John 10:1 He that entereth not by the door...the same is a thief and a robber
James E. Talmage
"Dummelow's Commentary says, on John 10:2: 'To understand the imagery, it must be remembered that Eastern folds are large open enclosures, into which several flocks are driven at the approach of night. There is only one door, which a single shepherd guards, while the others go home to rest. In the morning the shepherds return, are recognized by the doorkeeper, call their flocks round them, and lead them forth to pasture.'" (Jesus the Christ, 391.)
James E. Talmage
"Never has been written or spoken a stronger arraignment of false pastors, unauthorized teachers, self-seeking hirelings who teach for pelf and divine for dollars, deceivers who pose as shepherds yet avoid the door and climb over 'some other way,' prophets in the devil's employ, who to achieve their master's purpose, hesitate not to robe themselves in the garments of assumed sanctity, and appear in sheep's clothing, while inwardly they are ravening wolves. " (Jesus the Christ, 417-418)
John 10:3 he calleth his own sheep by name
"When I was in Israel I saw a little boy who could whistle and call his sheep as we call dogs. My son-in-law, who spent two years there, told me that these shepherds are so close to their sheep that they literally call the sheep by name and the sheep come out of the flock." (Homer S. Ellsworth, "Thoughts on the Good Shepherd," Ensign, Dec. 1985, 63)
David B. Haight
"Some time ago, as I was convalescing from a serious operation, I received an unusual card that caused me to ponder upon the majesty of life and immortality. The card featured an original painting by Arta Romney Ballif of the heavens at night with their myriad golden stars. The message, taken from Psalms, read: 'Praise ye the Lord: . . . He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. . . . His understanding is infinite' (Psalm 147:1, 3-5).
"As I lay in the hospital bed, I meditated...'He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.' I was then-and continue to be-awed by the goodness and majesty of the Creator, who knows not only the names of the stars but knows your name and my name-each of us as his sons and daughters." (A Light unto the World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 3.)
John 10:4 the sheep follow him: for they know his voice
Neal A. Maxwell
"We define the veil as the border between mortality and eternity; it is also a film of forgetting that covers the memories of earlier experiences. This forgetfulness will be lifted one day, and on that day we will see forever, rather than 'through a glass, darkly.' (1 Corinthians 13:12.)...No wonder the Savior said that His doctrines would be recognized by His sheep, that we would know His voice, that we would follow Him. (John 10:14.) We do not, therefore, follow strangers. Deep within us, His doctrines do strike the promised chord of familiarity and underscore our true identity. Our sense of belonging grows in spite of our sense of separateness, for His teachings stir our souls, awakening feelings within us that have somehow survived underneath the encrusting experiences of mortality." (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 8.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"We can dissolve the stress of wearily listening to 'so many kinds of voices in the world' (1 Corinthians 14:10). A true disciple need tune in on only one channel: 'My sheep hear my voice' (John 10:27). Like ancient Athenians, some today spend their energies and 'their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing' (Acts 17:21). A true disciple will not listen to the voices that deny the divinity of Jesus or of His latter-day work, that deny the apostolic foundations of the Restoration, or that suggest compromising with the world." (Men and Women of Christ [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 32.)
John 10:5 a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him
"How, in the language of Scripture, are we to know the voice of the Good Shepherd from the voice of a stranger? Can any person answer this question? I can, it is very easy. To every philosopher upon the earth, I say, 'Your eye can be deceived, so can mine; your ear can be deceived, so can mine; the touch of your hand can be deceived, so can mine; but the Spirit of God filling the creature with revelation and the light of eternity, cannot be mistaken-the revelation which comes from God is never mistaken.' It is the spirit of truth, and it testifies of Jesus, of his Father, of the things which God has done for the children of men, and that which he is now doing. No man upon the earth can be mistaken when he sees by the eye of revelation, when Jesus shines upon his understanding by the light of his Spirit. Now, then, how are we going to know the voice of the Good Shepherd from the voice of a stranger? Take the words of Jesus. He says, 'My sheep hear my voice and they follow me, a stranger they will not follow.' Why? Because they know not the voice of a stranger. When an individual, filled with the Spirit of God, declares the truth of heaven, the sheep hear that, the Spirit of the Lord pierces their inmost souls and sinks deep into their hearts; by the testimony of the Holy Ghost light springs up within them, and they see and understand for themselves. This is the way the Gospel should be preached by every Elder in Israel, and by this power every hearer should hear." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 16: 74 - 75.)
