The following question and answer about the meaning of the terms “first estate” and “second estate” in Abraham 3:26 is provided in the LDS Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teachers Manual found at this link:
“What do the terms first estate and second estate mean in Abraham 3:26? (First estate refers to the pre-mortal life, and second estate refers to our mortal life. We kept our first estate by choosing to follow Jesus Christ instead of Lucifer.) What blessing did we each receive because we kept our first estate? (The opportunity to be born on earth.) What blessings will we receive if we keep our second estate? (See Abraham 3:26.) How can we keep our second estate?”
One of the disquieting things I have noticed over the last 30 years of trying to parse out the true history and doctrine of the LDS restoration is that virtually every major doctrine of the restoration has been corrupted or discarded by the modern corporate LDS church.
The above doctrine of first and second estates is no exception.
I believe that the following passages actually reveal the fact that the first ESTATE refers to our physical tangible bodies during mortal probation and that the second ESTATE refers to the physical body after it has been quickened and added upon with glory into an immortal body of element.
Look closely at the following passages:
“24..we will go down for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”
There is a progression of thought in the above passages.
First, a physical earth must be made from MATERIALS.
So that those being sent can prove themselves during their FIRST ESTATE!
The use of the term “prove” instead of “test” might be very significant. Especially for those who believe that Joseph Smith was inspired in leaving the term “predestination” intact in the New Testament when he made the inspired clarifications and corrections in it.
Just as the term “estate” has reference to a material possession in this life, it has a similar connotation in the above passage. the term “first estate” makes reference to the first opportunity for a spirit body to be clothed upon with a physical element in an earthly body so that they can prove themselves.
I am not suggesting that there was no testing or taking of sides in the pre-existence prior to this life, that is a topic for another time. What I am suggesting is that the term ESTATE has application to the spirit body being clothed upon in mortality!
The first estate has reference to our mortal probation.
I admit that one can interpret verse 26 in different ways if it is read separately and not contextually. However, verses 24 and 25 (which I have included in the passages above make it clear that the first estate is where God is “proving” us in mortality on a material earth.
It is during our mortal probation that we are being “proved” as to whether we will do all things that God commands us. Those who prove valiant get to keep their physical ESTATE after a temporary death, and have it glorified and “added upon through the process of being spiritually born again and being glorified in a physical resurrection“.
It is interesting that among the various definitions provided in the 1828 Websters the term refers to physical possession. A persons “estate” in legal terms often refers to their physical, tangible, possessions.
Our physical possession during this life is the physical body we inhabit.
I would point out that Joseph Smith seems to interpret the above passages in the Book of Abraham the same way that I do. Notice the two independent diary excerpts of Joseph’s May 21 1843 discourse:
“organization of Spirits in the eternal world.–spirits in the eternal world are like spirits in this world. when those spirits have come into this [world and ] risin & received glorified bodies. they will have an ascendancy over spirits who have no bodies. or kept not their first estate3 like the devil. Devils punishment, should not have a habitation like other men. Devils retaliation come into this world bind up mens bodies. & occupy himself. authorities come along and eject him from a stolen habitation”
The above snippet is stating that Satan does not have a body because he kept not his first estate which is a mortal body! He is a disembodied spirit! He now desires a physical habitation like the one he lost and therefore attempts to bind up and inhabit other mens bodies.
The Smith diary is identifying “spirits who have no bodies” who we need to have “ascendancy over” in the next world, as those that “kept not their first estate” that they enjoyed during mortal probation.
The above diary quotes Joseph Smith as defining the word “habitation” as the a physical body.
“..authorities come along and eject him from a stolen habitation [body]”
Furthermore Joseph identifies the Devil as one of the spirits in the next world that failed to keep his first estate. Satan will be classed among the disembodied spirits in the next world.
In other words, Lucifer apparently took upon himself a mortal body but will not ultimately keep it. This teaching that Lucifer obtained a physical body is consistent with the narrative in Isaiah 14 which speaks about Lucifer being cast out of the grave at the day of Judgment in his physical body that he had once inhabited:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit…
But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.”
I have already blogged about this topic and the false doctrine that Satan and his followers were not allowed to participate in the first estate that we call mortal probation.
