Editor’s note: This is the twelfth article in a series of excerpts from Jeffrey M. Bradshaw’s new book, entitled “Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.” Color and black-and-white editions of the book are available on Amazon.com and at selected LDS Bookstores (including EbornBooks, BYU Bookstore, and the FAIR LDS Bookstore). An iBooks version is can be purchased from the Apple iBookstore. Downloadable articles and a pdf version of this book are available at www.templethemes.net. Links to the previous articles in the series are listed at the end.
D&C 84:47-48 speak of what might be called the blessing of “Divine Tutorial,” wherein the Father provides personal instruction to those who have received Him:
And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you…
The Second Comforter
In his explanation of the promise given in the gospel of John of a Second Comforter, the Prophet Joseph Smith described the privilege of personal instruction from the Father and the Son, making it clear that it may be enjoyed in mortality by those who have had their calling and election made sure, long before such individuals actually receive the Father’s kingdom:
When any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.
“Henceforth I Call You Not Servants”
After Jesus reassured His ancient apostles with the promise of His return with the Father to minister to them as a Second Comforter, He taught them about the new relationship He now had with them as “friends” rather than “servants”:
Greater love [= Greek agape] hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends [= Greek philoi].
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Two different Greek words for love are used in by Jesus in this brief passage. The first word used by Jesus (agape) is the one He characteristically used to teach his disciples to value, serve, and esteem all men; the other (philoi) is the commonest Greek word describing a relationship of affection between devoted friends, conveying “the thought of cherishing the Object above all else, of manifesting an affection characterized by constancy, from the motive of the highest veneration.” So when Jesus is describing His love for his disciples, He is not merely describing the esteem He has for them in a general way, but rather affirming a special relationship of this higher kind that now existed between them.
After His resurrection, when Jesus appeared to the twelve at the Sea of Galilee, He took Peter aside and taught him something of what it meant to be His friend. An alternate reading of John 21:15-17 in the New English Bible preserves in English the distinction between the two kinds of love in the original Greek text:
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter,
He saith unto him,
He saith unto him,
He saith to him again the second time,
Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?
He saith unto him,
Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I [am thy friend].
He saith unto him,
Feed my sheep.
He saith unto him the third time,
Simon, son of Jonas, [art thou my friend?]
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time,
[Art thou my friend?]
And he said unto him,
Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I [am thy friend].
Jesus saith unto him,
Feed my sheep.
In this passage, Peter meets Jesus’ question about whether his love for the Lord surpassed the love of the other disciples with a passionate affirmation of his special relationship as a friend.
When Jesus fails to confirm Peter’s assertion of a status of intimacy and, moreover, questions his love a second time, Peter repeats his claim of friendship, no doubt more urgently and emphatically. The third time, when Jesus at last directly questions Peter’s friendship (“Art thou my friend?”), Peter, in grief, makes a final heartfelt appeal: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I am thy friend.”
Each time Jesus replies to Peter’s professions of friendship, we hear the echo of the earlier passage in John: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” From one to whom He had offered friendship, the Lord would not be satisfied with loving words alone, no matter how eloquent and impassioned. Jesus seems to be teaching Peter that being his friend means from henceforth wholly consecrating himself through his actions to his pastoral role over the Church, feeding the flock of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.
“I Shall Call You Friends”
As we feel the power of Christ’s love pulling us toward Him, we anticipate the joy of His promise: “Be faithful and diligent…, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.” He reflected that affection in the way He addressed Joseph Smith. During Joseph’s early years, Christ called him “my servant Joseph.” But as Joseph’s life took paths marked by consecration and hardship, the Lord said, “From henceforth I shall call you friends.” What’s the difference between a servant and a friend? The Lord had earlier said, “The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you”….
The paradox of this divine tutorial is that the Lord will not only correct us but may also lead us into some forms of personal affliction… Because Elder [Neal A.] Maxwell was such a faithful student of discipleship, I draw… from his words: “If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are the most difficult for us to do.” Thus, “sometimes the best people have the worst experiences because they are the most ready to learn.”
