Sunday School Lesson 11

Lesson 11: Doctrine and Covenants 4, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 31, 33, 75

Since most of the other sections for this lesson repeat what we find in section 4, I will focus my questions on it.

Verse 1: What is the marvelous work that is about to come forth? The use of the word “about” suggests that, at the time this revelation was given (February 1829), it had not yet come forth. When do you think it either did or will? Notice that this verse is repeated in D&C 6:1, 11:1, 12:1, and 14:1, and it is paraphrased in D&C 18:44. It also appears in the JST version of Isaiah 29:26 (=Isaiah 29:14), and it occurs regularly in the Book of Mormon (eight times). What does the word “marvelous” mean in this context?

Verse 2: The literal meaning of “embark” is “to get on board [a ship].” What does that word suggest here? The phrase “heart, might, mind, and strength” occurs only here. But other combinations of these words are frequent. See, for example, Deuteronomy 6:5, 28:65; 1 Samuel 2:35; 2 Kings 23:25; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Job 9:4; Psalms 38:10, 73:26, 84:5; Daniel 5:20; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33; Luke 10:27; 2 Nephi 1:21; Mosiah 7:33; and Ether 4:15. Does looking at other uses of the phrase suggest anything about how to understand it here? Is this a list of four different things, or four different ways of saying the same thing?

Verse 3: Why is having the desire to serve God enough to make us called to the work? To what does “the work” refer here?

Verse 4: Why is the work of the gospel often compared to reaping a field? How does the image in this section compare to other, related images in the scriptures? For example, how does it compare to the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:3-8) or the Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly (Mark 4:26-29)? What does “salvation” mean in this verse? Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 says that the spirit and the body of man are the soul. Is that the definition that applies here? If so, what does this verse promise?

Verse 5: Why does this verse speak of both charity and love? In other scriptures, don’t the two mean the same? Are they distinct things here, or is the Lord repeating the same thing in different ways to emphasize it? What does it mean to have one’s eye single to the glory of God? When is my eye not single to his glory? Compare this qualification with the promise made in Doctrine and Covenants 88:67. What does the word “single” mean in this context? Compare this to Matthew 6:22 (Luke 11:34), where the Lord says that if our eye is single, then our whole body will be filled with light. Does “single” mean the same in both cases? The Greek word translated “single” in the New Testament could also be translated either “healthy” or “pure,” but it is difficult to understand what “pure to the glory of God” or “healthy to the glory of God” might mean. Does that mean that the passage in Matthew is irrelevant to explaining the meaning of this verse? Does Mormon 8:15 give us a definition of what “eye single to the glory of God” means, or does it give us an example of what it means?

Verse 6: Why do you think the Doctrine and Covenants implicitly refers to these verses in 2 Peter 1:5-9 so often? Look at this comparison of the two lists:

                        2 Peter                        D&C 4

                        faith                            faith

                        virtue                          virtue

                        knowledge                  knowledge

                        temperance                 temperance

                        patience                     patience

                        godliness                   brotherly kindness

                        brotherly kindness      godliness

                        charity                       charity



What does that comparison tell us about the qualifications for the work and about the goal of the work? Do you see any significance in the change of order (“brotherly kindness” and “godliness” are reversed)? Why might “humility” and “diligence” have been added in the Doctrine and Covenants revelation?

Here are some alternate translations of the Greek words of 2 Peter:

                        virtue = excellence

                        knowledge = knowledge of what really is

                        temperance = self-discipline

                        patience = steadfastness, endurance

                        godliness = holiness, piety

                        brotherly kindness = brotherly love

                        charity = love, good will.

Are any of these meanings also helpful in understanding the admonition of the Doctrine and Covenants?

Verse 7: How do you square this verse with the fact that all of us have had the experience of asking and not receiving what we asked for? What does it mean to knock and to have “it” opened? In other words, what is promised and how do we obtain that promise? The word “amen” means something like “so let it be” and signifies agreement. Why does a revelation from the Lord end with that word?

2 comments for “Sunday School Lesson 11

  1. ::Why might “humility� and “diligence� have been added in the Doctrine and Covenants revelation?

    May I suggest that they were not added by the Lord to section four, but that those attributes also appear in Peter’s epistle–they’re just somewhat hidden in later verses:

    7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
    8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
    10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

    verse 9–I suggest–is a call to humility, and verse 10 clearly calls out diligence. What’s great about this is that DC 4 is really an example of the Lord quoting existing scripture back to Joseph Smith Sr. [Not just here but beginning with the Shma/First and Great commandment, then 1 Cor. 13 Faith Hope and Love and finally 2 Pet 1.] I find it interesting that partaking of the Divine nature is tied to making one’s calling and election sure and to the marvelous work that is about to come forth…

    But perhaps I’m reading it too closely–after all I think it’s significant that the Lord cites 10 attributes that constitute the Divine nature….

  2. Joseph Fielding Smith on Section 4 of the Doctrine & Covenants
    “it contains sufficient counsel and instruction for a lifetime of study. No one has yet mastered it. It was not intended as a personal revelation to Joseph Smith, but to be of benefit to all who desire to embark in the service of God. It is a revelation to each member of the Church, especially to all who hold the Priesthood. Perhaps there is no other revelation in all our scriptures that embodies greater instruction pertaining to the manner of qualification of members of the Church for the service of God, and in such condensed form than this revelation. It is as broad, as high and as deep as eternity. No elder of the Church is qualified to teach in the Church, or carry the message of Salvation to the world, until he has absorbed, in part at least, this heaven-sent instruction.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:35.)

    If you are a missionary it is a missionary scripture
    If you are a bishop is it is a bishop scripture
    If you are a teacher it is a teacher scripture

    Compare D&C 4:13 – the Church came forth after the dark ages when the only teachings they had were the precepts of men

    Elder George Albert Smith
    “My understanding is that the most important mission that I have in this life is: first, to keep the commandments of God, as they have been taught to me; and next, to teach them to my Father’s children who do not understand them. . . .
    “It is not necessary for you to be called to go into the mission field in order to proclaim the truth. Begin on the man who lives next door by inspiring confidence in him, by inspiring love in him for you because of your righteousness, and your missionary work has already begun.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1916, pp. 50-51.)

    D&C 4:2 – another way of describing the law of consecration?

    Compare D&C 4 to other “sibling” scriptures given to others
    a. 6 – Oliver Cowdrey
    b. 11 – Hyrum Smith
    c. 12 – Joseph Knight Sr.
    d. 14 – David Whitmer
    Note that these are all given in 1829 after each of these gentlemen has contributed much to the ongoing restoration. I.e, they didn’t just walk in off the street and ask the Prophet what the Lord wanted them to do.

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