2a. Joseph Smith and the First Vision

Joseph Smith is the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The rise of this Church began with his experiences as a fourteen year old boy. These experiences are an example of a prophet after Biblical times.

Joseph Smith was born in 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. At the time this story begins, he was 14 years old, living with his family in New York, and earnestly considering which church to join. The following is taken from Joseph’s own history.

“I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties (churches) are right; 1or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?… I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.’

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know,

I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God’…In accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God…

2I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me…. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other–“This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right 3(for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)–and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong… When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.”

Joseph obeyed God and did not join any existing church. As he told people what he had seen and heard, he began experiencing opposition.

“I soon found . . . that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects–all united to persecute me.

However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it.  So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth?”


4Produce a Newspaper front page reporting “The First Vision” and the events after it. Your article should be unbisaed. You should include:

  • Why Joseph Smith went to pray.
  • What happened when he prayed.
  • People’s responses to this vision- bad and good. (You may want to include imaginative quotes from people there at the time).




First Vision

First Vision newspaper

All images taken from www.lds.org