Doctrine and Covenants 124: Sacred Buildings and Sacred Callings

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 141–143


There were many details that needed attention during the Church’s early days in Nauvoo, Illinois.Doctrine and Covenants 124contains instructions about two important buildings and numerous callings to individuals. As you study this revelation, look for what the Lord taught about the importance of temples and temple ordinances. Would you like the Lord to provide you with practical instruction that directly relates to the challenges you are facing? How does He do this today?

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 124

Proclamation(v. 2)Official announcement 
Befall(v. 5)Happen to 
Day of visitation(vv. 8, 10)The Second Coming of Jesus Christ 
Integrity(v. 15)Faithfulness, honesty, goodness 
Guile(v. 20)Deceitfulness 
Antiquities(v. 26)Old and valuable possessions, heirlooms 
Refuge(v. 36)Shelter, place of safety 
Memorials(v. 39)Record, register 
Oracles(v. 39, 126)Revelations 
Statutes(v. 39)Laws 
Deign(v. 41)Consider appropriate 
Consolation(v. 53)Comfort 
Plants of renown(v. 61)Church leaders 
Constitution(v. 63)Basic rules or regulations 
Stock(v. 63)Investments, money given for a share of a company’s value 
Essaying(v. 85)king, attempting, trying 
Redound to(v. 87)Contribute to 
New translation(v. 89)The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible 
Abase(v. 114)Humble 
Recompense(v. 121)Payment, reward 

Doctrine and Covenants 124:2—“Polished with the Refinement Which Is after the Similitude of a Palace”

The Lord commanded the Saints to make the stake of the Church at Nauvoo, Illinois, to be a “cornerstone of Zion” and as beautiful as a palace. Whenever the Lord has gathered His faithful Saints together, He has commanded them to “arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5).

Doctrine and Covenants 124:2–6—“Make a Solemn Proclamation … to All the Nations”

“The fulfillment of this directive from the Lord did not come until 1845. A number of individuals were to assist in preparing the document, but circumstances m to have prevented it until later, when it was issued by the Twelve (History of the Church,6:80; 7:320, 558)” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual,304).

Doctrine and Covenants 124:6—What “Favor” Had Come upon Zion?

“In the year 1841, when this Revelation was given, this beautiful city had about 3,000 inhabitants. A charter had been granted by the Illinois Legislature, by which Nauvoo was given a liberal municipal government, with authority to form a militia and erect a university. A Temple was about to be built. The scattered Saints were gathering, and the settlements in Illinois were growing rapidly. The mission in Great Britain was highly successful. Such were the general conditions when this Revelation was given. The Church had a moment’s rest. There was calm before the next storm” (Smith and Sjodahl,Doctrine and Covenants Commentary,768).

Doctrine and Covenants 124:19, 130—“David Patten I Have Taken unto Myself”

Elder David W. Patten, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had been killed October 25, 1838, at the battle of Crooked River in Missouri. Elder Heber C. Kimball, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, went to visit Elder Patten as he lay dying. Elder Kimball wrote:

“The principles of the Gospel which were so precious to him before, were honorably maintained in nature’s final hour and afforded him that support and consolation at the time of his departure, which deprived death of its sting and horror. Speaking of those who had fallen from their steadfastness, he exclaimed, ‘O that they were in my situation! for I feel I have kept the faith, I have finished my course, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give me.’

“Speaking to his beloved wife who was present and who attended him in his dying moments, he said, ‘whatever you do else, O, do not deny the faith!’” (in “History of Brigham Young,”Millennial Star,July 16, 1864, 454–55).

Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–24, 56–83, 119–121—The Nauvoo House

Nauvoo House

“The Prophet considered the construction of the Nauvoo House hotel nearly as urgent as construction of the temple. He envisioned it as a means for the Saints to entertain and teach the truth to ‘men of wealth, character and influence’ [History of the Church,5:328; also 5:137]. The cornerstone of the building was laid on 2 October 1841, and several valuable records, including the original Book of Mormon manuscript, were deposited in it. The brethren were constantly encouraged from the pulpit to work on the hotel; however, work progressed slowly because means and labor were meager. In March 1844 Joseph Smith postponed further construction on the hotel in order to press forward on the temple” (Church History in the Fulness of Times,243).

Doctrine and Covenants 124:25–36—Baptism for the Dead

In a talk given in June 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught about the importance of temples and temple ordinances, including baptism for the dead:

“It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was, that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world. Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered, and He therefore poured out curses upon them. Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.

“It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc. One of the ordinances of the house of the Lord is baptism for the dead. God decreed before the foundation of the world that that ordinance should be administered in a font prepared for that purpose in the house of the Lord” (History of the Church,5:423–24).