I think the scriptures are clear about the fact that Lucifer and his followers in the pre-existence all come to a mortal probation to gain a physical body even though they ultimately become disembodied spirits. I do not want to reiterate all of the evidence for that so you can read this article at this link if you have not already read it.
Now lets look at the Richards Dairy to find another witness as to the definition of first and second estates from Joseph Smith’s discourse-
“The 1st chapter of 2d Peter is hints of things which are nowhere written. There are things which pertain to the Glory of God & heirship of God with Christ which are not
where written in the Bible spirits of the eternal world are diverse from each other as here in their dispositions Aspiring Ambitious &c As man is liable to enemies there as well as here it is necessary for him to be placed beyond their power in order to be saved. This is done by our taking bodies (keeping our first estate) and having the Power of the Resurrection pass upon us whereby we are enabled to gain the ascendancy over the disembodied spirits”
The clarification in the parenthesis is part of the actual diary. I did not add it. It is the taking of physical bodies that represents the “first estate”
Richards is clarifying that Joseph was identifying the physical body of this mortal probation as representing the “first estate” spoken of in Abraham.
The “second estate” appears to be the final glorified body or at least the restored body that eventually becomes glorified.
Here is a snippet from another statement of Joseph Smith that alludes to being added upon as “advancing” in “knowledge” through a probationary experience with “laws” that are “instituted“, that we might have “one glory upon another“.
“God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself.
The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them” (TPJS, p. 354).
Another journal entry makes a statement that seems to contradict the above two diaries because of the awkward wording, and yet, when viewed in the context provided from the above diaries, it is easy to see what was really meant from the crude short hand being hurriedly employed. I will make the correction of what I think the person meant in bold caps:
“When Lucifer was hurled from Heaven the decree was that he Should not obtain a [N IMMORTAL] tabernacle no[R] those that were with him, but go abroad upon the earth exposed to the anger of the elements naked & bare, but ofttimes he lays hold upon men binds up their Spirits enters their habitations laughs at the decree of God and rejoices in that he hath a house to dwell in, by & by he is expelled by Authority and goes abroad mourning naked upon the earth like a man without a house exposed to the tempest & the storm..”
Another related doctrine of the Church that has been corrupted has to do with the doctrine of the resurrection. It is commonly taught in the church that after our mortal body dies, all men will be resurrected from the dead into our final immortal and glorified body. It is believed by many that perhaps this process takes place sometime during the millennium.
The scriptures do not teach this.
They teach that those who experience the death of the mortal body must first be returned to this earth and come forth out of the grave and be restored to that same mortal body to be judged. Some time after they come forth in their restored bodies, the elect of God are quickened from a mortal body to an immortal body, not quickened directly from death to their final glorified body.
96 And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. 97 And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
Notice the very specific language used in the book of Alma declaring that the immortal body is raised from the mortal body, not directly from the spirit that is in the spirit world.
45 Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body
20 But there was one Antionah, who was a chief ruler among them, came forth and said unto him: What is this that thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state, that the soul can never die?
Alma is stating that we gain a mortal body in this probation, then we die, then were are raised up again in our mortal body, then we are judged, then we are raised from our mortal body to an immortal body.
- Mortal Body in Mortal Probation
- Restored from the dead to our mortal body after death has been conquered
- Mortal Body raise to an Immortal body
Countless patriarchal blessings from the time of Kirtland to the present day have promised the saints that they would stand on the earth in the flesh to see the coming of the Lord. Skeptics have scoffed at how many people have died without seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy. And yet it has always been an axiomatic verity in scripture that everyone that has died after the crucifixion of Christ will eventually be returned to the earth at the time of the end end of days at the time of the coming of the Lord. Those patriarchal blessings will still be fulfilled.
The Book of Revelation notes how the wicked that are restored to their bodies will desire death but will not be able to die
“And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them”
The term resurrection is not necessarily used the same way in the scriptures all the time nor does it always have reference to the final state of the immortal body. Notice in the following verse how it refers to the restoration of the mortal body to be judged prior to the final quickening into the final state of the soul:
22 If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.
Notice how Alma 41 uses the word restoration in place of the word resurrection proving that people are not brought forth from the dead in their final immortal and glorified bodies but rather they are returned to the earth in the mortal bodies that they had during mortal probation.
Notice that the judgment takes place directly after the restoration of mortal bodies.
Notice that all of this is patterned after the resurrection of Christ who said to Mary directly after being raised up “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father” indicating that his own process of returning to his final state was not yet complete.
