Tuesday, September 27, 2022

"A Doctrine of Devils": The False Teachings of Robert Matthews ("Matthias")

In November 1835 Latter-day Saints in Kirtland Ohio were visited by a man who represented himself to be a Jewish teacher by the name “Joshua.” While in Kirtland, the Prophet patiently listened to the man, and then after several days, dismissed his teachings as erroneous, and told him to leave.

The man’s real name, as it turned out, was not Joshua, but Robert Matthews (also known as Matthias), and he is the subject of an interesting biography now in a second edition. See Paul E. Johnson and Sean Wilentz, The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th Century America, updated edition (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). That book provides useful historical context on Matthias’ background and ideas. Readers who want to know more about Matthias may want to consult that biography as well as Joseph Smith’s journal account of his visit given below. The extract from Joseph Smith’s account of his encounter with Matthias as recorded in his 1835 journal is given below at the end of this post (original punctuation and spelling is included). 

We can draw several conclusions about this man's teachings and understand several reasons that the Joseph Smith found them erroneous and inconsistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

First, while there may have been additional things with which he may have taken issue (Joseph remarked that Matthias’ mind was “evidently filled with darkness”), Smith’s account makes clear that the man’s teachings about the resurrection were those of the most interest to him. Hence his patient effort to get to man to state explicitly those things about which he may at first have been vague.

Second, as Isabella Van Waggonen, one of the visitor’s former followers explained, “Matthias and his disciples at this time did not believe in a resurrection of the body, but that the spirits of the former saints would enter the bodies of the present generation, and thus begin heaven upon earth.” [Olive Gilbert], Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave (New York: For the Author, 1853), 94-95, emphasis added. This would have directly contradicted Joseph Smith’s own testimony of the resurrection.

Third, Matthias professed to be Deity himself, a claim that many, including Joseph Smith, would have considered blasphemous. This did not mean that Matthias aspired to be like God. Rather, he claimed to be God himself. Johnson and Wilentz note, “At quieter times and before smaller audiences, Matthias provided details about his own past and the world’s future. Matthias was the Spirit of Truth—the male governing spirit, or God. He could enter any body or take on any shape and had been doing so for thousands of years. His spirit had given life to all the plants and animals, and it remained in them. He had created Adam and had endowed him with the male governing spirit; during his early lifetime Adam was God.” (The Kingdom of Matthias, 94). Van Waggonen remembered when she first met Matthias “on opening the door, she for the first time, beheld Matthias, and her early impression of seeing Jesus in the flesh rushed into her mind” (Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave, 90). After Joseph Smith shared an account of his early visions, Matthias felt comfortable opening up to the Prophet observing that Joseph “could bear stronger meat than many others.” In this setting Smith recorded that Matthias “professed to be the spirit of truth itself, also, that he possesses the soul of Christ.”

Fourth, Matthias held that instead of a literal resurrection of the body in which the dead would rise from their graves, “resurrection” consisted of the “spirit of the fathers” or some of the spirits of dead individuals, ancestors, former prophets or saints, inhabited subsequent mortal bodies of their descendants. This, he professed, had happened many times. In addition to Adam “The Spirit of Truth had entered Abraham …. The Spirit then entered each of the prophets and apostles in their turn and was strengthened each time by the knowledge and faith acquired in a righteous man’s life. The Spirit had been Jesus Christ. After the Crucifixion he entered Mathias, the Apostle chosen by God to replace Judas.” (The Kingdom of Matthias, 94-95). Elijah Pierson was another firm supporter of Matthias. The two men, Pierson and Matthias, “mutually discovered that they held the same sentiments, both admitting the direct influence of the Spirit, and the transmission of spirits from one body to another.” Pierson possessed the body of Elijah the Tishbite “Matthias, however, claiming to be the Father, or to possess the spirit of the Father—he was God upon earth, because the spirit of God dwelt in him; while Pierson then understood his mission was like that of John the Baptist, which the name Elias meant” (Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave, 92-93).

