Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Sign of the dove: a divine witness

Published: Saturday, Jan. 14, 1995

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"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:" (Matt. 3:16.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith said "the sign of the dove" was given as a witness that Jesus' baptism had divine approval. The Prophet taught: "The sign of the dove was instituted before the creation of the world, a witness for the Holy Ghost, and the devil cannot come in the sign of a dove. The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. It does not confine itself to the form of the dove, but in sign of the dove. The Holy Ghost cannot be transformed into a dove; but the sign of a dove was given to John who had baptized Jesus to signify the truth of the deed, as the dove is an emblem or token of truth and innocence." (History of the Church 5:261.)In Jesus the Christ, Elder James E. Talmage wrote: "The four Gospel-writers record the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the baptized Jesus as accompanied by a visible manifestation `like a dove'; . . .

"The incidents attending the emergence of Jesus from the baptismal grave demonstrate the distinct individuality of the three Personages of the Godhead. On that solemn occasion Jesus the Son was present in the flesh; the presence of the Holy Ghost was manifest through the accompanying sign of the dove, and the voice of the Eternal Father was heard from heaven. Had we no other evidence of the separate personality of each member of the Holy Trinity, this instance should be conclusive; but other scriptures confirm the great truth."

In Doctrines of Salvation 1:38, President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: "The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a Spirit, in the form of a man. The Father and the Son are personages of tabernacle; they have bodies of flesh and bones. The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, and has a spirit body only. (See D&C 130:22-23.) His mission is to bear witness of the Father and the Son and of all truth." (See 2 Ne. 31:18; Moroni 10:5.)

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Additional Information

Additional Information

- Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study. -Information compiled by Gerry Avant

-Sources: Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 5; The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff; James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1; The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball; and Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith