Return to About Mormons home

New Jerusalem

This page contains comments from the following authors:

Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Elder Bruce R. McConkie

by Graham W. Doxey

For Latter-day Saints, the gathering of Israel in the last days, and the building of the city of Zion and of the New Jerusalem, are closely related concepts.

The tenth article of faith, written by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842, declares that the New Jerusalem will be built upon the American continent. He learned this as he translated the Book of Mormon (3 Ne. 20:22; Ether 13:2-6). Additional revelation on this subject came in September 1830 and was further clarified in the subsequent months (D&C 28:9; 42:33-36, 62, 67; 57:3). In July 1831, Joseph Smith traveled to Jackson County, Missouri, at the command of the Lord, where it was announced that the long-awaited gathering of Israel would commence. The city of Zion (also called the New Jerusalem) and its temple would be built in Independence, Missouri (D&C 57:1-3).

Even as the ancient tribes of Israel were scattered north of the Holy Land and their identity was lost, their prophets foretold a gathering of Israel in the last days in a consecrated land (Jer. 31:1-12). Zion would be reestablished. This prophecy includes the promise that the "pure in heart" will receive the higher principles and truths of the full gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 97:21; 100:16; 101:18). Both where and how they live will come about under divine influence. Since favorable spiritual conditions may exist anywhere in the world, cities of Zion and of Zion people, the "pure in heart," could be located anywhere in the world (D&C 97:21). However, there is to be a "center place," or capital city, of Zion. It is referred to both as "the city of Zion" and as "the city of New Jerusalem" (D&C 57:2; 84:2; cf. 45:66-67).

The writings of Ether, written prior to 125 B.C., abridged by Moroni 2 in the Book of Mormon, prophesy of the preparations for the coming of the messiah and of a New Jerusalem in the Western Hemisphere. It is to be built by the remnant of the seed of Joseph of Egypt (Ether 13:3-10). Ether also speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem of old, adding that it will be rebuilt with a temple and become a holy city (Ether 13:11).

Also, the book of Revelation speaks of "the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven" (Rev. 21:2, 10). This may relate to the return of the city of Enoch, the Zion that in Enoch's day was caught up into heaven (Moses 7:12-21, 59-64).

The future rebuilding of the Holy Land for the house of Judah and the building of the New Jerusalem in the Western Hemisphere for the house of Joseph are associated with the return of the Messiah to the earth. Of this era, the 1845 Proclamation of the Twelve (MFP 1:252-66) says:

He will assemble the Natives, the remnants of Joseph in America; and make them a great, and strong, and powerful nation: and he will civilize and enlighten them, and will establish a holy city, and temple and seat of government among them, which shall be called Zion.

And there shall be his tabernacle, his sanctuary, his throne, and seat of government for the whole continent of North and South America for ever. In short, it will be to the western hemisphere what Jerusalem will be to the eastern….

The city of Zion, with its sanctuary and priesthood, and the glorious fulness of the gospel, will constitute a standard which will put an end to jarring creeds and political wranglings, by uniting the republics, states, provinces, territories, nations, tribes, kindred, tongues, people and sects of North and South America in one great and common bond of brotherhood. Truth and knowledge shall make them free, and love cement their union. The Lord also shall be their king and their lawgiver; while wars shall cease and peace prevail for a thousand years [pp. 259-60].

The prophet Isaiah declared that in a future time "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:2-3; cf. Micah 4:1-2). Latter-day Saints believe this refers to the two Zion headquarters in the two hemispheres from which the Messiah, the returned Son of God, will reign triumphantly over the whole earth.


Matthews, Robert J. "The Fulness of Times." Ensign 19 (Dec. 1989):46-51.

McConkie, Bruce R. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pp. 137, 320. Salt Lake City, 1985.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, New Jerusalem

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

As far as we now know, Jerusalem was first founded as a city after the flood. It is mentioned in Abraham's day under the name Salem, a term meaning peace. (Gen. 14:18; Ps. 76:2.) Melchizedek was king in the land of Salem, and because he established peace "he was called the prince of peace" (Alma 13:17-18), the "King of peace." (Heb. 7:1-2.) In the original Hebrew the proper name was Shiloam, "which signifies righteousness and peace." (Teachings, p. 321.) But however designated, Jerusalem was a holy and sacred city to the Lord's people anciently; through all her long history, ancient Israel looked to Jerusalem as the holy city. In due course it became the chief city of our Lord's ministry, and it is now sacred to three great world religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

During her long history Jerusalem, spiritually, has soared to the heights and sunk to the depths. A great many prophets have ministered in her streets, the visions of eternity have been poured out upon her inhabitants, and the teachings of the gospel have sanctified her inhabitants. On the other hand, in apostate periods, she has slain the living prophets and rejected their teachings, while building the sepulchres of those whom their fathers had rejected and slain. (Matt. 23:13-39; Luke 13:33-35.) Indeed, so great is to be the wickedness in latter-day Jerusalem that "spiritually" she "is called Sodom and Egypt." (Rev. 11:8.)

But even more important than her past glory, her historical position, and her religious influence, is the part (dear to the hearts of the prophets) which Jerusalem is yet to play in the destiny of the world. In the last days the Jerusalem of old is to be rebuilt, a remnant of the Jews is to assemble there, and the final great battles which attend the Second Coming of the Son of Man are to take place at Jerusalem. (Teachings, p. 17; Zech. 12; 13; 14.) And then during the millennial era this rebuilt Jerusalem is to be one of two great world capitals, "for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Isa. 2:3.)

In addition to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem of old, the latter-days are to see the initial building of a New Jerusalem on the American continent, a city which like its ancient counterpart will be a holy city, a Zion, a city of God. (3 Ne. 20:22.) This New Jerusalem is to be built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Jackson County, Missouri, is the spot designated by revelation for its construction. (D. & C. 28; 42:8-9, 30-42; 45:66-67; 52:2, 42-43; 57:1-5; 58:7, 44-58; 84:2-5.) It shall be built when the Lord directs. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 66-79; D. & C. 124:49-54.)

This New Jerusalem on the American continent will have a dual origin. It will be built by the saints on earth and it will also come down from heaven, and the cities so originating will be united into one holy city. Moroni recorded that America "was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord. Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land. And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come -- after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel. And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph.

"The remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away. And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.

"And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel. And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham." (Ether 13:3-11.)

Enoch saw the latter-day restoration of the gospel and the subsequent building of the New Jerusalem. "Righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare," the Lord told him, "an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other." (Moses 7:60-63.) Thus it is that the New Jerusalem shall be built by the saints and shall also come down from heaven.

Events to transpire after the millennial era and before the earth becomes a celestial sphere have not been revealed. We do have an account, however, of "the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" a second time, that is, after the earth has become a celestial planet. John refers to this celestial city in Revelation 3:12 and then gives a somewhat detailed description of it in the 21st chapter of the same book.

Having in mind these glorious truths relative to the millennial New Jerusalem and the celestial city of the same name, knowing that Enoch's Zion had been taken to heaven and would return again, the ancient prophets "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God," confessing the while "that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." And God "hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:9-16), that is, he has prepared it for those who gain salvation, for such "come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." (Heb. 12:22.)

Mormon Doctrine, p.531-3
Copyright by Bookcraft

(See Basic Beliefs; The Gospel of Jesus Christ home page; The Last Days home page)

All About Mormons