According to Mormon doctrine, God the Father (Elohim), once lived a mortal life.

“As man now is, God once was; as God is now man may be.” ( The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1984], 1.)

Years ago I remember being told that God the Father did not live simply as another man, but that he was in fact the Saviour and Redeemer of his world, much as Christ is the Saviour and Redeemer of ours. He lived a sinless life, like Christ, and suffered for the sins of all his brothers and sisters.

I confess that I've never bothered to look into the sources behind this claim, but now I'm wondering, who said this? Which church leader is credited with revealing this?

I'm not necessarily asking for a canonical LDS source, I just want to know where this claim comes from, be it Journal of Discourses, a letter, hear-say, or wherever.

  • 1
    Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – ShemSeger
    Mar 3, 2015 at 21:26
  • @ShemSeger When stuff isn't constructive, flag it. Don't feed the trolls. Mar 4, 2015 at 6:47
  • @thedarkwanderer - Believe it or not, Only_he_is_good isn't a troll. Talk to someone in chat if you are curious to know more about him.
    – ShemSeger
    Jul 13, 2015 at 3:53

4 Answers 4


This idea actually dates all the way back to Joseph Smith. I've been able to find a couple different quotes from him that touch on the subject, from a couple different sermons he gave:

As the Father hath power in Himself, so hath the Son power in Himself, to lay down His life and take it again, so He has a body of His own. The Son doeth what He hath seen the Father do: then the Father hath some day laid down His life and taken it again

-- History of the Church 5:426

I want you to pay particular attention to what I am saying. Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before? He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before. He did as He was sent, to lay down His life and take it up again; and then was committed unto Him the keys. I know it is good reasoning.

-- History of the Church 6:373

  • 1
    Nice find. Although, this speaks of resurrection; I don't see anything in there about the Father also being a savior Himself, which I think is what @ShemSeger is asking about. (Maybe I misunderstood the question.)
    – Matt
    Mar 3, 2015 at 3:14
  • @Matt, no that's explicitly what I asked for in the question, "Was Elohim the Saviour and Redeemer of his world?" I want to know why this has become a largely accepted mormon belief.
    – ShemSeger
    Mar 3, 2015 at 16:17
  • @ShemSeger These verses speak of God as a resurrected being, which is not the same as being the Savior. Do you have anything to show that Elohim being "the Savior and Redeemer of his world" is a "largely accepted Mormon belief"?
    – Matt
    Mar 3, 2015 at 16:21
  • @Matt - Nothing except that it seems like everyone I know who's served a mission is familiar with the belief. You were familiar with it. It would seem at the very least that this may be another missionary myth, but most missionary myths at least come from some third person account of something a prophet said. Like I said, this is the first time I've really looked into it.
    – ShemSeger
    Mar 3, 2015 at 16:29
  • @Matt "Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him"-- that's not just resurrection. Mar 4, 2015 at 6:50

I have heard this before and had it explained to me once, but I can't really answer your question as-is because I don't have sources as to the origins of the theory. It didn't come from any church leader or teacher. As far as I know, it is false doctrine.

The theory claims that Jesus couldn't have performed the infinite Atonement unless the Father did, citing John 5:19:

19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

There are so many things wrong with that idea, and I'll try to explain a few:

  • It implies that every exalted man must also have been a Savior and Redeemer of mankind; this is contrary to the doctrine of exaltation.

  • Verse 22 of the same chapter says:

    22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.

    which means that, if the Father doesn't judge anyone, then Christ couldn't either.

  • The verse is taken out of context. Jesus is explaining His divinity, not the Father's. The Jews already knew the Father could give the Son power.

  • If the Father was capable of saving mankind Himself, wouldn't He do that without sacrificing His Son? (Note: This is more of a thought question.)

  • If only a Savior could become like God, that would completely undermine the infinite value of the Atonement. In LDS theology, God wants us all to become like He is. If that theory were true, God's purpose would be impossible unless we could all be atoners, which we can't. Even if we could, then we would only be saving ourselves, and the whole plan would fail, because atonement is vicarious by definition!

  • On a related note, what about Romans 8:17?

    17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

    We are promised, as children of God, to be joint-heirs with Christ, even equal with Him (D&C 88:107):

    107 ... and the saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him.

So from what I can gather, this would be a very bad idea. It defies God's work and glory, as He describes in in Moses 1:39:

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Anyway, I think, if any sources for this theory were found, it would not be from a reliable or scriptural origin.


Lets go back to John 5:19-20 "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel."

This makes it pretty clear that the Son had witnessed, as God the Father had previously been a Saviour to His own people, atoning for their sins (much as we can watch past events recorded by video camera). Otherwise, according to His own words, He could not have done it, Himself, unless He sees the Father do it first.

Since, according to Mormon doctrine, man may become like God, creating his own worlds, it is logical that through the eternities, there might be infinite gods, creating and peopling infinite worlds, requiring infinite redeemers, as both God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ had been to their people, respectively.


Isaiah 42:8

8“I am יהוה, that is My Name, and My esteem I do not give to another, nor My praise to idols.

In Hebrew He is referred to as YHVH

The word Elohim is the plural of El ( meaning strong one) and is the first name for G-d given in the Tanakh: “In the beginning, G-d (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1):

The name Elohim is unique to Hebraic thinking: it occurs only in Hebrew and in no other ancient Semitic language. The masculine plural ending does not mean “gods” when referring to the true G-d of Israel, since the name is mainly used with singular verb forms and with adjectives and pronouns in the singular (e.g., see Gen. 1:26). However, considering the Hashalush HaKadosh (Trinity), the form indeed allows for the plurality within the G-dhead.

In the traditional Jewish view, Elohim is the Name of G-d as the Creator and Judge of the universe (Gen 1:1-2:4a).

“The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to those, You want to know my name? I am called according to my actions. When I judge the creatures I am Elohim, and when I have mercy with My world, I am named YHVH” (Ex R. 3:6).

In the second creation story (Genesis 2:4b-ff) the Name of G-d is revealed as the Sacred Name YHVH (from the semitic root that means “to be”) and expresses the idea of G-d’s closeness to humans. YHVH “breathed into his (Adam’s) nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7).

Elohim and Elohei ConstrElohim is combined with other words to provide additional description about G-d. These other names or titles for Gd are sometimes called “construct forms,” indicating that they are “constructed” from the base name (e.g., Elohei) with other designators.

For each name in the list below, I provide the following information:

The Hebrew text for the name The most common English transliteration (in italics). A definition for the name, references to the Tanakh.

  • 2
    This is very interesting, but it does not answer the question, and does not relate to the LDS faith.
    – ShemSeger
    Mar 3, 2015 at 16:30
  • If this was an answer to "What does Elohim mean?" I'd upvote it. It's a very thorough answer and seems well supported. I have to downvote it on this question, though, because it's radically off-topic. Mar 4, 2015 at 6:53

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