Monday, July 7, 2008

What Does the Word "Telestial" Mean?

The word "telestial" is not found in the dictionary now nor was it in 1831 when it was first recorded in D&C 76. So, it is not possible to know what it means with absolute certainty.

However, I think "telestial" may be derived from the Greek word telos which means "the end, complete/finish, full, perfect" etc. It is used in connection with the Telestial Kingdom because it is the last resurrection of the saved that happens at the end of the world when Jesus has completed and perfected his work. I think this is evident in the following verse from the New Testament:

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power(1 Cor. 15:22-24).

My commentary on these verses:

All be made alive]
All will be resurrected just like Jesus was.
In his own order] The word for order refers to temporal order or rank. Each person will be resurrected in the order or according to their rank in salvation.
Christ the firstfruits] Christ is the first to be resurrected in time, he is also the highest in rank.
afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming] The next to be resurrected are those who are resurrected at Christ's second coming. This is the first resurrection which consists of those who are resurrected in the morning (the heirs of the celestial kingdom) and those who are resurrected afterwards (the Terrestial Kingdom).
Then cometh the end] "The end" is "telos" in the Greek. Then (after the other resurrections) comes the "telos" resurrection. This is where the word telestial comes from. It occurs after the millennium when Christ "shall have delivered up the kingdom to God..." It denotes completion, ending, perfection.

With this understanding, D&C 76 takes on a new meaning.

"[Telestial inhabitants] are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work" (D&C 76:85)

"[Telestial inhabitants] are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work; when he shall deliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father [cf. 1 Cor. 15:24] " (D&C 76:106-107)


JayFlow22 said...

What about the interpretation of the etymology of "Telestial" being related to initiation.
"Initiation" seems to pose a meaning dealing with beginning; while "complete" seems to point to being at the end.

Andrew I. Miller said...

"Telos" has reference to both initiation and completion. Initiation comes from the idea of one being "complete" in the sense of having received whatever initiatory is required. So, it could have both meanings.

Andrew I. Miller said...

PS. I briefly mention the use of "teleoi" in the New Testament to refer to the "initiated" here. Telos and teleoi are obviously the same root word.

Anonymous said...

A gospel scholar friend of mine used to say that the reason this world is a telestial kingdom is because it is the place where the telos (with the meaning "initiation") needs to occur.
Great post!

Andrew I. Miller said...


that is one cool blog you have over there!