Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments,
and shall teach men so,
he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:
but whosoever shall do and teach them,
the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments,
and shall teach men so to do,
he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven;
but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled,
the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven. (JST Matt 5:21)
The KJV makes it seem like breaking the commandments and teaching others to break the commandments is attended with no more penalty than losing status in the kingdom of heaven, making it seem as if breaking the commandments is not a big deal. The thoughtful person might well ask why have commandments at all if breaking commandments won’t get you kicked out of the kingdom of heaven. And if that were the case, then who doesn’t make it to heaven? This doesn’t confirm that God is holy as we know He is.
The JST makes clear that breaking commandments and teaching others to break them too is the way to lose your salvation in heaven.
I notice that the KJV only deals with status in the kingdom of heaven, while the JST speaks mostly in terms of salvation in the kingdom of heaven, though it promises greatness to those who do and teach the commandments.
One good thing about the KJV verse is that it teaches there are least and greatest in the kingdom of heaven, a testimony of degrees of glory in the celestial kingdom, even if it gets wrong who is the least.
One final note is that the KJV seems to speak of the “least” commandments as if they are timeless things, but the JST suggests that there were commandments that Jesus referred to that would eventually be fulfilled and superseded. Naturally there would be a lot of questions about which of all the commandments in the Torah would be done away.
Just for grins, I looked in 3 Nephi 12 to see if there was a verse that corresponded to the above verses. (Should be fairly easy to find, since the Beatitudes are delivered in very similar order in both places, right?) What I found was quite different:
And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father,
that ye shall believe in me,
and that ye shall repent of your sins,
and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled. ( 3 Nephi 12:19)
Clearly the basic principles of the gospel are given as the new law and commandments here. Also, earlier in 3 Nephi, the voice of Christ to all the Nephites during the three days of darkness commands the end of animal sacrifices and teaches about offering a broken heart and contrite spirit:
19 And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. (3 Nephi 9:19-20)
What do we learn from all this? We learn that Jesus taught the Law of Moses faithfully during His ministry but also worked to prepare the people for the changes that would come when He fulfilled it. We also learn that He taught the Nephites what they needed to do instead of offering animal sacrifices.
I’m so grateful for the Bible, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and the Book of Mormon. The Bible gives good starting points, and the JST and Book of Mormon clarify so much. I would not appreciate the JST and the Book of Mormon as much without the Bible, since they really shine by close comparison, and I wouldn’t understand the Bible as much without the JST and the Book of Mormon.