Jesus Christ in Mormonism

March 17, 2015 · updated January 18, 2024

Jesus the Christ
Jesus the Christ, also known as Lord Jesus Christ and Christ in Red Robe. Portrait by Del Parson, commissioned by the LDS Church. Del Parson

Jesus Christ is central to Mormon beliefs.[#753] [#852] In 1838, Joseph Smith was asked, "What are the fundamental principles of your religion?" He replied:

The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, “that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;” and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.[#849]

Most Mormon congregations display a portrait of Jesus Christ (i.e. Christ in the Red Robe) painted by LDS church member Del Parsons after he was commissioned to do so in 1983 by church leadership.

Mormon beliefs about Jesus have many similarities with mainstream Christian beliefs about Jesus, while others are notably different.

In common with mainstream Christianity, Mormons believe the following:

  • Jesus is the Son of God[#753]
  • Jesus is the Savior of humanity[#753]
  • Jesus existed before his birth[#852]
  • the world was created by and through him[#753] [#850]
  • Jesus was predicted by prophets[#852]
  • Jesus was born of Mary but not Joseph[#852]
  • Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus[#852] [#854]
  • as the son of God and Mary, Jesus is both man and God[#852]
  • Jesus lived a sinless life[#753]
  • Jesus worked miracles[#753]
  • Jesus was crucified for sins (the "atonement")[#753]
  • Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day[#753]
  • salvation is only possible through Jesus[#852]
  • Jesus will return in the Second Coming, which will happen soon but "no one knows the hour"[#852]

Distinctive Mormon beliefs about Jesus, not shared by mainstream Christian denominations, include the following:

  • Jesus did not exist eternally; he was the "firstborn spirit child of God the Father"[#852]
  • Jesus is identical with "Jehovah" in the New Testament[#753]
  • Jesus is the literal, biological son of God the Father, who has an immortal physical body[#852]
  • Jesus has a physical, immortal body[#851] [#852]
  • Jesus is an entirely separate being from his Father, though they are united in purpose (see "Godhead")
  • Jesus appeared to ancient Native Americans called Nephites after his resurrection[#753]
  • Jesus and God the Father appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and subsequently other latter-day prophets[#753] [#852]
  • humans can become divine like Jesus; he is our Elder Brother[#852]

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism published by Brigham Young University explains:

President Ezra Taft Benson stated, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was fathered by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!" (Benson, p. 4). From mary, a mortal woman, Jesus inherited mortality, including the capacity to die. From his exalted Father he inherited immortality, the capacity to live forever.