Charles W. Penrose
"I hope that the sheep of Israel who are here today, and those whom they represent, are able to distinguish between the voice of the good shepherd and the voice of the stranger, and that they will never be led aside from the path in which they should walk, but that they will keep their eye upon the prize of the mark of their high calling in Christ Jesus, and press forward on the strait and the narrow way that leadeth unto eternal lives, and that they will not be turned to the right hand nor to the left by the voice of the stranger. We have heard from several of our brethren. The tones of their voices, their complexions, their stature, their physical development, their intellectual powers, are all different; but the one voice has been heard through this conference, and that is the voice of the Lord, the voice of the good shepherd, through His agents whom He has appointed to carry on His work in these latter times. That voice has found an echo in my heart. I rejoice in it and praise the Lord." (Conference Report, October 1904, Afternoon Session 97.)
John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved
Robert E. Wells
"Christ said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.' (John 14:6.) In declaring this, he is also telling us that no other way, no other road, no other system, no other name will bring salvation. The old saying 'All roads lead to Rome' is a statement that is not true when applied to the pathway to eternal life. Christ declared, 'I am the door [or gate]: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.' (John 10:9.)
"When the Savior says that he is the door, the gate, the path, he is not saying that he is a parallel route or that he is an alternate route. He is most emphatic when he states that he is the only way. Therein lies the major choice of this life. We must find Christ. We must come unto him in the way that he has commanded. There will always be those who say they need more freedom, or that commandments are old-fashioned, or that in this modern day of men on the moon and stations in space we should not be so strict with commandments and doctrines and ordinances or insist that they be performed exactly the same way as they were two thousand years ago. The Savior himself says, however, that his way is the only way-it is his way then and now. If we desire the blessings that are promised to the obedient, we must make the choice to follow him and not procrastinate or waver." (The Mount and the Master [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 189)
John 10:9 if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture
The pasture represents an endless source of nourishment. The pasture grows grass faster than the sheep can consume it. So it is with the Lord's disciples-both in this world and in the next-he blesses them beyond their ability to receive it all. These concepts are reiterated in the 23rd Psalm:
John 10:10 that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly
The world seeks moments of immediate pleasure; the saints seek true and lasting joy. The world seeks the fountain of youth; the saints seek the fountain of living waters. The world seeks a life of abundance; the saints seek the abundant life.
"This expression conveys in one sentence the essence of the Lord's mortal ministry: he came to teach and serve and save. He lived the abundant life and has extended the blessings of the same to all who will accept him and the principles of his gospel." (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], vii.)
"When we understand the alternative-what our fate would have been without the Savior-the preceding words have altogether new and deeper meaning. The more abundant life promised by Jesus refers not only to a resurrected, endless life with a body but also to a better quality of life both now and in the hereafter. It's the joy of a celestial life compared with the misery and disappointment of hell." (Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], 286 - 287.)
"The Lord ultimately seeks our self-fulfillment, not our self-denial. Yet our self-denial in the short run enables our self-fulfillment in the long run. God is the author of our passions. If we bridle them by the bounds he has set, our passions can be fulfilled. We submit ourselves to divinely ordered limits in order to find-not to deny-the abundant life." (Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, The Belonging: The Atonement and Relationships with God and Family Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 304.)
Albert E. Bowen
"That fine phrase, coined and employed by the Master, has in recent times been so violently wrenched from the noble setting in which He put it and has been made to assume a significance...widely variant from the one He gave it...it has been dragged down from its high spiritual plane to the ordinary level of every day materialism. More often than not now-a- days 'the abundant life' is made the synonym for a full stomach, or a modernized home, or coveted apparel, or a new model automobile. And these mere things are held up to view as if they constituted the goal of ultimate desire, which, is symptomatic of present day measures of value.
"But it is abundantly clear that that is not at all what was in the mind of Jesus when He used the expression. It follows immediately upon His declaration that it was by Him that man shall be saved. Salvation meant to Him something far different than the mere physical comfort or even preservation of the mortal body, or the gratification of the physical senses, or the invention of new excitements to relieve us of our artificially created boredoms.
"He was always concerned with eternal spiritual values, never with mere things, as His utterances so fully show. When He talked about life He always embraced within His meaning something far transcending the satisfying powers of mere things." (Conference Report, April 1940, Second Day-Morning Meeting 129.)
