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christopherbross

D&C 84:46 - "through the world"?

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I am studying D&C 84 and presently find myself associated with verse 46.

"And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit."

"[T]he Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world," is in reference to the Light of Christ (according to every General Authority quotation and reference I can find). The second half of the verse refers to the idea of following the quiet promptings of the Light of Christ - as an individual does so, that individual is given a greater portion of the Spirit. This is evident in several quotations but, for example:

“The Light of Christ will lead the honest soul to ‘hearkeneth to the voice’ to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost.” (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, April 2003 General Conference) or “Not only does this verse [verse 46] provide a further witness that we all have access to this source of divine direction, it also emphasizes the need for us to hearken, or listen and respond, to the promptings we receive….These intimations, sometimes referred to as conscience but more accurately defined as the Light of Christ, not only help us in deciding what is right and what is wrong, they will, if followed, lead us to the source of that light which emanates from the presence of the Father and the Son.” (Elder Kenneth Johnson, October 2002 General Conference)

Thus the meaning of this verse becomes clear. So, here is my question:

What does it mean, when we read in verse 46, that "the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth"? That phrase "through the world" doesn't seem to fit and I can't determine a meaning for it in context of the rest of the verse. What are your thoughts?

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I am studying D&C 84 and presently find myself associated with verse 46.

"And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit."

"[T]he Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world," is in reference to the Light of Christ (according to every General Authority quotation and reference I can find). The second half of the verse refers to the idea of following the quiet promptings of the Light of Christ - as an individual does so, that individual is given a greater portion of the Spirit. This is evident in several quotations but, for example:

“The Light of Christ will lead the honest soul to ‘hearkeneth to the voice’ to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost.” (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, April 2003 General Conference) or “Not only does this verse [verse 46] provide a further witness that we all have access to this source of divine direction, it also emphasizes the need for us to hearken, or listen and respond, to the promptings we receive….These intimations, sometimes referred to as conscience but more accurately defined as the Light of Christ, not only help us in deciding what is right and what is wrong, they will, if followed, lead us to the source of that light which emanates from the presence of the Father and the Son.” (Elder Kenneth Johnson, October 2002 General Conference)

Thus the meaning of this verse becomes clear. So, here is my question:

What does it mean, when we read in verse 46, that "the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth"? That phrase "through the world" doesn't seem to fit and I can't determine a meaning for it in context of the rest of the verse. What are your thoughts?

I believe that part of understanding this concept is in understanding the religious context in which it was given. But let me take a step further in this exploration. It has recently come to my attention that the LDS concepts are a stark or even radical departure from what we might term as the traditional religious concepts – especially the traditional Christian concepts.

From strictly a diplomatic or using propaganda we could also reference Traditional Christian Concepts as medieval philosophies constructed during the Dark Ages through a mingling of Greek philosophies with the ancient Christian Scriptures. With this understand lets investigate the landscape of Christianity during the discovery stages of revelation during initial stages of the Restoration. One of the beliefs of Traditional Christianity is the necessity for Christian communities based in Christian Law. In essence Traditional Christianity divided the world into two parts; the World of Christianity and the Heathen or Gentile world of Infidels.

In essence Traditional Christianity believed that those that live outside the statutes and states of Christian law and government are d-----, unable to be saved unless they are converted to Christianity and reject the culture and laws of their inheritance. Though the seeds of new thought were already impacting Christians in America at the time of Joseph Smith (Freedom of religion) verse 46 makes it very clear that “the Spirit” was not completely absent in non-Christian societies and that the Saints are to look forward, with great anticipation, to divinely inspired principles in the native cultures (ie. nations, tongues and peoples) of new converts from every even distant place on earth. In short that those that are converted in non-Christian cultures can and do bring to the body of Saints enlightenment as important as those born and raised in Traditional Christian Cultures.

The Traveler

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Guest Doctrine

I think the answer is that we are all giving the light of Christ as as we journey thru this life here on earth, things are not always easy, but when we listen to the spirit we can make better choices and have peace.

