“Chapter 12: 2 Nephi 25–27,” Book of Mormon Student Manual (2009), 92–100
“Chapter 12,” Book of Mormon Student Manual, 92–100
Nephi offered prophetic commentary about the prophecies of Isaiah that he quoted. Pay close attention to Nephi’s insights concerning the role of the Savior in bringing to pass the salvation of Heavenly Father’s children, the great evils facing those desiring to be righteous in the last days, and the blessings of the promised Restoration. A significant part of the prophesied Restoration was the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. In addition to preparing the world to recognize the great work of the Lord in the last days, Nephi’s writings will help you know how to apply the Atonement for your personal forgiveness.
For helps on understanding Isaiah, see commentary for 1 Nephi 20–21 on page 43.
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) clarified the phrase “the spirit of prophecy” and how we might attain this gift:
“Revelation may be given to every member of the Church. The Prophet said that every man should be a prophet; that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. It is not only the privilege but the duty of each member of the Church to know the truth which will make him free. This he cannot know unless it is revealed to him. …
“The gift of the Holy Ghost is given to the members of the Church so that they may have the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Let it be understood however, that they will not receive revelation for the guidance of the Church” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 2:217–18).
The following overview provides a summary of 2 Nephi, chapters 25–30, which make up a sermon given by Nephi to three different groups of people—the Jews, the children of Lehi, and the Gentiles.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the need for the healing effects of the Atonement—not just for forgiveness of transgressions, but for all of life’s hardships:
“[The Savior] has risen from the dead ‘with healing in his wings.’
“Oh, how we all need the healing the Redeemer can provide. Mine is a message of hope for you who yearn for relief from heavy burdens that have come through no conscious act of your own while you have lived a worthy life. It is based on principles embodied in the teachings of the Savior. Your challenge may be a serious physical disability, a struggle with lingering illness, or a daily wrestle with a life-threatening disease. It may have roots in the death of a loved one, the anguish caused by another bound by sin, or abuse in any of its evil forms. Whatever the cause, I testify that lasting relief is available on conditions established by the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 7; or Ensign, May 1994, 7).
President Wilford Woodruff (1807–98) spoke to the people of the tribe of Judah, highlighting the great blessings to be realized as they fulfill the work prophetically appointed to them—that of gathering to take possession of their homeland and rebuilding the great temple in Jerusalem: “This is the will of your great Elohim, O house of Judah, and whenever you shall be called upon to perform this work, the God of Israel will help you. You have a great future and destiny before you and you cannot avoid fulfilling it; you are the royal chosen seed, and the God of your father’s house has kept you distinct as a nation for eighteen hundred years, under all the oppression of the whole Gentile world. … When you meet with Shiloh your king, you will know him; your destiny is marked out, you cannot avoid it. It is true that after you return and gather your nation home, and rebuild your City and Temple, that the Gentiles may gather together their armies to go against you to battle … ; but when this affliction comes, the living God, that led Moses through the wilderness, will deliver you, and your Shiloh will come and stand in your midst and will fight your battles; and you will know him, and the afflictions of the Jews will be at an end” (quoted in Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, 2nd ed. , 509–10).
The phrase “marvelous work and a wonder” also appears in Isaiah 29:14 and refers to the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days. In 2 Nephi 27 we read of the important role of the Book of Mormon in this Restoration. Isaiah prophesied that as the Book of Mormon would help dispel the darkness of almost 2,000 years of apostasy, the “wisdom” of the supposed “wise and learned” would “perish, and the understanding of their prudent” would come to naught (2 Nephi 27:26).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) related some of the remarkable events that constitute this marvelous work and wonder:
“That glorious day dawned in the year 1820, when a boy, earnest and with faith, walked into a grove of trees and lifted his voice in prayer, seeking that wisdom which he felt he so much needed.
“There came in response a glorious manifestation. God the Eternal Father and the risen Lord Jesus Christ appeared and spoke with him. The curtains which had been closed for much of two millennia were parted to usher in the dispensation of the fulness of times.
“There followed the restoration of the holy priesthood, first the Aaronic and then the Melchizedek, under the hands of those who had held it anciently. Another testament, speaking as a voice from the dust, came forth as a second witness to the reality and the divinity of the Son of God, the great Redeemer of the world.
“Keys of divine authority were restored, including those keys which were necessary to bind together families for time and eternity in a covenant which death could not destroy.
“The stone was small in the beginning. It was hardly noticeable. But it has grown steadily and is rolling forth to fill the earth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 94; or Ensign, Nov. 1999, 74).
It is significant that the name Jesus Christ appears often in the Book of Mormon. The worship of the source of salvation, clearly identified as Jesus Christ, is a common tie between members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the ancient worshippers of Christ in the early Americas. He is also the same individual who established His Church among the New Testament Saints, and it was Jesus Christ in whose name Adam was baptized (see Moses 6:52). Thus the Saints in all ages of the world look to Jesus Christ as the source of strength and salvation, who Nephi testified is “the Son of God” (2 Nephi 25:19).