Are we ready to pay such a price for eternal life? If not, we must prepare, for it is through our willingness to pay the painful price of experience that we come to know God. And knowing God is eternal life, as we read in John 17:3:
Jeremiah 29:13 explains:
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
There is a legend about a grandfather, a holy man, who, caring for his granddaughter, sent her out to play. Shortly the girl returned, sobbing as if her heart would break. She explained: “I have been playing hide-and-seek with my friends. I went and hid and waited, but no one came for me.” The grandfather embraced her and said: “Now you know how God feels. He hides, and no one comes for Him.”
Author’s Note: In discussing temple matters, I have tried to follow the model of Hugh W. Nibley, who was, according to his biographer Boyd Jay Petersen, “respectful of the covenants of secrecy safeguarding specific portions of the LDS endowment, usually describing parallels from other cultures without talking specifically about the Mormon ceremony. This approach earned him a great deal of trust from both General Authorities and from Church members” (B. J. Petersen, Nibley, p. 354). For Nibley’s views on confidentiality as it relates to temple ordinances, see, e.g., H. W. Nibley, On the Sacred and the Symbolic, pp. 553-554, 569-572.]
Links to all of the articles in this series-
Part 2 “A Christ-Centered View“
Part 5 “What is the Endowment?”
Part 7 “The Meaning of the Atonement“
Part 13: “Weary Him Until He Blesses You”
Dahl, Larry E., and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds. The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective. Religious Studies Specialized Monograph Series 15. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1990.
Dolkart, Judith F., ed. James Tissot, The Life of Christ: The Complete Set of 350 Watercolors. New York City, NY: Merrell Publishers and the Brooklyn Museum, 2009.
Hafen, Bruce C.
A Disciple’s Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2002.
—. Spiritually Anchored in Unsettled Times. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2009.
Hales, Robert D. “‘When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren’.” Ensign 17, May 1997, 80-82.
Harvey, A. E. The New English Bible Companion to the New Testament. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1970.
Hyde, Orson. 1853. “The man to lead God’s people; overcoming; a pillar in the temple of God; angels’ visits; the earth (A discrouse delivered by President orson Hyde, at the General Conference held in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, October 6, 1853).” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 1, 121-30. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966.
Mackay, Thomas W. “The resurrected Lord and his apostles (John 21).” In The Gospels, edited by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet. Studies in Scripture 5, 461-70. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.
Madsen, Truman G. 1983. “Souls aflame.” In Five Classics by Truman G. Madsen, 289-198. Salt Lake City, UT: Eagle Gate, 2001. (accessed September 26, 2011).
Maxwell, Neal A. A Time to Choose. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1972.
McConkie, Bruce R. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary. 3 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1973.
—. The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ. The Messiah Series 1, ed. Bruce R. McConkie. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1978.
—. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1985.
Orton, Chad M. “Francis Webster: The unique story of one handcart pioneer’s faith and sacrifice.” BYU Studies 45, no. 2 (2006): 117-40.
Ridderbos, Herman N. The Gospel According to John: A Theological Commentary. Translated by John Vriend. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1997.
Sandmel, Samuel, M. Jack Suggs, and Arnold J. Tkacik, eds. The New English Bible with the Apocrypha, Oxford Study Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
Smith, Joseph, Jr. The Words of Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1980.
—. 1902-1932. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Documentary History). 7 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1978.
—. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.
Vine, W. E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Lynchburg, Virginia: The Old-Time Gospel Hour, n.d.
 Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught (B. R. McConkie, NT Commentary, 3:337):
[The Second Comforter] is the privilege of those who have had their calling and election made sure, meaning those who are sealed up unto eternal life, meaning those who are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13)…
J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 27 June 1839, p. 151. See also D&C 88:3-5, 68; J. Smith, Jr., Words, Before 8 August 1839 (3), pp. 13-15.
