Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Jones speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One BASF C-120/Sermon 3/3/74/ Reply to Kinsolving
Date cues on tape: Late 1974 (a year after L.A. Church opened in October 1973)
A.A. Allen, Pentecostal evangelist
William Branham, evangelical preacher and Jones acquaintance during Indianapolis years
Brother Brown, S.F. city official, head of S.F. youth commission
Dr. Nathan Ershawn (?), minister criticized by Jones
Phillips (owner of nursing home in Ukiah)
James Thurman Jones (Jim Jones’ father)
Oral Roberts, Pentecostal evangelist
Anita (probably Anita Kelley)
Archie (probably Ijames)
Jack Arnold Beam
Joyce Parks, nee Joyce Beam
Jimmy Jones Jr.
Bible verses cited:
(Editor’s note: The verses below appear in order of biblical reference, not as they appear in Jim Jones’ address. For a complete scriptural index to the sermons of Jim Jones, click here.)
- “Matthew, the first chapter, sixteenth verse, Matthew says Jesus’ father was Joseph. And he says his grandfather was Jacob. And he said his great-grandfather was Matthan, M-A-T-T-H-A-N. Right? Luke 3:23, says exactly the same story, I mean telling about the birth of Jesus. But King James makes a mistake. Here he says Jesus’ father was indeed Joseph, but he says his grandfather was not Jacob, but Heli. And his great-grandfather was not Matthan, M-A-T-T-H-A-N, but it’s misspelled. Luke says it’s M-A-T-T-H-A-T, Matthat.” (Matthew 1:15-16 “…Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ”; Luke 3:23-24, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which wasthe son of Heli, Which was the son of Matthat.”)
“One place after Jesus was baptized … said he went immediately to the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, and was tempted of the devil. That’s what one [Gospel] says. Another Bible chapter says that three days after Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, and the dove settled on him, that he was in Cana of Galilee, which is 80 miles from the wilderness, three days after he was baptized, turning water into wine.” (Matthew 4:1-2, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-2; contrasted with John 1:32, 2:1, 2:9)
“Jesus was first nailed on the cross, all the thieves rebuked him. Another writer says only one of the thieves. The other thief rebuked the other thief, and Jesus said, this day, thou shall be with me in Paradise.” (Matthew 27:38-44; Luke 23:39-43)
“Preachers will rob you because they don’t believe in what they preach themselves. They slip to me by night to get healed. Like Nicodemus, they’ll come into our beautiful court of Garden of Eden up there in Redwood Valley, they’ll slip in to get healed.” (John 7:48-52)
“Jesus said himself, in the last chapter of John… if all the sayings and works of Jesus had been recorded… the world would not be able to contain the writings… the sayings…[and] the works and the Bibles of Jesus Christ.” (John 21:25 (last verse), “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”)
“Faith does not come by Bible-reading. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”)
“I have come like Paul said, I have come in the very person, I have come in the very nature, I have come in the person of Christ the Revolution… Paul said, I come to you what? — in the person. Of who? Christ. He didn’t say the name of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:10, “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ.”)
“You cannot be saved by Bibles. Bibles will destroy you. Jesus said, search the scriptures. Search the Bible. Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life? But these are they that testify of the living Christ. That’s what it says in the Hebrew, that I am the living spirit. They testify the living Christ, and you will never recognize him when he comes. You will not come to him, that you might have life. The Scriptures are death, but the Spirit of Christ, hey hey, it’s alive.” (2 Corinthians 3:1-6)
“Hebrews 4:12 tells you exactly what the Word of God will do… The Bible murders, but the Spirit giveth life. Now what is the Word? The Word of God is clearly described as something alive, for the Word of God is quick.” (Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”)
This sermon by Jim Jones at the Los Angeles Peoples Temple church touches on familiar themes for the minister. He speaks of his healing powers, his personal ministry to people in trouble, and the works of his church to aid the less fortunate of American society. Although he does not make direct reference to it, he invokes the spirit of the beatitudes, when he speaks about feeding the hungry, giving shelter to seniors and children, helping people with legal trouble in the courts, and providing medical care to his followers. He also criticizes other mainline religions and the Bible which they teach; he refers to himself as the leader of the revolution of God, and the person of Christ. However, his claims are within the framework of biblical teachings themselves, and while he says the Bible is a killer book, he does not completely disown it.
