Doctrine and Covenants 46: The Gifts of the Spirit

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 56–58


As you have already learned, the restored Church in its earliest years was filled with members who were excited and committed but who were also inexperienced in the ways of the Lord. They needed guidance concerning how the Lord wanted things done in His Church.Doctrine and Covenants 46was received in response to questions and confusion regarding how to conduct meetings and how to understand the various gifts of the Holy Spirit that are promised to believers. The way these gifts are given, examples of different gifts, and instructions regarding how the gifts are to be used are found in this revelation.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 46

Trespassed(v. 4)Sinned 
Makes reconciliation(v. 4)Repents 
Earnestly(vv. 5–6, 8)Sincerely, with great care and attention 
Liberally(v. 7)Generously 
Seduced(v. 7)Led astray 
Consume it upon their lusts(v. 9)Do it for selfish reasons 
Suiting(v. 15)Fitting, matching 
Discerning, discern(vv. 23, 27)Knowing and understanding differences, judge 

Doctrine and Covenants 46:11—Everyone Is Given a Gift

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

“One of the great tragedies of life, it ms to me, is when a person classifies himself as someone who has no talents or gifts. When, in disgust or discouragement, we allow ourselves to reach depressive levels of despair because of our demeaning self-appraisal, it is a sad day for us and a sad day in the eyes of God. For us to conclude that we have no gifts when we judge ourselves by stature, intelligence, grade-point average, wealth, power, position, or external appearance is not only unfair, but unreasonable. …

“God has given each of us one or more special talents. … It is up to each of us to search for and build upon the gifts which God has given. We must remember that each of us is made in the image of God, that there are no unimportant persons. Everyone matters to God and to his fellowmen” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 23; orEnsign,Nov. 1987, 20).

Doctrine and Covenants 46:11–29—Is This a Complete List of Spiritual Gifts?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, noted that “spiritual gifts are endless in number and infinite in variety. Those listed in the revealed word are simply illustrations of the boundless outpouring of divine grace that a gracious God gives those who love and serve him” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith[1985], 371). In addition toDoctrine and Covenants 46, lists of spiritual gifts are found in1 Corinthians 12andMoroni 10.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton listed some of the gifts not often spoken about: “The gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of king that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 23; orEnsign,Nov. 1987, 20).

Doctrine and Covenants 46:15—“The Differences of Administration”

The “differences of administration” refers to priesthood leaders’ administration in the Church.

Doctrine and Covenants 46:16—“The Diversities of Operations”

“To know the diversities of operations” is to know whether or not a spiritual manifestation is of the Lord ( alsoJoseph Smith—Matthew 1:22).

Doctrine and Covenants 46:24–25—The Gift of Tongues and the Gift of Interpretation of Tongues

These gifts are most often manifest in the Church in the course of missionary work as missionaries learn foreign languages and investigators are able to understand the gospel being taught them and gain testimonies. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Tongues were given for the purpose of preaching among those whose language is not understood; as on the day of Pentecost, etc., and it is not necessary for tongues to be taught to the Church particularly, for any man that has the Holy Ghost can speak of the things of God in his own tongue as well as to speak in another; for faith comes not by signs, but by hearing the word of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,148–49).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 46.

Activity A iconFind the Lord’s Answer

  1. 1.

    Read the section heading toDoctrine and Covenants 46. On what did the Lord want to give counsel in this revelation?

  2. 2.

    According to verses 1–8, what was the Lord’s counsel on these matters?

  3. 3.

    What additional information do we gain from what the Lord taught in3 Nephi 18:28–32?

Activity B iconHelping New Members Understand

List three ideas you feel would be important for new members of the Church to understand about the gifts of the Spirit as explained inDoctrine and Covenants 46. Note the verse or verses where you found each idea and briefly explain why you chose it.

Activity C iconking the Gifts

  1. 1.

    FromDoctrine and Covenants 46:8–12, list what the Lord wants us to understand about the gifts of the Spirit.

  2. 2.

    Consider the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in verses 13–27 and by Elder Ashton in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for verses 11–29. Write about two gifts that you would like to have. Explain why you would like to have them—keeping in mind what the Lord said in verses 8–12.