Knowledge is the gained thru study and experience, and wisdom is gained by righteously living that knowledge.

Edited by Doctrine

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I am studying D&C 84 and presently find myself associated with verse 46.

"And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit."

"[T]he Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world," is in reference to the Light of Christ (according to every General Authority quotation and reference I can find). The second half of the verse refers to the idea of following the quiet promptings of the Light of Christ - as an individual does so, that individual is given a greater portion of the Spirit. This is evident in several quotations but, for example:

“The Light of Christ will lead the honest soul to ‘hearkeneth to the voice’ to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost.” (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, April 2003 General Conference) or “Not only does this verse [verse 46] provide a further witness that we all have access to this source of divine direction, it also emphasizes the need for us to hearken, or listen and respond, to the promptings we receive….These intimations, sometimes referred to as conscience but more accurately defined as the Light of Christ, not only help us in deciding what is right and what is wrong, they will, if followed, lead us to the source of that light which emanates from the presence of the Father and the Son.” (Elder Kenneth Johnson, October 2002 General Conference)

Thus the meaning of this verse becomes clear. So, here is my question:

What does it mean, when we read in verse 46, that "the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth"? That phrase "through the world" doesn't seem to fit and I can't determine a meaning for it in context of the rest of the verse. What are your thoughts?

I think if you substitute the word "through" with "throughout" it makes a little more sense. In other words, it is saying that anyone who listens to the missionaries or members who bear their testimony of the Spirit will also be enlightened. The rest of the section explains the focus of 'letting our light shine' and not hiding it under a bushel. Look at verses 62 - 64.

Matthew 5: " 14 Ye are the alight of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a acandle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

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Thank you all for your wonderful answers! I particularly think Seminarysnoozer is onto something. The 1828 Webster's Dictionary gives one definition of "through" as "Over the whole surface or extent" (see Search => [word] => through :: 1828 Dictionary :: Search the 1828 Noah Webster's Dictionary of the English Language (FREE) :: 1828.mshaffer.com). This definition, while still in use today, is not as common now as it was then. Thus, I think you're correct in replacing "through" in this verse with "throughout." That really clarifies the meaning of the verse and I'll bet that's exactly what the Lord and Joseph Smith meant the word to indicate.

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What does it mean, when we read in verse 46, that "the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth"? That phrase "through the world" doesn't seem to fit and I can't determine a meaning for it in context of the rest of the verse. What are your thoughts?

In light of this question, and the internet site you shared in your last comment, my understanding of this question stems from this definition:

"By means of; by the agency of; noting instrumentality. This signification is a derivative of the last."

Specifically, the highlighted portion. "the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth" In other words, "the Spirit enlighteneth every man [by means of] the world, that hearkeneth."

The knowledge we obtain is through, by means of, experience which may humble us sufficiently so that our hearts and spirits are broken and lowly. Through the world, by means of the world, we are given weakness (Ether 12: 27), and through weakness we learn to trust in the Savior and his ability to overcome our weaknesses. How does the Lord bless us to overcome our weakness? By his spirit which enlightens us.

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Here is another thought.

Into - In verse 46 we see that the Spirit gives light to everyone that comes into the world.

Through - It then carries them through the world and out the other side if they hearken to the voice of the Spirit.

Unto - Until they come unto God the Father.

Thus going into the world, through it, and finally unto God. When they find God they are no more in the world but out of it. While they may yet reside on this physical Earth they are not under the bondage of sin but have found the Light. Anyone who has not found Him is yet under sin and has not come unto Him.

Addition: Prehaps that last sentence could be said this way. Anyone who is still under the weight of sin has not yet found Him. For it is almost inconcievable that once having received him that such a person would continue in sin. (see John 3:6-9)

Edited by james12

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Here are some quotes from church leaders regarding this particular verse:

Harold B. Lee

That means that every soul who walks the earth, wherever he lives, in whatever nation he may have been born, no matter whether he be in riches or in poverty, had at birth an endowment of that first light which is called the Light of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, or the Spirit of God-that universal light of intelligence with which every soul is blessed. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 99.)

