Joseph Smith made many additions and clarifications in verses 1-34 in the JST, which is the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. You can read these verses in its entirety, in the back of your LDS Bible in the section titled, “Joseph Smith translation.” By-the-way, the JST was not so much a translation by Joseph Smith as it was a modification of the Kings James Version – without consulting any of the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek manuscripts. We will include many of these JST changes as we study chapter 1 of John.
In the interest of time, I will only be able to comment on selected passages of this chapter.
The Kings James Version of the Bible starts out in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” What a beautiful statement! God’s Word is God. When John wrote “in the beginning” he was paralleling the words of the creation account in Genesis 1:1. John marks the beginning of Jesus’s life as an event that took place before the beginning of eternity. He was already present in the beginning. He has always existed. The term “Word” in Greek is “Logos.” Not only was the Son – the Word – Logos with God, He was himself God. The Word is coeternal with God.
Look how the Joseph Smith Translation changes the critical meaning in this powerful verse “In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.” This translation creates a polytheistic structure within the Godhead of Mormonism.
KJV John 1:1 tells us that Christ, before He became a human being, had ALWAYS been God. The biblical Jesus has been God from the beginning. Uncreated, the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). God has revealed Himself to us through His Word, the Bible. The Bible is clear that He did not earn His status as deity nor, was He created, but He has always been God. Jesus is equal with YHWH, yet he is distinct from YHWH.
KJV John 1:3 teaches that the preexistent Christ, the divine Son, was the One through whom all created things came into existence (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 44:24; Ephesians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). If the Word created ALL things in heaven and earth that would mean He, himself is uncreated. He couldn’t create Himself. That also means He created Satan and could not be a spirit brother of Satan. Conclusion: Jesus Christ is the creator of the heavens, the earth, and all things. And ultimately, everything depends on Him.
KJV John 1:4 “in him was life; and the life was the light of men.” He was the giver of life since He create all things. He also gives eternal life to all those who believe in Him. The Light of Jesus penetrates and enlightens the hearts and minds of men and women. When Christ’s light shines, we can see our sin and his glory. We can also refuse to see the light and remain in darkness. Listen to how Joseph Smith restates JST John 1:4 “in him was the gospel, and the GOSPLE was life, and life was the light of men.” To Joseph Smith, it’s not so much Jesus, but the “gospel” with all that Mormonism teaches that was light to men.
KJV John 1:5-8 introduces John the Baptist as being a witness for that Light.
The next couple of verses are extremely important to understand correctly. KJV John 1:11-13 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not (meaning – His own people rejected Him). But as many as RECEIVE Him, to them gave He POWER to BECOME the sons of God, even to them that BELIEVE on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
To the Mormon, the “power to become the sons of God” refers to the power or potential to become exalted.
LDS doctrine teaches that everyone comes to earth as a child of God – a son or daughter of God, from a preexistence state where they were born as spirits to immortal heavenly parents. Latter-day Saints love to sing the song “I am a Child of God.” That statement can be true, but only when you receive God into your, life as your, Savior. It cannot be inherited from a pre-existence.
To the Christian, verses 12 and 13, means that as many as received Him as their Savior, He will grant the right and privilege for the new birth. No one can attain this new birth by his or her own power, merit, or ability. Only God can grant it. It is a gift of God.
Now to another important verse, KJV John 1:14 “And the Word (Jesus) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” According to the Proclamation on the Family, the LDS Church teaches that in pre-mortality, all of us, including Jesus were begotten and born as spirit children of our heavenly parents. But Jesus was the only mortal whose father was Heavenly Father. Thus, to a Mormon, Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father as a mortal.
Christians believe John 1:14 is saying that God became incarnate by taking on a mortal body. He was “begotten” of the Father – meaning, He was uniquely qualified. Christ the Logos, the Word, did not cease to be the Logos when he became flesh. Christ still had the fulness of the shekinah glory in him, but that glory was veiled so he could function in the world of humanity. The Word did not cease to be what He was before; but took on an additional nature – human nature. This is the mystery of the Incarnation: Christ the Logos was not, part God and part man, but fully God and fully human. As it says in Colossians 2:9 “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Christ is the perfect expression of God in human form (Philippians 2:5-9).
KJV John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Moses emphasized God’s law and justice, while Jesus came to exemplify God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness.
Here, Joseph Smith adds a verse in the JST 1:18 “For the law was after a carnal commandment, to the administration of death; but the gospel was after the power of an endless life, through Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.” Basically, this inserted verse in the JST is saying that the Law of Moses helped prepare the Israelites for the higher law which the Savior “restored” to earth by means of Joseph Smith. No one could be saved in celestial exaltation through the Law of Moses. It is only through the full gospel, with all covenants and ordinances, that Mormons can be exalted.
Next, is another big verse for both the LDS and Christians. KJV John 1:18 “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Now listen for the difference in JST John 1:19 “And no man hath see God at any time, EXCEPT HE HATH BORNE RECORD OF THE SON; for except it is through him no man can be saved.” Christians interpret the KJV as being correct – no man has seen God at any time. Thus, Joseph Smith could not have seen Heavenly Father as he claimed he did. The LDS will rely in the JST to support their belief that – no man has seen God at any time, EXCEPT He hath borne record of the Son. In other words, Heavenly Father only appears to man when He wants to endorse His Son – as He supposedly did in Joseph Smith’s First Vision.
The Bible teaches that God is invisible in 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27. The Bible is very clear in several passages that no man has or can see God. 1 John 4:12 “No man hath seen God at any time.” Some have seen His glory, but no one has seen Him because He is Spirit, not an immortal resurrected exalted man. Even the Book of Mormon refers to God as the Great Spirit in Alma 18:24-28; Alma 19:25-27; Alma 22:9-11; Alma 31:15. There is no mention in the Book of Mormon that God has a body. Only that God was a Spirit.
I need to end this podcast by stating the obvious – The Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of Christianity.
That is not just my conclusion. President of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley agrees with me as well. Let me read from LDS Church News, June 20, 1998, p.7 “In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.’ ‘No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak.”
That concludes our review of the first chapter of John.