Account of John, , Susquehanna Co., PA, Apr. 1829. Featured version, titled “7th. Commandment AD 1829,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 13–14; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
In April 1829, JS dictated the following revelation, which in its first publication was described as the of an ancient parchment written by the apostle John. Ancient writings besides the Book of Mormon began to interest JS and not long after they started their translation of the . The Book of Mormon manuscript itself mentioned several ancient texts, and additionally, JS had dictated a revelation promising Cowdery the privilege, if he so desired, of translating “records which contain much of my gospel, which have been kept back because of the wickedness of the people.” Then, as JS and Cowdery continued the Book of Mormon translation, a “difference of opinion” arose between them regarding a question left unanswered in the New Testament: whether “John the Apostle . . . died, or whether he continued” on earth until the second coming of Christ. The source of this disagreement was the final chapter of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus prophesied of the apostle Peter’s death. When Peter asked what would happen to his fellow apostle John, Jesus responded, “If I will that he should tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” Questions about the fate of John were common in JS’s time. For example, Adam Clarke, a noted Bible commentator, wrote, “For nearly eighteen hundred years, the greatest men in the world have been puzzled with this passage [John 21:22].” JS and Cowdery’s discussion of this issue possibly arose when they encountered a passage in the translation of the plates describing the biblical prophet Moses and the Book of Mormon prophet Alma as having been “taken up by the spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord.”
JS’s history reports that he and “mutually agreed to settle it [their question] by the , and the following is the word which we received.” As noted, this revelation was said to be “translated from parchment, written and hid up” by John himself, and the text begins in the first person, with John stating, “And the Lord said unto me,” followed by an account in which Jesus declares the respective fates of John and Peter.
The Book of Mormon mentions several ancient records, such as “the plates of brass,” “the plates of Nephi,” and twenty-four gold plates. The Bible also mentions ancient texts not included in its pages. (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 153–154, 172 [Mosiah 1:3–6; 8:5–11]; see also, for example, Numbers 21:14; Joshua 10:13; and 1 Chronicles 29:29.)
Clarke, New Testament, 631; see also Henry, Exposition of the Old and New Testament, 957–959; and Scott, Holy Bible, 599.
Clarke, Adam. The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Text Carefully Printed from the Most Correct Copies of the Present Authorised Version, Including the Marginal Readings and Parallel Texts, with a Commentary and Critical Notes. . . . Vol. 1. New York: B. Waugh and T. Mason, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1833.
Henry, Matthew. An Exposition of the Old and New Testament . . . with Practical Remarks and Observations. Edited by George Burder and Joseph Hughes. Vol. 5. Philadelphia: Ed. Barrington and Geo. D. Haswell, .Henry, Matthew. An Exposition of the Old and New Testament. Vol. 1 of An Exposition of All the Books of the Old and New Testament. London: J. Clark, 1725.
Scott, Thomas, ed. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, according to the Authorized Version: With Explanatory Notes and Practical Observations. Vol. 5. 9th American ed. Boston: Samuel T. Armstrong, 1823.
Book of Commandments 6. No account suggests that JS had this parchment in his possession; rather, he obtained the English translation of the parchment “by the Urim and Thummin.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 15.)
Several weeks after recording this revelation, JS and Cowdery translated a similar account in the Book of Mormon in which Jesus asks the twelve Nephite disciples, “What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?” All but three echo Peter’s request to “speedily come” to the Lord. To the three, however, Jesus declares, “Ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved, . . . desired of me.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 509–510 [3 Nephi 28:1–2, 6].)
A Revelation to Joseph & concerning John the Beloved Deciple who leaned on his Saveiours breast given on in Susquehannah County Pennsylvania
And the Lord said unto me. John my Beloved what desiredst thou & I said Lord give unto me power that I may bring souls unto thee & the Lord said unto me Veriley Verily I say unto thee because thou desiredst this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory & for this cause the Lord said unto Peter if I will that he tarry till I come what is that to thee [p. 13]