Joseph Smith—Matthew

“Joseph Smith–Matthew,” The Pearl of Great Price: Teacher Manual (2000), 38–53

Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events

  • Shortly before His death, the Savior met with His disciples on the Mount of Olives and prophesied concerning events that would shortly come to pass, as well as events surrounding the last days and His Second Coming. These prophecies are recorded in the Bible in Matthew 24.

  • As the Prophet Joseph Smith worked on his inspired revision of the Bible, he made many changes to Matthew 24. The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 24 is printed as “Joseph Smith—Matthew” in the Pearl of Great Price. The Lord also revealed additional information pertaining to this discourse on the Mount of Olives, which is recorded in section 45 of the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 45:15–61).

  • We should study what the Lord and His prophets have said about the great and important events leading up to the Second Coming (see Matthew 22:29; 2 Peter 1:20–21; D&C 1:37).

Suggestions for Teaching

An Extract from the Translation of the Bible

Have students compare Matthew 23:39 to Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:1. Discuss how the changes the Prophet Joseph Smith made to this verse help us better understand what Jesus said. You may also want to compare Matthew 24:1 to Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2; Matthew 24:2 to Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:3; and Matthew 24:3 to Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4. Review together the insights and commentary under “Joseph Smith—Matthew” in the student manual (pp. 42–43). Invite students to write notes in the margins of Joseph Smith—Matthew describing what they learn about these verses (for example, Joseph Smith added nearly 450 words to the biblical text ). Invite students to tell how these changes testify of the divine inspiration of the Joseph Smith Translation.

Joseph Smith—Matthew. Overview

The Organization of Joseph Smith—Matthew

Part 1

verses 1–4

introduction, including the disciples’ questions

Part 2

verses 5–21

prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem

Part 3

verses 21–55

prophecies about the latter days, the end of the world, and the Second Coming

Invite students to mark their scriptures in a way that reflects the three-part organization of Joseph Smith—Matthew 1, using lines, boxes, notes, or different colors. This chapter, known also as the Olivet Discourse (because the Savior and His disciples were on the Mount of Olives), is organized as follows: (1) verses 1–4 are the introduction, including the disciples’ questions; (2) verses 5–21 are prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem that would occur shortly after Jesus’ death; and (3) verses 21–55 are prophecies about the latter days, the end of the world, and the Second Coming. Because the Prophet Joseph Smith rearranged several verses during his inspired revision, this organization is much more apparent in Joseph Smith—Matthew than in Matthew 24.

Ask students to find three events that Jesus prophesied would happen in the days shortly after His death and also in the latter days (see vv. 6 and 22; vv. 10 and 30; vv. 12 and 32). Which latter-day event did Jesus prophesy about twice? (see vv. 23, 28). Remind students that Doctrine and Covenants 45:15–61 contains more information from the Olivet Discourse. Read Doctrine and Covenants 45:9–10, 15–17. Discuss why Jesus gave these two prophecies to His disciples of old, and why they have been repeated in our scriptures today.

Studying the Events Prophesied for the Last Days

Read the following statement from President Harold B. Lee, and then discuss why the scriptures should be our primary source for learning about the events of the last days.

“There are among us many loose writings predicting the calamities which are about to overtake us. Some of these have been publicized as though they were necessary to wake up the world to the horrors about to overtake us. Many of these are from sources upon which there cannot be unquestioned reliance.

“Are you … aware of the fact that we need no such publications to be forewarned, if we were only conversant with what the scriptures have already spoken to us in plainness? …

“Read the 24th chapter of Matthew—particularly that inspired version as contained in the Pearl of Great Price [Joseph Smith—Matthew].

“Then read the 45th section of the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord, not man, has documented the signs of the times.

“Now turn to section 101 and section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants and hear the step-by-step recounting of events leading up to the coming of the Savior.

“Finally, turn to the promises the Lord makes to those who keep the commandments when these judgments descend upon the wicked, as set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 38.

“… These are some of the writings with which you should concern yourselves, rather than commentaries that may come from those whose information may not be the most reliable and whose motives may be subject to question” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1972, 128; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, 106).