Spencer W. Kimball
"The abundant life, of course, has little to do with the acquisition of material things, though there are many wonderful individuals who have been blessed materially and who use their wealth to help their fellowmen-and this is most commendable. The abundant life noted in the scriptures is the spiritual sum that is arrived at by the multiplying of our service to others and by investing our talents in service to God and to man.
"If you can, just live on a little farm and get out and plow and raise your crops and think of your family and wish and pray for them as you plow and plant and harvest...Sometimes we get wrong notions, we think we have to be in a luxurious house, in a large city, with a new car in order to be happy. Happiness isn't there. Happiness isn't in a new car, it isn't in a new and luxurious apartment. Happiness isn't in banks and stocks. Happiness is where you make it, it's up to you. It comes from within, it doesn't come from things." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 380.)
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd
Alexander B. Morrison
"To the pastoral peoples of ancient times, those of the flock and field, Jesus' remarks struck a responsive chord. The shepherd was a familiar sight to them. He stayed with his flock both day and night (Luke 2:8), led the flock to fresh pastures each morning (John 10:3-4), carefully and tenderly watched over each member during the day, and ensured that all were safely within the sheepfold when evening came. Equipped with a curved staff for guiding the sheep, a rod used as a weapon, and a sling (Psalm 23:4; 1 Samuel 17:40), he was prepared to defend the flock against predators such as bears or lions (1 Samuel 17:34-35; John 10:11-13), to give his life, if need be, to protect those in his charge. Yet he willingly left the ninety and nine to go out into the wilderness, seeking the one that was lost. (Luke 15:4-6.) The shepherd was an honored figure.
"The symbolism of Christ as Shepherd is referred to repeatedly in the scriptures. The psalmist sang, 'He is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.' (Psalm 95:7.) Using the same powerful symbolism, Isaiah wrote, 'He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.' (Isaiah 40:11.) Said faithful Nephi, 'He gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.' (1 Nephi 22:25.) Successful leaders in the Lord's Church look upon themselves as His undershepherds, blessed to help Him care for the flock of Christ, sharing the responsibility to watch over every member." (Feed My Sheep: Leadership Ideas for Latter-day Shepherds [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 26.)
Ezra Taft Benson
"The symbolism of the Good Shepherd is not without parallel in the Church today. The sheep need to be led by watchful shepherds. Too many are wandering. Some are being enticed away by momentary distractions. Others have become completely lost. We realize, as in times past, that some of the sheep will rebel and are 'as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd.' (Mosiah 8:21.) But most of our problems stem from lack of loving and attentive shepherding, and more shepherds must be developed.
"With a shepherd's care, our new members, those newly born into the gospel, must be nurtured by attentive fellowshipping as they increase in gospel knowledge and begin living new standards. Such attention will help to ensure that they will not return to old habits. With a shepherd's loving care, our young people, our young lambs, will not be as inclined to wander. And if they do, the crook of the shepherd's staff, a loving arm and an understanding heart, will help to retrieve them. With a shepherd's care, many of those who are now independent of the flock can still be reclaimed. Many who have married outside the Church and have assumed the lifestyles of the world may respond to an invitation to return to the fold." (LDS Church News, 04/15/95)
Elder John R. Lasater
"My dear brothers and sisters, there are great lessons to be learned from these stirring words of the Master Shepherd. Into our hands, as members of this great Church, has been given responsibility to be the true shepherds unto the flocks of Israel. Do we understand the personal nature of the shepherd's call? Whether we go as home teachers or visiting teachers, whether we serve as auxiliary leaders or teachers, or priesthood leaders at whatever level, we have received a divine injunction from God, through a living prophet, to become personal shepherds and ministers. No, it is not a new call; it has always been so.
"Do we know our sheep, each one, by name? Do they know our voice, or must they hearken unto the voices of strangers? Do they know us as true shepherds who love them, who willingly and freely give time and attention to their needs, and, in that marvelous process, instill the confidence and security so greatly needed in God's children today? Are we then able to lead them into full activity in the Church and onward to immortality and eternal life? Do we go before them, constantly reassuring and building confidence because they know our voice?
"Or are we strangers unto many? I promise you that you will not be a stranger, that you cannot be if you come to know the voice of the Master Shepherd, for that voice will confirm what a prophet has declared, and the Spirit will direct your efforts. And then, and only then, you will become a true shepherd in Israel." ("Shepherds of Israel," Ensign, May 1988, 75)
John 10:13 the hireling fleeth, because he...careth not for the sheep
Ezra Taft Benson
"At night shepherds would bring their sheep to a corral called a sheepfold. High walls surrounded the sheepfold, and thorns were placed on top of the walls to prevent wild animals and thieves from climbing over. Sometimes, however, a wild animal driven by hunger would leap over the walls into the midst of the sheep, frightening them. Such a situation separated the true shepherd-one who loved his sheep-from the hireling who worked only for pay and duty.
