Endowment of Power
    Footnotes

    “Endowment of Power,” Church History Topics

    “Endowment of Power”

    Endowment of Power

    A revelation to Joseph Smith in 1831 commanded early Church members to “go forth among all Nations” and gather Israel. Before they were “sent forth,” the Lord promised to “endow” them “with power from on high.”1 The promised endowment encompassed several events in early 1836, including a Pentecost-like season surrounding the dedication of the House of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio. Although Joseph Smith later introduced a temple ordinance he also called an endowment, the phrase “endowment of power” is often associated with the outpouring of spiritual gifts and the restoration of priesthood keys in Kirtland.2

    The phrase “endued with power” appears in Luke 24, when Jesus Christ gives a final commission to His disciples to preach among all nations. The disciples were to begin at Jerusalem, where they would be “endued with power from on high.”3 Many Christians understood this promise to relate to the gifts of the Spirit and to have been first fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2.4

    Further revelation to Joseph Smith in Kirtland indicated the endowment of power required a solemn assembly in the House of the Lord.5 Joseph Smith and the Saints in Kirtland sacrificed to complete the temple and prepared themselves spiritually for the endowment. Part of this preparation included ceremonial washings and anointings, symbolic of the purification of their hearts that would enable them to commune with heaven. A few months before the temple dedication, William W. Phelps wrote, “We are preparing to make ourselves clean, by first cleansing our hearts, forsaking our sins, forgiving everybody; … putting on clean decent clothes, by anointing our heads and by keeping all the commandments.”6

    During the dedicatory services for the temple on March 27 and 31, 1836, and in the solemn assembly on March 30, Joseph Smith and others reported glorious spiritual manifestations, including heavenly visions and speaking in tongues.7 On April 3, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery experienced a vision of Jesus Christ and visitations from several biblical prophets.8 Calling these experiences “a Pentecost and enduement indeed,” Joseph soon sent Heber C. Kimball and others on the first foreign missions in the history of the Church.9

    Depiction of the Savior in the Kirtland Temple

    Depiction of the appearance of the Savior in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836.

    Notes

    1. Joseph Smith, “Revelation, 2 January 1831 [D&C 38],” in Revelation Book 1, 52, josephsmithpapers.org.

    2. See “Endowment,” josephsmithpapers.org.

    3. Luke 24:49.

    4. See Charles G. Finney, Power from on High: What Is It? (Boston: Willard Tract Society, ca. 1870), 3–8. See also John Fea, “Power from on High in an Age of Ecclesiastical Impotence: The ‘Enduement of the Holy Spirit’ in American Fundamentalist Thought, 1880–1936,” Fides et Historia, vol. 26, no. 2 (1994), 23–35.

    5. Joseph Smith, “Revelation, 27–28 December 1832 [D&C 88:1–126],” in Revelation Book 2, 45–46, josephsmithpapers.org; Joseph Smith, “Revelation, 1 June 1833 [D&C 95],” in Revelation Book 2, 59–60, josephsmithpapers.org; Joseph Smith, “Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105],” in Revelation Book 2, 97–100, josephsmithpapers.org. Some Latter-day Saints in Kirtland at first believed the endowment came during a conference held in June 1831. See John Corrill, “A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839,” 18, josephsmithpapers.org; “Minutes, circa 3–4 June 1831,” in Minute Book 2, 3–4, josephsmithpapers.org; Mark Lyman Staker, Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting for Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009), 147–68.

    6. William W. Phelps letter to Sally Phelps, Jan. 1836, in Bruce A. Van Orden, ed., “Writing to Zion: The William W. Phelps Kirtland Letters (1835–1836),” BYU Studies, vol. 33, no. 3 (1993), 574; spelling standardized.

    7. Joseph Smith, “Journal, 1835–1836,” 172, 190, 193, josephsmithpapers.org; Steven C. Harper, “‘A Pentecost and Endowment Indeed’: Six Eyewitness Accounts of the Kirtland Temple Experience,” in John W. Welch, ed., Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844 (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2005), 327–71.

    8. Vision, 3 April 1836 [D&C 110],” in Joseph Smith, Journal, Sept. 1835–Apr. 1836, 192–93, josephsmithpapers.org.

    9. Journal, 1835–1836,” 192–93, josephsmithpapers.org. Earlier missionaries sent to parts of Canada followed personal networks and did not consider themselves as having embarked on a “foreign” mission or seeking out the lost tribes of Israel for the gathering. Heber C. Kimball and others spoke of his 1837 mission to Great Britain as the inauguration of a worldwide gathering effort. See Historical Introduction to “Recommendation for Heber C. Kimball, between 2 and 13 June 1837,” in Brent M. Rogers, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, Christian K. Heimburger, Max H Parkin, Alexander L. Baugh, and Steven C. Harper, eds., in Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838. Vol. 5 in the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Ronald K. Esplin, Matthew J. Grow, and Matthew C. Godfrey (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2017), 398–400.