Studying the New Testament to Know Christ

Each person is responsible for knowing and living according to Christ’s invitation to “come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21)

Jesus Christ

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe “the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly” (Articles of Faith: 8). This is one of the reasons that on April 6, 1830, God declared that Joseph Smith “be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:1; emphasis added).

From June 1830 to February 1831, Joseph translated the Old Testament (see Moses 1-8). On March 7, 1831, he was divinely directed to translate “the New Testament … that ye may be prepared for the things to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:60-61).

Joseph and Sidney

The Bible Dictionary, “Joseph Smith Translation” explains, “Although the major portion of the [New Testament] work was completed by July 1833, [Joseph] continued to make modifications while preparing a manuscript for the press until his death in 1844.” It would take another 135 years, however, for living prophets and apostles working with Church scholars to verify the accuracy of the revelatory changes in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).

The 1979 Latter-Day Saint King James Version of the New Testament added 383 brief footnote revisions and more lengthy excerpts included in the appendix. All of the approximately 2100 New Testament verses changed by the Prophet Joseph are now available on Bible Revision Manuscripts, Despite such increased availability to the Joseph Smith Translation, we may not be selecting viewing options that make them accessible on electronic media. We need to foster strategies that encourage us to study Joseph’s divinely inspired translation of the New Testament.

Holy Bible

The 2013 edition of the New Testament added 33 footnotes/endnotes. For example, instead of Jesus saying in the Sermon on the Mount, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you,” the Prophet reverses the point of view, “And then will I say, Ye never knew me” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:23 [in Matthew 7:33, footnote a, 2013]).

Each person is responsible for knowing and living according to Christ’s invitation to “come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21), and the Joseph Smith Translation is a treasured aid for understanding true gospel doctrines.

A Fortifying Curriculum

As a family, we are also excited to look for ways to study the updated online manual Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: New Testament 2023: that is designed “to deepen our conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and help us become more like Them.”

Come Follow Me Manual

One of the minor additions is more emphasis for using music to reinforce gospel principles: “Singing or listening to Primary songs and hymns can be a blessing in times of need. For instance, singing a song could calm a child at bedtime, create joy as your family works together, uplift a neighbor who is sick, or comfort someone who feels anxious” (“Including Sacred Music in Your Gospel Learning,” Come, Follow Me: New Testament 2023, xix).

Children singing

We will never forget a friend describe what helped him return to Church fellowship. Because of his decades of addiction to smoking, he seldom attended Church meetings. One day, after repeated invitations from his family and ministering members, he felt divinely empowered not to smoke another cigarette by continually repeating in his mind the chorus of “I Am a Child of God,” Children’s Songbook, 2-3 (Hymns, 301). Years later, he could barely say the words “I Am a Child of God” without tears coming to his eyes. He testified that with the help of this song he was able to accept callings, become temple worthy, and with his wife serve as a senior missionary and then as a temple worker.

Expanding Our Study of Jesus

When studying the New Testament in 2023, we should actively look for answers in all the Scriptures, Study Helps, and resources available through President Russell M. Nelson recently described an approach for strengthening his and others’ faith in the Savior: “I invite [young adults of the Church] to let the scriptural citations about Jesus Christ in the Topical Guide become their personal core curriculum. I gave that challenge because I had already accepted it myself. I read and underlined every verse cited about Jesus Christ, as listed under the main heading and the 57 subtitles in the Topical Guide [more than 2200 listings]. When I finished that exciting exercise, my wife asked me what impact it had on me. I told her, ‘I am a different man!’” (“Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign, Nov. 2017, 39).

President Nelson and Riley
Candid photo of President Nelson and eight-year-old Riley studying scriptures

When we spiritually stretch ourselves, then Christ’s power will flow into us. We will begin to understand the potential expressed in these sacred lyrics:

         “The Lord is extending the Saints’ understanding. …

         The knowledge and power of God are expanding;

         The veil o’er the earth is beginning to burst”

         (“The Spirit of God,” Hymns, no. 2).

As we study the testimonies and teachings of the New Testament, may we earnestly seek to be blessed with the guiding knowledge and atoning power of the earthly and eternal ministry of Jesus Christ.