BYU New Testament Commentary

Coming March 11, 2024

Essential Tools for Understanding the New Testament

By S. Kent Brown and Joshua M. Matson

This volume provides a single resource for Latter-day Saints that illuminates the history and scholarship behind the sacred text of the New Testament.

Countdown to Launch Day:

The BYU New Testament Commentary series seeks to:

  1. Provide a new rendition of ancient New Testament texts that will help Latter-day Saints understand the King James Version, and
  2. Give an in-depth commentary of each book from a Latter-day Saint, scholarly perspective.

7 out of 21 books released so far. . . .

Released 33%

Read the New Renditions

The New Rendition is a modern-English rendering designed to be a companion to the King James Version. These renditions are available for free below.

Buy the BYU New Testament Commentary

Essential Tools

Print edition

***PREORDER ONLY*** BYU New Testament Commentary: Essential Tools for Understanding the New Testament
***This book is currently available for pre-order! The book will ship on March 11, 2024.*** A key mission of the BYU New Testament Commentary series is to make New Testament scholarship accessible to Latter-day Saints as they study this book of sacred scripture. As stated on the project’s website (, “With a rapidly growing number of studies on the New Testament, the time has come to offer a responsible, carefully researched, multi­volume commentary that illuminates both the historical and cultural settings as well as the linguistic heritage of this scripture for Latter-day Saints. A virtual river of discoveries during the past one hundred years in the Near Eastern and the Mediterranean regions highlights the need to bring together information that not only elucidates the New Testament documents but also unpacks their rich legacy for all readers.” While individual volumes in the series provide information about these discoveries as they relate to specific books of the New Testament, this volume provides a ­single resource for readers that illuminates the history and scholarship behind these sacred texts collectively. This volume sheds light on the historical and cultural settings of the New Testament and serves as a complement to the renditions and commentaries provided in each volume of the series. We invite you to study each chapter and become immersed in the world of the people and texts of the New Testament.
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Print edition

BYU New Testament Commentary: The Gospel according to Mark
Read sample pages. The Gospel of Mark is an undiscovered gem, hiding in plain sight. Mark’s story—at least from the vantage point of a twenty-first-century audience—is virtually unknown. Following broader trends in Christian history, Latter-day Saints have focused on the other Gospels. Mark’s Gospel gets very little attention and, when it does, it is usually read through the lenses of the other Gospels, with the result that Mark’s distinctive voice is muted. But the Jesus presented in Mark’s Gospel is worthy of study: He is a man of action and few words. He is witty, warm, and wise. He’s also the Son of God. He has power which leaves people in awe, and he uses that power to help the people most people don’t like. He hugs little kids. He listens to and learns from women. He banishes demons and reminds parents to feed their children. He doesn't know everything, but he does know how to end chaos. His disciples usually misunderstand him, but he teaches them continually and patiently. This Jesus is betrayed and abandoned and alone and humiliated, but he still chooses God’s will over his own—even though he didn’t want to. Mark tells an amazing story. The overriding goal of this commentary is to recover Mark’s unique voice. Special attention is given to five areas:
  • An examination of the differences in ancient texts of Mark is used to make conjectures about how the text read in its earliest versions.
  • Basic cultural knowledge is supplied to help the modern reader bridge the gap to the ancient world.
  • Biblical allusions in Mark’s text are explored and explained.
  • Literary structures, both large and small, are considered.
  • The traditional neglect of women’s stories is corrected.
The result is a commentary that answers the question, “What would Mark’s story of Jesus have meant to its first audiences?” in a way that informs and inspires Mark’s readers twenty centuries later.  
No other biblical commentary directed specifically to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints eclipses the quality of Julie Smith’s accomplishment with the Gospel of Mark. It is informed, gracefully composed, accessible, and, most importantly, trustworthy. It opens a range of possible interpretations of key and challenging passages but is not guilty of imposing extraneous meaning on the text. The volume’s preoccupation—“What would this story have meant to Mark’s earliest audiences?”—is judiciously chosen and frees Smith from distractions and diverse thickets. A superb example of what light may emerge from scripture in the company of a competent, faithful, and honest guide.

