Ask Mormons to Define “Evangelists” When They Quote Ephesians 4:11

A Mormon friend appealed to Ephesians 4:11 as the supposed basis for modern LDS Church structure. I asked him to camp out on the passage with me instead of quickly moving on to another. There is a little-known, very awkward LDS Church interpretation of “evangelists” in Ephesians 4:11 that not even many Mormons know about:

Consider the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on). It means “gospel.” Now consider εὐαγγελιστής (yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace).

Not knowing Greek, which do you think is the more likely accurate translation of the second word?

1. Someone who shares/communicates/brings the good tidings, the good news.

2. Someone who gives patriarchal blessings.

Mormonism chooses #2.

To top that off, the 2009 edition of the LDS manual “Gospel Principles” took out this line:

“All of the offices and functions of the Church in the days of Jesus are present in the Church today.”

Why? Among other things, because there were no plans to have a successor to Eldred G. Smith. He died on April 4, 2013, and the May 2013 Liahona LDS magazine described him as “the last person to hold the position.” Which position? “Patriarch to the Church.”

This is important because 1) It shows how awful and unnatural the “official” interpretation of “evangelists” is that Mormons are stuck with and 2) It calls into question basic modern Mormon claims about itself.

One is better off taking the natural interpretation (evangelists are those who evangelize — they announce the good news) and adopting a Jesus-centered Christianity with Jesus as prophet, priest, and king.

Please do read that last link. It is wonderful.

This entry was posted in Friendship, Interaction, and Evangelism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Ask Mormons to Define “Evangelists” When They Quote Ephesians 4:11

  1. falcon says:

    Very good article. I learned a lot.
    But here’s something I didn’t have to learn. While it’s clear what the Greek word for “evangelist” is, it’s also clear that this makes absolutely no difference to those who are in aberrant religious sects or cults. This is because they define the terms in a way that fits their preconceived notions. In the case of Mormons what they would do is pull out the old “………as far as it’s translated correctly”. Then they’d simply say the word “evangelist” as defined just isn’t correct.
    This is how cults thrive and survive. They just make it up as they go along and have some totally preposterous explanation that is only accepted by those in the (cult).
    If a Mormon would dare to agree that that’s the way the Greek word is translated, they’d have to come up with some other odd explanation. Perhaps it would be a progressive revelation that the Mormon god redefined the term. It doesn’t take much to satisfy a true believer.

  2. Mike R says:

    Aaron, this is something I discovered when I looked what one of the claims made by
    Mormon authorities and especially the way in which they presented it to non Mormons
    in advertising Mormonism . These men have claimed that they have the very same church
    that Jesus established through His apostles , it sickened and died , the result of a complete
    apostasy , the gospel was changed by men who mixed in their own beliefs to it thus altering
    it as a result salvation became unavailable until Jesus restored His church and gospel through
    a Mormon prophet .

    The way that this message about church organization, for example, is usually delivered to
    non Mormons is for Mormons to cite Eph 4 and show them that the Mormon church is indeed
    the very same church that Jesus established and that Paul served in etc .
    But this is a half truth , it is used to gain the confidence of those in attendance to embrace the Mormon church as Jesus’ church . It’s almost a bait and switch tactic because there is far more
    to the story because New Testament lists no office for the one man Mormons have called :
    ” The Patriarch ( Presiding Patriarch ) of the church ” — it is a Mormon invention . The
    New Testament church had no such office , same for some other TOP OFFICES Mormon
    leaders invented as well . This makes their claim to have restored the very same church which
    Jesus established 1700 years earlier as only a half truth , and that is sneaky .

    The Mormon church is not Jesus’ true church restored . It is a imitation , something that looks
    like the original until a closer examination is conducted .

  3. falcon says:

    How about apostasy within Mormonism? We’ve listed, from time to time, all of the different off-shoots of the “one true church”. Just for fun here’s just a couple.

    The Reorganized Church……..
    holds many of the same beliefs as the Mormons, the following list describes their differences:

    God is unchangeable, men may develop in righteousness into any degree of glory, (not becoming Gods as Mormons believe.) Accept Doctrine and Covenants written before Smith’s death. They do not accept The Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Mormon is accepted as being the word of God. Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version of the Bible is accepted.

    They do not practice baptism for the dead, reject polygamy, marry only for time. They do not have the elaborate priesthoods nor the temple initiatory rites. They have a system of Pastors, elected from the Eldership, who preach sermons.


    Are the polygamist in Utah and the West. At least thirteen separate groups, loosely knit, are identifiable. The fundamentalist, as a whole, belong to families that were prominent in the church during the nineteenth century.

    The fundamentalist movement developed out of the decision to stop the practice of polygamy and did not constitute the organization of a new church. They consider themselves to be the orthodox section of the Utah Church.

    The Salt Lake church has a policy of excommunicating any polygamous members. It has been estimated that there are some thirty thousand people in Utah involved in polygamous families.

    I link to this from time to time:

  4. geminiah says:

    As stated, the root behind the word “Evangelist” (both it’s NT original, & its English translation) is good news.

    As also explained–in other words–we know from fairly early Christian tradition, evangelio/good news referred specifically to the news of Christ’s mystical message of salvation–revealed through both his mouth and his person. This is why the word was connected to the biographical & pedagogical accounts of Jesus Christ.