The tape begins in mid-sentence, with Jones talking about family trees. He discovered a black person in his background — a revelation that poisoned his relationship with his father — then continues that everyone has a black person in their past. He expands upon that to say, that if you’re poor — no matter what your race — you are a nigger in today’s society. The word hurts, though, as it has hurt his adopted son, so he has turned it around to make it a proud word, a word describing the chosen people.
Jones speaks about the fact that the new Peoples Temple church in L.A. has been paid for in just over a year. He also describes the facilities of the Temple in Redwood Valley — the senior centers, the children’s homes — and while not all are paid for, all the money the church receives goes towards those works. They also have gardens and orchards.
Jones himself does not own a car, although the church itself owns 13 buses. Jones only wears used clothing, and has only used furniture in his home. His house does not have modern wiring, or heat or air-conditioning. He contrasts that to the pastors of the churches in the neighborhood. “We buy nothing but will help the people,” but in their churches, “all you’ve paid for is preachers’ anniversaries, preachers’ birthdays, pastors’ wives teas.” Later he says, those preachers keeptelling you Jesus is coming soon, but if that’s so, why do they need a new Cadillac every year?
He declares the black book of the Bible as the enemy, but differentiates belief in the Bible from belief in God. “God would always be with us. He said, Lo, I am with you always … He said I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” He also distinguished between the Bible and Christ. “The Scriptures are death, but the Spirit of Christ, hey hey, it’s alive.” To those who say, the Bible is the Word of God, Jones replies, the Word of God is a library that would fill the entire earth, not just one book.
Drawing differences between the preachers who teach the Bible and himself, he says he has nine gifts, one of which is healing. He has raised 518 people from the dead this year. Someone is the congregation might worry about an Antichrist healing, but the fact is, the Antichrist does not heal. Their preachers want to keep their parishioners in bondage, so they say, don’t go to Peoples Temple. “That’s just a lie that a lazy jack-legged, or a honky has told you, to keep you from the fount of Ever Blessing, to keep you from the law of life that’s in the Christ, the revolution in this room.” Those preachers may look good and holy in the pulpit, but no one can do the work that Jones does to heal the sick and raise the dead and take care of seniors and children, “[n]o one can do that but God Good.”
The key to understanding the Bible, Jones says, is the preacher. “The Bible is … dangerous as arsenic, unless you have a preacher that’s sent… Faith does not come by Bible-reading. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Later, he says that he fulfills the Word of God, and without that prophet, people cannot be saved. “That’s what I am. The Word. The Spoken Word. The Living Word.”
His criticism of the Bible extends especially to the King James version. For people who say that book was good enough for their ancestors, he reminds them, their ancestors were in chains. The king enslaved Africa, Jones says, with the Good Ship Jesus. And when the slaves were restless, he quieted them with a church.
Later he says you can’t believe the King James Bible because he was a drunkard and worse. He also says it’s full of errors; it was based on the Catholic Bible, which itself was 404 years old when it was written, so it has errors too. He enumerates many inconsistencies, and then says, “that’s why you have to have a preacher.”
We are working towards the kingdom of God, Jones says several times — although he also refers to the revolution of God — and it will be found in “a promised land,” which is how he often described the Agricultural Project, then in its infancy in Jonestown.
He concluded the sermon by saying, he hopes that people came with the Bible in hand, but leave with the scripture in heart.
Date of transcription 3/5/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On March 1, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered B47 No. 55. This tape was found to contain the following:
The tape consists of a sermon by JIMMY JONES attacking the Bible as the complete literal, historical, verbal revelation of God to man, as well as the Biblical record of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. JONES’ promise to lead his congregation to JONES’ concept of the “Promised Land” was also noted.
The sermon was an attack on Fundamental Bible believing Christianity and JONES stated the Bible will “murder” anyone who believes it completely. JONES claimed to have raised 518 people from the dead and he claimed to be God.
Differences with FBI Summary:
Emphasized only the sensational aspects of the sermon, e.g., Jones’ claim that he raised 518 people from the dead that year. Note the agent’s comment that the “Fundamental Bible” was attacked, a remark which reflects the agent’s understanding of scripture.
Tape originally posted January 1999