The first mention of baptism for the dead in modern scripture is found inDoctrine and Covenants 124:29–36. But that was not the first time it was taught in this dispensation. In a letter to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dated October 1840, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote:

“I presume the doctrine of ‘baptism for the dead’ has ere this reached your ears, and may have raised some inquiries in your minds respecting the same. I cannot in this letter give you all the information you may desire on the subject; but aside from knowledge independent of the Bible, I would say that it was certainly practiced by the ancient churches; and St. Paul endeavors to prove the doctrine of the resurrection from the same, and says, ‘Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?’ [1 Corinthians 15:29.]

“I first mentioned the doctrine in public when preaching the funeral sermon of Brother Seymour Brunson [15 August 1840]; and have since then given general instructions in the Church on the subject. The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead, whom they believe would have embraced the Gospel, if they had been privileged with hearing it, and who have received the Gospel in the spirit, through the instrumentality of those who have been commissioned to preach to them while in prison.

“Without enlarging on the subject, you will undoubtedly its consistency and reasonableness; and it presents the Gospel of Christ in probably a more enlarged scale than some have imagined it” (History of the Church,4:231).

“The revelation explains that the ordinance of baptism for the dead is to be done only in a place designated by the Lord. Performing the ordinance was acceptable outside the temple only under special circumstances, and before the completion of the Nauvoo Temple the Lord permitted the ordinance to be performed in the Mississippi River. In October 1841 the Prophet announced that no more baptisms for the dead would be administered until the temple’s font was completed. It was finished in November, and baptisms recommenced on the twenty-first (D&C 124:27–30)” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual,307).

Doctrine and Covenants 124:28—What Is the “Fulness of the Priesthood” Mentioned Here?

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Through the keys of the holy priesthood conferred upon the Twelve by the Lord when He walked among them, which keys were restored in this dispensation by those who held them anciently—through these have come great added blessings, including those unique and remarkable ordinances administered in the house of the Lord.Only in those ordinances is there realized the exercise of ‘the fulness of the priesthood’ (D&C 124:28)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 73; orEnsign,Nov. 1985, 59)

President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained: “No man receives the fulness of the priesthood without a woman at his side. For no man, the Prophet said, can obtain the fulness of the priesthood outside the temple of the Lord [D&C 131:1–3]. And she is there beside him in that sacred place. She shares in all that he receives. The man and the woman individually receive the ordinances encompassed in the endowment. But the man cannot ascend to the highest ordinances—the sealing ordinances—without her at his side” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 96; orEnsign,May 1998, 73).

Doctrine and Covenants 124:87–91, 97–102—William Law

William Law was called as a second counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith and was promised blessings and gifts that few other men have been promised. He did not, however, remain faithful, and on April 18, 1844, was excommunicated “for unchristianlike conduct” (History of the Church,6:341). “William Law, although counselor to Joseph, was found to be his most bitter foe and maligner … ; and it was afterwards proven that he had conspired with some Missourians to take Joseph Smith’s life. … Yet, although having murder in his heart, his manners were generally courteous and mild, and he was well calculated to deceive” (inHistory of the Church,7:57).

Studying the Scriptures

Do five of the following activities (A–E) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 124.

Activity A iconFind the Purposes for a Temple

  1. 1.

    From your reading ofDoctrine and Covenants 124:25–41, list the reasons the Lord gave for building temples.

  2. 2.

    Choose two of those reasons and tell why those blessings are important to you. For example, tell why temple ordinances are important to you.

Activity B iconExplain the Consequences

InDoctrine and Covenants 124, the Lord told the Prophet Joseph that it is important to build a temple to the Lord but having the building is not enough.

  1. 1.

    Circle the wordifeach time it appears inDoctrine and Covenants 124:42–48. Then list what the Lord said would happen with each “if.”

  2. 2.

    Summarize what you learned in those verses into two “if-then” statements, one describing the blessings of obedience and the other describing the consequences of disobedience.

Activity C iconExplain the Principle

In1 Nephi 3:7, Nephi expressed his faith that the Lord would help him accomplish whatever he was commanded to do. InDoctrine and Covenants 124:49–54, the Lord described a situation where the Saints tried faithfully to do what He asked but were unable to accomplish it. Compare these two scriptures and explain the principle of obedience that they teach.

Activity D iconThe Calling of Hyrum Smith

Doctrine and Covenants 124:91–96teaches about Hyrum Smith’s calling.

  1. 1.

    List the duties and responsibilities of Hyrum Smith.

  2. 2.

    Whom did he replace?

Activity E iconIdentify the Leaders

SearchDoctrine and Covenants 124:124–144and identify who held the following priesthood offices:

  1. 1.

    Patriarch

  2. 2.

    President of the Church

  3. 3.

    Counselors in the First Presidency

  4. 4.

    President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

  5. 5.

    Members of the Stake High Council

  6. 6.

    President of the High Priests

  7. 7.

    Elders Quorum Presidency

  8. 8.

    Presidency of the Seventy

  9. 9.

    Bishopric