    Another early usage for the word in Christian tradition was in reference to those who shared this Gospel of Jesus as ordained proselytizers. Which usage is derivative from which, I’m not sure–but in either case, it must be admitted that they are very specific Christian usages of a rather general Greek word.

    Given what we know, then, of the historical use of Greek word in the Christian tradition, Joseph Smith’s revelatory claim that it referred instead to a bestower of blessings to individual church members seems certainly at odds with a long-standing tradition of it referring to a Christian proselytizer.

    About the only historical argument that a Mormon could make in counter is that in the time of the New Testament the word might not have yet taken on the specialized meaning that it would receive in Christianity–I don’t think any later than the 2nd century (it seems I recall Irenaeus using the word to refer to a proselytizer, though I could be wrong).

    That’s actually not too unreasonable a counter for a Mormon to make. Scholars often debate about the time periods in which certain words and concepts became codified within Christianity. There is universal agreement among scholars that the way the New Testament was read by, say, Irenaeus’ day was quite a bit different from how the original authors’ intended for their works to be read. For example, many of the Jewish meanings of the scriptures were lost within the first century even by the most scholarly and well-informed of the Gentile Christians such as Irenaeus.

    If evangelio hadn’t yet received its traditional, specialized meaning in Paul’s day–would the word really be out of place in reference to one who bestows heaven’s blessings upon people? While Smith’s claims regarding the word are certainly at odds with a long-standing and early Christian tradition (& I doubt he wasn’t entirely unaware of that–after all, the usage of the word in Christendom hasn’t really changed much since his day), even still, the semantics of the word don’t make it a terrible match for Smith’s proposed usage, either. In early/traditional Christian usage evangelio became connected with the heavenly mystery revealed through Christ, while Joseph Smith proposed that evangelio be connected with a heavenly mystery revealed to individuals through an ordained blesser.

    Just a thought.

  5. fifth monarchy man says:

    geminiah said,

    . In early/traditional Christian usage evangelio became connected with the heavenly mystery revealed through Christ, while Joseph Smith proposed that evangelio be connected with a heavenly mystery revealed to individuals through an ordained blesser.

    I say,

    Words have meanings. If we can choose our own definitions communication becomes impossible.

    “εὐαγγελιστής” is one who brings εὐαγγέλιον (Gospel ie good news). It is that simple

    I’ll agree that sometimes simple NT words have had their original meanings twisted by tradition. Like when people read βαπτίζω with out reference to it’s root word immersion.

    The solution to that sort of slow decay is to endeavor to go back to the original definition not to introduce a completely foreign definitions.

    JS did not define “εὐαγγελιστής” as simply an “ordained blesser” He completely redefined it as


    a Patriarch, even the oldest man of the blood of Joseph or of the seed of Abraham

    end quote:

    That is simply twisting language beyond recognition. If “εὐαγγελιστής” can mean Patriarch then

    Grace can mean works
    One God can mean Many Gods
    “Created the heavens and earth” can mean “refashioned preexisting matter”.

    Before you know it the Bible becomes just a wax to be bent and shaped at will and as such it has no meaning at all.


  6. geminiah says:

    fifth monarchy man,

    If semantics were really that black & white, cut & dry, I don’t think there’d be a scholar in or out of Biblical studies wasting their time with it. But indeed–a good many waste their time with it.

    Furthermore, the definition that Joseph Smith gave of an Evangelist–that you supply there–says nothing of the function associated with the word, yet since Smith’s day, the word has always been assigned within Mormonism to refer to a person with a specific function in the church. The functionary meaning of the word is obviously what I was concerned with. Was I somehow misleading in my definition of a Mormon “Evangelist”? You seem to be suggesting that I was, but anyone familiar with Mormonism I think recognizes that I wasn’t being maverick at all.

    As the person and concept of Jesus Christ is ENTIRELY absent from the innate meaning of Greek evangelio, to suggest that any meaning Smith supplied for the term cannot likewise also go beyond the Greek is simply not being reasonable in one’s criticism of Smith usage versus traditional Christian usage.

    One either believes Joseph Smith restored an understanding for an ancient Christian word, or one believes that he didn’t. But to suggest that we know exactly what the Pauline understanding of the word was is inaccurate. In that original context, outside of the fact that euangelistes referred to an office or calling in the early Christian church, we don’t know what it meant exactly.

  7. MJP says:

    Yeah, because we don’t know what they meant means we can create entire doctrine from vagaries. Brilliant. Reminds me of reading the legal rationale behind Roe v Wade and other liberal treatises.

    Hey, the Constitutions a living document, right?

  8. Mike R says:

    Falcon , you asked : ” What about apostasy within Mormonism ? ”

    It did’nt take Mormon leaders long to drift from what they taught about God or what was
    required for a person to receive salvation . As a result members became leery , concerned ,
    about Joseph’s doctrinal vacillation , and left his church , and some of those started new
    groups etc . This still takes place ( Christopher Nemelka, Matthew Gill etc ) .

    A important point to remember about Mormonism : It’s leaders are guilty of much the same
    behavior they claimed men after the deaths of Jesus’ apostles succumbed to , namely , they
    changed the gospel of salvation by mixing in their own ideas to it , thus altering it’s purity and
    rendering it a false/ imitation gospel . The organization and ordinances of the original church
    became corrupted by changes made by these men . All this is how Mormon leaders described
    the kind of behavior that some men chose to do which resulted in a total / complete apostasy
    of the church and from the gospel Jesus had established through His apostles .
    That’s the claim by Mormon leaders , and their accusation against other churches / preachers.
    However , they are simply pointing their finger at everyone else and not looking at the four
    fingers pointing right back at them .