 In the public domain. Detail from Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle, in the Tours Pentateuch, also known as the Ashburnham Pentateuch. (accessed August 4, 2008). Bibliothque Nationale, nouv. acq. lat., no. 2334, folio 76 recto.
 Revelation 3:20.
 John 15:13-15.
 Following a reading of the parable of the vine and its branches (John 15:1-6), Joseph Smith reaffirmed this idea: “If we keep the commandments of God, we should bring forth fruit and be the friends of God, and know what our Lord did” (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 19 December 1841, p. 194).
 James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Last Sermon of Our Lord, 1886-1894. Image: 9 1/4 x 11 9/16 in. (23.5 x 29.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.225. In J. F. Dolkart, James Tissot, p. 209. With permission.
W. E. Vine, Dictionary, p. 694.
 James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Meal of Our Lord and the Apostles, 1886-1894. Image: 5 15/16 x 9 5/16 in. (15.1 x 23.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.346.In J. F. Dolkart, James Tissot, p. 282. With permission.
S. Sandmel et al., New English Bible, John 21:15-17, p. 137. Harvey notes that “Peter’s threefold profession of love for Jesus may be intended to balance his threefold denial” (A. E. Harvey, Companion 1970, p. 393).
Some have expressed the opinion that the word agape, used by Christ,represents a higher form of love than the word philo, used by Peter. Others downplay the significance of the distinction between these two terms for love used in this passage-see, e.g., T. W. Mackay, Resurrected Lord, pp. 464-467 and H. N. Ridderbos, John, pp. 665-666. However, the dialogue taken from John’s account of the Last Supper is a second witness of how Jesus used the term philo in a specific way to describe the intimate relationship that He enjoyed with his disciples as friends. His careful use of language parallels the way He called out His the special use of the common term shalom earlier in the same discourse (John 14:27).
It is interesting to note that in verses 15-17 two different verbs are also used for feed/tend, two or three nouns for sheep/lambs, and two verbs for know. Elder Robert D. Hales has written: “Feeding the lambs could well be missionary labors working with newly baptized members, who must be nurtured and given caring warmth and fellowship in the family of Saints. Feeding the sheep could well refer to the mature members of the Church, some active and some less active, who need to be cared for and brought back to the flock” (R. D. Hales, Converted, p. 83. Copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Used by permission).
 “In this use of Peter’s original name [Simon] some scholars see Jesus taking a certain distance from Peter. It seems that Jesus wants to make Peter feel that, before going further with him, he must first make a fresh beginning with him.” “Jesus is treating him less familiarly and thus challenging his friendship’ (Brown, Comm. II, p. 1102)” (H. N. Ridderbos, John, p. 665). Does the Savior add the surname “son of Jonas [Jonah]” to the form of address to Peter as a subtle reminder of how he had temporarily abandoned his mission to again go fishing, just as Jonah had at first forsaken his mission to the Ninevites and taken to sea?
 Meaning, I think, “more than the other disciples.
” “The words… more than these’ might refer to the way in which Peter has until now taken the lead in comparison to the other disciples, to Peter’s earlier statement that he was willing to give Jesus his all (13:37; Mark 14:29), and to what Peter will experience in the future (vss. 18, 19). In any case, thus formulated, this question is designed to let Peter know that loving and following Jesus can have more implications for him than he perhaps has thought and practiced in the past (cf. vs. 18a)” (ibid., p. 665).
 “Peter’s affirmative answer is without hesitation and appeals to Jesus’ knowledge of him. The appeal does not have the sense of Why ask me? You know me, don’t you?’ Jesus’ knowledge is, rather, the last thing on which Peter can base an appeal before Jesus. His own actions have witnessed against him, and more than these’ seems to mock him more than justify him. All that is left to Peter is, You know that I love you,’ an appeal to Jesus’ knowledge of him as one of his own (10:14; cf. Luke 22:32)” (ibid., p. 665).