— Philip L. Barlow, Leonard Arrington Professor of Mormon History & Culture, Utah State University

Julie Smith’s new commentary on the Gospel of Mark represents an important addition to Latter-day Saint scholarship on the New Testament. Mark is a book that has been somewhat neglected by Latter-day Saints, and Smith’s commentary goes a long way towards correcting that neglect. With its numerous explanatory notes, this commentary takes the Gospel of Mark seriously, both as scripture and as a witness of the mission of Jesus. Where this commentary is especially welcome is in Smith’s thoughtful and thought-provoking treatment of women’s issues in the Gospel and in the scriptures generally.

— Avram R. Shannon, Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University

Among Latter-day Saints, the Gospel of Mark has often been overshadowed by the other Gospels. This volume aims to restore Mark’s distinct voice so that latter-day audiences can better understand and appreciate his unique testimony of Jesus Christ. By focusing on issues of translation, cultural knowledge, biblical allusions, literary interpretation, and the significance of women’s stories and concerns, this volume impressively narrows the gap between the expectations of modern readers and Mark’s ancient, yet vibrant, testimony of Jesus.

— Jacob Rennaker, John A. Widtsoe Fellow of Latter-day Saint Scholarship and Life, Chapman University

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Print edition

BYU New Testament Commentary: The Testimony of Luke
Read sample pages. Enthroned above all creation towers the exalted, glorified Christ. Descending into the darkest recesses of human agony and sin reaches the warm, caring Jesus. These two are the same person. Luke’s testimony introduces us to this man become God—God the Son. He comes into our world already bearing a divine nature, already carrying divine qualities. His birth is a miracle; he is “Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The most distinguishing element of this line-by-line, word-by-word commentary is its use of Latter-­day Saint scriptures—the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Cove­nants, and the Pearl of Great Price—to illuminate Luke’s Gospel. For example, important LDS doctrines arise from Jesus’ activity in the spirit world immediately after his death. More than all other Gospel accounts, Luke captures the compassion and love of the Savior. Such sweet concern manifests itself particularly for the downtrodden and those forced to the margins of society. Within his text, Luke discloses the deep, divine love that runs through his narrative of the Christ.  
S. Kent Brown combines a lifetime of dedicated study of the ancient world with his reverence for the Bible and insights from restoration scripture to create a readable, relevant, and thought-provoking commentary on the Gospel according to Luke. Beautifully written with a unique sensitivity toward Jesus’ focus on family relationships, the sanctity of the home, and the dangers of materialism, this book invites a fresh view of the Savior’s ministry for a modern world. I am excited to consult it often for both my teaching and research.

— Camille Fronk Olson, Chair, Department of Ancient Scripture, BYU

Professor Brown’s commentary is an important scholarly achievement. I really cannot say enough about it. On a practical level, this commentary is spiritually enriching and would be a helpful guide for any Christian seeking a closer walk with the one who is the subject of Luke’s testimony. The test of any commentary is how well it makes old words seem young again, and how it illuminates the obscure by drawing overlooked connections while deepening the historical reality from which those words emerge. On that score Professor Brown’s book is a virtuoso performance.

— Stephen H. Webb, Catholic Theologian

S. Kent Brown is well known among LDS scholars, who have run out of superlatives to describe his work. He has produced the most important LDS commentary on Luke’s Gospel to date. This is his magnum opus, and a reader will be transported to the world of the New Testament to hear Jesus Christ’s voice as he ministered among the people more than two thousand years ago.

— Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Professor of Church History, BYU

When I have examined the pages of this book, I have come away with the impression of years of work, sensitivity of much thought, and clear writing. This book is a chest filled with glistening historic and spiritual gems. I have come away rewarded.

— Richard L. Anderson, Emeritus Professor of Ancient Scripture, BYU

While to be appreciated by scholars, The Testimony of Luke is also a useful resource for the lay reader seeking further insights to textual questions.