    Bottom line : we don’t need the kind of latter days prophets that run the Mormon church , or
    any of it’s numerous offshoots . We have the Prophet, Priest, and King Himself and what His
    apostles taught in their preaching . That gospel is still efficient to save —Rom 1:16 .

  9. fifth monarchy man says:

    Hey geminiah,

    You said:

    If semantics were really that black & white, cut & dry, I don’t think there’d be a scholar in or out of Biblical studies wasting their time with it. But indeed–a good many waste their time with it.

    I say,

    acknowledging that words have meaning does not make Biblical studies a waste of time it makes Biblical studies possible. If we are free to create our own meanings with no reference to the author’s intent then Biblical studies becomes mere navel gazing the equivalent of tiddlywinks .

    You say,

    The functionary meaning of the word is obviously what I was concerned with.

    I say,

    So JS redefined Evangelist as Patriarch and then proceeded to assign an obscure function to the newly minted definition and now we are asked to ignore the actual redefinition in favor of the function.,,,,, The mind blows

    What would you say if I redefined Baptism to mean sprinkling and then assigned a new function to sprinkling ie “that which removes original sin from infants” and then proceeded to claim that I was actually being true the the original intent of scripture?

    That is exactly what you are doing, When you take that approach you can make the Bible say anything. It becomes a wax nose

    You say

    As the person and concept of Jesus Christ is ENTIRELY absent from the innate meaning of Greek evangelio, to suggest that any meaning Smith supplied for the term cannot likewise also go beyond the Greek is simply not being reasonable in one’s criticism of Smith usage versus traditional Christian usage.

    I say,

    It is the Biblical authors themselves who supply the meaning to their own words and those authors make it abundantly clear that they intend “evangelio” to be all about Christ.


    For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son,
    (Rom 1:9A)


    Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you,…………For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
    (1Co 15:1-3)

    end quote:

    etc etc etc

    In fact “εὐαγγέλιον” is used in the NT 77 times I challenge you find one time when it refers to something resembling “Patriarchal blessings”.


  10. falcon says:

    Yea, I think I’ll have to agree with the 5th.

    Cults thrive on redefining words and in Smith’s case he claimed it was through revelation. As a former Catholic there are a couple of things that I still agree with the Church about and one of them is the role of tradition in understanding what the Church taught and believed. I don’t think we can find any where in Church history where the Mormon definition is supported. It’s just way too far off the bubble.
    I would suggest another good place to look for an example of what role an evangelist played in the early church would be to look to the Book of Acts. Find an example of an evangelist there and examine what he did.

  11. johnnyboy says:

    Wasn’t Joe SR the first “patriarch”? Sounds like jr wanted to give dad a calling so he could feel important and useful.

  12. grindael says:

    Wasn’t Joe SR the first “patriarch”? Sounds like jr wanted to give dad a calling so he could feel important and useful.

    Smith Jr. Had more in mind than this. He wanted the Patriarch office to be one of lineage, so that the person who held it would be the President of the Church.

    Jan Shipps suggests that “the Mormonism described in Mother Lucy Mack Smith’s History explains . . . William Smith’s 1845 claim that the Saints were all dependent upon his family for the priesthood.” Joseph, Sr., and Hyrum had served as assistant president and associate president respectively while they were Patriarchs to the Church; William not unnaturally expected to hold similar responsibilities. The Times and Seasons had made announcements on several occasions signed by both Joseph and Hyrum as “Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.” And an article in the New York Herald, 19 February 1842, reproduced in the Millennial Star, referred to “the first presidency of the Mormon hierarchy which consists of four dignitaries–to wit a principal prophet, a patriarch and two councillors.” In a letter to Brigham Young from the mission field, 24 August 1844, William said he wanted simply to stand in the same position as Hyrum who, as patriarch, had been “spiritual father” to the Church. (Irene Bates, Dialogue, Vol.16, No.2, p.21)

    But Hyrum was more than that, Jo in 1841 said that he was turning all prophetic duties to Hyrum. This of course, was also a ploy that Jo used for political purposes to get Mormons to vote in certain ways and take some of the heat off of himself. (Hyrum would have “revelations” to tell people how to vote) Jo was to be the theological and political king of the church and the world, and that would be kept in his family. The dislike that the Twelve felt for William Smith, made them change the whole patriarchal office after his death. John Taylor and others began writing articles redefining the office of Presiding Patriarch. W. W. Phelps (so John Taylor claimed later) had written an article which had embraced the then current definition of the office of the Patriarch, and that wasn’t satisfactory to them because of their dislike of William Smith. Phelps (it was claimed by Taylor) wrote,

    It may not be amiss to give the readers of the Times and Seasons, a few ideas relative to the office of a patriarch. The sectarian world without a priesthood, are, of course, with a patriarch just as they are without the power to administer in spiritual blessing; but in all churches holding the keys of the everlasting priesthood, a patriarch is set apart to bless the people; and his descent, according to right of lineage, by blood and birthright, is from father to son. … But in order to carry out the pattern of scripture, one of the chosen seed, and he the eldest, is set apart to bless all and such as have not a father living to do it. He is called the patriarch of the whole church: such was our father Adam; such was Abraham; such was Jacob; such was Joseph Smith, sen.; such was Hyrum Smith, and such is William Smith now-inheriting the right by lineage.(Times and Seasons, May 15, 1845)

