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Celestial Kingdom

In Mormon theology, there are three degrees of glory (alternatively, kingdoms of glory) which are the ultimate, eternal dwelling place for nearly all who lived on earth after the Spirit world.

Joseph Smith, Jr. described the outer darkness, which, though not a degree of glory, is often discussed in this context. The ones who go there are known as "Sons of Perdition".

Doctrinal origin

The three degrees of glory are described in Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In the preface to Section 76 in the LDS edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, the following explanatory text is given:

A vision given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832. Prefacing his record of this vision the Prophet wrote: "Upon my return from Amherst conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term 'Heaven,' as intended for the Saints' eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one. Accordingly, while translating St. John's Gospel, myself and Elder Rigdon saw the following vision." It was after the Prophet had translated John 5:29 that this vision was given.[1]

Assignment to a particular kingdom in the resurrection is contingent upon the faith and works exhibited during mortal life. The LDS Church teaches that these different kingdoms are what Jesus was referring to when he said "[i]n my Father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2).[2] Additionally, the LDS Church teaches that 1 Corinthians 15:40-41 (40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory) speaks of these three degrees of glory, comparing them with the glory of the sun, moon, and stars.

The LDS doctrine of the three degrees of glory is also seemingly consistent with a particular reading of Revelation 22:10-11, where John says (text in parenthesis added):

10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand (final judgment).
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still (telestial kingdom): and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still (outer darkness): and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still (terrestrial kingdom): and he that is holy, let him be holy still (celestial kingdom).

Celestial kingdom

For other uses of "Celestial", see Celestial (disambiguation).

The celestial kingdom is the highest of three 15:40-41.


The celestial kingdom will be the residence of those who have been righteous, accepted the teachings of Jesus Christ, and made and lived up to all of the required ordinances and covenants during their mortal lives.[3] It will also be the residence of those individuals that accepted and received the ordinances and covenants in the post-mortal spirit world.[4] All children who die before the age of eight automatically inherit the celestial kingdom.[5] The celestial kingdom will also be the permanent residence of God the Father and Jesus Christ.[6]

Joseph Smith taught that "a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it."[7] This white stone will become a Urim and Thummim (or seer stone) to the recipient.[8]

Degrees within

Joseph Smith taught that the celestial kingdom itself is subdivided into three "heavens or degrees".[9] Only those individuals who are sealed in celestial marriage to a spouse in a temple while alive (or after death by proxy baptism) will be permitted to enter into the highest degree of celestial kingdom.[10] These individuals will eventually become "exalted"[11] and will be permitted to live "the kind of life God lives" as literal gods and goddesses, as Doctrine and Covenants 132 explains.[12] The nature of the other two degrees within the Celestial Kingdom have not been described, except to say that the people who go there will become "ministering angels".[13]


Joseph Smith taught that the earth will also receive a celestial glory.[14] Some Latter-day Saints believe that the earth will be the celestial kingdom, or at least a celestial world within the celestial kingdom for humans who lived on the earth and qualified for the celestial kingdom.[15]

Terrestrial kingdom

The terrestrial kingdom is the middle of what are believed to be three Latin word meaning "earthly".

According to the doctrine of Section 76.


According to Doctrine and Covenants section 76, those who will inhabit the terrestrial kingdom include those who lived respectably but "were blinded by the craftiness of men" and thus rejected the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ when it was presented to them during their mortal lives.[16] It also includes persons who rejected the "testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it" in the spirit world[17] and those who "are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus" after having received it.[18]

Ultimately, the kingdom of glory (either the celestial or the terrestrial) received by those who accept the testimony of Jesus will be based on God's knowledge of whether they "would have received it with all their hearts" as manifested by their works and the "desire of their hearts".[19]

Those who inherit the terrestrial kingdom "receive of the presence of the Son, but not the fulness of the Father."[20]

Joseph Smith taught that translated beings abide in the terrestrial kingdom until they are judged at the great and final judgment and enter the celestial kingdom.[21]

Telestial kingdom

The telestial kingdom is the lowest of what are believed to be three 15:41. There are no known uses of the word prior to Joseph Smith's prophecies.


According to the LDS scripture, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76, those who will inhabit the telestial kingdom include those "who received not the gospel of Christ, nor the testimony of Jesus."[22] It also includes "liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie."[23] Because of their refusal to accept Jesus as their Savior, these individuals will remain in Spirit prison[24] for 1000 years during the millennial reign of Christ.[25] After the 1000 years, the individuals will be resurrected and receive an immortal physical body and be assigned to the telestial kingdom.[26]

Joseph Smith taught that individuals in the telestial kingdom will be servants of God, but "where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end";[27] however, they will receive the ministration of the Holy Ghost and beings from the terrestrial kingdom.[28] Despite these limitations, in LDS theology being resident in the telestial kingdom is not an unpleasant experience: "the glory of the telestial ... surpasses all understanding".[29]

Joseph Smith also taught that just as there are different degrees of glory within the celestial kingdom (D&C 131:1-4), there are different degrees of glory within the telestial kingdom. He stated that "as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in the telestial world."[30] Each person's glory will vary depending on their works while on the earth.[31]

Smith and Rigdon stated "we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore".[32] One Latter-day Saint commentator has suggested that by implication this means that "most of the adult people who have lived from the day of Adam to the present time will go to the telestial kingdom."[33]

Role in temple ordinances

During the Endowment temple ordinance, members move between ordinance rooms. In most modern day LDS temples, moving between rooms has now been replaced with changes in lighting to represent change from one degree of glory to the next. In a few older Mormon temples (e.g. Salt Lake Temple and Manti Temple), the classic version of the endowment ceremony is still done by actors (instead of motion picture) and uses multiple rooms.

See also



  • Book of Mormon - 2 Nephi 2:5–30; 10:23–25; Alma 12:24–37; 22:12–14; 42;
  • Pearl of Great Price - Moses 6:47–62
  • Damiani, Adhemar. "The Merciful Plan of the Great Creator", Ensign, March 2004, pp. 8–12
  • Lee, Robert England. "Teaching Our Children the Plan of Salvation", Ensign, September 2001, pp. 33–39
  • Gerrard, Duane B. "The Plan of Salvation: A Flight Plan for Life", Ensign, November 1997, pp. 77–78
  • Scott, Richard G.. "The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness", Ensign, November 1996, pp. 73–75
  • Ballard, M. Russell, "Answers to Life's Questions", Ensign, May 1995, pp. 22–24
  • Edwards, Judy. "Sharing Time: The Plan of Salvation Offers Me Peace", The Friend, March 1994, pp. 14–15[unreliable source?]
  • Oaks, Dallin H.. "The Great Plan of Happiness", Ensign, November 1993, pp. 72–75
  • Maxwell, Neal A.. "The Great Plan of the Eternal God", Ensign, May 1984, pp. 21–23
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