Prophet, Seer, and Revelator

Like unto Moses


“The duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood,"1 the Lord revealed, "is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses . . . ; yea, to be a seer,2 a revelator,3 a translator, and a prophet,4 having all the gifts of God5 which he bestows upon the head of the church.”6 At a conference in Amherst, Ohio, January 25, 1832, Joseph Smith was ordained president of the high priesthood and acknowledged as such at the conference in Independence, Missouri, April 26, 1832.7

As President of the Church, the Prophet Joseph received constant guidance from heaven. “It is my meditation all the day,” he said, “to know how I shall make the Saints8 of God comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind.”9

“The grand rule of heaven,” Joseph said, “was that nothing should ever be done on earth without [God] revealing the secret to his servants the prophets.”10 This rule holds true for the Church in relation to the living prophet in our day: “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; for his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”11


Joseph Smith Quotes

“Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 160).

“No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 328).

“The kingdom of God was set up on the earth from the days of Adam to the present time, whenever there has been a righteous man on earth unto whom God revealed His word and gave power and authority to administer in His name. And where there is a priest of God—a minister who has power and authority from God to administer in the ordinances of the gospel and officiate in the priesthood of God—there is the kingdom of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 271).


Wilford Woodruff, Fourth President of the Church, 1889–1898

“My soul has been much edified of late, from time to time, in hearing Joseph the Seer converse about the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Truly God is with him and is making him mighty in wisdom and knowledge, and I am convinced for myself that none of the prophets, seers, or revelators of the earth have ever accomplished a greater work than will be accomplished in the last days through the mercy of God by Joseph the Seer” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, ed. Scott G. Kenny (1983), 2:155–56; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization modernized).

Bathsheba Smith, General Relief Society President, 1901–1910

”I know him [Joseph Smith] to be what he professed to be—a true prophet of God, and the Lord through him restored the everlasting gospel and every ordinance and endowment that will lead us into the celestial kingdom” (in “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, June 1, 1892, 344).

Howard W. Hunter, 14th President of the Church, 1994–1995

“A seer is one who sees. This does not mean that he sees through his natural eyes but rather through spiritual eyes. . . . By the power of the Holy Ghost, certain persons, sent to the earth for that purpose are able to see and behold the things which pertain to God” (“Joseph—The Seer” [address delivered at 18th Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Sermon, Dec. 15, 1960], 193–94).


What writings did Joseph Smith produce by the gift and power of God?

In addition to the Book of Mormon, Joseph translated and clarified other ancient writings. By revelation, he made clear and illuminated certain portions of the Bible, restoring truths that had been lost. The book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew, found in the Pearl of Great Price, are portions of that inspired translation of the Bible. Also in the Pearl of Great Price is the book of Abraham, which Joseph translated from ancient Egyptian papyri.

As a prophet, did Joseph Smith see himself as infallible?

“I was but a man,” Joseph told the Saints in 1842, “and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities” (History of the Church, 5:181).

What gifts of the Spirit did Joseph Smith possess?

Joseph possessed many spiritual gifts, including heavenly visions and the power to translate the Book of Mormon. He discerned evil spirits and cast them out. He administered priesthood blessings to the ill, many of whom were healed. He spoke in tongues and interpreted them. He made prophecies too numerous to list. Most importantly, he enjoyed the gift of the Holy Ghost, which we can all share. He explained: “We believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost being enjoyed now, as much as it was in the Apostles’ days; . . . we also believe in prophecy, in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in healings; and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 5:27).


Online Resources at

“His Word Ye Shall Receive, As If from Mine Own Mouth”—Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2002), 43–46

Joseph Smith Was Persecuted and Ridiculed for His Witness That God Had Spoken to Him”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 6

The Prophet Joseph Smith Holds the Keys of This Dispensation”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 16–17

He Was a Prophet, Seer, Revelator, Restorer, Witness, and Martyr”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 17–19

He Is the Great Prophet of This Dispensation”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 19

Online Resources at BYU

Parting the Veil: The Visions of Joseph Smith”—Alexander L. Baugh, BYU Studies, vol. 38, no. 1 (1999), 22–69

Survey of Joseph Smith’s visions using the accounts of Joseph and others.