Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 67

/ Doctrine & Covenants 67 / Commentary

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

Verses 1-5

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


The Lord asked witnesses to bear record of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon; similarly, Joseph Smith asked the elders present to share their testimony of the divine origins of the revelations. Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, two of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, were present at the conference. It is possible that the elders present expected spiritual manifestations similar to the dramatic experience these witnesses of the Book of Mormon experienced. The Lord in response told them that because “there were fears in [their] hearts” they did not receive. The revelation also hints at this desire, saying that the elders present “are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels” (D&C 67:13), perhaps alluding to the earlier experience of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon.


In response to concerns expressed over the language found in the revelations, the Lord reminded the elders that Joseph Smith, like any other prophet, was an imperfect messenger with limitations on his own language. The revelation serves as a simple reminder that though the Savior is perfect, He works through imperfect people. Prophets, apostles, and all manner of leaders in the Church are flawed people doing the best they can to accomplish the Lord’s work.


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland counseled Church members to “be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we” (“Lord, I Believe,” April 2013 General Conference).


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 6-9

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In response to the concerns raised over the revelations, the Lord challenged the elders at the conference to “appoint him that is most wise among you” to attempt to duplicate any of the revelations. William E. McLellin, a newly baptized schoolteacher from Paris, Tennessee, accepted the challenge to produce his own revelation. Joseph Smith later wrote that


Wm. E. McLellin, as the wisest man in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord’s, but failed; it was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord. The elders, and all present, that witnessed this vain attempt of a man to imitate the language of Jesus Christ, renewed their faith in the fulness of the gospel and in the truth of the commandments and revelations which the Lord had given to the church through my instrumentality; and the elders signified a willingness to bear testimony of their truth to all the world. (Joseph Smith—History, vol. A-1, p. 162, JSP)

While McLellin later became a bitter enemy of Joseph Smith, he should not be judged too harshly for his actions taken here. McLellin was a convert to the Church of only a few months and had met Joseph Smith a week prior to this meeting. A revelation given around this same time placed him among “the faithful elders of my church” (D&C 68:7). He would eventually become a member of the first quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Though McLellin’s skepticism eventually eroded his testimony and his standing in the Church, those events came several years later. At this point in time, and in part because of this experience, McLellin was among the elders who felt honored “to have this privilege of bearing this testimony [of the revelations] unto the world” (Testimony, circa 2 November 1831, JSP).


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 10-14

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


In exhorting the elders to greater faith, the Lord also corrects a common misunderstanding that it is impossible for a mortal person to see God in the flesh (D&C 67:11). The familiar quotation from the Gospel of John that “no man hath seen God at any time” was corrected in Joseph Smith’s translation to read, “And no man hath seen God at any time, except he hath borne record of the Son; for except it is through him no man can be saved” (Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:19). Another New Testament passage that reads, “[He] only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honour and power everlasting” (1 Timothy 6:16) was changed in the Prophet’s translation to read, “Whom no man hath seen, nor can he see, unto whom no man can approach, only he who hath the light and the hope of immortality dwelling in him” (Joseph Smith Translation, 1 Timothy 6:16). In one last example, the text of 1 John 4:12, which reads, “no man hath seen God at any time,” was changed to read, “No man hath seen God at any time, except them who believe” (Joseph Smith Translation—1 John 4:12).


The message of all of these corrections in the Joseph Smith Translation is clearly presented in Doctrine and Covenants 67. Here the Lord declares, “For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God. Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God, neither after the carnal mind” (D&C 67:11–12). It is possible for mortal people to survive in the presence of God if they are transfigured to abide the glory of God. God is more than capable of bringing about a change in the physical bodies of His servants, provided they are sufficiently humble and demonstrate the necessary faith to see God.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)