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While the Prophet Joseph Smith was still at Fayette, N.Y., on Jan. 2, 1831, he was promised by the Lord that the saints would receive His law, if they would gather in Ohio. (D&C 38:32.)

In Kirtland, Ohio, on Feb. 4, 1831, the Lord added that the members should receive the "law" in answer to prayer and faithfulness. (D&C 41:3.)Those promises were fulfilled on Feb. 9 when, in Kirtland, Joseph Smith received a revelation in the presence of 12 elders. This revelation is commonly referred to as "the law." (D&C 42:2.)

Only verses 1 through 73 of Section 42 were given on Feb. 9; the remainder of the section, verses 74 through 93, was given two weeks later on Feb. 23. The two sets of verses were published as two separate chapters in the Book of Commandments.

In Church History and Modern Revelation, Vol. 1, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: "In this revelation many commandments given from the very beginning and reiterated in the days of Moses, were again proclaimed as being in force for the government of the Church in these latter days.

"By grave and solemn proclamation the members of the Church were commanded to observe all these laws and others which were yet future but would be given for the establishment of the City of Zion - New Jerusalem - which was to be built by the law of consecration and obedience to the fulness of the Gospel."

President George Q. Cannon said, "Altogether this Section 42T was a most important revelation. It threw a flood of light upon a great variety of subjects and settled many important questions. Faithful men and women were greatly delighted at being members of a Church which the Lord acknowledged as His own, and to which He communicated His word through His inspired Prophet as He did at this time." (Church Educational System's Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, pages 82-86.)

Section 42 contains several distinct facets, including:

-The law of missionary work. (Verses 4-10)

-The law of ordination. (Verses 11-17)

-The law of moral conduct. (Verses 18-29)

-The law of charity. (Verses 30-34)

-The law of consecration. (Verses 35-36)

-The law of Church discipline. (Verses 37-39)

-The law concerning transgressors. (Verses 78-93)