mid-15c., "body of a person" (with regard to appearance), also "notable person, a man or woman of high rank or distinction," from Old French personage "size, stature," also "a dignitary" (13c.), from Medieval Latin personaticum (11c.), from Latin persona (see person). As a longer way to say person, the word was in use from 1550s (but often slyly ironical, with suggestion that the subject is overly self-important).
c. 1200, persoun, "an individual, a human being," from Old French persone "human being, anyone, person" (12c., Modern French personne) and directly from Latin persona "human being, person, personage; a part in a drama, assumed character," originally "a mask, a false face," such as those of wood or clay, covering the whole head, worn by the actors in later Roman theater. OED offers the general 19c. explanation of persona as "related to" Latin personare "to sound through" (i.e. the mask as something spoken through and perhaps amplifying the voice), "but the long o makes a difficulty ...." Klein and Barnhart say it is possibly borrowed from Etruscan phersu "mask." De Vaan has no entry for it.
Efforts to see this as evidence for an essentially 'trinitarian' view, are flawed,  though at least one LDS missionary used this lecture to argue against the idea that God the Father and Christ "were two distinct personages, with similar bodies and minds."  Despite this claim, however, the question-and-answer section of the 5th Lecture on Faith include the following:
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.DC 130:22
Joseph having given instructions, and while engaged in silent prayer, kneeling...a personage walked through the room from East to west, and Joseph asked if we saw him. I saw him and suppose the others did, and Joseph answered that this was Jesus, the Son of God, our elder brother. Afterward Joseph told us to resume our former position in prayer, which we did. Another person came through; He was surrounded as with a flame of fire. [I] experienced a sensation that it might destroy the tabernacle as it was of consuming fire of great brightness. The Prophet Joseph said this was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I saw him....
He was surrounded as with a flame of fire, which was so brilliant that I could not discover anything else but his person. I saw his hands, his legs, his feet, his eyes, nose, mouth, head and body in the shape and form of a perfect man. He sat in a chair as a man would sit in a chair, but This appearance was so grand and overwhelming that it seemed that I should melt down in His presence, and the sensation was so powerful that it thrilled through my whole system and I felt it in the marrow of my bones. The Prophet Joseph said: "Brethren, now you are prepared to be the apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son and know that They exist and that They are two separate personages.
Bruce R. McConkie left some interesting, although non-authoritative, commentary on these passages in question. He interprets the term "personage" to mean a being who possess a physical body. The statement that "there are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things" is interpreted by him to mean that the Father and Son are "personages" (i.e., they possess physical bodies) while the Holy Ghost is not. Indeed, the statement is clear that there are three beings who make up the Godhead (see below). In McConkie's view, the statement that the Father is a "personage of spirit" actually means He is a "spiritual" man, that is, a resurrected and glorified man. His exegesis is added here in length:
"There are two personages [of tabernacle] who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things, by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible; whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth; under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space." (Lectures on Faith 5:2.)
These two, standing alone, are not the Godhead. But they are God the first and God the second. They are personages, individuals, persons, holy men. They created and they have power over all things. Their power is supreme and their wisdom infinite; there is no power they do not possess, no truth they do not know. From eternity to eternity they are the same; they are omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
They are the two personages who came to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820 in a grove of trees in western New York. They are exalted men. Each is a personage of spirit; each is a personage of tabernacle. Both of them have bodies, tangible bodies of flesh and bones. They are resurrected beings. Words, with their finite connotations, cannot fully describe them. A personage of tabernacle, as here used, is one whose body and spirit are inseparably connected and for whom there can be no death. A personage of spirit, as here used and as distinguished from the spirit children of the Father, is a resurrected personage. Resurrected bodies, as contrasted with mortal bodies, are in fact spiritual bodies. With reference to the change of our bodies from mortality to immortality, Paul says: "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:44.) "For notwithstanding they [the saints] die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body." (DC 88:27.)
"The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or rather man was formed after his likeness and in his image; he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father, possessing all the fullness of the Father, or the same fullness with the Father." (Lectures on Faith 5:2.)
The mortal Jesus, as a man among men, had both a father and a mother. God was his Father, and Mary was his mother. He was begotten by a Holy Man, by that God whose name is Man of Holiness; and he was conceived in the womb of a mortal woman. Mary, a virgin of Nazareth in Galilee, was "the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh." (1 Nephi 11:18.) She was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost; "she was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Nephi 11:19); she conceived "by the power of the Holy Ghost," and she brought forth a son, "even the Son of God" (Alma 7:10). That Son, who is called Christ, is the Only Begotten, the only offspring of the Father born into mortality. As a man, as God's only Son, his only mortal Son, he overcame the world. He overcame the world of evil and carnality and devilishness, and then, having died, he rose again in glorious immortality to receive all power both on earth and in heaven, which power is the fulness of the glory of the Father. He thus possesses the same mind with the Father, knowing and believing and speaking and doing as though he were the Father. This mind is theirs by the power of the Holy Ghost. That is, the Holy Ghost, who is a personage of spirit (a spirit man!), using the light of Christ, can give the same mind to all men, whether mortal or immortal. The saints who are true and faithful in all things have, as Paul said, "the mind of Christ" (b}), which means also that they have the mind of the Father. It is to the faithful saints that the Holy Spirit bears witness of the Father and the Son, and it is to them that he reveals all things.
When the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published in 1835 it portrayed God the Father as a personage of spirit whereas Jesus Christ was portrayed as a personage of tabernacle, or one having a physical body. Yet the official LDS First Vision story portrays the Father as a physical Being. It is claimed that this is evidence of an evolution of story; and that the evolution of this story is evidence of fraud.
However, it is correct to say that the Lectures on Faith which were contained within the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants did refer to God the Father as a personage of spirit with a human or bodily form.
It becomes obvious from an examination of the "Questions and Answers" section of lecture #5 that the person who constructed this lecture drew heavily from the book of John in the New Testament (seven direct quotations were utilized). It is more than likely, therefore, that the statement in lecture #5 which reads "the Father being a personage of spirit" was drawn directly from John 4:24. It is curious, however, that even though this was listed as an attribute of the Father in the main text of the lecture it was deleted in the question and answer section. 041b061a72