The Atonement of Jesus Christ: Insights from the Joseph Smith Translation


Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible enhances our understanding of the Savior’s suffering, death, and Resurrection.

Soon after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, the Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely commissioned to make a translation, or revision, of the King James Version of the Bible (KJV). He labored off and on for the rest of his life to fulfill this assignment. The Bible Dictionary explains, “Although the major portion of the work was completed by July 1833, [the Prophet] continued to make modifications while preparing a manuscript for the press until his death in 1844, and it is possible that some additional modifications would have been made had he lived to publish the entire work.”1 Today, parts of the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) can be found in the LDS editions of the scriptures.2

The Joseph Smith Translation is an invaluable aid to biblical understanding and interpretation. It is a witness for the divine calling and ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

This article will help you increase your understanding of the Savior’s suffering, death, and Resurrection by highlighting some of the changes made by the Prophet in his Bible translation. (Please note that in the scripture quotations that follow, the Prophet’s changes are represented by boldface type.)

A Garden of Sorrow

JST, Mark 14:36–38 (compare KJV, Mark 14:32–34)

And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane, which was a garden; and the disciples began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy, and to complain in their hearts, wondering if this be the Messiah.

And Jesus knowing their hearts, he said to his disciples, Sit you here, while I shall pray.

And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and rebuked them, and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.

JST, Luke 22:45–46 (compare KJV, Luke 22:45–46)

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping, for they were filled with sorrow,

And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.

JST, Mark 14:43, 46–47 (compare KJV, Mark 14:38, 41–42)

And they said unto him, The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. …

And he cometh to them the third time, and he saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hand of sinners.

And after they had finished their sleep, he said, Rise up, let us go; lo, he who betrayeth me is at hand.

Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot: Nighttime Witnesses

JST, Mark 14:80–82 (compare KJV, Mark 14:72)

And the second time the cock crew.

And Peter called to mind the words which Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

And he went out, and fell upon his face, and wept bitterly.

JST, Mark 15:1–2 (compare KJV, Mark 15:1)

And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes;

And the whole council condemned him [Jesus], and bound him, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

JST, Matthew 27:3–6, 10 (compare KJV, Matthew 27:3–5, 10)

Then Judas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.

And they said unto him, What is that to us? See thou to it; thy sins be upon thee.

And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself on a tree. And straitway he fell down, and his bowels gushed out, and he died. …

And therefore they took the pieces of silver, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed by the mouth of Jeremy.

Pilate and the King of the Jews

JST, Mark 15:3–4 (compare KJV, Mark 15:2)

And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

And Jesus answering said unto him, I am, even as thou sayest.

JST, Matthew 27:26–27 (compare KJV, Matthew 27:24–25)

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see that ye do nothing unto him.

Then answered all the people, and said, His blood come upon us, and our children.

JST, Mark 15:29 (compare KJV, Mark 15:26)

And Pilate wrote his accusation and put it upon the cross, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

JST, Matthew 27:39–42 (compare KJV, Matthew 27:37)

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross, and the writing was,

Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew.

And the chief priests said unto Pilate, It should be written and set up over his head his accusation, This is he that said he was Jesus the King of the Jews.

But Pilate answered and said, What I have written, I have written; let it alone.

Upon the Crosses at Calvary

JST, Mark 15:25–26 (compare KJV, Mark 15:22–23)

And they bring him unto the place called Golgotha, which is, (being interpreted) the place of a burial.

And they gave him to drink vinegar mingled with gall: and when he had tasted the vinegar, he would not drink.

JST, Luke 23:35 (compare KJV, Luke 23:34)

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (meaning the soldiers who crucified him).

JST, Matthew 27:47–48 (compare KJV, Matthew 27:44)

But the other rebuked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation; and this man is just and hath not sinned; and he cried unto the Lord, that he would save him.

And the Lord said unto him, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.

JST, Matthew 27:54 (compare KJV, Matthew 27:50)

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost.

Easter Day

JST, Matthew 28:1–3 (compare KJV, Matthew 28:1–4)

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.

JST, Mark 16:3–6 (compare KJV, Mark 16:4–7)

But when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away (for it was very great); and two angels sitting thereon, clothed in long white garments; and they were affrighted.

But the angels said unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

And go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall you see him, as he said unto you.

And they, entering into the sepulchre, saw the place where they laid Jesus.

JST, John 20:16–17 (compare KJV, John 20:16–17)

Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

Jesus saith unto her, Hold me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.

JST, Matthew 27:56–57 (compare KJV, Matthew 27:52–53)

And the graves were opened; and the bodies of the saints which slept arose, who were many,

And came out of the graves and after his resurrection, went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Show References

    Notes

  1.   1.

    Bible Dictionary, “Joseph Smith Translation.”

  2.   2.

    See Robert J. Matthews, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, June 1992, 29. For the complete JST text, see Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts, ed. Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews (2004), also available on the DVD Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible: Electronic Library (2011).