    This would put the Patriarch above the Twelve, and Brigham Young was not having it. John Taylor then got to work and wrote,

    We have been asked, Does not “patriarch over the whole church” place Brother William Smith at the head of the whole church as president? Ans. No . . . But does not the Book of Doctrine and Covenants say, “First,” I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a Patriarch unto you to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall?” Yes, But that is in regard to seniority not in regard to authority in priesthood, for it immediately follows, “I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church.” . . . And from this it is evident that the president of the church, not the patriarch, is appointed by God to preside. But does not the Patriarch stand in the same relationship to the church, as Adam did to his family, and as Abraham and Jacob did to theirs? No. (Times and Seasons, June 1, 1845)

    Taylor goes on to say,

    Brother William is not patriarch over the whole church; but patriarch TO the church, and as such he was ordained. The expression “over the whole church,” is a mistake made by W. W. Phelps. He is patriarch TO the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Twelve are commanded to ordain evangelical ministers in all large branches of the church abroad, and who has charge over them, the patriarch? No. Those who ordained them, and to whom is committed the power and authority to regulate all the affairs of the churches abroad. And who has the charge of the whole priesthood here? Ans. The presidency of the church; and not the patriarch. But does not the Book of Doctrine and Covenants say, “First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a Patriarch unto you to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall.” Yes. But that is in regard to seniority not in regard to authority in priesthood, for it immediately follows, “I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church…” (Ibid)

    The problem with this is that Hyrum Smith was an ASSISTANT PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH. D&C 124 was given BEFORE Jo expanded his role to include this, as Taylor well knew. That is why Jo said in 1843:

    [July 16, 1843. Sunday.] A.M. at home writing Brother [Heber] Kimballs lecture. P.M. went to the Grove and heard President Joseph preach on the law of the priesthood. He stated that Hyrum held the OFFICE of PROPHET TO THE CHURCH BY BIRTHRIGHT and he was going to have a reformation and the saints must regard Hyrum for he has authority. He showed that a man must enter into an everlasting covenant with his wife in this world or he will have no claim on her in the next. He said that he could not [p.111] reveal the fulness of these things untill the Temple is completed &c. (George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p.111)

    Hyrum held the OFFICE of the Prophet to the church by birthright, not just an ordination as a “prophet, seer & revelator” as Taylor claims. That is why William Clayton ALSO wrote in his Journal on 12 July, 1844:

    Friday 12th. A.M. at the Temple measuring Lumber. Preset. [William] Marks came up to enquire which was best to do about appointing a Trustee. We concluded to call a meeting of the several presidents of Quorums & their council this P.M. at 2 o clock. As I returned to dinner bro. [Newel K.] Whitney came down with me & stated his feelings about Marks being appointed Trustee. He referred me to the fact of Marks being with [William] Law & Emma [Smith] in opposition to Joseph [Smith] & the quorum. — And if Marks is appointed Trustee our spiritual blessings will be destroyed inasmuch as he is not favorable to the most important matters The Trustee must of necessity be the first president of the Church & Joseph has said that if he and Hyrum were taken away Samuel H. Smith would be his successor.

    Samuel H. Smith was older than William Smith. He was the next in line according to BIRTHRIGHT, to be the PROPHET to the CHURCH, same as Hyrum was. Brigham Young usurped William’s authority, because the Twelve were only a TRAVELING COUNCIL, and always were regarded as such until Young changed that. Young then began to make his OWN claims to authority by LINEAGE, as Wilford Woodruff recorded in 1847:

    I am entitled to the Keys of the Priesthood according to linage & Blood. So is Brother H. C. Kimball & many others [who?] Have taken Kingly power & grades of the Priesthood. This we would have taught in the Temple if time had permitted. Joseph Smith was entitled to the Keys of the Priesthood according to Blood. Still He was the [p.132] fourth son. But when we get another Temple built then we will teach you concerning those things. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 3, p. 132)

    Jo taught,

    “An Evangelist is a Patriarch, even the oldest man of the blood of Joseph or of the seed of Abraham. Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessing unto his sons.” (History of the Church, 3:381).

    As early as 1834 Smith ordained John Young (father of Brigham Young) as a family patriarch, at his request. John Johnson was giving out Patriarchal Blessings before this and was not ordained to that office. (See Quinn, Origins of Power). This shows that there was a difference between Patriarchal ordinations, with some given only to give blessings, while the Patriarch OVER the Church was by LINEAGE. It was the former that the Twelve had authority to ordain, not the latter. The latter stood OVER the Twelve, who as I said before, was ONLY a TRAVELING Council. Young usurped authority when he made the TWELVE the Governing Body of the Church over the Smith family. Joseph Fielding Smith would later acknowledge that the word Patriarch was still the only non-proselytizing usage of “evangelist” in the English language. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:108).

    Mormon “authorities” know that the word Evangelist is not used in the same manner as it was in the New Testament, but is a redefining of the word by Jo Smith. Mormon Patriarchs don’t bring good news to anyone, they don’t even proselytize. They got paid to give blessings.

  13. grindael says:

    I would debate that Mormon Patriarchs offer the “mysteries” of the Kingdom of Heaven. Rather, they offered only their own speculations. Here are a few examples,

    1835: 29 April: Orson Pratt. (Given by Joseph Smith, Sen.)