"The true shepherd was willing to give his life for the sheep. He would go in among the sheep and fight for their welfare. The hireling, on the other hand, valued his own personal safety above the sheep and would usually flee from the danger.
"Jesus used this common illustration of His day to declare that He was the Good Shepherd, the True Shepherd. Because of His love for His brothers and sisters, He would willingly and voluntarily lay down His life for them. (See John 10:17-18.) Eventually the Good Shepherd did give His life for the sheep-for you and me-for us all." (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 64.)
John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep
Neal A. Maxwell
"A universal God is actually involved with our small, individual universes of experience! In the midst of His vast dominions, yet He numbers us, knows us, and loves us perfectly." (Cory H. Maxwell, ed., The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 134.)
John 10:15 I lay down my life for the sheep
George F. Richards
"Here is love supreme, perfect love, the love of a God manifest in a gift, the greatest that was ever given; his sacrifice, the greatest that was ever made; in service, the noblest, the most important that ever was rendered." (Conference Report, October 1937, First Day-Morning Meeting 27.)
John 10:16 Other sheep I have which are not of this fold
The best commentary on any particular scripture often comes from other scriptures. This particular verse may be the best example in which commentary comes directly from the resurrected Lord. Speaking to his disciples in the New World, he said
"I had the privilege of talking to a group of ministers just a few years ago by assignment from President McKay, and I quoted some of these scriptures. I asked them if they knew why the verses were in the Bible and if they knew of any Church in the world that did know why they were in the Bible, and the next record that I quoted was the one where Jesus said:
'And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.' (John 10:16.)
"I asked those men if they knew anything about those other sheep or the fulfillment of the promise of the Lord that he would visit them, and they would hear his voice, and there should be one fold and one shepherd. None of them could tell, and so I just turned to the Book of Mormon and showed them that when Jesus, following his crucifixion and resurrection and ascension, visited his people here in the land of America, he told them they were the other sheep of whom he spoke to his disciples in Jerusalem, and he said that never at any time did the Lord command him that he should tell his disciples in Jerusalem who the other sheep were; only that he had other sheep that were not of that fold, and them should he visit. He told them they were the other sheep. No one can answer intelligently that statement in John 10:16 without the knowledge that the Book of Mormon has brought to us." (Conference Report, April 1963, Afternoon Meeting 117 - 118.)
John 10:18 I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again
Marion G. Romney
"It took a person with power over death to pay the debt to justice to bring men forth in the resurrection. It took a sin-less one, a god, even the sinless Son of God, to satisfy the demands of justice for men's sins. They themselves could not make an atonement which would either bring about their resurrection or pay for their sins and bring about their spiritual rebirth." (Conference Report, October 1955, Afternoon Meeting 123 - 124.)
George Q. Cannon
"Who resurrected Jesus? In dealing with this subject, care should be taken not to advance mere opinions. (Quotes John 2:19,21; 5:25-28; 10:17-18)...From these passages it is evident that the Savior had the power of the resurrection within Himself and held the keys. This power He has received from His Father; for as He says: 'As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.' (John 5:26.)" (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 31.)
"As the Father hath power in himself, so the Son hath power in himself. Then the Father has some day laid down his body and taken it again, so he has a body of his own. So has his Son a body of his own. So each one will be in his own body...
"What did Jesus say? 'As the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power.' To do what? Why, what the Father did, to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? 'To lay down my life as my Father did, that I might take it up again.'" (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 133.)
John 10:19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings
"Jesus taught the multitudes in the temple, 'I am the door of the sheep' (John 10:7), and, 'I am the good shepherd' (John 10:14). He thus indicated that He was the fulfillment of David's messianic Psalm 23, 'The Lord is my Shepherd,' and of Isaiah's messianic words, 'He shall feed his flock like a shepherd' (Isa. 40:11). Jesus was saying that as the Messiah, He had the power to care for and watch over all His 'sheep,' for how could any ordinary man claim to be King David's 'shepherd?' A great debate soon arose among the people. Jesus withdrew from them, leaving them to decide for themselves who He really was." (Jonathan H. Stephenson, "I Am He," Ensign, Apr. 1999, 10)
John 10:22 at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter
The feast of the dedication took place in the winter of the last year of the Savior's mortal life. Elder Bruce R. McConkie tells us about this feast, "Celebrated over two months after the feast of tabernacles, this feast, instituted by Judas Maccabeus in 163 B. C., commemorated the rededication of the temple, following its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes, a pagan Syrian king." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 489.)
