Work for the Dead


Brigham Young

In the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth in power, glory and perfection, and the reign of wickedness that has so long prevailed is subdued, the Saints of God will have the privilege of building their temples, and of entering into them, becoming, as it were, pillars in the temples of God, and they will officiate for their dead. Then we will see our friends come up, and perhaps some that we have been acquainted with here. If we ask who will stand at the head of the resurrection in this last dispensation, the answer is - Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet of God. He is the man who will be resurrected and receive the keys of the resurrection, and he will seal this authority upon others, and they will hunt up their friends and resurrect them when they shall have been officiated for, and bring them up. And we will have revelations to know our forefathers clear back to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and we will enter into the temples of God and officiate for them. Then man will be sealed to man until the chain is made perfect back to Adam, so that there will be a perfect chain of Priesthood from Adam to the winding-up scene. This will be the work of the Latter-day Saints in the Millennium. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.116)


As I have frequently told you, that is the work of the Millennium. It is the work that has to be performed by the seed of Abraham, the chosen seed, the royal seed, the blessed of the Lord, those the Lord made covenants with. They will step forth, and save every son and daughter of Adam who will receive salvation here on the earth; and all the spirits in the spirit world will be preached to, conversed with, and the principles of salvation carried to them, that they may have the privilege of receiving the Gospel; and they will have plenty of children here on the earth to officiate for them in those ordinances of the Gospel that pertain to the flesh. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.403)


We are trying to save the living and the dead. The living can have their choice, the dead have not. Millions of them died without the Gospel, without the Priesthood, and without the opportunities that we enjoy. We shall go forth in the name of Israel's God and attend to the ordinances for them. And through the Millennium, the thousand years that the people will love and serve God, we will build temples and officiate therein for those who have slept for hundreds and thousands of years -- those who would have received the truth if they had had the opportunity; and we will bring them up, and form the chain entire, back to Adam. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.404)



John Taylor

We read sometimes about the millennium, But what do we know about it? It is a time when this work will be going on, and temples, thousands of them, will be reared for the accomplishment of the objects designed, in which communications from the heavens will be received in regard to our labors, how we may perform them, and for whom. This is the work devolving upon us. (The Gospel Kingdom, p.287)



Joseph Fielding Smith

President Brigham Young has said that during the millennium those on the other side will work hand in hand with those in mortality and will furnish the names of the dead which we are unable to obtain through our research, and thus every soul that is entitled to these blessings shall be ferreted out and his work done for him. I fully believe that many among the dead, those who are worthy, are even now engaged in compiling records and arranging information, if it has not already been done, for this very purpose. Why should they not be so engaged? (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:120)

Then each generation must be joined to the one which went on before. In this way eventually all the families which are entitled to celestial exaltation are joined together, from generation to generation, back to the time of our first parents, Adam and Eve. This will not all be done before the coming of our Lord, but the great work of the millennium will be the temple ordinances for the dead who are worthy to receive it. (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:121)

The work of saving the dead has practically been reserved for the dispensation of the fulness of times, when the Lord shall restore all things. It is, therefore, the duty of the Latter-day Saints to see that it is accomplished. We cannot do it all at once, but will have the 1,000 years of the millennium to do it in. In that time the work must be done in behalf of the dead of the previous 6,000 years, for all who need it. Temples will be built for this purpose, and the labor in them will occupy most of the time of the saints.

By the time Christ comes we are expected to have done all that is within our power to do now for our dead. That does not mean we are going to do all that is to be done, because it will go on during the millennium. The great work of the millennium will be the salvation of the dead, and those who are on the other side will help us, too, by bringing us information. The ordinances for the salvation of the dead are mortal ordinances, because all these ordinances pertain to this life, and immortal beings cannot perform them. (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.166)

Some people may think that it is impossible for us to do this work for the dead because we have not the names of people who lived in ancient times. We have not the records, we do not know how to reach them from anything we have in this life, and there have been millions of people who no doubt were honest, and did the best they knew, but died without a knowledge of the gospel, whose names it is impossible for us to obtain. How are they going to be saved? It is our duty to go to the temple and take our records and work for the dead of our own lineage as far back as we can go, but what about these others? I will tell you. The great work of the millennium, of 1,000 years, will be for the salvation of these souls. Now let us keep it clearly in our minds that we do not enter into exaltation until after the resurrection. We do not enter into exaltation in the spirit world. We have privileges there, of course, based upon faithfulness and obedience to the gospel, but during the millennium -- and that is the great purpose of the millennium -- we will go into the temples. (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.166-167)