    “Orson, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I lay my hands upon thy head to secure unto thee the blessings which thou oughtest to claim at the hands of thy natural father, but inasmuch as his mind is not perfectly strong, in consequence of infirmaties, and is also abscent from this place, that thou mayest rejoice in the assurance of the blessings of the Lord, I therefore confer them upon thee, for thou art entitled to them, even the blessings of Jacob, who was called Israel, and they shall come upon thee and upon thy posterity; for it is according to the great commandment, that man should multiply and raise up seed to inherit his name, in righteousness: therefore inasmuch as this shall be thy desire, in due time, thou shalt also be blessed. The Lord has looked upon thee in his mercy and watched over thee for good: he has held thy life precious and prolonged thy days that he might send thee whithersoever he would to do his will. Thou hast been called and chosen to act in an important station in the Kingdom of thy God, and thou shalt go forth in mighty power and Satan shall not have power over thee to tempt thee above that thou wilt be able to bear, nor to lead thee astray, because thou hast hitherto been faithful in thy ministry and brought to pass much righteousness. Thou shalt go forth to the ends of the earth and lift up thy voice to the nations, and as with the voice of the angel of God proclaim the fulness of the gospel, and speak forth marvelous things. Thou shalt have power to work mighty miracles in the name of christ, even that I might say, that thou shalt raise the dead, if needful, to accomplish thy mission, and these shall be nothing too great for thee to do. Thou shalt bring many souls to the knowledge of the truth, and tarry till the Savior comes, and then thou shalt be received into the Celestial Kingdom of God and dwell in his presence forever. Be faithful in keeping the commandments of God in all things, and these blessings shall come upon thee and overtake thee; even so. Amen.

    Thomas B. Marsh

    Wm. E. M’Lelin Clerks.” (From typescript; Patriarchal Blessing Book A, p. 21, LDS Archives.) [Age, 23; Scribes, Thomas B. Marsh, William E. McLellin.]

    Orson Pratt did not “tarry” until Christ came. (He hasn’t yet and Pratt has been dead for over a century). Pratt also was booted out of the church in the 1840’s for a time, because of Jo’s polygamy, so Satan did “lead him astray”.

    1835: 14 September: Newel K. Whitney. (Given by Joseph Smith, Sen.)

    “Brother Whitney, I lay my hands upon thy head in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and I ask my heavenly Father to open the vision of my mind to know what I shall say unto thee, for thou art a strange man, and thy ways have been unlike the ways of other men: nevertheless thou hast sought to be a man of God and to do away all thy unbelief and doubts, and in this the Lord has given thee strength. Inasmuch as thou knowest thy progenitors, and art assured concerning the lineage through which thou hast descended, I bless thee with a father’s blessing, for thee and thy children after thee, for their inheritances to the end. And as thou art a descendant of Melchisedek one of thy posterity shall be like unto him before the Lord, for his heart shall be filled with the same Spirit from his youth up, and he shall be a benefit to thy posterity. Thou shalt be releaved from all incumbrances and go forth and do the will of the Lord; for thou hast long besought him for this thing, and in due time thou shalt have it, and thy soul shall be filled with joy when the Lord makes bare his arm for the good of the poor and needy. Thou hast an ungodly brother who knows not the Lord, neither does he understand his ways, though he supposes he is a minister of the gospel and makes his boasts that his feet are upon the Rock that cannot be moved. But as thou hast besought the Lord many times for him, and greatly desired his salvation, the Lord will hear and answer thy prayers: he will surround thy brother with judgments and lay upon him his afflicting hand, and he will fear and tremble and come to his senses, and yet obey the truth; for when his soul is bowed down with affliction he will remember what thou hast said, and then will he turn to the Lord. Thou shalt yet go to the great men of the earth and proclaim the gospel unto them, and the Lord will uphold thee and give his angels charge concerning thee that thou shalt be kept from death and every destruction. Thy father will yet come into the church, and his heart shall rejoice in his old age. I seal great blessings upon thee, even more than thy heart can now comprehend or understand. Thou shalt see thy Redeemer, and have the ministering of holy angels. Thy name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, and thou shalt have a place with the sanctified when the Lord comes to reign with his people. In the name of Jesus Christ I seal these blessings upon thee, and thou shalt yet realize them and rejoice in them: even so. Amen.

    Given in Kirtland, Ohio, September 14, 1835, by Patriarch Joseph Smith.

    Oliver Cowdery, Clerk.” (From photocopy of manuscript; BYU Archives.) [Age, 40; Scribe, Oliver Cowdery.]

    Newel’s brother Samuel, never joined the church, though his parents did. His brother died the pastor of a Methodist Church. So he was “ungodly”? His brother was actually successful in finances, while it was Newel Whitney that lost everything in Missouri by following Jo Smith.

    1835: 29 December: Orson Hyde. (Given by Joseph Smith [Sen.]).

