DC Section 76: A Description of Eternity

......Or The Millenium?


The RLDS Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 contains a description of Celestial, Terrestrial and Celestial 'Glories.'

For a generation, we have heard these describe the 'final' state of humanity during eternity. But on closer inspection, was 'Eternity' really the topic of discussion?

In answer to this question, it is important to understand that the revelation came in response to the question: "tell us about the Resurrection of the Just and the UnJust."

So if Joseph Smith and Sydney Ridgon asked regarding the Resurrection of the Just and UnJust, isn't it likely that God responded according to their question?

Jesus said if a child asked his father for food, the father wouldn't likely give him a stone to eat; likewise, would our Heavenly Father provide an unrelated answer in response to an earnest question?

For instance, if someone asked, "please tell me about Michigan, would you give a description of Texas?" Probably not. Therefore it is reasonable that DC 76 actully answers the question 'tell us concerning the resurrection of just and unjust.'

So, (and here is the key point), when is the Resurrection of the Just and when is the Resurrection of the UnJust?

Understanding four terms is essential:

The Resurrection of the Just: the resurrection of the JUST is for the good people who have previously lived, it denotes a day in time when they come forth and live ON THE EARTH. It is the Millenium and the resurrection of the Just is what officially starts it. The Resurrection of the Just is also referred to as The First Resurrection.

The Resurrection of the UnJust: it must be understood that the resurrection of the UNJUST is at the END of the Millenium. This is a point (day) in time when the unrepentant people who were not permitted to take part in the resurrection come forth. This is the Second resurrection, or the LAST resurrection.

The understanding of Glory: Glory, is defined by DC 90 as 'light and truth.' In other words, one who has greater light and truth about God, therefore has experienced greater Glory. It is not necessarily a physical place so much as a condition of understanding and transformation. Two people can occupy the same space and have different light and truth, therefore they can experience differerent Glory simultaneously.

A misperception with the term 'Glory' exists. Because glory is metaphorically compared to light (the light of the Sun, Moon and Stars), people associate Glories as 'different places' (planets, galaxies, whatever) in their state of 'glory.' Glory, in other words, has been associated with place or separate places.

Final term: Eternity. Eternity is when God 'makes all things new.' A New Heaven, a New Earth. This is after the Millenium; after Final Judgement. Eternity and the Millenium are not the same.

The misunderstanding of these terms has created a poignant mis-understanding regarding the after-life within the church.

Keep in mind, these things are not points to divide over. Whether we fully understand these has no bearing on our salvation--in the end, we all find out what was true and what wasn't. But, if we can teach truth now, we should. This paper attempts to clarify a mis-understanding of doctrine.

Therefore, with that in mind, portions of DC 76 are shared below.

Read the text on the left, with a simple analysis on the right noting the reference to when the event happens in the future.


DC 76 Was Given In Response To A Question. Understanding that Question is Key to Understanding the Revelation.

Section 76 is a description of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon’s vision they beheld upon inquiry regarding John 5:29.  This passage, dealing with the resurrection of the dead, refers to a specific resurrection:

“…speaking of the resurrection of the dead, concerning those who  shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth; 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

The scriptures agree that those who die in their sins and do not have part on the earth during the Millennial reign are resurrected at the end of the 1000 years; however, those who are righteous are resurrected at the beginning of the 1000 years,  at his coming in glory.  Therefore, when John describes the resurrection of the “just” and “unjust,”  the just are only resurrected at one of the two resurrections:  that at the coming in glory, the first resurrection, which takes place at the beginning of the Millennium. 

Details of Section 76 seem, rather,  to describe characteristics of the first resurrection (as compared to eternity after the last resurrection) in great detail.  We as Reorganized Latter Day Saints, traditionally associate descriptions of Celestial,  Terrestrial, and Telestial glory with eternal realms beyond the final judgment (last resurrection).  Is this actually what Section 76 is-a description of life after the last resurrection, or a description during  the first resurrection (i.e. the Millennium itself)?

The preface in verse DC 76:5a regarding those of Celestial and Terrestrial glory begins with this:

 and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ, concerning them who come forth in the resurrection of the just

Ah Haaa....stated plainly, we have a description of when these events occur:  the resurrection of the just!  Is this at the end or beginning of the Millennium? (Answer=Resurrection of the 'Just' is at the beginning of the Millennium).  

Keep this in mind when you read the descriptions of the light and truth within the following three groups of people.