Hence “resurrection” as taught by Matthias, consisted of certain spirits, or a collective group of departed spirits, migrating from mortal body to mortal body from generation to generation. “In the proper order of things, the governing spirit passed from father to son in a fixed system of spirit genealogy. When a righteous man died, his spirit joined his father’s spirit in the body of a newborn child. The child then carried those spirits through life, adding acquired knowledge along the way. And at his death the child’s spirit rejoined the spirit of the father who was his teacher in the body of yet another child” (The Kingdom of Matthias, 95). When pressed by Joseph Smith to clarify his views of the resurrection Matthias claimed “that he poss[ess]es the spirit of his fathers, that he is a litteral decendant of Mathias the Apostle that was chosen in the place of Judas that fell and that his spirit is resurrected in him, and that this is the way or scheme of eternal life, this transmigration of soul or spirit from Father to Son.”

 After showing hospitality, patiently listening, and asking clarifying questions, the Prophet pronounced the man’s teachings false and inspired by a demonic or wicked source. It was time for him to go. “I told him that his doctrine was of the Devil that he was in reality in possession of wicked and depraved spirit, although he professed to be the spirit of truth, it self, also that he possesses the soul of Christ; he tarried until Wednesday 11.th, after breckfast I told him, that my God told me that his God is the Devil, and I could not keep him any longer, and he must depart, and so I for once cast out the Devil in bodily shape, & I believe a murderer.”

9–11 November 1835 • Monday–Wednesday

Monday morning 9th. after breckfast Sister <​Mary​> Whitcher came in and wished to see me, she I granted her request she gave a relation of her griveances which were, unfathonable at present, and if true sore indeed, and I pray my heavenly Father to bring the truth of her case to light, that the reward due to evil doers may be given them, and <​that​> the afflicted & oppressed may be delivered;— while setting in my house between the hours of nine <​ten​> & 10 11 this morning a man came in, and introduced himself to me, calling <​himself​> self <​by the name of​> Joshua the Jewish minister, his appearance was some what <​ thing​> singular, having a beard about 3 inches in length which is quite grey, also his hair is long and considerably silvered with age [p. 22] I should think he is about 50 or 55 years old, tall and strait slender built of thin visage blue eyes, and fair complexion, he wears a sea green frock coat, & pantaloons of the same, black fur hat with narrow brim, and while speaking frequently shuts his eyes, with a scowl on his countinance; I made some enquiry after his name but received no definite answer; we soon commenced talking upon the subject of religion and after I had made some remarks concerning the bible I commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the book of Mormon, as follows— being wrought up in my mind, respecting the subject of religion and looking upon <​at​> the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong and concidering it of the first importance that I should be right, in matters that involved eternal consequences; being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bowd down before the Lord, under a realising sense that he had said (if the bible be true) ask and you shall receive knock and it shall be opened seek and you shall find and again, if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men libarally and upbradeth not; information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination I to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time, in the place above stated or in other words I made a fruitless attempt to pray, my toung seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me, <​I​> strove again to pray, but could not, the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer, I sprung up on my feet, and [p. 23] and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my toung liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon my <​me​> head, and filled me with joy unspeakable, a personage appeard in the midst, of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God; <​and I saw many angels in this vision​> I was about 14. years old when I received this first communication; When I was about 17 years old I saw another vision of angels, in the night season after I had retired to bed I had not been a sleep, when but was meditating upon my past life and experiance, I was verry concious that I had not kept the commandments, and I repented hartily for all my sins and transgression, and humbled myself before Him; <​whose eyes are over all things​>, all at once the room was iluminated above the brightness of the sun an angel appeared before me, his hands and feet were naked pure and white, and he stood between the floors of the room, clothed <​with​> in purity inexpressible, he said unto me I am a messenger sent from God, be faithful and keep his commandments in all things, he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham he explained many things of the prophesies to  [p. 24] me, one I will mention which is this in Malachi 4 behold the day of the Lord cometh &c; also that the Urim and Thumim, was hid up with the record, and that God would give me power to translate it, with the assistance of this instrument he then gradually vanished out of my sight, or the vision closed, while meditating on what I had seen, the Angel appeard to me again and related the same things and much more, also the third time bearing the same tidings, and departed; during the time I was in this vision I did not realize any thing else around me except what was shown me in this communication: after the vision had all passed, I found that it was nearly day-light, the family soon arose, I got up also:— on that day while in the field at work with my Father he asked me if I was sick I replyed, I had but little strenght, he told me to go to the house, I started and went part way and was finally deprived deprived of my strength and fell, but how long I remained I do not know; the Angel came to me again and commanded me to go and tell my Father, what I had seen and heard, I did so, he wept and told me that it was a vision from God to attend to it I went and found the place, where the plates were, according to the direction of the Angel, also saw them, and the angel as before; the powers of darkness strove hard against me, I called on God, the Angel told me that the reason why I could not obtain the plates at this time was because I was under transgression, but to come again in one year from that time, I did so, but did not obtain them  [p. 25] also the third and the fourth year, at which time I obtained them, and translated them into the english language; by the gift and power of God and have been preaching it ever since.

