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ANNVER - Please help explain how Joseph smith came to know God the father and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bones? when JS saw them in a vision how was that clear to him that they had flesh and bones when he didn't shake their hands or hug them? also why is it called the "first vision" not the first visit or something better to indicate reality...because a vision seems like it was something dreamt of or an event that happened in his dreams?
JOEL - I have often wondered this myself. When Joseph had this vision there are no indications in the records of him actually touching God the Father and Jesus.
What we do know is that he saw two separate individuals who appeared to be three dimensional beings having solid bodies of some form. If they were not made of some kind of solid material he most likely would have been able to see through them.
Joseph already knew Jesus had a resurrected body of flesh and bone based on the following scripture when Jesus appears to His Apostles:
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24: 39)
And then there is later recorded in a revelation the following:
"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; (D&C 130: 22)
If, according to the scriptures, Jesus has such a body, and if He and His Father are separate beings, and if He is like His Father in every way (John 14: 9), and if we are made after His image (Gen 1: 27), it is a natural conclusion that the Father also is corporeal.
It is significant that on 5 January 1841—shortly before the so-called "official" First Vision story was released to the public Joseph Smith was teaching in Nauvoo: "That which is without body or parts is nothing. There is no other God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bones." (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 60).
So he somehow knew before the official First Vision story was released that God and Jesus had flesh and bone bodies. But we don't know if he somehow learned that at the first vision or if it came to him later through some kind of revelation from God.
We always teach that concept among others whenever the First vision is brought up, but we don't really know for sure exactly when Joseph Smith was certain of their physical makeup.
The first vision could be called the first visitation, but the fact that it is a supernatural experience that mortal beings would not normally have, it is better described as a vision, but which could involve a visitation from a heavenly being.