According to Mormon history, Joseph Smith claimed that Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared to him in the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836. Doctrine and Covenants 110:11-13 reads,
“Moses appeared before us… After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed… After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us…”
We know who Elijah is. Elijah was the Old Testament prophet who called fire down from heaven, who raised a boy from the dead, sealed the skies with no rain for 3 and 1/2 years, and who blessed the widow’s meal. Elijah was raptured, and never died. “There appeared a chariot of fire… and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven,” and was translated (2 Kings 2:11-12).
But who is Elias? The LDS Bible Dictionary says this in its entry on Elias: “A man called Elias apparently lived in mortality in the days of Abraham, who committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland (Ohio) Temple on April 3, 1836 (D&C 110:12). We have no specific information as to the details of his mortal life or ministry.”
The reason why the Mormon Church has no information on Elias’s life or ministry? Because Elias was Elijah!! Elias is simply the New Testament (Greek) form of Elijah (Hebrew), see Matthew 17:1-4; Luke 4:25-26; and James 5:17.
The appearing of Moses, Elias, and Elijah was phony because if Elias and Elijah are the same person, then they could not appear as two separate beings. Either Joseph Smith made up this vision story, or he was really visited by 3 spiritual beings, but they were not really Moses, Elias, or Elijah… meaning, they were not of God. They were simply posing as biblical prophets of God.
Turn to 1 Samuel 28:3-25 and read that story. The prophet Samuel had just died. King Saul had previously driven out from Israel all magicians and necromancers (those who speak to the dead). Secretly, Saul sought out a witch from Endor, asking her to make Samuel’s spirit appear in a séance. “Samuel” appears, and tells Saul that he and his sons will die the next day. Saul did die the next day.Was this really Samuel? There are spirits that appear before men, such as Joseph Smith, who claim to be John the Baptist, Peter, James, Moses, Elijah, and Elias. They are not real people, but false spirits mimicking those biblical prophets and apostles.
The Bible warns us, saying, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1, NIV) Sadly, Joseph Smith did not test those spirits who appeared before him.
Joseph Smith got it wrong. He even did his own “translation” of the Bible, but it is sad he did not recognize that Elias and Elijah are the same person!