A martyr is a person who gives his life rather than forsake Christ, the gospel, or his righteous beliefs or principles (see Guide to the Scriptures, "Martyr," 158–59). Like Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Zacharias (see Matthew 23:35), Stephen (see Acts 7:59), and Abinadi (see Mosiah 17:20) were such men. Most people, however, are called not to die for Christ, but to live a life devoted to Him and His teachings.
As the mob ascended the stairs, Hyrum and the others moved to hold the door, which had no functional lock. Hyrum fell first from a ball that passed through the door and struck him in the face. Receiving more wounds as he fell, Hyrum exclaimed, "I am a dead man." Joseph leaned over his older brother and exclaimed, "Oh, dear brother Hyrum!" As Joseph moved toward the window, the mob fired at him from within the jail and from outside. "Oh Lord, my God!" were his last words, his body lifeless by the time it struck the ground below the window. John Taylor received four wounds, while Willard Richards escaped serious harm (see History of the Church, 6:619–21). Then the cowards who murdered the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum fled.
"Was there frustration in the martyrdom of Joseph Smith?" asked President Spencer W. Kimball. "Joseph was protected and his life saved in every instance of persecution until his work was finished and he had done his part in the restoration of the gospel and the priesthood and all other keys of the dispensation, and until the organization of the kingdom was effected. He could not be killed before that time, though all hell raged against him" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1945, 59).