Today, the Jews still celebrate this feast as Hanukkah. Ironically, this holiday would become the Jewish substitute for Christmas. In Christ's day, the Jews looked beyond the mark, in celebrating the temple rededication when one who was greater than the temple was among them. Today, the Jews miss the mark again by celebrating Hanukkah rather than Christmas; for which is greater, the rededication of a now demolished temple or the birth of the promised Messiah? If only they would hearken to what Christ had taught on that Hanukkah of 33 AD, 'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life' (v. 27-28). If accepted, this message would bring a whole new meaning to the phrase "Happy Hanukkah!"
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice
The elect of God are the sheep which recognize the voice of the Master, 'for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts' ("D&C 29:7D&C 29:7). To the 'other sheep' as well the Lord said, 'ye have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me' (3 Ne. 15:24).
Harold B. Lee
"There are only certain ones who are going to hear when that knock comes or His voice is raised...The pure in heart are the only ones who are qualified to see and to hear and listen and know His voice when He speaks." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 414)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Why do some persons believe in Christ and his saving truths while others do not? Why is it easier for some to believe all of the gospel truths than for others? There is only one rational explanation why selected sheep hearken more readily to the Master's voice; it is the fact that men developed different talents in pre-existence. Spirits sent to inhabit some mortal bodies developed talents for spirituality, for recognizing the truth, for believing spiritual realities while yet in pre-existence; others did not." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 492.)
John 10:28 I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand
Neither shall Satan have power to pluck them out of his hand, for they are the elect of God. Christ's mission of salvation includes giving eternal life to all those elect souls foreordained to this glory. Of these, Jesus would lose none, 'but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled' (Jn. 17:12). It is truly amazing that the Savior can save all these souls without violating their agency. (See commentary for John 6:37-39). He encourages them, he admonishes them, he leads them, and they follow him-not by coercion-but because they know his voice.
The Master is truly the master of his stewardship, for he saves his own. This deep and misunderstood doctrine gives new meaning to the phrase 'mighty to save' (Isa 63:1; 2 Ne. 31:19). While we might work and struggle to save our children, while we might work and struggle in our stewardships, we have many failures. Yet, the Master will succeed, for he is truly 'mighty to save,' 'and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of [his] hand.'
Bruce R. McConkie
"The concept of a chosen and favored people, a concept scarcely known in the world and but little understood even by the saints of God, is one of the most marvelous systems ever devised for administering salvation to all men in all nations in all ages...This is the doctrine of election. They were true and faithful in the premortal life, and they earned the right to be born as the Lord's people and to have the privilege, on a preferential basis, of believing and obeying the word of truth. Believing blood, the blood of Abraham, flows in their veins. They are the ones of whom Jesus said: 'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.' (John 10:27-28.)" (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 182.)
John 10:30 I and my Father are one
James E. Talmage
"By 'the Father' the Jews rightly understood the Eternal Father, God. In the original Greek 'one' appears in the neuter gender, and therefore expresses oneness in attributes, power, or purpose, and not a oneness of personality which would have required the masculine form." (Jesus the Christ, 464)
"'I and my Father are one,' says Jesus; what, one body? No, it never entered the Savior's mind that such a rendering of this saying would ever enter into the minds of persons holding the least claim to good sense. They are no more one person than I and one of my sons are one person. If my son receives my teaching, will walk in the path I mark out for him to walk in, if his faith is the same as mine, his purpose is the same, and he does the work of his father as Jesus did the work of his Father, then is my son one with me in the Scriptural sense." (Journal of Discourses, 10: 192.)
"There is a principle connected with this that I think is very important to us as a people and as a Church on the earth. With all the divisions, and all the discontent, and the quarrelings and opposition among the powers on earth, or that have been revealed from heaven, I have never heard that it has ever been revealed to the children of men that there was any division between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. They are one. They always have been one. They always will be one, from eternity unto eternity." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 136.)
John 10:34-36 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came
Joe J. Christensen
"Latter-day Saints have been criticized for believing that the Savior really meant what he said, and that becoming like our Father in Heaven and the Savior is a commandment-not just a suggestion. Over the years, many vindictive books and articles have been written condemning our beliefs as blasphemous. How dare we believe that we could and even should try to become like our Father in Heaven!
