This section was significantly changed between the Book of Commandments and the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Date Given: February 1829
Location Given: Harmony, Pennsylvania – Hale Farm
Date Canonized: August 17, 1835
Background: After Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale eloped on January 17th, 1827, the couple moved into the Smith family home near Palmyra, New York. After Smith reportedly obtained the Golden Plates on September 22nd, 1827 the couple had their wagon searched by a group of people, but the plates weren’t found. The couple decided to move to Harmony, Pennsylvania in December 1827 onto the farm of the Hale family, who weren’t fond of Smith. Emma served as Joseph Smith Jr.’s scribe for the initial lost Book of Lehi during this time. Emma then gave birth to their first child, Alvin Smith, on June 15th, 1828, but he died during or soon after childbirth and Emma nearly died as well.
This is also after the time that D&C 2-3 occured, including Martin Harris’s funding, The Book of Lehi was transcribed with Martin Harris as scribe, the loss of The Book of Lehi, and the slow progress on The Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith Sr. came down from Palmyra to Harmony with Samuel Smith (Smith Jr.’s younger brother) and Joseph Knight Sr. (a treasure digging friend). Joseph Smith Sr. had come to visit the couple and wanted to support his son’s work. Knight gave both Smith Sr. and Jr. some money, and Smith Jr was able to buy some paper for The Book of Mormon manuscript.
Smith Sr. had questions for his son, and this section is chiefly in response to those questions. Presumably these questions included what the future of The Book of Mormon would be, what Smith Sr. should be doing for God, and then Smith Jr. noting things his father needed to improve upon in his life. A similar revelation would be given to Oliver Cowdery (D&C 6), Hyrum Smith (D&C 10), Joseph Knight Sr. (D&C 11), and David Whitmer (D&C 12).
In its original form, verse 2A only included “temperance patience humility [and] diligence”. “Temperance” could have been a reference to Smith Sr.’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol, while the rest dealt with his impatience regarding not having any theological work to do and The Book of Mormon not being completed.
A. Now, behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men,
B. therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day;
C. therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work, for, behold, the field is white already to harvest,
D. and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perish not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
E. and faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualifies him for the work.
A. Remember, faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
B. Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.