While I was relating this brief history of the establishment of the Church of Christ in these last days, Joshua seemed to be highly entertained after I had got through I observed that, the hour of worship & time to dine had now arived and invited him to tarry, which he concented to,

After dinner the conversation was resumed and Joshua proceded to make some remarks on the prophesies, as follows:

He observed that he was aware that I could bear stronger meat than many others, therefore he should open his mind the more freely;— Daniel has told us that he is to stand in his proper lot, in the latter days according to his vision he had a right to shut it up and also to open it again after many days, or in the latter times; Daniels Image whose head was gold, and body, armes, legs and feet was composed of the different materials described in his vision represents different governments, the golden head was <​to represent​> Nebuchodnazer King of Babylon, the other parts other kings & forms of government, which I shall not now mention in detail, but confine my remarks, more particularly to the feet of the Image; The policy of the wicked spirit, is to separate what God has joined togather and unite what He has separated, which he has succeded in doing to admiration, in the present state of society, which is like unto Iron and clay, there is confusion in all things, both [p. 26] both Political and religious, and notwithstanding all the efforts that are made to bring about a union, society is remains disunited, and all attempts to <​unite her​> are as fruitless, as to attemp to unite Iron & Clay.

The feet of the Image, is the government of these united States, other Nations & kingdoms are looking up to her for an example, of union fredom and equal rights, and therefore worship her, like as Daniel saw in the vision, although they are begining to loose confidence in her, seeing the broils and discord that distract, her political & religious horizon this Image is characteristic of all governments and institutions or most of them; as they begin with a head of gold and terminate in the contempible feet of Iron & clay: making a splendid appearance at first, proposing to do much more than the[y] can perform, and finally end in degradation and sink, in infamy; we should not only start to come out of Babylon but leav it entirely lest we are overthrown in her ruins, we should keep improving and reforming, twenty-fours hours for improvement now is worth as much as a year a hundred years ago; the spirit of the Fathers that was cut down, or those that were under the altar, are now rising this is the first resurection the Elder that fall’s first will rise last; we should not form any opinion only for the present, and leave the result of futurity with God: I have risen up out of obscurity, but was lookd. up to when but a youth, in temporal things: It is not necessary that God should give us all things at first or in his first commission to us, but in his second. John saw the angel deliver the gospel in the last days, which would not be necessary if [p. 27] it was already in the world this expression would be inconsistent, the small lights that God has given, is sufficient to lead us out of babylon, when we get out we shall have the greater light. I told Johua that I did not understand him concerning the resurection and wishd him to be more explanitory on the subject; he replied that he did not feell impressed by the spirit to unfold it further at present, but perhaps he might at some other time.

I then withdrew to do some buisness with another gentleman that called to see me.

He [Robert Matthews] informed my Scribe that he was born in Washington County Town of Cambridge New York. he says that all the railroads canals and other improvements are performed by spirits of the resurection.

The silence spoken of by John the Revelator which is to be in heaven for the space of half an hour, is between 1830 & 1851, during which time the judgments of God will be poured out after that time there will be peace.

Curiosity to see a man that was reputed to be a jew caused many to call during the day and more particularly at evening suspicions were entertained that said Joshua was the noted Mathias of New York, spoken so much of in the public prints on account of the trials he underwent in that place before a court of justice, for murder manslaughter comtempt of court whiping his Daughter &c for the two last crimes he was imprisoned, and came out about 4, months [p. 28] since, after some, equivocating he confessed that he was realy Mathias: after supper I proposed that he should deliver a lecture to us, he did so sitting in his chair; he commenced by saying God said let there be light and there was light, which he dwelt upon through his discource, he made some verry exelent remarks but his mind was evidently filled with darkness, after he dismissed his meeting, and the congregation disperced, he conversed freely upon the circumstances that transpired in New York,

