I recently read the the LDS Church teaches that it was in Gethsemane while Jesus was praying where the atonement occurred rather than on the Cross of Calvary.

What is the biblical basis for this doctrine, and when did this teaching originate in the LDS Church?

1 Answer 1


It's both, not one or the other. It started in Gethsemane and was completed on Golgotha.


We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane.

We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him.

We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death.

We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.

We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup.

We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be.

As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours.


Finally, on a hill called Calvary—again, it was outside Jerusalem’s walls—while helpless disciples looked on and felt the agonies of near death in their own bodies, the Roman soldiers laid him upon the cross.

With great mallets they drove spikes of iron through his feet and hands and wrists. Truly he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.

Then Alma 7:11-12 in the Book of Mormon:

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

The suffering in Gethsemane was an important part of taking upon Him the pains and sicknesses of His people. Calvary was vital so He could take upon Him death.

The Bible refers to this suffering in Luke 22:

39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.

40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Emphasis added, of course.

I'm still mobile but will get more Biblical references in a bit.

To answer your other question, this has been the teaching of the LDS Church since its organization in 1830.

  • If this has been the LDS teaching since 1830, it would be nice to add a historical or LDS scripture reference supporting that. Also, note the suggestion that the angel Michael was Adam.
    – Bit Chaser
    May 4, 2017 at 10:44
  • 1
    Matt is correct that it is both, but why it is both is important. Luke 22:42 is the key. Gethsemene is where Jesus made His choice --- and choice is a central tenet of the LDS faith. Jesus' crucifixion was the necessary consequence of that choice. Yes, there was a second choice to be made. He could have chosen to be saved from the cross, but that would have been a choice to vacate His atonement. Gethsemene was where He chose to become accountable for the atonement. Thus, the atonement began at Gethsemene and was completed on Golgotha.
    – JBH
    Jun 30, 2017 at 22:45

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