Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 41

Find helpful commentary on the verses below to better understand the message of this revelation.

Verses 1-6

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In the October 1899 General Conference, Joseph F. Smith, then a member of the First Presidency, explained that he wanted to share “a few words in relation to the duty which devolves upon the men who have been speaking during this conference.” He then read the first four verses of Doctrine and Covenants 41. Commenting on these verses, President Smith stated, “The Lord here especially demands of the men who stand at the head of this Church and who are responsible for the guidance and direction of the people of God, that they shall see to it that the law of God is kept. It is our duty to do this. . . . The Lord requires of us that we shall see that his law is kept among the people. This is one of the principle reasons why we are talking to you as we are” (Conference Report, October 1899, 41).


The men and women chosen to act as the Lord’s representatives to the Church and to the world often come into prominence reluctantly. They are ordinary people with sins, faults, and challenges. Chosen as instruments to speak on behalf of God, they do possess one common attribute—a desire to bless the sons and daughters of God. Keeping the commandments bring blessings, and the burden of stewardship falls upon the shoulders of the men and women chosen to lead.


Speaking of his experience with other Church leaders, Elder David A. Bednar commented, “I have come to know their greatest desire is to discern and do the will of our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. As we counsel together, inspiration has been received and decisions have been made that reflect a degree of light and truth far beyond human intelligence, reasoning, and experience. . . . Some people find the human shortcomings of the Brethren troubling and faith diminishing. For me those imperfections are encouraging and faith promoting” (“Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name,” October 2015 General Conference).


In these verses the Lord provides a simple but profound definition of disciple as one “that receiveth my law and doeth it” (D&C 41:5). Those who have covenanted to follow Jesus Christ are obligated to hear His words through imperfect people and then commit to live these commandments as best we can, accepting the Savior’s grace as sufficient for our deficiencies.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 7-12

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


These verses mark the call of the first bishop to serve in this dispensation, Edward Partridge. At the time, the familiar ward and stake structure of the Church was yet to be revealed, and Partridge’s position was more closely aligned with the present-day role of the Presiding Bishop than with the current responsibilities of the bishops who oversee Latter-day Saint congregations. The bishop’s duties would be outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 46:27, 29; 58:17; 68:14, 19; 72; and 84:112. The duties of the Presiding Bishop would be outlined further in Doctrine and Covenants 107:13–17; 68–70; 87–88. Revealing the bishop’s duties line upon line, the Lord starts with the most important requirement for service as a bishop, or in any role in His kingdom: a heart that is pure (D&C 41:11).


Speaking directly to those who hold the office of bishop, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:


We expect you to stand as the presiding high priest of the ward, a counselor to the people, a defender and helper of those in trouble, a comfort to those in sorrow, a supplier to those in need. We expect you to stand as a guardian and protector of the doctrine that is taught in your ward, of the quality of the teaching, of the filling of the many offices which are necessary.


Your personal behavior must be impeccable. You must be a man of integrity, above reproach of any kind. Your example will set the tone for the direction your people follow. You must be fearless in denouncing evil, willing to take a stand for the right, uncompromising in your defense of truth. While all of this requires firmness, it must be done with kindness and love.


You are the father of the ward and the guardian of your people. You must reach out to them in their times of sorrow and sickness and distress. You stand as president of the Aaronic Priesthood, and with your counselors must give leadership to the deacons, and the teachers, and the priests, to see that they grow in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). (“The Shepherds of the Flock,” April 1998, General Conference)


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)