His name is Robert Mathias, he say[s] that Joshua, is his priestly name.

during all this time I did not contradict his sentiments, wishing to draw out all that I could concerning his faith; the next morning Tuesday 10th I resumed the conversation and desired him to enlighten my mind more on his views respecting the resurection, he says that he poss[ess]es the spirit of his fathers, that he is a litteral decendant of Mathias the Apostle that was chosen in the place of Judas that fell and that his spirit is resurrected in him, and that this is the way or scheme of eternal life, this transmigration of soul or spirit from Father to Son: I told him that his doctrine was of the Devil that he was in reality in possession of wicked and depraved spirit, although he professed to be the spirit of truth, it self, also that he possesses the soul of Christ; he tarried until Wednesday 11.th, after breckfast I told him, that my God told me that his God is the Devil, and I could not keep him any longer, and he must depart, and so I for once cast out the Devil in bodily shape, & I believe a murderer 

Joseph Smith Journal, 9-11 November, 1835, The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, Volume 1: 1832-1839, ed. Dean C. Jesse, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Richard L. Jensen (Salt Lake City, UT: Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 92-95.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Resurrection Teachings Part 4: The Testimony of Joseph Smith

On several occasions the Prophet Joseph Smith testified of the truth of the resurrection based upon the revealed written word in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, as well as personal revelation including visions. Here are a few of his statements on this important subject.

Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him. He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them. He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day: And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with Almighty power according to the will of the Father; That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved (D&C 20:21–25).

 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God (D&C 76:22–24).

 As concerning the resurrection I will mer[e]ly say that all men will come from the grave as they lay lie down, whether old or young their will not be added unto the[i]r stature one cubit neither taken from it.

Joseph Smith Discourse, Wilford Woodruff Journal, 20 March 1842, in Joseph Smith Papers. Documents. Volume 9: December 1841, ed. Alex D. Smith, Christian K. Heimburger, Christopher James Blythe (Salt Lake City, UT: Church Historian’s Press, 2019), 294.

I care not what the theories of men <man> are. – we have the testimony that God will raise us up & he has power to do it.-- If any one supposes-- that any part of our bodies. that is the fundamental parts thereof, ever goes into another body the is mistaken.

Joseph Smith Journal, 7 April 1843, in Joseph Smith Papers. Journals. Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843, ed. Andrew H. Hedges, Alex D. Smith, Richard Lloyd Anderson (Salt Lake City, UT: Church Historian’s Press, 2011),344.

I will tell you what I want. if to morrow I shall be called to lay in yonder tombs. in the morning of the resurrecti[o]n, let me strike hand<s> with my father, & cry, my father, & he will say my son, my Son,--as soon as the rock rends. & before we come out of our graves.

Joseph Smith Journal, 16 April 1843, in Joseph Smith Papers. Journals. Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843, ed. Andrew H. Hedges, Alex D. Smith, Richard Lloyd Anderson (Salt Lake City, UT: Church Historian’s Press, 2011), 359.

Would you think it strange that I relate what I have seen in vision in relation.-- this intere[s]ting theme. Those who have died in Jesus christ, may expect to enter into all that fruition of Joy when they come forth. which they have possessed here, so plain was the vision I actually saw men, before they had ascend[e]d from the tomb, as though they were getti[n]g up slowly, they took each othe[r] by the hand & it was my father & my Son, my mother & my daughter. <my brother & my sister> when the voice calls, suppose I am laid by the side of my fathe[r].—what would be the first Joy of my heart? where is my fathr. my mother. my sister. they are by my side <I embrace them. & they me.>”

Joseph Smith Journal, 16 April 1843, in Joseph Smith Papers. Journals. Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843, ed. Andrew H. Hedges, Alex D. Smith, Richard Lloyd Anderson (Salt Lake City, UT: Church Historian’s Press, 2011), 360.

Resurrection Teachings Part 3: The Witness of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants

The Book of Mormon

The Testimony of Jacob the Son of Lehi

And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave.

And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.

O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect.

Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness.

And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God (2 Nephi 9:11-19).

The Testimony of Abinadi

And if Christ had not risen from the dead or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.

But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.

He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.

Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—

If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation— (Mosiah 16:7-11).

The Testimony of Amulek

Therefore, the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death; for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.

Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.

The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption. (Alma 11:41-45).

The Testimony of Alma

Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? (Alma 5:15).

And Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality, and being brought before the bar of God, to be judged according to our works (Alma 12:12).

The dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works. Yea, this bringeth about the restoration of those things of which hath been spoken by the mouths of the prophets. The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame (Alma 40:21-23).

I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.

And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.

And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other— …

Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness (Alma 41:1–10).

But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice (Alma 42:23).

The Testimony of Mormon

And their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth … And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you (Mormon 6:15, 21).

The Testimony of Moroni

And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen (Moroni 10:27).

Latter-Day Revelation

For a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth—yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one (D&C 29:13).

And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation—that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe (D&C 29:43).

For as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I will show unto you how the day of redemption shall come, and also the restoration of the scattered Israel.

But before the arm of the Lord shall fall, an angel shall sound his trump, and the saints that have slept shall come forth to meet me in the cloud. Wherefore, if ye have slept in peace blessed are you; for as you now behold me and know that I am, even so shall ye come unto me and your souls shall live, and your redemption shall be perfected; and the saints shall come forth from the four quarters of the earth. Then shall the arm of the Lord fall upon all nations (D&C 45:45–47).

Yea, and blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth, when the Lord shall come, and old things shall pass away, and all things become new, they shall rise from the dead and shall not die after, and shall receive an inheritance before the Lord, in the holy city.  And he that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man. Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Wherefore, for this cause preached the apostles unto the world the resurrection of the dead (D&C 63:49–52).

For notwithstanding they [the righteous] die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body. They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened (D&C 88:27-28).

In all their afflictions he was afflicted. And the angel of his presence saved them; and in his love and in his pity, he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old. Yea, and Enoch also, and they who were with him; the prophets who were before him; and Noah also, and they who were before him; and Moses also, and they who were before him; and from Moses to Elijah, and from Elijah to John, who were with Christ in his resurrection, and the holy apostles, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, shall be in the presence of the Lamb. And the graves of the saints shall be opened; and they shall come forth and stand on the right hand of the Lamb, when he shall stand on Mount Zion, and upon the holy city, the New Jerusalem; and they shall sing the song of the Lamb, day and night forever and ever (D&C 133:53–56).

Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy … For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage (D&C 138:17, 50).


Resurrection Teachings Part 2: Early Christians Writers After the Death of the Apostles

Following the death of the Apostles and other disciples who knew Jesus and had witnessed his resurrection, many false teachers arose who rejected their clear testimony. Some false teachers introduced erroneous ideas which were contrary to the first-hand testimony of the earlier Apostles and disciples. Faced with this challenge, Christian leaders during the second and third centuries vigorously defended the bodily resurrection. It should be noted that these early Christians maintained that although our bodies would be changed to an immortal state when we are resurrected, our individual identities would remain intact. Unless otherwise noted, all references cited are from the English translation of The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols., translated and edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986).

Let none of you say that this very flesh will not be judged nor rise again. Consider ye in what state ye were saved in, in what ye received sight …. For just as you were called in the flesh, you will also come to be judged in the flesh. As Christ the Lord who saved us, though he was first a Spirit, became flesh, and thus called us, so shall we also receive the reward in this flesh. (2 Clement 9, in 7:519).

We expect to receive again our own bodies. (Justin Martyr, First Apology 18, in 1:169).

[Souls do not] transmigrate into other bodies (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 5, in 1:197).

For even if any one is laboring under a defect of body, yet if he is an observer or the doctrines delivered by Him, He shall raise him up at His second advent perfectly sound. He has made him immortal, incorruptible, and free from grief. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 69, in 1:233).

But, in truth, He has even called the flesh to the resurrection and promises to it everlasting life …. Why did He rise in the flesh in which He suffered, unless to show the resurrection of the flesh? (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 8-9, in 1:297-298).

[Simon Magus had a woman companion named Helena who] passed in succession from one female body to another, as from vessel to vessel. She was, for example, that Helen on whose account the Trojan war was undertaken …. Thus she, passing from body to body, and suffering insults in every one of them, at last became a common prostitute; and she it was that was meant by the lost sheep (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1:23, in 1:348).