1 And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing. And I perceive that thy mind has been worried also concerning this thing. But behold, I will explain it unto thee.
2 I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.
3 And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to in corruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.
7 These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating and hopeful aspects of the doctrine of the resurrection is the possibility that among those that return will be some righteous souls that will be able to turn many to righteousness. If that interpretation is correct, it would mean that the restoration of the dead could begin before the time of probation has ended for those that are living.
2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
Who Will be Resurrected?
Section 88 informs us that it is after the first harvest of elect souls have been quickened and caught up into the cloud that the second harvest of terrestrial souls will come forth to be judged according to MEN IN THE FLESH.
This seems to indicate that people will be able to do some things related to their level of salvation after they return from the dead and are restored to their bodies.
“And after this another angel shall sound, which is the second trump; and then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh.”
As you can see, Section 88 informs us that the celestial and terrestrial souls come forth in what is often referred to as the morning and afternoon of the first resurrection. However these scriptures do not provide a conclusive declaration that the third group of spirits that are classified as “telestial” in section 76 will come forth to be resurrected until after the millennium.
Furthermore, the fourth group of spirits from this earth’s probation do not appear to be added upon with a resurrection of glory.
Apparently they do not keep their first estate of a tangible body and therefore cannot be added upon further by receiving a glorified resurrected body.
The following passages refer to them in spirit form and inform us that they REMAIN in that state.
And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until the great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still. (D&C 88:102)
There is nothing said about those spirits being added upon with a glorified resurrected tangible body. Indeed, there is nothing to suggest that any type of resurrection takes place. These filthy spirits simply REMAIN in their current state.
Section 76 seems to agree with this
37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;
38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.
39 For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made. – D&C 76
That seems pretty clear, there are some who will not be REDEEMED. Even after the suffering of the wrath of God, they shall still not be redeemed.
How can they be resurrected if they are not even redeemed?
Every group except that one will be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead.
Some passages of scripture do inform us that all of the dead shall come forth and be reunited in soul (spirit) and (mortal) body to stand before God.
21 But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say; but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.
The following statement by Joseph Smith is often misunderstood.
Those who become sons of perdition while in mortality will be resurrected with unglorified physical bodies and “rise to the damnation of their own filthiness” (TPJS, p. 361)
Nevertheless a final resurrection into a material body is not promised to everyone as is commonly taught in the church. In fact, a measure of God’s spirit is probably necessary in order to bind the body and spirit together for eternity.
In the above snippet, Joseph Smith is not speaking about a final resurrection that takes place after the suffering of the wrath of God and the thousand years. He is speaking about the preliminary coming forth and rising up at the end of probation. After that brief coming forth, those who are Sons of Perdition must return and wait for a thousand years before they receive a final judgment and must remain filthy still.
He is acknowledging that those that become sons of perdition during this probation are temporarily returned back to their unglorified bodies as they “rise to the damnation of their own bodies“. But they must yet wait for a thousand years before they will finally come forth to be returned to their own place.
The event mentioned above wherein the wicked come forth briefly to rise to the “damnation of their own bodies” and then must wait for their final conclusion is what is being presented in the following snippet from D&C 43:18
For the day cometh that the Lord shall utter his voice out of heaven; the heavens shall shake and the earth shall tremble, and the trump of God shall sound both long and loud and shall say to the sleeping nations: Ye saints arise and live; ye sinners stay and sleep until I shall call again.”
The very term “perdition” literally means “utter destruction“, not resurrection.
In earlier times it was commonly taught in the church that sons of perdition will become disorganized again instead of being added upon with an eternal resurrection of spirit and body.
Apostle John Widsoe made the following observation and speculation:
…the ultimate punishment of the sons of perdition may be that they, having their spiritual bodies disorganized, must start over again, must begin anew the long journey of existence, repeating the steps that they took in the eternities before the Great Council was held (Evidence and Reconciliations, pp. 213-214).
Others of the apostles that had sat at the feet of Joseph Smith also taught that sons of perdition become disorganized and return to the “native element” from which they were organized.
It has been suggested that in the absence of the life-sustaining powers of God’s Spirit, sons of perdition will eventually become disorganized and return to “native element” (JD 1:349-52; 5:271; 7:358-59)