    “Brother Hyde–In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I lay my hands on thy head the second time to bless thee and thou shalt be blest–I give unto thee a Father’s Blessing–a blessing that shall reach thy Posterity. The time will come when thou shalt behold thy Redeemer–thou shalt behold him face to face–he will instruct thee into the mysteries of his kingdom–he will show thee the right way. He will give thee wisdom and understanding. Thou hast a great work to do in the Earth and thou must be faithful and do thy duty or blood will be found in thy skirts. Thou shalt travel to the ends of the earth and among thy kingdom–thou shalt have power to know his spirit–Yea brother thou shalt travel from land to land from sea to sea and from island to island and be a mighty man in the Earth. Thou shalt have all power. Thou wilt have enemies and they will have power to confine thee within the walls of a prison for a little season. Thou shalt be able to deliver thyself from prison and from the hands of wicked men. No power of the enemy shall stay thy hand. Thou shall have power over prisons and prison walls and over fires and floods. Thou shall have power to proclaim the Everlasting Gospel to all nations and bring many of thy fellowmen into the kingdom. Thou shall bring them to Zion. Thou and thy posterity shall have inheritance in Zion. Thy children shall be great in the earth. Thou and they shall stand among the Saints. The Lord will lengthen out thy life and give thee blessings–spiritual and temporal. Yea thou shalt stand on the earth and behold thy Savior and meet him in the cloud when he comes with power and great glory to reward his saints and judge his enemies. Thou shalt stand to witness the winding up scene of this generation. If thou art faithful thou shalt have the desires of thy heart and rejoice in the God and rock of thy Salvation. This is thy blessing in the name of Jesus Christ. I seal it on thy head. By the powers of the Holy Priesthood and in the name of Jesus, I seal thee up to Eternal Live.

    Amen and Amen.” (In Barron, Howard H.: Orson Hyde: Missionary, Apostle, Colonizer, Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Books, 1977, pp. 314-

    315; quotes from Box 2, Folder 1 of the Orson Hyde Folder–1805-78, LDS Archives, Ms Source d 1386.) [Age, 30; Scribe, ?]

    What can I say about this blessing? Hyde did NOT live to see Jesus come, nor the “winding up scene” of THAT generation, because it never happened. Also, did he, or did he not have power over prisons? One more,

    1836: 2 April: Charles C. Rich. (Given by Joseph Smith, Sen.)

    “Brother Charles; In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I lay my hands upon they [sic] head and seal blessings according to the power of the Holy Priesthood and of the annointing and say that the blessings of heaven shall rest upon thee. Thou art a son of Zion and hast been willing to lay down they [sic] life for thy Brethren, and the Lord has accepted thy offering, even as Abraham’s, and thou art accepted of thy God and a favored child of heaven.

    Thou art a son of Joseph an Ephraimite by blood. The Lord hath looked on thee from the beginning and chosen thee from the foundation of the world to be a polished shaft in his quiver, even a mighty man before him. Thou shalt be blessed in thy outgoings and in thy incomings, an Israelite in deed, like Nathaniel of old. Thy name is sealed in Heaven never to be blotted out. Thy mind is honest before God, and thy motives pure and Satan shall have no power over thee; he hath sought to destroy thee and to darken thy mind and to afflict thy body, But the Lord is thy deliverer and thy life is hid with Christ in God and shall be kept from the destroyer unto the coming of the Son of Man; and thou shall preach the Gospel till the Savior comes in the clouds of heaven.

    Thou shalt be taught of God and thy mind shall expand like Enoch’s of old, and thou shall be mighty as Enoch and one shall be mightier than thou. Thy posterity shall be blessed after thee, and thy blessings shall reach unto thy children, and thou shalt raise them up for God and they shall reign with thee in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth; for thou art one of the hundred and forty-five thousand which shall stand upon Mount Zion with white robes and thy joy shall be full.

    Thou shalt gather thousands to Zion and save many orphans which shall be perishing around thee. Thou shalt weep over them when thou seest their calamities and seek them out and send them up to Zion. Thou shalt be a blessing to all whereever you shall go and the Lord shall deliver thee from fetters, bonds, and floods shall not have power to harm thee nor fire to burn. Prisons shall not hold thee, nations shall give way before thee, and thou shalt have all the power of the Holy Priesthood and command all things and do all things which thou canst desire in righteousness.

    These blessings I seal for thee in the Name of Jesus, Amen.” (From typescript; Milando Pratt biographical folder, LDS Archives; also in Charles C. Rich papers, BYU Archives.) [Age, 26; Scribe, Sylvester Smith.]

    Again, Charles C. Rich did NOT “preach the Gospel” until Christ came in the clouds of heaven, since He hasn’t done that yet and Rich is dead. These are a few of the many “blessings” that Smith, Sr. gave, and here are some more excerpts that speak of people going to the moon to preach the gospel.

  14. Mike R says:


    Here’s what I hear you saying ( correct me if I’m not understanding you ) :

    You use the phrase ” early Christian tradition ” , you mean Christians after the apostles died
    off , such as Irenaeus i.e. mid second century . By his time tradition had decided that the term
    ” evangelio” was a specialized meaning , i.e. it referred the news of to Christ’s message of
    salvation . But in Paul’s day this meaning was different , it was akin to the Jewish ( O.T.) meaning
    of a patriarchal blessing because as you said , ” As the person of Christ is entirely absent from
    the innate meaning of Greek evangelio .”
    Therefore since Christians long after Paul’s day did’nt abide by the correct definition , then it
    can’t be wrong for Joesph Smith to also apply a meaning void of the news of salvation to this
    term .
    You seem to think that since we can’t know of the exact meaning of this word was in Paul’s day
    therefore we can’t say it should be just ” evangelists ” preaching the good news about Jesus .
    But do we have to know exactly about this ? I don’t think so . What we do need is to see what
    the New Testament reveals about the church Jesus established through His apostles , and not
    go running after latter days prophets who claims to have restored Jesus’ church in exactly the
    same form as it existed when established in the first century by Jesus through His apostles.
    That’s what Mormon leaders have claimed . So with that in mind where in the N.T. church was
    office of The Patriarch to the Church ” ? IF Mormonism says the correct definition of
    ” evangelist ” is a “patriarch ” then the best way to prove that claim is to see how this office
    of patriarch FUNCTIONED in Mormon church . That would define the term .

