Not marriage. Not really. A question about marriage is the impetus for the revelation, and information about it is given at a few points, but that information is always incidental, and given to illustrate points about the revelation’s larger theme.
Consider that section 132 is the last revelation Joseph Smith received that’s included in the Doctrine and Covenants. What might be the most important message of that book overall for the Saints in this dispensation? It’s one that is indeed extremely important and relevant for us this very day.
In 66 verses, the word “marriage” is only used two times. Other marriage-related terms occur not much more often: “marry” and “sealed” occur six times each, “concubines” and “wives,” four times each. The most commonly used marriage-related terms are “wife” and “adultery,” which occur ten times each; and “adultery” is always mentioned in material that’s meant to ensure that that sin is not committed.
Contrast that with the frequency of these other significant terms:
- Commanded, commandment, priesthood – 7 times each
- According, appointed, received—9 times each
- Exaltation, receive—11 times each
- Abide—12 times
- Power, word—13 times each
- Covenant—15 times
- Servant—16 times
And perhaps the most important term of all, as suggested by frequency of use:
- Law—32 times
Notes on specific verses, including some alternate section headings that generalize the spiritual lessons:
|1–6, Exaltation is gained through the new and everlasting covenant
3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
5 For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.
6 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.
7–14, The terms and conditions of that covenant are set forth
7 … of him who is anointed… through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed …
8 Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.
12 I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord.
13 And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.
15–20, Celestial marriage and a continuation of the family unit enable men to become gods
17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged…
18 … through him whom I have anointed and appointed … because they are not joined by me… for my house is a house of order
19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them…
21–25, The strait and narrow way leads to eternal lives
21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.
25 Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.
26–27, The law is given relative to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost
27 … he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord.
28–39, Promises of eternal increase and exaltation are made to prophets and Saints in all ages
40–47, Joseph Smith is given the power to bind and seal on earth and in heaven
48–50, The Lord seals upon him his exaltation
51–57, Emma Smith is counseled to be faithful and true
51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.
58–66, Laws governing plural marriage are set forth
59 Verily, if a man be called of my Father, as was Aaron, by mine own voice, and by the voice of him that sent me…
|1—6, Must obey terms of the covenant
Receive and obey instructions
If-then covenant / abide or be damned
Abide the law & conditions
Covenant / receive and abide the law or be damned—see 4
7—14, Covenant requires order & authority
All covenants by must be by proper authority
Why is this statement here? To emphasize point about going through authority
v. 12: A commandment is here!
No authority = no value – see 7
15—20, Marriage as an example of covenant order & authority
The problem = not abiding God’s law
Words repeated from v 7
Contrasting, positive example; see 7 and 18
Marriage info in 19-20 is an example of the importance and effect of following law and order
21—25, Difference between receiving and abiding emphasized
See 3 and 12
26—27, Marriage used to illustrate law about denying HG
See 4 and 6
28—39, Eternal promises depend on our obedience to commandments
40—47, Avoiding sin by abiding in the law and following authority
48—50, Sealing power / authority is effective if and only if done by Lord’s law and order
JS is like Abraham, ES must be like Sarah. ß obeys a commandment through a prophet to her.
Emma, then is also an example to us.
Must be called, like an ancient example, through a prophet
THE FOUR IMPERATIVES
More actions are implied inside of other statements, but this section has three direct imperatives: sentences that give a direct order for a specific action.
- Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. (3)
- Receive ye, therefore, my law. (24)
- Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. (32—what works did Abraham do? See v. 29)
- Let this suffice for the present (66)
THE NINE EXAMPLES
What exactly did Abraham do to make his example so important to follow? (Indeed, after “God” and “Lord,” Abraham is the most common proper name in this revelation, occurring 20 times.) He did the same thing that the other eight named people in section 132 did—he obeyed the commandments and lived according to God’s law. Abraham explicitly (and the other eight, implicitly then) is offered as an example to us (see v. 32).
PRAISED BECAUSE THEY:
|1. Abraham||* received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word (29)
* was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. (36)
* received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law (37)
|2. Sarah||gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law (34)|
|3 & 4. Isaac also and Jacob||did none other things than that which they were commanded (37)|
|5, 6, 7. David…and also Solomon and Moses my servants||in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. (38)|
|8. Joseph Smith||your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you (50)|
|9. Emma Smith||she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice. (51)|
What’s section 132 really about? The lesson is repeated at the end of the revelation:
- I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law. (64)
- it shall be lawful in me… for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him (65)
- Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law (65)