Section 27

Section 27 is one of the revelations Joseph did not know he needed. He set out to get wine so he and Emma could have the sacrament with Sally and Newell Knight, who were visiting so Sally and Emma could be confirmed. An angel appeared to Joseph and clued him in.[1] Joseph received the first four and a half verses and parts of verses 14 and 18.  Both Joseph and Newel Knight said the rest of verses 5-18 were revealed a few weeks later.[2]

It is easy to assume that this revelation is about the word of wisdom, but it is not. It’s about the sacrament. Speaking for the Savior, the angel informed Joseph that it does not matter what the saints eat or drink for the sacrament. What matters is that they partake with an eye single to the Lord’s glory, signifying to God that they remember the Savior’s body sacrificed and blood shed for the remission of their sins. 

Section 27 penetrates to the heart of the sacrament.

If one’s eye is not single to God’s glory in that ordinance, tradition can transcend substance. The angel commanded Joseph to not purchase wine or distilled drinks from people they could not trust. Rather, they should make their own sacramental wine. As a result of section 27, according to Brigham Young, “we use water as though it were wine; for we are commanded to drink not of wine for this sacred purpose unless it be made by our own hands.”[3]

The later text of Section 27 adds considerable detail to the earlier prophecy that Christ would partake of sacramental wine with Joseph and others.  It emphasizes priesthood keys—rights associated with priesthood—and the transmission of those keys to Joseph by biblical prophets. It is the earliest document we have confirming that Peter, James, and John ordained Joseph an apostle.  

Section 27 also applies to Latter-day Saints the counsel Paul gave the Ephesian saints to arm themselves spiritually.[4] The revelation identifies the archangel Michael as Adam, and Adam as the ancient of days referred to in the Book of Daniel.[5]

Newel Knight remembered how he and Sally, Emma, and Joseph obeyed this revelation.  They “prepared some wine at our own make, and held our meeting. . . .  We partook of the sacrament, after which we confirmed the two sisters into the church, and spent the evening in a glorious manner. The Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon us.  We praised the God of Israel, and rejoiced exceedingly.”[6]

Section 28

As the church’s second conference approached in September 1830, Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon plates, began receiving revelations through a stone “concerning the upbuilding of Zion the order of the Church and so forth, but which were entirely at variance with the order of Gods House, as it is laid down in the scriptures. and our own late revelations.”[1] Newel Knight wrote that Hiram “had quite a roll of papers full of these revelations, and many in the Church were led astray by them,” including Oliver Cowdery and many of the Whitmer family. Joseph was perplexed, but not for the reason that is sometimes assumed.[2]

Hiram Page’s seer stone was not the problem. Joseph’s revelations and personal teachings encouraged others to use their spiritual gifts, including when those gifts involved seeric objects like Oliver Cowdery’s (see section 8). If Hiram had received real revelation through his stone about how to be a better husband, there would have been no problem. The problem was that Hiram’s revelations were “entirely at variance with the order of God’s house.” He was a teacher in the Aaronic priesthood. He had not been appointed by God’s authorized servants, nor sustained by the common consent of the saints, to receive revelations and commandments about issues that involved all the saints. 

Joseph spent most of a sleepless night prayerfully seeking and receiving Section 28.

His history says, “We thought it best to enquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter.” Maybe the “we” included Oliver, because the Lord’s answer is addressed directly to Oliver, which is an important key to seeing what the revelation does rather than just what it says. 

The Lord speaks to through the first elder of his Church to the second elder—a point of order—clarifying Oliver’s role to teach the revelations given to Joseph.  Likening Joseph to Moses and Oliver to Aaron, the Lord reminded Oliver of his role to “speak or teach,” but not to write revelations for the Church or to command Joseph. The Lord directed Oliver to go on a mission to the Lamanites or Native Americans in the west, hinting that Page’s predictions for the location of Zion were wrong: “it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.” But before his mission, Oliver was assigned to visit Hiram privately to “tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him.” The Lord did not renounce personal revelation or seer stones. He reminded Oliver of the revealed order and showed him that Hiram was out of order. “For all things must be done in order, and by the common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith” (D&C 28:13).

By speaking through Joseph to Oliver, the Lord illustrated the order in which revelation flows for the Church.  By countering the information in Page’s revelation with accurate details about Zion, the Lord led Oliver to the conclusion that either Joseph or Hiram Page was the true revelator.  By commanding Oliver to teach Hiram Page these principles, the Lord reinforced them in Oliver’s mind and illustrated the order of the church at work at a critical moment.  Oliver obeyed the revelation and “after much labor with these brethren they were convinced of their error, and confessed the same, renouncing the revelations as not being of God, but acknowledged that Satan had conspired to overthrow their belief in the true plan of salvation.”[3]

Section 27 notes

[1] “History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834],” p. 51, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed July 24, 2020,

[2] Newel Knight, Autobiography and Journal, 1846, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

[3] Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 19: 92 (1877), also see 10:245, and 19:92. John Henry Smith, Diary (July 1906), Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. 

[4] Compare Ephesians  6:11-18.

[5] This teaching is distinctive to Joseph Smith.  He equated the archangel Michael with the Bible’s Adam, an idea apparently first documented in Oliver Cowdery’s 1 January 1834 letter to John Whitmer (Oliver Cowdery Letterbook, Huntington Library, San Marino, California, 15).  Similarly, Joseph interpreted references to the “Ancient of days” in the Book of Daniel (7:9, 13, 22) as references to Adam.  When Daniel “Speaks of the Ancient of days,” Joseph taught in 1839, “he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael” (Willard Richards Pocket Companion, 63, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah). 

[6] Newel Knight, Autobiography and Journal, 1846, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

Section 28 notes

[1] “History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834],” pages 53-54, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed July 24, 2020,

[2] Newel Knight, Autobiography and Journal, 1846, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

[3] Newel Knight, Autobiography and Journal, 1846, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

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