    So with that in mind might you read what grindael shared about this Mormon office and
    show us that the church in Paul’s day had such a person as Patriarch to the Church . After
    all , that was Jesus’ true church that I will accept . I’m leery of latter days false prophets
    who try to imitate it by clever advertising .

  15. MJP says:

    I simply wonder how loose LDS play out the meaning of words in other areas of their lives. Are they as liberal in allowing meanings to shift in other areas, or do they give most words their plain meaning?

  16. fifth monarchy man says:

    MJP says,

    I simply wonder how loose LDS play out the meaning of words in other areas of their lives.

    I say,

    I wonder that as well. I’ve noticed that FOF is very Clintonesque when it comes to language in general as are a couple of LDS friends of mine. I wonder if they are typical in that regard?

    I’d really like to see a study to see if Mormons are more subjective in their every day definitions than the general population. It would also be cool to see where Bible believing Christians are in this regard. What a great research project that would be.

    My hypothesis is that one’s commitment to the objectivity of Language correlates to his commitment to the true Word who became flesh.


  17. falcon says:

    Well, I think that these Mormons that we run into here are pretty desperate and will grab hold of and cling to anything that will reinforce what they desire to believe. Couple that with a c*cksure and arrogant attitude and what we see as dishonesty is to them normal operational procedure.

    It’s a lot like conspiracy buffs going over and over again about the grassy knoll.

  18. falcon says:

    Hay that wasn’t profanity or a slur. It was a real word with a specific meaning. Now I can’t write what it is because I’ll get another erasure. Just so you all know, the falcon does not use profanity or slurs, even in my mind or the privacy of my man-cave!

  19. johnnyboy says:

    A bit off topic:

    The church is doing internal confidential polling on the “essays” and on gay marriage.
    Looks like the winds of change are hitting the church again! Last time this happened all the temple rituals were changed/and or removed.

  20. johnsepistle says:

    From what I can gather, geminiah’s argument boils down to this: the Greek term evangelion could be appropriately be applied to the personal contents of a patriarchal blessing; therefore, when Paul speaks of an evangelistes, it therefore may well mean one who gives evangelion in the sense of a patriarchal blessing – that is, a patriarch.

    However, the initial premise is absolutely and simply false. Geminiah attempts to defend it with the strategy of appealing to a thoroughgoing agnosticism about the meaning of any ancient Greek word, due to allegedly marked shifts in usage over time, even the short time between the New Testament and the Early Church Fathers. But this strategy simply does not work. Linguistic development can be a hairy thing, but with a sufficient corpus of material, it is something that can be tracked. We have a quite considerable corpus of early Christian documents in the New Testament, in which the term evangelion and its various cognates are used quite frequently, in literary contexts that make it clear what sort of thing is in view. Morever, we have the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, in which evangelion and its cognates are used (e.g., evangelizomenou in Isaiah 52:7 LXX). In addition, we have non-Christian writings that use this term, both in Greek and in its Latin equivalent (evangelium) – see, for one instance, Homer’s Odyssey 14.152, and also common imperial propaganda (as in the Priene calendar inscription, dated 9 BC).

    Given the way in which New Testament usage is adapted primarily through two sources – the Septuagint and intentional parodies of imperial rhetoric – we have an exceptionally clear understanding, given the literary contexts within which the term evangelion and its cognates found in the New Testament, of what it means there. I know of no instance there that would be amenable to associating it with a patriarchal blessing. Hence, the onus is absolutely and entirely upon Geminiah to show that New Testament thought ever associated evangelion with a patriarchal blessing, in such a way that it would be natural to understand an evangelistes as being the sort of role that a modern Mormon patriarch fulfills. Geminiah’s appeal to blind faith in Joseph Smith is, of course, wholly spurious, given that Joseph Smith repeatedly demonstrated the shoddy quality of his familiarity with New Testament Greek and given that here, yet again, the linguistic evidence mitigates strongly against Joseph Smith’s erroneous perspective.

  21. Kate says:


    Wow,just wow. Is this how revelation works in the LDS church now? I am so thankful to be out of this weirdness. I can’t imagine my Pastor having to do a poll like this. In my experience in Christianity nothing has been hidden. We are encouraged to ask questions during the Pastors preaching and also in Sunday school. We have one lady who will speak up if she disagrees and it is actually a good thing. It allows the Pastor to walk us through using Biblical passages. Never is she punished, looked down upon or shunned. Can you imagine interrupting a bishop in sacrament and disagreeing with what he is saying?

  22. johnnyboy says:


    Hahaha. That would be hilarious. My last couple bishops have been extremely wonderful and nice men so I couldn’t see anyone doing it just because people loved them so much. But stake presidents? Now that’s a different ball of wax. Hahaha

  23. falcon says:

    I wouldn’t cut Joseph Smith any slack on anything particularly the translation or interpretation of ancient languages. The guy was a dufus, with or without his magic rock.
    It appalls me how Mormons revere this guy. I’ve seen it first hand. They have no clue who this guy really was and the things he did. Listen folks, any thirty-some year old guy who would have sex with fourteen year old girls and women married to other men is no a guy to trust much less revere. Mormons can deny it, call it all lies and an attack on the “prophet”, excuse it or try to explain it away but put the whole thing together and it’s not a pretty picture.