Description of people called "CELESTIAL"

5e they are they who are the church of the Firstborn  

The Firstborn return with Christ at His coming in Glory? When does he return? (Answer, beginning of Millenium)

5g…who have received of his fullness, and of his glory  

Have received fullness of his light and truth--glory not a place but a condtion

5k these are they whom he shall bring with him when he shall come in the clouds of heaven  

When does Jesus come?

Beginning of Millennium.

to reign on the earth over his people;  

When does Jesus reign over the earth?

 Beginning of Millennium.

5n these are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God the heavenly place, the holiest of all; 

When is Zion? During the Millenium

5o… to the general assembly and church of Enoch  

When does Enoch's church return? Beginning of Millenium.

5l these are they who shall have part in the first resurrection

First Resurrection IS THE Ressurection of the Just, starting the Millenium, not Eternity.

5m these are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just  

When is the resurrection of the 'Just?'

Beginning of Millennium

5r these are they whose bodies are celestial


So, what description is given to these people?  Celestial.  

This means that there will be people alive during the Millennium that can and have dwelt in the presence of God on earth.


Description of People called "TERRESTRIAL"

whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn   Glory is Light and Truth--i.e. not a place, but a difference between the amount of light and truth they have received (the Spirit) from the Father.
they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh,   (1 Pet 3:18, 1 Pet 4:6). 

(DC 85:28 describes those who were prisoners released in the first resurrection, when the second trump sounds.  Christ claims these as his.  Also, Gen 7:64 describes the prison house captives being released at the time of Christ’s death and stand on the right hand of God)  


Wherefore they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial
Since these are described as ones who stand on the right hand of God, after a previous time in the prison house.  This makes clear their state is during the Millennium.  

This means that there are those resurrected who can not stand in the presence of God, because they have not yet received the Gift of the Holy Ghost in the flesh (yet).  They can abide in the presence of The Son of God, defined as God who has taken on flesh.


Telestial Description

  • 7d these are they who are thrust down to hell (recall Rev 20:14 that hell is cast into the lake of fire after the last resurrection, the second death.  If this description is of the Telestial world after the final judgment, then it would be a scriptural conflict since “Hell” will not exist then.)

  • 7e these are they who shall not be redeemed from the Devil, until the last resurrection until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work;

  • 7f… for they shall be heirs of salvation

  • 7n last of all, these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud  (..first resurrection)

  • 7r…are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God until the fullness of times

  • when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work, when he shall deliver up the kingdom and present it unto the Father spotless….(this happens at beginning of last resurrection according to verse 7e above)

  • 7v for they shall be judged according to their works; and every man shall receive according to his own works, and his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared, and they shall be servants of the Most High, but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.


Sons of Perdition

4e the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; yea, verily,

Notice that the 2nd death (i.e. final separation) is described ONLY for Sons of Perdition

the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath;

Notice that these are the only ones who are not redeemed--i.e. Brought back to the Father.
4f for all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, Everyone else is redeemed after Millenium, but many will suffer the 1000 years in the prision house.


This revelation ultimately indicates that during the Millennium (i.e. after the first resurrection), there are people on earth who can dwell in God's presence (i.e. 'Celestial') and people who can not abide the Fullness yet (i.e. 'Terrestrial'). 

It also describes a group who spend the thousand years away in the Prision House, but those who repent receive 'glory' in the end. Those do not suffer eternity outside of God's presence.

This word glory, as described in Section 76, simply describes the state of those at the resurrection during the Millennium. For a generation, Saints have read the passage too quickly, assuming it described conditions and separate places in eternity, which it does not.

It seems we have few scriptures actually describing the state of Eternity--i.e. life beyond the Millenium.


Takehome Points:

  1. The Glories mentioned in DC 76 describe the conditions of people who come forth during the Millenium:

  2. Celestial 'bodies' are people who have already been transformed and can dwell in the presence of the Father.

  3. Terestrial describes people who have not yet been transformed bodily, and can not abide the fullness of the Father (in his Spirit) but can the Son (in his flesh)

  4. Terrestrial and Celestial people occupy the Earth during the Millenium simultaneously.

  5. Telestial people are in the prision house during the Millenium. Those who repent are freed at the resurrection of the UnJust. Those unrepentant are doomed to suffer the 'Second Death'--eternity away from God.

Interestingly, the Book of Mormon does not include any of the words Celestial, Terrestrial or Telestial.

According to the Book of Mormon, The final state of mankind is to dwell in the presence of God or be cast out.

1 Nephi 4:61 Wherefore, the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken;



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