Doctrine and Covenants 76: “Great Shall Be Their Reward and Eternal Shall Be Their Glory” (July 5-11)

Glory in Degrees,” by Annie Henrie

As Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon worked on an inspired translation of the Bible, they had a number of questions about life after death. In particular, they wondered about a passage in which the Savior spoke of “the resurrection of life” and “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). In their version of this passage, the Savior says:

They who have done good, in the resurrection of the just; and they who have done evil, in the resurrection of the unjust.

John 5:29, footnote b

Joseph and Sidney were confused by this passage. Perhaps it was the positive word “resurrection” applied to the unrighteous that made them wonder what they were missing. Joseph later explained, “It appeared self-evident…that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body the term ‘Heaven,’ as intended for the Saints’ eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one” (“History, 1838–1856, volume A-1” p. 183, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed July 2, 2021).

In response to these questions, Joseph and Sidney saw an expansive vision in which they learned about the state of various groups of people after death. They experienced this revelation on February 16, 1832, in the presence of group of church members, who didn’t see what they saw, but who heard their description in real time. Their account of this revelation (Doctrine and Covenants 76) became generally known in the Church as “The Vision.” Here is an outline of their account:

  1. Preamble: God will reveal all mysteries to those who serve Him (v. 1-10).
  2. Context: Joseph and Sidney were meditating on a confusing passage of scripture (v. 11-19).
  3. The Savior: They saw the Son of God, and testified that He lives (v. 20-24).
  4. Perdition: The suffering and sorrow of the devil and his angels (v. 25-49)
  5. Celestial glory: The future state of people who had been cleansed from their sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (v. 50-70, 92-96).
  6. Terrestrial glory: The future state of “honorable men” who were “not valiant in their testimony of Jesus” (v. 71-80, 91, 97).
  7. Telestial glory: The future state of those who refused to receive the gospel (v. 82-90, 98-112).
  8. Epilogue: God will share His mysteries with those who love Him (113-119).

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from this revelation, with relevant blog posts:

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