— Emily Christensen, Deseret News

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1 Corinthians

Print edition

BYU New Testament Commentary: Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians
Read sample pages. Of all of Paul’s epistles, First Corinthians may resonate the most with Latter-day Saints. Many of its doctrinal teachings reappear in the Restoration: baptism for the dead, degrees of glory, charity never faileth, the administration of the sacrament, and others. The counsel Paul gave remains remarkably relevant today because conditions and attitudes found in ancient Corinth have reemerged in the postmodern Western world. The Corinthian microcosm was largely a skeptical, materialistic, pluralistic, immoral society whose standards were contrary to those of the Christian community. The Corinthians questioned God, the Resurrection, and the place of the Spirit in their lives. Paul was compelled to address such issues in that society, and the result is an epistle highly germane still today. This book is the most comprehensive study of First Corinthians that LDS scholars have yet produced. It relies on the LDS canon of scripture and the teachings of LDS prophets alongside rigorous biblical scholarship and Paul’s original Greek. Because this commentary relies heavily on the Greek text, the full Greek text is presented along with the King James Version. It also presents a new rendering of the Greek text that makes the text more understandable to modern readers. This rendition is set side by side with the King James text for easy comparison. The commentary contains translation notes and helpful historical and cultural background. The work strives to be as up to date, comprehensive, scholarly, and doctrinally sound as possible. Through examining every verse of First Corinthians, the rich theology of the Atonement, grace, the gifts of the Spirit, the sacrament, love, and resurrection of the dead come alive. Those who read this volume will find in it faith, hope, and understanding of key principles and doctrines. The text bears a strong witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and a clear elucidation of his gospel as articulated by the Apostle Paul.  
The commentary on Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians is absolutely enlightening! It provides the Greek text, a translation entitled a “Rendition,” and an in-depth explanation for why most words, phrases, and verses are rendered the way they are. But the authors don’t stop there. They give us the historical, sociopolitical, and religious background necessary to understand Paul’s writing in context. Their discussion of Paul’s teachings is articulate, straightforward, and doctrinally and spiritually insightful. Paul’s message to the Corinthians and the conditions surrounding it have truly come alive for me. This commentary has become an invaluable tool and a regular part of my scripture study.

— Eleanor Thorne, Administrator with BYU Continuing Education, PhD from University of Missouri–Columbia

Draper and Rhodes’s collaboration on First Corinthians, is, in my estimation, even better than their very solid and substantial commentary on ­Reve­lation. A detailed introduction sets the stage for Paul’s letter by surveying questions of authorship, date, historical background to Corinth, circumstances for writing, unifying themes, and, as a special bonus, a collection of interpretations and famous quotations by LDS authorities for each chapter of the letter, organized in decreasing order of the frequency of comments on the chapter. This commentary advances by light years what previous Mormon projects of this nature have done.

— Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

Draper and Rhodes collectively have many decades of experience teaching and writing about the New Testament in a faith-promoting manner. This volume examines First Corinthians on many levels, both secular and spiritual. Their rendition closely follows the Greek when possible while also idiomatically and skillfully rendering cryptic and ambiguous passages into plain English. Their analysis often illuminates terms, doctrines, and concepts that sometimes escape traditional New Testament scholarship. Their commentary deeply explores the first-century setting and context of this important letter of Paul. The results are invaluable for students, teachers, leaders, and scholars of all types who seek wisdom by study and also by faith.

— Brent J. Schmidt, Professor of Religious Education at Brigham Young University-Idaho, author of Relational Grace: The Reciprocal and Binding Covenant of Charis

