In English-speaking countries, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use and study the King James Version of the Bible.
“. . . none of these [other] translations surpasses the King James version of the English Bible in beauty of language and spiritual connotation, and probably in faithful adherence to the text available to translators. It is this version which is used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in all of its official work both at home and abroad. The literature of the Church refers invariably to the King James’ translation. Other translations are used by the Church only to help explain obscure passages in the authorized version.” (Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 120.)
The Mormon Church has not added or taken away anything from the King James Version of the Bible. Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the last dispensation of time before the Second Coming of the Savior, began a translation of the Bible, as commanded by God. His retranslated verses show up as footnotes in the cross-referenced edition used by the Church, except for Matthew 24, which is included in its entirety in the collection of scripture called the Pearl of Great Price.
“The Inspired Version [as it is called by its publishers] does not supplant the King James Version as the official church version of the Bible, but the explanations and changes made by the Prophet Joseph Smith provide enlightenment and useful commentary on many biblical passages.
Christ is the Way
There is no other way to God except through Christ. His is the only name given in heaven and earth that will lead us to salvation. Mormons accept the whole of the New Testament as the word of God. Scholars, however, have found several passages added to the New Testament several hundred years after the original texts were created, mostly to validate trinitarian philosophy. These will be discussed in this commentary.
After His resurrection, Christ fulfilled His mission to Israel by visiting a branch of Israelites in the Americas, and then the Ten Lost Tribes. We do not yet have a record of His ministry to the Ten Lost Tribes, but we do have part of the record of His ministry in the Americas. This record validates the Bible record and is a second witness to prove that Christ did indeed live, was crucified, and rose again on the third day, that He was and is the Son of God, Creator and Redeemer of the world.
Late Mormon prophet Ezra Taft Benson said,
“To learn of Christ necessitates the study of the scriptures and the testimonies of those who know him. We come to know him through prayer and the inspiration and revelation that God has promised to those who keep his commandments.” ( Conference Report, Oct. 1972, p. 53.)
This commentary follows a chronological approach when dealing with the Four Gospels, rather than going all the way through each gospel.
While there is much in common in all four gospel accounts, each writer includes material not found in the others, and each bears his witness of the Savior in a slightly different way. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar in their approach, although each seems to have written to a particular group of people, and thus are called the “Synoptic” gospels. (The word synoptic comes from the Greek word meaning “from the same view.”) John’s materials and viewpoint differ more notably, but nevertheless still contain much of the same historical information as the other three (The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ).
Do Mormons Believe in a Different Jesus?
Sometimes Mormons are accused of believing in a different Jesus. This is an accusation meant to demean Mormons or condemn them, and most do not stop to consider the logic behind Mormon doctrines about Christ.
Mormons believe that worlds without number were created by God, and all those worlds were created by and through Jesus Christ, including our own world. Both God the Father and Jesus Christ have existed for eons of time, enough time for all of these creations to be accomplished. Mormons have a lot of scripture and doctrine about “pre-mortal” life, while most Christian sects have only a few brief and confusing references to the “war in heaven” and the fall of Lucifer (Satan).
If there was a war in heaven that resulted in Lucifer being cast out (as Mormons and other Christians believe), then someone had to be there to fight in that war. Mormon doctrine explains that we were all there, as the literal spirit children of our loving Father in Heaven. Every living being on the earth chose to follow Jesus Christ and His loving plan of salvation, which would include His atonement for our sins. Those who fought against the Savior were cast out with Lucifer.
Jesus Christ was the first-born of God in the spirit. We call Him Jehovah in His pre-mortal state. Most of the time, when God speaks in the Old Testament, it is the voice of Jehovah, the pre-mortal Christ. When Christ was born on the earth, He was the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. As a human being, Jesus had the capacity to lay down His life. As the Son of God, He had the ability to take it up again. Mormons belief that Christ was resurrected and glorified, and continues to be a resurrected and glorified being of flesh and bone, just as He appeared to be when He ministered to His apostles as a resurrected being. We believe that Christ will come again to usher in His millennial reign on earth, just as most other Christians believe.
Joseph Smith worked on a new translation of the Bible, and He received by revelation parts of Genesis, which he called the Book of Moses. These verses say something about Jesus Christ. Moses saw in vision some part of the universe God had made.
“And by the word of my power have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
“And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. . . .
“. . . For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power [which is his Only Begotten Son]. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them. . . .
“And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
“And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.” ( Moses 1:2–3, 32–33, 35, 37–38 .)
Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God
The name “Jesus” is the Greek derivation of the name “Y’shuah,” which means “Help of Jehovah,” “Savior-Deliverer,” or “Jehovah Is Salvation.” This name was given to Joseph of Nazareth by an angel. (See Matthew 1:21.) The word “Christ” is also of Greek derivation and means Messiah, or Anointed One. Jesus has many other names (such as Immanuel, “God with Us,” some given to us through ancient prophets, and all referring to His great power and majesty.
The name Jehovah means the “Self-Existent One” or “The Eternal.” It is written in our Old Testament as Lord in capital letters. According to ancient Jewish practice, the name Jehovah or I Am (the Self-Existent One) was not to be spoken for fear of incurring divine wrath.
“Every prophet that there has been in the world has borne record that he is the Son of God, because in its very nature that is the chief calling of a prophet. The testimony of Jesus is synonymous with the spirit of prophecy.” (Bruce R. McConkie in CR, Oct. 1948, p. 24.)
The following are some Old Testament prophecies of Jesus Christ and their New Testament fulfillments.
|1. Zechariah 9:9||1. Matthew 21:1–5|
|2. Zechariah 11:12, 13||2. Matthew 26:15 ; 27:7|
|3. Micah 5:1 ; Isaiah 50:6||3. Matthew 27:30|
|4. Isaiah 53:9, 12||4. Matthew 27:38, 57–60|
|5. Isaiah 26:19||5. Matthew 27:52, 53|
*Parts of this article were adapted from The Life and Teachings of Jesus Chirst, the New Testament Manual of the Institute of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.