They [some Gnostic teachers] deem it necessary, therefore, that by means of transmigration from body to body, souls should have experience of every kind of life as well as every kind of action (unless, indeed, by a single incarnation, one may be able to prevent any need of others …. In order that, as their writings express it, their souls, having made trial of every kind of life, may, at their departure, not be wanting in any particular. It is necessary to insist upon this, lest, on account of some one thing being still wanting to their deliverance, they should be compelled once more to become incarnate …. He must pass from body to body, until he has experience of every kind of action which can be practiced in this world, and when nothing is longer wanting to him, then his liberated soul should soar upwards to that God who is above the angels … In this way also all souls are saved, whether by their own which, guarding against all delay, participate in all sorts of actions during one incarnation, or those, again, who, by passing from body to body, are set free, on fulfilling and accomplishing what is requisite in every form of life into which they are sent, so that at length they shall no longer be [shut up] in the body (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1:25, in 1:351).

All those who have been enrolled for life [eternal] shall rise again, having their own bodies, and having their own souls, and their own spirits, in which they had pleased God. Those, on the other hand, who are worthy of punishment, shall go away into it, they too having their own souls and their own bodies. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 33:5, in 1:411).

We have not entertained a vain belief in the resurrection of the body. But although it is dissolved at the appointed time, because of the primeval disobedience, it is placed, as it were, in the crucible of the earth, to be recast again; not then as this corruptible [body], but pure, and no longer subject to decay: so that to each body its own souls shall be restored (Irenaeus, Fragments 12, in 1:570).

However, it is not for you alone (Simon), that the transmigration philosophy has fabricated this story. Carpocrates also makes equally good use of it …. The transmigration of human souls, therefore, into any kind of heterogeneous bodies, he thought by all means indispensable, whenever any depravity whatever had not been fully perpetrated in the early stage of life’s passage. Evil deeds (one may be sure) appertain to life. Moreover, as often as the soul has fallen short as a defaulter in sin, it has to be recalled to existence, until it “pays the utmost farther,” thrust out from time to time into the prison of the body (Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul 35, in 3:216).

I apprehend that heretics of this school seize with special avidity the example of Elias, whom they assume to have been so reproduced in John (the Baptist) as to make our Lord’s statement sponsor for their theory of transmigration, when he said, “Elias is come already, and they knew him not;” and again, in another passage, “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” Well, then, was it really in a Pythagorean sense that the Jews approached John with the inquiry, “Art thou Elias?” and not rather in the sense of the divine prediction, “Behold, I will send you Elijah” the Tishbite? The fact, however, is that their metempsychosis, or transmigration theory, signifies the recall of the soul which had died long before, and its return to some other body. But Elias is to come again, not after quitting life (in the way of dying), but after his translation (or removal without dying); not for the purpose of being restored to the body, from which he had not departed, but for the purpose of revisiting the world from which he was translated; not by way of resuming life which he had laid aside, but of fulfilling prophecy,--really and truly the same man, both in respect of his name and designation, as well as of his unchanged humanity. How, therefore, could John be Elias? You have your answer in the angel’s announcement: “And he shall go before the people,” says he, “in the spirit and power of Elias”—not (observe) in his soul and his body. These substances are, in fact, the natural property of each individual; whilst “the spirit and power” are bestowed as external gifts by the grace of God, and so may be transferred to another person according to the purpose and will of the Almighty, as was anciently the case with respect to the spirit of Moses (Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul 35, in 3:216-217).

Assuredly, as the reason why restoration takes place at all is the appointed judgment, every man must needs come forth the very same who had once existed, that he may receive at God’s hands a judgment, whether of good desert or the opposite (Tertullian, Apology 48, in 3:53).

[In the resurrection] thy former substance must return to thee, the matter and the memory of the very same human being …. There would be no grounds for judgment without the presentation of the very person to whom the sufferings of judgment were due. (Tertullian, The Soul’s Testimony 4, in 3:177).

Now, we are not permitted to suppose that God is either unjust or idle. Unjust (however He would be) were He to exclude from reward the flesh which is associated with good works; and idle, were He to exempt it from punishment, when it has been an accomplice in evil deeds (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh 15, in 3:555).

The very same flesh which was once sown in death will bear fruit in resurrection-life, the same in essence, only more full and perfect; not another, although reappearing in another form. For it will receive in itself the grace and adornment that God shall be pleased to spread over it, according to its merits. (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh 52, in 3:585).