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2 Corinthians

Print edition

BYU New Testament Commentary: Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians
Read sample pages. Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians, like his first, will resonate with most Latter-day Saints. Paul’s battle remains remarkably relevant today because conditions and attitudes found in ancient Corinth have reemerged in the postmodern Western world. The Corinthian microcosm was largely skeptical, materialistic, pluralistic, and immoral and as such, its standards were contrary to those of the Christian community. This epistle reveals the countercultural nature of Christianity. The Apostle promotes a practical religion that translates into everyday actions and conduct both in his time and in ours. He stresses the importance of forgiving others, being hopeful and encouraging in trying circumstances, recognizing that affliction for the kingdom’s sake is the Church’s true glory, and being glad to suffer for God’s cause. He notes the need to walk by faith and not by sight while the Christians suffer through mortality. He also encourages the Saints to be anxiously engaged. He cautions Church members about being overly eager to defend themselves against those who attack them but also insists that there are times when a strong defense is called for, especially when the integrity of the gospel has been challenged. This book is the most comprehensive study of Second Corinthains that LDS scholars have yet produced. It relies on the LDS canon of scripture and teachings of LDS prophets alongside rigorous biblical scholarship and Paul’s original Greek. Because this commentary relies heavily on the Greek text, it is presented along with the King James Version. It also presents a new English rendering of the Greek text designed to make Paul’s message more understandable to the modern reader. This rendition is set side by side with the King James text for easy comparison. The commentary contains translation notes and helpful historical and cultural background. The work strives to be as up to date as possible. Through examining every verse in Second Corinthians, the rich theology of the Atonement, the Resurrection, the need for reconciliation between child and Father, to assist others, and to follow legitimate leaders all come alive. Those who read this volume will find in it faith, hope, and understanding of key principles and doctrines. The text bears a strong witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and a clear elucidation of his gospel as articulated by the Apostle Paul.
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Print edition

BYU New Testament Commentary: The Epistle to the Ephesians
Read sample pages. Tucked into the New Testament after Galatians and the Corinthian correspondence, the Epistle to the Ephesians casts a warm, quieting glow when compared to the strident character of Galatians and the rather tough lines that Paul penned to former associates in Corinth. In Ephesians, by contrast, the Apostle Paul has shined a bright light on both an overly generous God the Father, who “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), and the Gentiles whom he has recently welcomed into the celestial fold, making them “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (2:19). But there is much more, for the letter opens on the scene of the premortal council and ends with church members clothed in God’s sacred, protective armor that helps them “to stand against the wiles of the devil,” an indicator of the looming apostasy (6:11). In addition, enfolded within Ephesians is a tightly woven strand of family-centered interests, including an expectation of eternal families, pointers to sacred rituals, and the joyous assurance to believers that Christ “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6). This exalted position is made possible because of one of the grandest gifts that comes from the Father through the Son— “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (2:7). Hallelujah!
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Print edition

BYU New Testament Commentary Series: Epistle to the Hebrews cover
BYU New Testament Commentary: Epistle to the Hebrews
Read sample pages. A verse-by-verse commentary on the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews. Provides a modern English version of the text. Cites scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Focuses on Jesus Christ and his role as High Priest and Savior, highlighting the saving nature of faith in him. The Epistle to the Hebrews is a faith-filled testimony of Jesus Christ. This commentary is the most comprehensive study of the epistle that Latter-day Saint scholars have yet produced. The commentary removes many of the barriers that hinder the reader from understanding this complex work. The volume is not written for an academic audience but for anyone interested in a detailed examination of this highly spiritual and insightful work. The authors show that although the epistle has been ascribed to the Apostle Paul because its doctrines and approaches are so similar to his, it is actually the work of an unnamed early church authority. The result of this conclusion stresses that the Apostle was not alone in his understanding of the work, ministry, and mission of the Lord. In the past, many non–Latter-day Saint readers have viewed the epistle as a polemic against certain Jews who were making trouble for Jewish Christians. This work finds Hebrews to be primarily a pastoral work carefully designed to encourage its readers to base their lives on nothing more and nothing less than Jesus Christ. The commentary presents the full Greek text alongside the King James Version and the authors’ New Rendition, followed by translation notes and analysis. The translation notes explain the meaning and context of words, phrases, and passages and the choice of words in the New Rendition. The analysis examines the doctrine and teachings of each section, opening the epistle to the reader’s understanding. The work strives to be up to date, comprehensive, scholarly, and as doctrinally sound as possible. It relies on the canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Joseph Smith Translation, and teachings of latter-day prophets alongside rigorous biblical scholarship and the original Greek text. This commentary has the same purpose as the epistle itself: to bear witness of the Lord and his lifegiving ministry.  
This up-to-date commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews provides a unique restoration perspective on the Jewish and first-century Christian themes of Jesus Christ’s authority, priesthood, temples, and faithfulness. Draper and Rhodes make this somewhat neglected and challenging epistle much more understandable through a careful examination of the Greek text accompanied by a side-by-side KJV text and translation notes. Their analysis sections contain numerous invaluable insights gleaned from many decades of teaching. This commentary assists modern readers to gain the scripture study skill of context as Draper and Rhodes elucidate this epistle’s text from both a Semitic and Gentile historical and cultural milieu.