 Commenting to the sisters of the Nauvoo Relief Society on Luke 22 and John 21, Joseph Smith said (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 9 June 1842, p. 241):
How mild the Savior dealt with Peter, saying, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” At another time, He said to him, “Lovest thou me?” and having received Peter’s reply, He said, “Feed my sheep.” If the sisters loved the Lord, let them feed the sheep, and not destroy them. How oft have wise men and women sought to dictate Brother Joseph by saying, “O, if I were Brother Joseph I would do this and that”; but if they were in Brother Joseph’s shoes they would find that men or women could not be compelled into the kingdom of God, but must be dealt with in long-suffering, and at last we shall save them. The way to keep all the Saints together, and keep the work rolling, is to wait with all long-suffering, till God shall bring such characters to justice. There should be no license for sin, but mercy should go hand in hand with reproof.
 John 15:14; cf. John 14:15. Painting with permission of Lester Yocum. In (accessed February 15, 2012).
 That this consecration would be total and complete seems to be emphasized by the passage immediately following these verses containing the Lord’s description of the death that Peter would suffer for His sake (John 21:18-19).
J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 19 October 1840, p. 174.
B. C. Hafen, Anchored, pp. 28, 29. Figure with permission of Liz Lemon Swindle.
 D&C 6:20.
 E.g., D&C 1:17, emphasis added.
 D&C 84:77, emphasis added.
 John 15:15, emphasis added.
N. A. Maxwell, Choose, p. 46.
 Cited in B. C. Hafen, Disciple’s Life, p. 20.
 See D&C 122:1-8. Francis Webster was remembered for his eloquent testimony that he and others in his handcart company became “acquainted with [God] in our extremities,” by this means obtaining an “absolute knowledge that God lives” (C. M. Orton, Francis Webster, p. 140). Citing the experience of Stephen, who saw the Lord “in the agonies of death,” Elder Orson Hyde taught (O. Hyde, 6 October 1853, p. 125):
True it is, that in the most trying hour, the servants of God may then be permitted to see their Father, and elder Brother. “But,” says one, “I wish to see the Father, and the Savior, and an angel now.” Before you can see the Father, and the Savior, or an angel, you have to be brought into close places in order to enjoy this manifestation. The fact is, your very life must be suspended on a thread, as it were. If you want to see your Savior, be willing to come to that point where no mortal arm can rescue, no earthly power save! When all other things fail, when everything else proves futile and fruitless, then perhaps your Savior and your Redeemer may appear; His arm is not shortened that He cannot save, nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear; and when help on all sides appears to fail, My arm shall save, My power shall rescue, and you shall hear My voice, saith the Lord.
 Cf. D&C 132:23-24. The Prophet Joseph Smith further explained: “No one can truly say he knows God until he has handled something, and this can only be in the holiest of holies” (J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 1 May 1842, 4:608). Elder Bruce R. McConkie elaborates (B. R. McConkie, New Witness, p. 492):
What greater personal revelation could anyone receive than to see the face of his Maker? … And is it an unseemly or unrighteous desire on man’s part to hope and live and pray, all in such a way as to qualify for so great a manifestation? There is a true doctrine on these points, a doctrine that is spelled out as specifically and extensively in the revealed word as are any of the other great revealed truths. There is no need for uncertainty or misunderstanding and surely, if the Lord reveals a doctrine, we should seek to learn its principles and strive to apply them in our lives. This doctrine is that mortal man, while in the flesh, has it in his power to see the Lord, to stand in His presence, to feel the nail marks in His hands and feet, and to receive from Him such blessings as are reserved for those only who keep all His commandments and who are qualified for that eternal life which includes being in His presence forever.
