The Kirtland Temple Seen in Vision

Joseph Smith’s vision of the temple

On June 1, 1833 the Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith that he would reveal the design of the Kirtland Temple to him when he made the following statement:

Therefore, let it [the temple] be built after the manner which I shall show unto three of you, whom ye shall appoint and ordain unto this power. And the size thereof shall be fifty and five feet in width, and let it be sixty-five feet in length, in the inner court thereof. And let the lower part of the inner court be dedicated unto me for your sacrament offering, and for your preaching, and your fasting, and your praying, and the offering up of your most holy desires unto me, saith your Lord. And let the higher part of the inner court be dedicated unto me for the school of mine apostles, saith Son Ahman; or, in other words, Alphus; or, in other words, Omegus; even Jesus Christ your Lord. Amen. (D&C 95:14-17)

Frederick G. Williams 1787-1842

During the week following the June 1, 1833 revelation, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, who together constituted the presidency of the high priesthood (later known as the First Presidency), were appointed as a committee to whom God would show how the temple was to be built. These three men recorded that shortly after receiving this appointment at a council two days later, they knelt in collective prayer and had a vision in which they viewed the exterior and interior elements of the temple. This vision allowed them to draw architectural plans for the House of the Lord.

After viewing the exterior in detail, “the building seemed to come right over [them]” and they saw the interior of the building as if they were actually inside of it. 1

Frederick G. Williams recalled:

“We went upon our knees,” he remembered, “called on the Lord, and the Building appeared within viewing distance: I being the first to discover it. Then all of us viewed it together. After we had taken a good look at the exterior, the building seemed to come right over us.” 2

Some favored constructing the temple of logs or lumber, but the Prophet responded: “I have a better plan than that. I have a plan of the house of the Lord, given by himself.” 3

Later, when the temple was nearing completion, Frederick G. Williams said that it looked like the model he had seen in vision to the smallest detail and that he could not tell the difference. The building, he said, “seemed to coincide with that I there saw to a minutia.” 4


  1. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 271). See also Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, p. 218.
  2. In The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Lyndon W. Cook [1981], 198. See also Marvin E. Smith, “The Builder,” Improvement Era, October, 1942, 630.
  3. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:352; Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, ed. Preston Nibley (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 230; Elwin C. Robison,The First Mormon Temple (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1997), 8; also, Robison, on page 24 note 2, states that Joseph Smith described his vision of the temple at a meeting on June 4, 1833, even though nothing is mentioned of it in History of the Church, 1:352. Perhaps he is linking that event with the meeting described in Lucy Mack Smith’s history.
  4. Truman O. Angell autobiography, photocopy of typescript, 4, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

About LDS Scripture Teachings

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