— Brent Schmidt, faculty, Department of Religious Education, Brigham Young University–Idaho

The commentary on Epistle to the Hebrews is fascinating! As with the other commentaries written by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, we have the Greek text, the translation, and the reasoning behind the translation. The historical, sociopolitical, and religious background they provide is invaluable in fully understanding the inspired (and inspiring) messages of the writer of Hebrews. I find this commentary very accessible. You don’t have to have a background in history or be a biblical scholar. You can dive in where you are at and learn at the feet of masters. I also appreciate the enhanced insights from the inclusion of Latter-day Saint scripture. There are a number of scholarly commentaries on Hebrews, but very few that are accessible to a lay person, and none with a Latter-day Saint perspective. If you are seeking a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, this commentary will be invaluable.

— Eleanor Thorne, administrator with BYU Continuing Education, PhD from University of Missouri–Colombia

Draper and Rhodes have written a useful commentary to this important New Testament book. Their commentary is especially helpful for teasing out connections between the ancient writings in the New Testament and the unique contributions of the Restoration. The Epistle to the Hebrews is a book that has a lot of resonance with latter-day scripture and teachings, and Draper and Rhodes’s commentary is written with an ear to that resonance.

— Avram Shannon, assistant professor, Department of Ancient Scripture, Religious Education, Brigham Young University

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Print edition

BYU New Testament Commentary: The Revelation of John the Apostle
Read sample pages. To read the book of Revelation is to see a myriad of representations pass by our gaze, offering a kaleidoscope of bizarre and incongruent images. This world strikes us at first as fearfully and mysteriously strange and fantastic. But once these symbols are properly deciphered, they combine to present crucial messages for those living in the last days. These messages were designed by God to lead all successfully through these troubled times if they will read, hear, and do his will. This commentary presents a comprehensive analy­sis of John’s book aided by the lens of Latter-­day Saint doctrine and experience. God delivered his messages in the form of images housed within discrete visions, with each symbol explaining, exposing, or emphasizing various aspects of the message conveyed. The challenge is getting beyond the symbols to the represented realities. Information is drawn from all the Standard Works, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and from modern Prophets and Apostles. Even so, the best of world scholarship has not been overlooked. Because this commentary relies heavily on the Greek text, the full Greek text of the book is presented in sections along with the King James Version and the authors’ new rendition. The commentary contains translation notes and analysis of every verse. The work strives to be as up to date, comprehensive, ­scholarly, and doctrinally sound as possible. Most important, the commentary emphasizes the primary focus of John’s work, “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). The commentary highlights the Apostle’s witness that Jesus is the Lamb of God alive and active in these last days—directing earthly affairs and preparing his Saints and the faithful so that the Father’s intentions will ultimately be accomplished. Hope and promise dominate the work. The Lamb is in charge, and nothing moves beyond the limits he sets. He is coming to “destroy them which destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18) and to bring his people into triumphant millennial glory. This commentary details how.  
This is the most ambitious, detailed, and scholarly commentary series on a portion of the Bible ever produced by Latter-day Saints. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the use of the full range of scholarly sources. The new rendition alone could be of great help to Latter-day Saints, especially those who may be wary of modern translations of the Bible outside the Church and nevertheless find the Elizabethan English of the KJV increasingly difficult to navigate. Adela Yarbro Collins has offered the pithiest summary of the Apocalypse I have ever heard: “Jesus wins!” But Draper and Rhodes offer the necessary unpacking of this summary in language that both captures John’s message accurately and highlights humanity’s appropriate response of worship.

