In Doctrine and Covenants 48:4–6 the Lord explained that He wanted the Saints to prepare to purchase land when He would reveal the location of the city of Zion, or New Jerusalem. The Lord asked them to save all of the money they could in preparation for laying the foundation of this city.

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

    I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 47–48 and completed this lesson on (date).

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