  24. BYU professor Charles Harrell writes:

    Many roles in the apostolic church that Latter-day Saints consider to be ordained priesthood callings were actually spoken of in the New Testament as gifts or callings of the Spirit. In enumerating these ministerial gifts, Paul states that Christ “gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers” (NIV Eph. 4:11). An evangelist, incidentally, was simply a preacher; not, as Joseph Smith asserted, a patriarch or “the oldest man of the blood of Joseph or of the seed of Abraham.”[endnote 20]

    [20] Ehat and Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, 6. Richard L. Bushman expressed bewilderment as to “why ‘evangelical minister’ was ever used [to designate Patriarchs], considering the title suggested a gospel preacher.” His only explanation was that it allowed Joseph to introduce a new office in the Church while still adhering to the New Testament “model for Church organization.” Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 261.

    “This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology (Part 2) (Kindle Locations 4153-4158). Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition.

  25. MJP says:


    Is that survey real? If so, wow.

  26. johnnyboy says:


    yes, it is real…

    the church sends out surveys every few months. some are more interesting than others. Someone over on RfM told me that she just got one recently about women’s issues.

  27. grindael says:

    One has to remember that the office of a patriarch, and the “blessings” that went with it, were all a product of Smith’s millennial teachings, (that Jesus was going to return in HIS generation). Hence, his father’s (and many others) “blessings” encapsulated that mentality, with many told that they were to live to see the “winding up scene” in the flesh, would be able to “translate” themselves from one place to another, visit the moon to preach the gospel, etc., etc.

    Then we see that as this phase of Mormonism ended (because the failed prophecies never came to pass) these blessings began to change. This has always been how Mormonism worked. It’s teachings of the time, reflected the thinking of its Hierarchy of the time, and former “prophets” teachings mattered less and less, if they did not correlate with what current ones interpreted. There were few “objections” to what was taught, (because of the way that Mormon leadership cut themselves off from any criticism) but there was a lot of indifference among the membership that had no leadership roles. This has nothing to do with changing times demanding “prophets” that were “current”, because changes took place in basic theology as well as policies. Senseless former theology, gave was to revisionist theology, all written by those that were not the current “mouthpiece” so that they could deny any of it was “official doctrine”, even though that contradicted what their former “prophets” said, and what was written in their “standard works”.

  28. falcon says:

    This is pretty much standard operating procedure for aberrant religious sects and cults. I believe what the JWs say is that they have more “light” now. Get it? Their previous revelation was incomplete or the knowledge wasn’t all there………whatever.
    What I don’t understand is that this type of explanation works with a lot of the followers. We see it on this blog all the time. There’s something in the religion that hooks these true believers and in the case of the LDS, they will not be disabused of their testimony. In fact you get extra esteem points for continuing to believe in the face of evidence that the sect is phoney.
    I know how frustrated I get in dealing with TBMs and have to exercise a great deal of restraint and patience. The whole program is so blatantly false it’s difficult to understand how they can’t see it. But I’ve never been there emotionally and I know that’s a big part of the belief system.

  29. Mike R says:


    thanks for that quote where Richard . Bushman said , ” Hus only explanation was that it allowed
    Joseph to introduce a new office in the church while still adhering to the New Testament model
    for church organization .”

    That explains exactly what is going on here with the creation of the office of ” the Patriarch
    to the Church ” by Joseph Smith . He had claimed to have restored the very same church Jesus
    established 1700 years earlier , but then he had a new idea about making room for some family
    members to be in top leadership , so it was expedient to cleverly squeeze his new doctrinal
    innovation into the N.T. model of church organization . This he accomplished , and sadly his
    followers were duped once again into accepting yet another doctrine that was foreign to apostles
    in the N. T. ; ( Smith was also the latter days prophet responsible for polygamy finding it’s
    place as an essential church ordinance in Jesus’ ” restored ” church ) .

    Falcon, JW’s and their ” new light ” fiasco ? don’t get me started 🙂

  30. MJP says:

    As conversation has moved on, hopefully someone can still answer this question:

    do Mormons sing Amazing Grace?

  31. Kate says:

    No, Mormons don’t sing Amazing Grace. It’s not even in th LDS Hymn book.

  32. MJP says:

    Thanks, Kate. Interesting.

    We sang it this past Sunday and I wondered if it is something the LDS sing. Its a powerful song with a powerful message.

  33. fifth monarchy man says:

    Funny story

    I went to a funeral for a Mormon friend and his Evangelical Christian children asked that Amazing Grace be sang at the service . I was so proud of them I thought it would be a great a way to share the gospel in a uncomfortable situation with out being confrontational.

    Unfortunately the version that they sang had words changed and whole verses missing. My wife and I must have audibly groaned or something because on the way out they asked us if we wanted to talk to the bishop. Talk about awkward.


  34. MJP says:

    I must admit I am baffled by the avoidance of Amazing Grace. To a group that emphasizes grace and its enabling of everything good, one would think such a concept as “Amazing Grace” would be widely spread. Apparently, that’s not the case.

  35. dreamer says:

    Falcon, you can write some serious books.

Leave a Reply