— Craig Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

Over the years, I’ve dealt with many biblical commentaries, and this one has a very reader-friendly format. It is at its best when introducing ideas about historical and contextual points from various non-LDS scholars. The authors understand that the audience this book is aimed at may not be as familiar with the terms as those who read and use most such commentaries. In fact, this is the strongest point of the book. It is a great step ahead for LDS readers. Naturally, LDS scholars and especially LDS General Authority and LDS scriptural comments are added at appropriate places. This is a book which will be used and referred to for years to come.

— Terry L. Hutchinson, attorney and book reviewer for KDXU Radio

This is an important contribution and one that should be applauded by those who wish to see, at the very least, a wider understanding of at least some of the concepts and problems expressed by the wider biblical community that otherwise may have no other way of being “safely” expressed from within. While the answers and issues may not be addressed or resolved how all might ideally like them to be, the fact that issues are being expressed and acknowledged from a substantial work by a Church-run institution is in and of itself, at least for me, a major gain.

— David Tayman, media developer for technology consulting company and LDS blogger

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Relational Grace

Print edition

Relational Grace: The Reciprocal and Binding Covenant of Charis
*Note: we are doing a limited reprint of this book. You may still make orders but they will take several weeks to ship. In ancient Greece and Rome, charis was a system in which one person gave something of value to another, and the receiver gave service, thanks, and lesser value back to the giver. It was the word used to describe familial gifts, gifts between friends, gifts between kings and servants, and gifts to and from the gods. In Rome, these reciprocal transactions became the patron-­client system. Orderly gift exchange is a key building block in the development of societies. Charis (grace) is the word New Testament authors, especially Paul, sometimes used to explain Christ’s gift to people. But what is the nature of the gift? Since the fifth century, a number of Christian scholars have taught that grace is something bestowed by God freely, with little or nothing required in return. This book sets out to show that “free grace” is not what Paul and others intended. The practice in the ancient world of people granting and receiving favors and gifts came with clear obligations. Charis served New Testament authors as a model for God’s mercy through the atonement of Jesus Christ, which also comes with covenantal obligations. LDS scriptures make it clear that being saved comes through grace accompanied by forsaking sin and making and keeping covenants. For Latter-day Saints, being saved by grace means coming to Christ, being baptized and joining the community of saints, and continually living with thanks and praise for God’s gift. All of these expressions of grace are found both in the Greek and Pauline use of the word. Knowing what charis means helps us understand what God expects us to do once we have accepted his grace.
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Relational Faith

Print edition

Relational Faith: The Transformation and Restoration of Pistis as Knowledge, Trust, Confidence, and Covenantal Faithfulness
Faith is a precious doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ancient prophets and apostles clearly taught that faith is relational: faith is trust, loyalty, obedience, and devotion to God and his Son, and it encompasses God’s blessings to us. In the language and culture of ancient Greece, pistis (faith) meant faithfulness and trust, and when New Testament writers taught about faith, their ancient readers understood its relational nuances. An apostasy regarding the meaning and doctrine of faith occurred, and the word faith came to have many varied meanings. Some theologians have taught that faith is a passive belief in a creed or a statement of belief in God that would guarantee one’s salvation. Theologians such as Augustine, Aquinas, Wyclif, Hus, Luther, Calvin, and Bultmann went off course in their understanding of faith. The restoration of the gospel that came through Joseph Smith and living prophets has revived the correct understanding of faith as a reciprocal relationship between people and God. For Latter-day Saints, faith is a principle of action, knowledge, understanding, trust, obedience, and faithfulness. Faith once again motivates disciples to trust in Jesus Christ, repent, and follow his straight and narrow covenant path leading to salvation and exaltation.   Review of Relational Faith by Jeff Lindsay at his website "Arise from the Dust"
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