Joseph Smith is the greatest of prophets, after Jesus Christ Himself.1 As Hyrum Smith declared, “There were prophets before, but Joseph has the spirit and power of all the prophets.”2
“The Prophet’s voice was like the thunders of heaven,” observed Joseph L. Robinson, resident of Nauvoo, “yet his language was meek and his instructions edified much. There was a power and majesty that attended his words and preaching that we never beheld in any man before. . . . He was highly charged with the Holy Ghost, which was his constant companion.”3
“I want your prayers and faith that I may have the instruction of Almighty God and the gift of the Holy Ghost,”4 Joseph told the Saints, “so that I may set forth things that are true and which can be easily comprehended by you, and that the testimony may carry conviction to your hearts and minds of the truth of what I shall say.”5
“I . . . know that no man could explain the scriptures, throw them wide open to view so plain that none could misunderstand their meaning, except he had been taught of God,” said Joseph’s friend Wandle Mace. “He, as it were, turned the key, and the door of knowledge sprang wide open, disclosing previous principles, both new and old.”6
Joseph Smith Quotes
“According to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy [see Revelation 19:10]; . . . if I be a true teacher and witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 269).
“A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon. . . . And thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 151).
“God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and . . . the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him” (History of the Church, 2:8).
Brigham Young, Second President of the Church, 1847–1877
“The secret feeling of my heart was that I would be willing to crawl around the earth on my hands and knees, to see such a man as was Peter, Jeremiah, Moses, or any man that could tell me anything about God and heaven . . . until I saw Joseph Smith” (Deseret News, Feb. 13, 1861, 393).
Parley P. Pratt, Apostle, 1835–1857
“His language [abounded] in original eloquence peculiar to himself—not polished—not studied—not smoothed and softened by education and refined by art; but flowing forth in its own native simplicity, and profusely abounding in variety of subject and manner. He interested and edified, while, at the same time, he amused and entertained his audience; and none listened to him that were ever weary with his discourse. I have even known him to retain a congregation of willing and anxious listeners for many hours together, in the midst of cold or sunshine, rain or wind, while they were laughing at one moment and weeping the next. Even his most bitter enemies were generally overcome, if he could once get their ears” (Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. (1961), 46).
Neal A. Maxwell, Apostle, 1981–2004
“So far as we know, much more scripture flowed through the Prophet Joseph than through any other mortal in history” (But for a Small Moment (1986), 17).
How did people receive Joseph Smith’s teachings?
Many people embraced Joseph’s words willingly, but some were stubborn. “There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation,” Joseph once said. “It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger [a piece of corn bread] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [a wooden mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand” (History of the Church, 6:184).
What was the influence of Joseph Smith’s teachings on those who knew him best?
The next four Presidents of the Church each knew Joseph Smith and were deeply influenced by his teachings. “[He] opened up, in plainness and simplicity the things of God,” recalled Brigham Young (Deseret News, Dec. 30, 1857, 340). John Taylor said Joseph “was ignorant of letters as the world has it, but the most profoundly learned and intelligent man that I ever met in my life” (Deseret News, June 2, 1880, 275). Wilford Woodruff remarked, “The people could not bear the flood of intelligence which God poured into [Joseph’s] mind” (Deseret News, May 27, 1857, 91). Said Lorenzo Snow, “I heard the Prophet discourse upon the grandest of subjects. At times he was filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking as with the voice of an archangel and filled with the power of God” (in LeRoi C. Snow, “How Lorenzo Snow Found God,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1937, 84).
Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“Revelations Received in the Kirtland Area”—in “Building the Kingdom in Kirtland, Ohio,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1996), 23–26
“Glorious Days in Kirtland, 1834–36”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 153–68
“Doctrinal Developments in Nauvoo”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 251–62
“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
“The ‘New Translation’ of the Bible, 1830–1833: Doctrinal Development During the Kirtland Era”—Robert J. Matthews, BYU Studies, vol. 11, no. 4 (1971), 400–22
Discusses many of the new doctrines received through revelation while Joseph Smith was translating the Bible.