This, for a dead man to be raised again, amounts to nothing short of his being restored to his entire condition …. God is quite able to remake what He once made. (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh 57, in 3:590).

Thus far, then, on the subject of Hades, in which the souls of all are detained until the time which God has determined; and then He will accomplish the resurrection of all, not by transferring souls into other bodies, but by raising the bodies themselves …. It [the body] is not raised the same thing as it is now, but pure and no longer corruptible. And to every body its own proper soul will be given again; and the soul, being endued again with it, shall not be grieved, but shall rejoice together with it, abiding itself pure with it also pure. And as it now sojourns with it in the world righteously, and finds it in nothing now a traitor, it will receive it again (the body) with great joy. (Hippolytus, Against Plato, 2, in 5:222).

If they [the heretics] also admit that there is a resurrection of the dead, let them answer this, What is that which died? Was it not a body? It is of the body, then, that there will be a resurrection. (Origen, De Principiis, 2:10, in 4:293).

“I died” (Rom. 7:10), he (Paul) says, meaning, since sin was imputed to me. But Basilides does not notice that this has to be understood of the natural Law, and he relates the apostolic word to preposterous and impious fables, and tries to base on this apostolic word the doctrine of reincarnation, that is, the doctrine that the soul keeps passing from body to body (Origen, In Rom 5:1, in Gnosis: A Selection of Gnostic Texts, 2 vols., Werner Foerster, ed. and trans. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972, 1:78).

The statement “God recompenses the disobedient unto the third and fourth generation” is understood by the followers of Basilides as referring to the (re-) incarnations (Clement of Alexandria, Excerpta ex Theodoto, in Gnosis: A Selection of Gnostic Texts, 1:226).

A law of resurrection is established in that Christ was raised up in the substance of the body as an example for the rest. (Novatian, Concerning the Trinity, 10, in 5:620).

For Almighty God Himself will raise us up through our Lord Jesus Christ, according to his infallible promise, and grant us a resurrection with all those who have slept from the beginning of the world; and we shall then be such as we now are in our present form, without any defect or corruption. For we shall rise incorruptible: whether we die at sea, or are scattered on the earth, or are torn to pieces by wild beasts and birds< he will raise us by His own power (Apostolic Constitutions 5:7, in 7:439).

Resurrection Teachings Part 1: The New Testament Witness

Christ Rose from the Dead

The New Testament Witness of the Apostles of Jesus clearly affirm that Jesus, after he was put to death, rose again on the third day with his glorified resurrected body. He was seen and heard by men and women who had been his disciples these men and women touched his resurrected body. They recognized who he was and identified him as the same individual they had known before his death, although now in a glorified and tangible state. 

The Testimony of Matthew

In the end of the Sabbath day, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, early in the morning came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And behold, there had been a great earthquake; for two angels of the Lord descended from heaven, and came, and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And their countenance was like lightning, and their raiment white as snow; and for fear of them, the keepers did shake and became as though they were dead. And the angels answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for we know that ye seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail! And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him (Matthew 28:1-10).

The Testimony of Mark

 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. (Mark 16:1-14).

The Testimony of Luke

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:36-48).

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: (Acts 1:1-3).

The Testimony of John

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:19-29).

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3).

The Testimony of Peter and the Apostles

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2:22-24).

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses (Acts 3:13-15).

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole (Acts 4:10).

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead (Acts 10:34-42).

The Testimony of Paul

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; for I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:1-12).

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:8-11).

All Shall Be Raised from the Dead

The New Testament not only contains the sacred testimony of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but also provides the additional testimony that after the resurrection of Jesus others who had been dead were similarly resurrected and appeared unto many.

The Testimony of Matthew

And the graves were opened; and many of the bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52-53).

New Testament Apostles also testified and taught that the resurrection of Jesus will eventually bring about the resurrection of all men and women who have died so that each may be judged by the Lord in their resurrected form according to the deeds done in the body. This message of a literal resurrection, only made possible through the resurrection of Jesus, is an essential part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Testimony of Paul

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory (1 Corinthians 15:35-41).

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every man may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Philippians 3:20-21).

The Testimony of John

Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in the which all who are in their graves shall hear his voice, 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 5:28-29).

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works (Revelation 20:12-13).