"We are attacked for these beliefs even though the Bible, which is accepted as scripture by all Christians, makes frequent reference to the fact that we are children of and should become like our Father in Heaven. Note the following small sampling of the many biblical scriptures on the topic:
'What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour' (Psalm 8:4-5).
'I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High' (Psalm 82:6; emphasis added). The Savior even referred to this idea: 'Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?' (John 10:34)
'Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device' (Acts 17:29; emphasis added).
'And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together' (Romans 8:17; emphasis added)." (One Step at a Time: Building a Better Marriage, Family, and You [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996], 107.)
John A. Widtsoe
"Joseph Smith the Prophet declared that there is a plurality of gods. An indication of such plurality runs through the scriptures, ancient and modern. In the very beginning of time Adam and Eve were promised that they should 'be as gods' (Gen. 3:5) and Jesus reminded the Jews that in their scriptures it was written 'ye are gods.' (John 10:34.) Paul spoke of 'lords many and gods many.' (1 Cor. 8:5.) Modern revelation presents the same truth when it says 'according to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was.' (D. & C. 121:32)
"This implies that many personages may have attained the power and place of Godhood. This does not make them in any sense coequal with God, or with his Son, or the Holy Ghost. Those who are denominated gods have a rank in the eternal councils, with corresponding power to help foster the purposes of the Father. There may be many generals in an earthly government, but only one commander-in-chief. Even so in the government of heaven." (Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era], 54.)
Boyd K. Packer
"Since every living thing follows the pattern of its parentage, are we to suppose that God had some other strange pattern in mind for His offspring? Surely we, His children, are not, in the language of science, a different species than He is.
"What is in error, then, when we use the term godhood to describe the ultimate destiny of mankind? We may now be young in our progression-juvenile, even infantile, compared with God. Nevertheless, in the eternities to come, if we are worthy, we may be like unto Him, enter His presence, 'see as [we] are seen, and know as [we] are known,' and receive 'a fulness' (D&C 76:94).
"This doctrine is in no way at variance with the scriptures. Nevertheless it is easy to understand why some Christians reject it, because it introduces the possibility that man may achieve godhood.
"Their concern centers on certain verses of scripture, for there are many references (at least twenty in the Bible alone) which speak of one God; for example, there is 'one God and Father of all' (Ephesians 4:6). But if you hold strictly to a too rigid interpretation of those verses, you create serious theological problems for yourself.
"There are many other verses of scripture, at least an equal number in the Bible, that speak in plural terms of 'lords' and 'gods.' The first chapter of Genesis states: 'And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness' (Genesis 1:26, italics added). Such references are found from Genesis to Revelation (e.g., Revelation 1:6).
"The strongest one was given by Christ himself when he quoted that very clear verse from Psalm 82:1-6: 'Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the son of God?' (John 10:34-36, italics added.)
"The acceptance of this truth does not mean accepting the multiple gods of mythology nor the polytheism of the pagans, which was so roundly condemned by Isaiah and the other prophets.
"There is one God, the Father of all. This we accept as fundamental doctrine.
"There is only one Redeemer, Mediator, Savior. This we know.
"There is one Holy Ghost, a personage of spirit, who completes the Godhead.
"I have emphasized the word one in each sentence, but I have used it three times' Three is plural.
"Paul used the plural many and the singular one in the same statement: 'For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father.' (1 Corinthians 8:5-6.)
"Anyone who believes and teaches of God the Father, and accepts the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, teaches a plurality of Gods.
"When the early Apostles were gone it was not long until those who assumed the leadership of the Church forsook revelation and relied on reason. The idea of three separate Gods offended them, for it appeared to contravene those scriptures which refer to one God.
"To solve that problem they took verses from here and there and ignored all else that bears on the subject. They tried to stir the three ones together into some mysterious kind of a composite one. They came up with creeds which cannot be squared with the scriptures. And they were left with a philosophy that opposes all we know of creation, of the laws of nature; and that, interestingly enough, defies the very reason upon which they came to depend.
"...What could inspire one to purity and worthiness more than to possess a spiritual confirmation that we are the children of God? What could inspire a more lofty regard for oneself, or engender more love for mankind?
"This thought does not fill me with arrogance. It fills me with overwhelming humility. Nor does it sponsor any inclination to worship oneself or any man." (Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 290-292.)