As he approached the annual conference of 1873, President Smith was deeply concerned that he was again the only member of the First Presidency (Counselor William Marks had died in May 1872) and that the death of Apostle Samuel Powers in February 1873 had left the Quorum of Twelve with but five members. This concern was shared by the remaining members of the Twelve, and these were joined by a number of the Seventy in requesting that the prophet seek divine guidance.
In presenting the following revelation to the elders of the church, President Smith stated that it had been received "in answer to long and continued and earnest prayer to God upon the condition of the Quorums of the Church."
The revelation was approved by the available apostles and, on April 10, 1873, was endorsed by the conference. With the ordination of William Wallace Blair and David H. Smith, as provided for in this instruction, the quorum of the First Presidency was now complete for the first time since the reorganization of the church. This was also the first time in the Reorganization that members of the Twelve had been called by revelation through the President of the Church. Prior to this time, and on occasions in the early church, members of the Twelve had been selected by committees.
[Sec 117:1] Hearken to the voice of the Spirit, O ye elders of my church; the prayers of my people have prevailed with me.
[Sec 117:2] Behold, it is wisdom in me, and expedient in my church that the chief quorums should be more nearly filled, and their organization more nearly completed. Thus saith the Spirit.
[Sec 117:3a] Let my servants, William W. Blair and David H. Smith, be chosen and ordained to be counselors to my servant, the presiding elder of my church.
[Sec 117:3b] Let them be set apart to this office by the laying on of hands by my servants whose duty it is to ordain and set in order the officers of my church;
[Sec 117:3c] and let my servants, the president of the high priests' quorum and the president of the lesser priesthood, also lay their hands upon these their brethren who are to be counselors, but let my servants of the Twelve be the spokesmen.
[Sec 117:4a] Let my servants William H. Kelley, Thomas W. Smith, James Caffall, John H. Lake, Alexander H. Smith, Zenas H. Gurley, and Joseph R. Lambert, be chosen as especial witnesses, even of the Quorum of Twelve, for they are called thereunto, that they may take this ministry upon them.
[Sec 117:4b] Let them be ordained and set apart to this office by the laying on of the hands of my servants Joseph Smith, Jason W. Briggs, and William W. Blair.
[Sec 117:5] Verily, I say unto you, If these my servants will henceforth magnify their calling in honor before me, they shall become men of power and excellent wisdom in the assemblies of my people.
[Sec 117:6] Let the names of my servants Daniel B. Rasey and Reuben Newkirk be taken from the record of the Quorum of the Twelve and placed with the records of the names of the elders, and let them labor as elders, and their labors will be accepted by me.[Sec 117:7a] It is my will that my servants, Jason W. Briggs, Josiah Ells, and Edmund C. Briggs, remain and stand in their lot as especial witnesses before me.
[Sec 117:7b] Let them diligently labor in their ministry, encouraging and directing their brethren in their labors.
[Sec 117:7c] It is expedient for the good of my cause that my servant Jason take the active oversight of this quorum.
[Sec 117:8a] Let my servants Archibald M. Wilsey, William D. Morton, and George Rarick, be ordained high priests:
[Sec 117:8b] and let my servants E. C. Brand, Charles W. Wandell, and Duncan Campbell be appointed as special witnesses of the Seventy in their places;
[Sec 117:8c] and let my servants Joseph Lakeman, Glaud Rodger, John T. Davies, and John S. Patterson be also appointed as witnesses of the Seventy before me.
[Sec 117:9a] Until such time as the quorum of the Twelve shall be filled, the decision of that quorum, a unanimous decision, shall be accounted final, as if such quorum were filled, according to my law as given in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
[Sec 117:9b] And until such time as the quorum of the Seventy shall be filled, their decision, if unanimous and agreeing with that of the quorum of the Twelve, shall be considered the same as if the quorum were filled.
[Sec 117:10a] It is expedient that the Bishop of my church shall choose two counselors, and that they be ordained to their office as my law directs, that there may be henceforth no caviling among my people.
[Sec 117:10b] The bishop of my church may also choose and appoint Bishop's agents, until it shall be wisdom in me to ordain other bishops, in the districts and large branches of my church.
[Sec 117:11a] It is not expedient in me that there shall be any stakes appointed until I command my people. When it shall be necessary I will command that they be established.
[Sec 117:11b] Let my commandments to gather into the regions round about, and the counsel of the elders of my church guide in this matter until it shall be otherwise given of me.
[Sec 117:12] Behold, if my servants and my handmaidens, of the different organizations for good among my people, shall continue in righteousness, they shall be blessed, even as they bless others of the household of faith.
[Sec 117:13] Let contentions and quarrelings among you cease. Sustain each other in peace, and ye shall be blessed with my Spirit, in comforting and strengthening you for my work.
[Sec 117:14] It is not expedient that I command you further at this time; but be ye diligent, wise, and faithful, doing all things with an eye single for the glory of your God, and for the good of his people. Thus saith the Lord. Amen.