Nephi was commanded by the Lord to keep his record. He knew he had been commanded to write and he knew what to write; he may not have always known why he should write. But he “did know that their records would be preserved and given to future generations to assist in the Restoration” (Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series , 356).
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) discussed the importance of studying the Book of Mormon and how neglecting that study may have unforeseen consequences:
“Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.
“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not” (A Witness and a Warning , 7–8).
Grace refers to divine help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ. “It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
“Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, ‘It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Ne. 25:23). It is truly the grace of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible. This principle is expressed in Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches (John 15:1–11). See also John 1:12–17; Eph. 2:8–9; Philip. 4:13; D&C 93:11–14)” (Bible Dictionary, “Grace,” 697).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed the effects of grace and how grace is an important doctrine for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
“Some Christians accuse Latter-day Saints … of denying the grace of God through claiming they can earn their own salvation. We answer this accusation with the words of two Book of Mormon prophets. Nephi taught, ‘For we labor diligently … to persuade our children … to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Nephi 25:23). And what is ‘all we can do’? It surely includes repentance (see Alma 24:11) and baptism, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. Moroni pleaded, ‘Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ’ (Moroni 10:32).
“We are not saved in our sins, as by being unconditionally saved through confessing Christ and then, inevitably, committing sins in our remaining lives (see Alma 11:36–37). We are saved from our sins (see Helaman 5:10) by a weekly renewal of our repentance and cleansing through the grace of God and His blessed plan of salvation (see 3 Nephi 9:20–22)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 77; or Ensign, May 1998, 56).
President Gordon B. Hinckley noted that knowledge gained through the Restoration allows us to truly rejoice in our Savior: “As a Church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say. Our faith, our knowledge is not based on ancient tradition, the creeds which came of a finite understanding and out of the almost infinite discussions of men trying to arrive at a definition of the risen Christ. Our faith, our knowledge comes of the witness of a prophet in this dispensation who saw before him the great God of the universe and His Beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke to him. He spoke with Them. He testified openly, unequivocally, and unabashedly of that great vision. It was a vision of the Almighty and of the Redeemer of the world, glorious beyond our understanding but certain and unequivocating in the knowledge which it brought. It is out of that knowledge, rooted deep in the soil of modern revelation, that we, in the words of Nephi, ‘talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that [we and] our children may know to what source [we] may look for a remission of [our] sins’ (2 Nephi 25:26)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 107–8; or Ensign, May 2002, 90–91).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles connected rejoicing in Jesus Christ with the mandate to obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel:
“My greatest thrill and the most joyful of all realizations is that I have the opportunity, as Nephi phrased it, to ‘talk of Christ, … rejoice in Christ, … preach of Christ, [and] prophesy of Christ’ (2 Nephi 25:26) wherever I may be and with whomever I may find myself until the last breath of my life is gone. Surely there could be no higher purpose or greater privilege than that of ‘special [witness] of the name of Christ in all the world’ (D&C 107:23).
“But my greatest anxiety stems from that very same commission. A line of scripture reminds us with searing understatement that ‘they which preach the gospel should live … the gospel’ (1 Corinthians 9:14). Beyond my words and teachings and spoken witness, my life must be part of that testimony of Jesus. My very being should reflect the divinity of this work. I could not bear it if anything I might ever say or do would in any way diminish your faith in Christ, your love for this church, or the esteem in which you hold the holy apostleship” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 39–40; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 31).
Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy indicated the importance of listening to the Savior and His leaders on earth to strengthen testimony:
“Once a testimony is in place, just like a fire that needs fuel and oxygen to burn, it needs to be fed and tended or it will burn out and die. A dying testimony corresponds, in fact, to a forthcoming denial of Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. …
“Unfortunately, there are those who gain testimonies and then deny them and lose them. How does this happen? If you follow the steps to obtain a testimony, you do exactly the opposite to deny it or lose it. Do not pray; the door to revelation will be closed. Do not be humble but listen to your own superior voice. Do not participate in the ordinances of the gospel but follow the practices of the world. Do not follow Church leaders but be critical of them. Do not listen to prophets and follow their counsel but interpret their declarations according to your own desires. Do not obey the commandments but live according to your own appetites and desires” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 86; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 63).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the importance of diligent effort to merit the continued presence of the Holy Ghost: “As with all gifts, [the gift of the Holy Ghost] must be received and accepted to be enjoyed. When priesthood hands were laid upon your head to confirm you a member of the Church, you heard the words, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’ This did not mean that the Holy Ghost unconditionally became your constant companion. Scriptures warn us that the Spirit of the Lord will ‘not always strive with man.’ When we are confirmed, we are given the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost, but it is a right that we must continue to earn through obedience and worthiness. We cannot take this gift for granted” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2003, 27; or Ensign, May 2003, 27).
