Rebaptism, Sep 1, 1842

-- Sep 1, 1842
Section 127, Place: Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.

Historical Note: Sections 127 and 128 consist of two letters dictated by Joseph Smith on Thursday, 1 September, and Tuesday, 6 September, 1842. These two letters, written in the hand of William Clayton, were addressed to "all the Saints in Nauvoo" at a time when the Prophet was making few public appearances because of threats of unlawful arrest. Governor Carlin of Illinois, responding to a demand from the governor of Missouri, issued a warrant for Joseph Smith's arrest as an accessory before the fact in an assault with intent to kill Lilburn W. Boggs, ex-governor of Missouri. Having been arrested but temporarily released on 8 August 1842, the Prophet remained "in retirement" to avoid reapprehension. It was not until 5 January 1843 that Joseph Smith was formally discharged from this arrest.

The letters concern themselves with salvation for the dead, a subject of much interest and discussion in 1842. Baptism for the dead was first publicly announced on 15 August 1840 at the funeral of Seymour Brunson. Immediately after the announcement of the new doctrine, Church members began performing proxy baptisms in the Mississippi River and in local streams. While those administering these vicarious ordinances in 1840 were not without authority, the actions were not recorded; consequently the baptisms were later repeated. On 3 October 1841 Joseph Smith declared, "There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinances can be attended to in the Lord's House. . . . For thus saith the Lord." Baptisms for the dead in the Nauvoo Temple were first performed on Sunday, 21 November 1841. With few exceptions, endowments and sealings for the dead were first administered in the St. George, Utah, Temple.

On 31 August 1842, while addressing members of the Female Relief Society in Nauvoo, Joseph Smith remarked that "a few things had been manifested to him. . . respecting the baptism for the dead." Although he desired to wait "until he had opportunity to discuss the subject to greater length," the Prophet emphasized that "all persons baptiz'd for the dead must have a Recorder present, that he may be an eye-witness to testify of it. " Sections 127 and 128 both give special attention to the matter of having witnesses and recorders for the work of the dead.

Publication Note. Section 127 was first published in the Times and Seasons (15 September 1842) and was included as section 105 in the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. (1)

1 - Cook, Lyndon, Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants,

LDS History Chronology: Unconventional Baptisms

Mormon History Timeline: Forms of Rebaptism in LDS History