Doctrine and Covenants 19: A Commandment for Martin Harris

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 30–31


In order to get Palmyra printer Egbert B. Grandin to agree to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon, Martin Harris guaranteed to pay the cost of the printing. He could do this because he owned property worth more than the $3,000 the printer charged. Before the printing was completed, however, “a number of people held a meeting and passed resolutions not to purchase the book when it came from the press. When Grandin grew nervous, the Prophet Joseph Smith returned to Palmyra to reassure him that the printing costs would be paid. Martin Harris, fearing that he might lose his farm if the Book of Mormon did not sell, approached the Prophet and requested guidance. By revelation Martin was commanded not to ‘covet’ his own property, but to ‘impart it freely’ for the purpose of covering the costs of printing the Book of Mormon (D&C 19:26). One hundred and fifty-one acres of Martin Harris’s farm were sold at a public auction in April 1831 to pay off Mr. Grandin. This sacrifice made the printing of the Book of Mormon possible” (Church History in the Fulness of Times, 65).As you readDoctrine and Covenants 19, think of how this revelation might have affected Martin Harris and helped him how his personal problems fit into a larger plan. What is the biggest sacrifice the Lord is asking from you at this time? Keep it in mind as you read this revelation, and consider how the principles the Lord taught Martin Harris apply to what He asks from you now—or in the future.
Printing Press - Book of Mormon

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 19

Alpha and Omega(v. 1)The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (a title of Jesus Christ, descriptive of His all-encompassing nature) 
Subdue(v. 2)Gain power over 
Retaining(v. 3)Holding or possessing 
Deeds(v. 3)Actions 
Revoke(v. 5)Cancel, take back 
Express(v. 7)Plain, clear 
Meet(v. 8)Appropriate, proper 
Smite(v. 15)Punish 
Exquisite(v. 15)Intense 
Naught(v. 21)Nothing 
Covet(vv. 25–26)Have a selfish desire for 
Impart(vv. 26, 34)Give 
Remnant(v. 27)Remainder 
Tidings(v. 29)News, messages 
Reviling not against revilers(v. 30)Not speaking insults about people who speak insults 
Tenets(v. 31)Personal religious beliefs 
Suffice(v. 32)Be enough 
Slight(v. 33)Treat lightly 
Exhort(v. 37)Teach, encourage 
Corruptibleness to the extent thereof(v. 38)With all the perishable things that go with it 

Doctrine and Covenants 19:4, 16–17—Repent or Suffer?

Referring toAlma 42:16andDoctrine and Covenants 19:16–17, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

“Do these scriptures mean that a person who repents does not need to suffer at all because the entire punishment is borne by the Savior? That cannot be the meaning because it would be inconsistent with the Savior’s other teachings.

“What is meant is that the person who repents does not need to suffer ‘even as’ the Savior suffered for that sin. Sinners who are repenting will experience some suffering, but, because of their repentance and because of the Atonement, they will not experience the full ‘exquisite’ extent of eternal torment the Savior suffered for that sin” (Sins, Crimes, and Atonement[address to religious educators, Feb. 7, 1992], 5).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:6–12—Endless and Eternal Punishment

The Lord revealed that the terms “endless punishment” and “eternal punishment” refer to the kind of punishment rather than to the length of the punishment. Endless punishment and eternal punishment are “God’s punishment” (D&C 19:11–12).

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “so long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation.

“… The salvation of Jesus Christ was wrought out for all men, in order to triumph over the devil. … All will suffer until they obeyChrist himself” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 357). Thus, punishment will eventually end for all except the sons of perdition, who eternally refuse to obey Christ (D&C 76:33–44).

However, as Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught, “Deliverance from hell is not admittance to heaven” (The Vitality of Mormonism[1919], 256). When the endless or eternal punishment—God’s punishment—has ended for those who receive it, they will receive their places in the kingdoms of glory. You will learn more about these judgments as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 76.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:15–19—Jesus Christ’s Suffering

The Savior’s testimony inDoctrine and Covenants 19:15–19about His suffering for all mankind helps us understand it on a more personal level. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “We get into the habit of thinking, I suppose, that [the Savior’s] great suffering was when he was nailed to the cross by his hands and his feet and was left there to suffer until he died. As excruciating as that pain was, that was not the greatest suffering that he had to undergo, for in some way which I cannot understand, but which I accept on faith, and which you must accept on faith, he carried on his back the burden of the sins of the whole world [in Gethsemane]. It is hard enough for me to carry my own sins. … And yet he had to carry the sins of the whole world” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1947, 147–48).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 19.

Activity A icon“Learn of Me”

The Savior invited us to learn of Him so that we might have peace (D&C 19:23; alsoMatthew 11:29). In your notebook, list what you learn about Jesus Christ inDoctrine and Covenants 19. Look for words and phrases that describe Him and note what He said and did, and why. Consider also what you learn about the way He teaches and deals with us.

Activity B Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19

  1. 1.

    Select three words that you think are important inDoctrine and Covenants 19:16–19and explain why you chose each word.

  2. 2.

    From what you learn inDoctrine and Covenants 19:16–19, as well as1 Nephi 19:9;2 Nephi 9:21–22;Mosiah 3:7–9; and3 Nephi 27:14–15, explain what Jesus suffered and why He suffered it.

  3. 3.

    Record in your notebook some of the thoughts and feelings you had as you studied and thought aboutDoctrine and Covenants 19:16–19and the other scriptures in this activity.

Activity C iconFind the Commandments and the Comfort

Martin Harris went to Joseph Smith for guidance, and the Prophet received this revelation for him ( this study guide’s introduction toD&C 19).

  1. 1.

    Make two columns in your notebook. Label one “Commandments” and the other “Comfort.”

  2. 2.

    ReviewDoctrine and Covenants 19and find the commandments and the words of comfort. List them in the appropriate columns.

  3. 3.

    Select a commandment and an expression of comfort that impressed you and tell why they impressed you.