The Dilemma of Revelation 1:6

By Aaron Shafovaloff

The King James Version

The KJV of Revelation 1:6 reads,

“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

The Joseph Smith Translation Gets It Right

Consider the description in Gospel Principles (2009) of the Joseph Smith Translation (JST):

“Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord has expanded our understanding of some passages in the Bible. The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph to restore truths to the Bible text that had been lost or changed since the original words were written. These inspired corrections are called the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. In the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, selected passages from the Joseph Smith Translation are found on pages 797–813 and in many footnotes.”

With that in mind, observe that Joseph Smith corrects Revelation 1:6 in the JST to “God, his Father.” Ironically, he got it essentially right, and no wonder, since he seems then (in the early 1830’s) to have been on a push to make sure the Bible was more clearly monotheistic. Contrast the KJV and KJV-based translations with all modern translations. The Greek supports the modern translations, which render it essentially, “priests to his God and Father.” In what is otherwise a disastrous translation, Revelation 1:6 could be a “hit” in the JST worth celebrating. The JST needs all the positive hits it can get, since Smith inserted a prophecy about himself at the end of Genesis, and doesn’t have a good reputation for corroborating with manuscript evidence.

Joseph Smith’s “Sermon in the Grove” Overturns the JST

Later in his dramatic “Sermon in the Grove” (a follow-up to the King Follett Discourse), Joseph Smith bases his radical argument on the KJV of Revelation 1:6, “God and his Father.” Smith even says of the KJV of Revelation 1:6, “It is altogether correct in the translation.” He goes on to argue for a “plurality of Gods” and for the ancestry of God the Father:

“If Abraham reasoned thus — If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.”

The Dilemma

Mormons are left with two options:

1: Choose the KJV of Revelation 1:6, endorsed by Joseph Smith in the “Sermon in the Grove”, which calls into question the Joseph Smith Translation.

2: Choose the Joseph Smith Translation of Revelation 1:6, which calls into question Joseph Smith’s “Sermon in the Grove.”

Of course, a third option is simply to decide that Joseph Smith wasn’t a reliable translator.