In another place, Elder McConkie wrote (B. R. McConkie, Promised Messiah, pp. 582-584):
“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God”-and now we come to the crowning promise of the Gospel-“and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (D&C 88:68). That is the Lord’s promise, His great promise, His crowning promise, His last promise. What is there that can excel in importance the obtaining of that spiritual stature which enables one to see the Lord? And so the next words spoken by the Lord to His friends were: “Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you” (D&C 88:69).
Then follows some counsel relative to right living, which is climaxed with these words, the full import of which is known only by those who are endowed with power from on high in holy places: “Sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean; That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation” (D&C 88:74-75; cf.
, e.g., J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 23 January 1833, 1:323-324). Why? “That I may fulfill this promise, this great and last promise,” this promise that you shall see me and that I will unveil my face, that I may fulfill this promise “which I have made unto you, when I will” (D&C 88:75). To those of understanding, we say: The purpose of the endowment in the House of the Lord is to prepare and sanctify His saints so they will be able to see His face, here and now, as well as to bear the glory of His presence in the eternal worlds.
“How do men obtain a knowledge of the glory of God, His perfections and attributes?” asked the Prophet Joseph Smith. His answer: “By devoting themselves to His service, through prayer and supplication incessantly strengthening their faith in Him, until, like Enoch, the Brother of Jared, and Moses, they obtain a manifestation of God to themselves” (L. E. Dahl et al., Lectures, Lecture 2 Questions and Answers, p. 64, see also 2:55, p. 51).
In his charge to the Twelve Apostles in modern times, Oliver Cowdery said the following (see J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, February 1835, 2:195-196, 198):
… [I]t is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.
Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days?….
You have our best wishes, you have our most fervent prayers, that you may be able to bear this testimony, that you have seen the face of God. Therefore call upon Him in faith in mighty prayer till you prevail, for it is your duty and privilege to bear such testimony for yourselves.
Commenting on this charge, Elder McConkie wrote (B. R. McConkie, Promised Messiah, pp. 594-595):
Few faithful people will stumble or feel disbelief at the doctrine here presented that the Lord’s apostolic witnesses are entitled and expected to see his face, and that each one individually is obligated to “call upon Him in faith in mighty prayer” until he prevails. But the Twelve are only a dozen in number. There are seldom more than fifteen men on earth at a time who have been ordained to the holy apostleship, which brings us to another statement made by Elder Cowdery in his apostolic charge (J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 2:196): “God does not love you better or more than others.” That is, apostles and prophets do not gain precedence with the Lord unless they earn it by personal righteousness. The Lord loves people, not office holders. Every elder is entitled to the same blessings and privileges offered the apostles. Indeed, “an apostle is an elder” (D&C 20:38); such is the title by which he is proud to be addressed. The priesthood is greater than any of its offices. No office adds any power, dignity, or authority to the priesthood. All offices derive their rights, virtues, authorities, and prerogatives from the priesthood. It is greater to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood than it is to hold the office of an elder or of an apostle in that priesthood. The Lord loves his priesthood holders, all of whom are given the same opportunity to do good and work righteousness and keep the commandments. All of the elders in the kingdom are expected to live the law as strictly as do the members of the Council of the Twelve, and if they do so live, the same blessings will come to them that flow to apostles and prophets.
Apostles and prophets are named as examples and patterns of what others should be. The Quorum of the Twelve should be a model quorum after which every elders quorum in the Church might pattern its course….
I repeat: apostles and prophets simply serve as patterns and examples to show all men what they may receive if they are true and faithful. There is nothing an apostle can receive that is not available to every elder in the kingdom. As we have heretofore quoted, from the Prophet’s sermon on the Second Comforter (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 27 June 1839, p. 149): “God has not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them.” It follows that everything stated by Elder Oliver Cowdery in his charge to the apostles could also be given as a charge to all elders. Every elder is entitled and expected to seek and obtain all the spiritual blessings of the Gospel, including the crowning blessing of seeing the Lord face to face.
T. G. Madsen, Souls, p. 289. I have changed “grandson” to “granddaughter” in this story for consistency with the photograph.