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- D&C 18 is directed at first to Oliver Cowdery, then jointly to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, and also to the Twelve who will be selected.
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- Received: June 1829 at Harmony, Pennsylvania
- Prior section in chronological order: D&C 16
- Next section in chronological order: D&C 17
Oliver Cowdery began serving as Joseph Smith's scribe for the Book of Mormon translation on April 7, 1829. About the end of May, Joseph and Oliver left Harmony because of rising persecution to stay with the Whitmer family at Fayette, arriving probably not earlier than June 3. On June 14 Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter from Fayette to ____ at Manchester-Palmyra in which he quoted portions of D&C 18. The Book of Mormon translation was then completed about the end of June.
Little is known about the circumstances under which D&C 18 was received except that it was received at Fayette during June 3-14 while the Book of Mormon translation was progressing rapidly at the Whitmer home.
For a brief overview of D&C 18 in historical relation to the rest of the Doctrine & Covenants, see Historical Overview of the Restoration Scriptures. For lengthier discussions of the historical setting, see Historical Context of the Doctrine & Covenants, chapter 3 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 5.
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Outline and page map
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D&C 18 can be outlined as follows:
- • to Oliver (1-8)
- • to Oliver & David: worth of souls is great, so preach (9-25)
- • Twelve will be sought out (26-30)
- • duties of the Twelve (31-36)
- • Three Witnesses will select the Twelve (37-40)
- • Twelve will be sought out (26-30)
- • to Oliver & David: worth of souls is great, so preach (41-45)
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- D&C 18:20: What does it mean to "Contend against no church," in verse 20?
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- The oldest surviving copy of D&C 18 is ______.
- D&C 18:10-14, 21-25 is paraphrased in a letter from Oliver Cowdery to Hyrum Smith dated 14 June 1829, so it is likely that the content of at least those verses is soon known to many of the Saints at Manchester-Palmyra.
- D&C 18 was first published in the 1833 Book of Commandments, the earliest edition of what we now call the Doctrine & Covenants.
- The text of D&C 18 in significant editions of the Doctrine & Covenants can be found at:
Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 18.
- D&C 18 and D&C 19 can be read as a pair in which D&C 18 to two of the Three Witnesses emphasizes the joy available through mercy, while D&C 19 to the other Witness emphasizes the dread of justice. In addition, D&C 18:10-18 provides the clearest statement of why missionaries preach, and D&C 18:21-22, 41-45 provides the most detailed instruction so far regarding what they are to preach: repentance, baptism and endurance to the end. D&C 19:21-22, 30-31 likewise instructs Martin Harris, the other of the Three Witnesses, to preach only faith, repentance, and baptism by water and the Holy Ghost, to not preach new doctrines, and to not contend.
Doctrinal references cited on this page.
Historical references cited on this page.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.
- Letter from Oliver Cowdery to Hyrum Smith (14 Jun 1829). Reprinted in Cook, Lyndon W. The Revelations of Joseph Smith, 29. Provo, Utah: Seventy's Mission Bookstore, 1981.