James E. Faust

All people are enlightened by the Spirit of God, or Light of Christ, which is sometimes called conscience. Job stated, "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." (Job 32:8.) This is the Spirit of God emanating from Deity. This power is the means by which, as President Joseph F. Smith stated, "every man is enlightened, the wicked as well as the good, the intelligent and the ignorant, the high and the low, each in accordance with his capacity to receive the light." (Gospel Doctrine, p. 62) (Reach Up for the Light [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 116.)

Harold B. Lee

Now, that light which lighteth every person that cometh into the world-the Light of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, variously spoken of, the Spirit of God-is the eminence of great blessings upon all of mankind... Every one of us has been born with that light, the Light of Christ, that lights all of us who come into the world and it never ceases to strive with us, as long as we are keeping the commandments of God, to warn us and to guide us. You may call it conscience-you may call it the warning of the flesh. When you encounter obscene or filthy things, may you be preserved never to lose the righteous blush of shame when you are confronted with these things. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 102.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

The Holy Ghost, as we are taught in our modern revelation, is the third member in the Godhead and a personage of Spirit. These terms are used synonymously: Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, Spirit of Truth, Holy Spirit, Comforter; all having reference to the Holy Ghost. The same terms largely are used in relation to the Spirit of Jesus Christ, also called the Light of Truth, Light of Christ, Spirit of God, and Spirit of the Lord; and yet they are separate and distinct things. We have a great deal of confusion because we have not kept that clearly in our minds.

... If a man who has never heard the gospel will hearken to the teachings and manifestations of the Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Truth, which come to him, often spoken of as conscience-every man has a conscience and knows more or less when he does wrong, and the Spirit guides him if he will hearken to its whisperings-it will lead him eventually to the fulness of the gospel. That is, he is guided by the Light, and when the gospel comes he will be ready to receive it. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 1: 50-51.)

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Thank you for the continued comments! I have put these ideas into my outline of Section 84 in the following way (the formatting doesn't come through quite as well, sorry):

6. “through the world”

a) There seem to be three possible interpretations of the inclusion of this phrase

b) The first is elucidated by replacing the word “through” with the word “throughout”

(1) This is acceptable in light of one of the 1828 Webster’s definitions of “through”: “Over the whole surface or extent.”

(2) This simply indicates that the Spirit can enlighten every man in the world (if they hearken to the Light of Christ) regardless of their physical location

c) The second potential interpretation leaves the word “through” in its common definition of “through” indicating a passage from one end to the other or similar meanings

(1) This connects verse 47 and verse 46 with three prepositions: into, through, and unto (into the world, through the world, and unto God)

(2) This would indicate that the Spirit will enlighten every hearkening man traveling through the world in their progress through the Plan of Salvation

d) The third interpretation stems from the 1828 Webster’s definition “by means of”

(1) This would indicate that this verse is teaching us that the Spirit does enlighten those who hearken to the Light of Christ using the world as His enlightening tool

(2) This need not indicate that the world is the only source the Spirit uses for enlightenment but that one method the Spirit uses is the world (i.e. the verse is stating one portion of the larger truth)

I am impressed by the variety and scope of the ideas here presented. Thank you all again!

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After one last look through General Conference, I found the following quotation which I found to be extremely enlightening in an Apostle's interpretation of this passage:

“I further know that through prayerfully searching the scriptures and through obeying God's commands as therein written, we may individually be led safely through life by ‘the Voice of the Spirit’ according to the divine and glorious, soul-satisfying promise that: ‘. . . the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And [that] every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father’ (D&C 84:46-47). God grant that we may all so hearken and be so enlightened through the world, I humbly pray.” (President Marion G. Romney, April 1957 General Conference)

As per Elder Bednar's recent example with the Parable of the Ten Virgins, this does not exclude the other two interpretations but it is the only official interpretation I've been able to find in General Conference of the phrase in question.

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