The Explanatory Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants was written to help the reader understand what the Doctrine and Covenants contains, its purpose, and how it came into being. President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote: “Shortly after the organization of the Church, the members were desirous of obtaining copies of the revelations given up to that time. In the summer of 1830, the Prophet, by divine commandment, commenced to copy and prepare the revelations, no doubt with the thought in mind of having them published” ( Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:192). On November 1, 1831, at a conference in Hiram, Ohio, Church leaders decided to collect and publish many of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s revelations. By publishing these revelations, the Church was able to make accurate copies more widely available. The Lord approved this plan and gave the Prophet a revelation to place at the beginning of the book (see D&C 1 heading ; see also D&C 1:6 ).
The first edition of the collected revelations, known then as A Book of Commandments, was printed in 1833 in Missouri. A mob destroyed the press before work could be completed, and only a few uncut, unbound pages survived (see Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 133–34 ). In 1835 the Church printed a new edition with additional revelations under the title Doctrine and Covenants. This edition contained 103 sections and a series of doctrinal discussions entitled “Lectures on Faith.” Since then, many more revelations have been received by the Presidents of the Church, and many of these have been added to the Doctrine and Covenants.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Doctrine and Covenants is a testimony that God continues to speak to man and that He guides His Church through living prophets.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants Explanatory Introduction . The Doctrine and Covenants is a testimony that God continues to speak to man and guides His Church through living prophets. (20–25 minutes)
Invite students to think about someone’s voice that they love to hear, or play a recording of someone’s voice that many of your students will recognize. Discuss the following questions:
How easy is it for you to recognize this voice? Why?
What is it about the voice that you like?
What words would you use to describe the voice?
Invite students to read the first three paragraphs in the Explanatory Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants . Discuss the following questions:
Whose voice does the Doctrine and Covenants invite us to listen to?
How is the Savior’s voice heard? (Through His revelations; see D&C 18:34–36 .)
What words are used in the Explanatory Introduction to describe His voice? (“Tender but firm.”)
What does this teach us about the Savior?
According to these paragraphs, what are some reasons the Savior chose to speak to us in the latter days?
According to the second paragraph, through whom does the Savior speak to us?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38 . What do these verses teach us about the Savior’s voice?
Share an experience in which you were able to understand and follow the voice of the Lord. Encourage students to listen to and follow the voice of the Lord as they study the Doctrine and Covenants this year. Share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ. The Doctrine and Covenants brings men to Christ’s kingdom. . . .
“The Book of Mormon is the ‘keystone’ of our religion, and the Doctrine and Covenants is the capstone, with continuing latter-day revelation” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 105; or Ensign, May 1987, 83 ).
Ask students to read the testimony of the Twelve Apostles in the Explanatory Introduction . Also share your testimony of the truthfulness of this book of scripture.