Linking Generations: Baptisms for the Dead

The Kirtland Temple

“In the great vision in the Kirtland Temple, Elijah the prophet appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and committed the keys of temple work and the sealing power into Joseph Smith’s hands. This fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy that Elijah would be sent ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse’ (see D&C 110:14–15).

Elijah appearing in the Kirtland Temple, by Dan Lewis, courtesy

So what does this mean? To turn our hearts to our fathers is to search out the names of our deceased ancestors and to perform the saving ordinances in the temple for them. This will forge a continuous chain between us and our forefathers eventually all the way back to Father Adam and Mother Eve.

~James E Faust, a living apostle

The Heninger Family, courtesy

In [an] epistle, written one hundred and fifty years ago, Joseph Smith stated: ‘The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for their relatives who are dead who have received the gospel in the spirit through those who have been commissioned to preach to them.  Those saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation.’

A temple baptismal font resting on 12 oxen representing the 12 tribes of Israel, courtesy

“The prophet Elijah committed the keys for vicarious work to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple to fulfill the Lord’s promise that ‘he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers’ (D&C 2:2).

“Through further revelation to Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets, there has come an understanding of and provision for temple work and the family history effort that supports it. Every prophet since Joseph Smith has emphasized the imperative need to provide all ordinances for ourselves and our deceased ancestors.”

~Richard G. Scott, a living apostle


To research and learn about your own family history, log on and search for free here.

Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist.  Stained glass featured in Manhattan temple.


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