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:1–21 Jesus Christ Prophesied about the Destruction of Jerusalem

Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events

Suggestions for Teaching

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2, 4. The Disciples’ Questions

Have students identify what the disciples asked Jesus in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2, 4. Tell students that the prophecies in this chapter are Jesus’ answers to His disciples’ questions.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5–11. Jesus Prophesied of the Apostasy in New Testament Times

Have students find and mark in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5–10 the ways Church members in New Testament times would be overcome and fall away from the truth. (Note especially the word deceive in vv. 5, 6, 9; see also vv. 22, 37.) Read verse 11 and ask students what we can do to remain “steadfast” against these obstacles. Read and discuss this quotation from the First Presidency:

“In the providence of the Almighty persecution serves a most useful purpose. Every faithful Saint must perceive and acknowledge this. Each one feels its effect upon himself; he sees its effect upon his friends and neighbors. Persecution develops character. Under its influence we all know ourselves better than we did before we felt its pressure; and we discover traits in our brethren and sisters of the existence of which, perhaps, we were in entire ignorance” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [1965–75], 3:48).

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:12–19. Holy Places

Have students read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:12; Doctrine and Covenants 45:32; 87:8; 101:22–23 and tell what they think it means to “stand in holy places.” Share this quotation from Elder Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “As one studies the commandments of God, it seems to be made crystal clear that the all-important thing is not where we live but whether or not our hearts are pure” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1968, 62). Ask students to summarize the counsel Jesus gave His disciples in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:13–17. Compare what the Lord said in these verses to Doctrine and Covenants 133:7–15. Invite students to suggest ways they could prepare both spiritually and temporally for the coming of the Lord.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:19–20. According to the Covenant

Read the commentary for Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:19 in the student manual (p. 45). Tell students that the Lord prophesied in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:19–20 that the Jews would suffer great persecutions, but that some would survive. Have students read 1 Nephi 15:19–20; 19:15; 2 Nephi 6:11, 14; 10:7; 29:4–5; 30:2–7; 3 Nephi 29:8–9 and summarize the prophetic destiny of the Jews who come unto Christ in the latter days.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22–37 Jesus Christ Prophesied about the End of the World

Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events

Suggestions for Teaching

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22–37. Signs Preceding the Second Coming

Have students read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22–37 and list as many signs of the Second Coming as they can find. Then have them write 1, 2, or 3 next to each of the signs on their lists, depending on which of the following categories each sign belongs to: (1) signs that have already been completely fulfilled, (2) signs that are in the process of being fulfilled, and (3) signs that have not yet begun to be fulfilled. Have a few students share their lists with the class. Invite students to share their feelings about living in the last days. Read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Teenagers also sometimes think, ‘What’s the use? The world will soon be blown all apart and come to an end.’ That feeling comes from fear, not from faith. … Everything that I have learned from the revelations and from life convinces me that there is time and to spare for you to carefully prepare for a long life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 72; or Ensign, May 1989, 59). Invite students to tell what they think makes living on the earth at this time a privilege and an opportunity.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22, 25. False Prophets

Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22 and the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“What are false prophets? They are teachers and preachers who profess to speak for the Lord when, in fact, they have received no such appointment. …

“False prophets are false teachers; they teach false doctrine; they neither know nor teach the doctrines of salvation. Rather, they have followed cunningly devised fables that they suppose make up the gospel of Christ, and they preach them as such. They are the ministers who proclaim a false way of salvation, the expounders of doctrines that are not of God, and the proclaimers of every man-made system of religion on earth. They are the political leaders … who lead men to accept freedom-destroying systems. They are the philosophers and sages who seek to explain God, existence, right and wrong, agency, immortality, and other religious concepts without reference to revelation. They are all of the political and religious leaders who proclaim philosophies and doctrines that lead men away from God and the salvation he offers to men” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [1982], 70–71).

Ask students how we can know the difference between true and false prophets, and how we can avoid being deceived by false prophets.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:23, 28–29. “Wars, and Rumors of Wars”

Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:23, 28–29, and then ask students to make a list of some of the wars that have been fought in the past one hundred years. What rumored or impending wars are there in the world today? Why will wars and rumors of war precede the Second Coming? (see 1 Nephi 22:13–14; 3 Nephi 6:20–30).

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:26, 36. “With Power and Great Glory”

Have students read the following scriptures silently, trying to visualize what the Second Coming will be like: Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:26, 36; Isaiah 40:3–5; Matthew 16:27; Doctrine and Covenants 34:7–8; 45:44; 101:22–25; 133:46–49.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:27, 31, 37. “Preached in all the World”

Show students a map of the world and have them identify nations and lands where the gospel is currently being preached, and places where the gospel is not yet being taught. Which nations have recently (in the past several years) been opened for the preaching of the gospel? Discuss events that have occurred to prepare the way for these nations to be opened for the preaching of the gospel, and what it may take for all nations to become open.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31. “The Destruction of the Wicked”

Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31 and discuss with students what they think will make the difference when it is decided who will be saved with the righteous and who will be destroyed with the wicked at the Second Coming. Have students search Isaiah 13:6–11; Malachi 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9; 1 Nephi 22:14–16, 23; Doctrine and Covenants 29:9, 17; 45:49–50; 133:63, 71 and list what the Lord has said will make the difference. Read 2 Nephi 26:8; 3 Nephi 9:10–13; 10:12, 14. Note how listening to and following the Lord’s living prophets becomes a matter of life and death—physically as well as spiritually. Encourage students to examine their lives and prepare themselves to ensure that they will be among the righteous at the Second Coming.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30, 37. “He That Shall Not Be Overcome”

Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30 and ask students what they think it means to be “overcome.” Why does sin cause people to lose their ability to love? Read verse 37 and discuss how treasuring up the word of God will protect us from being deceived and help save us.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–55 Jesus Christ Taught Us to Prepare for His Second Coming

Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events

Suggestions for Teaching

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–39. “Even at the Doors”

Ask students how they know when the weather is going to change. Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–39 and ask students what “at the doors” means to them. Share this quotation from Elder James E. Talmage, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Many of us are prone to think that the day of His coming, the day of the setting up of the Kingdom of Heaven in its power and glory is yet far distant. … How would you feel if authoritative proclamation were made here today that on the literal morrow, when the sun shall rise again in the east, the Lord would appear in His glory to take vengeance upon the wicked, and to establish His Kingdom upon the earth? Who amongst you would rejoice? The pure in heart would, the righteous in soul would, but many of us would wish to have the event put off. … We are very loath to accept and believe that which we do not want to believe, and the world today does not wish to believe that the coming of Christ is near at hand, and consequently all kinds of subterfuges are invented for explaining away the plain words of scripture. … It has long been a favorite excuse of men who were not ready for the advent of the Lord, to say, ‘The Lord delayeth His coming.’ Don’t attach too much importance to the fact that He has thus far delayed His coming, for He has repeatedly told us that the day of His coming is very, very near, even at our doors” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1916, 129–30).

Media Suggestion. “‘They That Are Wise’”

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video presentation 8, “‘They That Are Wise’” (8:30), can be used to teach the parable of the ten virgins. This presentation helps students understand why and how to prepare for the Second Coming.

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:40, 46. “No One Knoweth”

Write the following statement on the board: The Second Coming is tomorrow. Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:40, 46 and discuss what a person might do if he or she knew the exact day and hour of the Second Coming. Discuss reasons why the Lord would not want anyone to know the exact time of His Second Coming. Compare this to how one would respond if he or she knew the exact day that he or she would die, and how that would interfere with the mortal test of walking by faith in God (see Abraham 3:25–26). Tell students that many false teachers have claimed over the ages to know when the Second Coming would be and have deceived many people. Read Doctrine and Covenants 64:23–25 and encourage students to prepare “today,” so they will be ready for the Second Coming “tomorrow.”

Media Suggestion. “The Second Coming”

Old Testament Video presentation 24, “The Second Coming” (14:05), can be used to show the importance of Christ’s Second Coming (see Old Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions). This presentation was originally intended to help teach the book of Joel. It presents one of the scriptures that Moroni quoted to Joseph Smith as he began to prepare him for his work.

Media Suggestion. “The Second Coming”

New Testament Video presentation 19, “The Second Coming” (3:46), contains excerpts from general conference on the topic of the Second Coming (see New Testament Video Guide [1995; item 34232] for teaching suggestions).

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:41–48. “In Such an Hour As Ye Think Not”

Invite students to tell about times they have been totally surprised by events in the news or in their personal lives. Have students read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:41–48 and explain why the righteous will not be surprised by the Second Coming (see also 1 Thessalonians 5:4–9; D&C 45:37–39, 56–57; 68:11; 106:4–5).

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:49–55. Servants

Discuss the roles of servant and lord (master). How would a master feel about servants who are not diligent? Have students carefully study Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:49–55, and identify and discuss phrases in these verses that teach us how to be better “servants.”

Photo by Gerald Silver on Lynn Hilton Expedition 1976