- Nephi paraphrased Isaiah 29:4 to show that even though his people shall be destroyed, “those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit” (2 Nephi 26:16). The original meaning of “familiar spirit” is a noun, meaning a spirit who prompts an individual or the spirit of a dead person. While this meaning may sound odd to us today, in the past it commonly conveyed the sense that departed ones can have influence beyond the grave into this life. In that sense, the voice of Nephi’s people “who have slumbered in the dust” (2 Nephi 27:9) for centuries are now whispering “out of the dust” through the pages of the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith literally took “out of the ground” (Isaiah 29:4; see Joseph Smith—History 1:51–52).
While serving in the Seventy, Elder Carlos E. Asay (1926–99) explained how a flaxen cord is made and becomes a yoke of unbreakable oppression: “The first wrongdoing is like a single strand of flaxen thread; it is easily broken and thrown aside. But each time the wrong is repeated another strand is intertwined around the first, and on and on it goes until an almost unbreakable cord of multi-strands is woven. ‘The chains of habit,’ said Samuel Johnson, ‘are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken’” (The Road to Somewhere: A Guide for Young Men and Women , 88).
Nephi explained that priestcraft occurs when men “set themselves up for a light unto the world” (2 Nephi 26:29). In contrast, Jesus taught the Nephites, “I am the light which ye shall hold up” (3 Nephi 18:24).
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles added that priestcraft can occur both in the Church and from enemies to the Church: “Therefore, let us beware of false prophets and false teachers, both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church and who seek to spread their false gospel and attract followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church. Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views. They ‘set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’ (2 Nephi 26:29)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 78; or Ensign, Nov. 1999, 63).
President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency challenged us to set aside prejudice and to labor as brothers and sisters in the kingdom:
“I hope we can all overcome any differences of culture, race, and language. …
“… In my experience, no race or class seems superior to any other in spirituality and faithfulness. …
“Spiritual peace is not to be found in race or culture or nationality but rather through our commitment to God and to the covenants and ordinances of the gospel” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 80–81, 83; or Ensign, May 1995, 61, 63).
Elder M. Russell Ballard explained that the gospel blessings are for every one of God’s children:
“Our Father in Heaven loves all of His children equally, perfectly, and infinitely. His love is no different for His daughters than for His sons. Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, also loves men and women equally. His Atonement and His gospel are for all of God’s children. During His earthly ministry Jesus served men and women alike: He healed both men and women and He taught both men and women.
“… For example, faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost are requirements for all of God’s children, regardless of gender. The same is true of temple covenants and blessings. Our Father’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children (see Moses 1:39). … His greatest gift, the gift of eternal life, is available to all” (“Equality through Diversity,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 89).
The last of Isaiah’s writings quoted by Nephi (Isaiah 29) reveals that many important prophecies of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days are missing from the biblical record. A careful comparison of Isaiah 29 and the same chapter from the brass plates (2 Nephi 27) shows that some of the “plain and most precious” parts that have been “taken away” (1 Nephi 13:26–27) include:
Latter-day context of the prophecy (see 2 Nephi 27:1).
A “book” that Isaiah prophesied would come forth in the last days (verse 6).
The book would be “sealed” (verses 7–8).
Roles of Moroni and Joseph Smith in bringing forth the Book of Mormon (see verses 9–10).
“Three witnesses” who would behold the “book” and testify “to the truth of the … things therein” (verses 12–13).
It is not hard to imagine that by removing these prophecies of the coming Restoration, the adversary schemed to “pervert the right ways of the Lord that [he] might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 13:27).
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared his concern about the great problems in today’s society:
“I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now.
“Words of profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, even accorded legal protection.
“At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now they are spread across the world, and they are among us” (“The One Pure Defense” [an evening with President Boyd K. Packer, Feb. 6, 2004], 4, www.ldsces.org).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of scriptures yet to be revealed, especially those from the Book of Mormon: “Many more scriptural writings will yet come to us, including those of Enoch (see D&C 107:57), all of the writings of the Apostle John (see Ether 4:16), the records of the lost tribes of Israel (see 2 Nephi 29:13), and the approximately two-thirds of the Book of Mormon plates that were sealed: ‘And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth’ (2 Nephi 27:11). Today we carry convenient quadruple combinations of the scriptures, but one day, since more scriptures are coming, we may need to pull little red wagons brimful with books” (A Wonderful Flood of Light , 18).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave the following insight into the Three Witnesses’ powerful testimonies: “The three men chosen as witnesses of the Book of Mormon were Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. Their written ‘Testimony of Three Witnesses’ has been included in all of the almost 100 million copies of the Book of Mormon the Church has published since 1830. These witnesses solemnly testify that they ‘have seen the plates which contain this record’ and ‘the engravings which are upon the plates.’ They witness that these writings ‘have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us.’ They testify, ‘We declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 45; or Ensign, May 1999, 35).
Refer to the chart “The Witnesses of the Book of Mormon Plates” in the appendix (page 409). It lists information about each of the Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses.
In addition to the Three Witnesses to the gold plates, there were eight more who saw the plates and were called to bear witness of them (see “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses” in the front of the Book of Mormon; see also the chart “The Witnesses of the Book of Mormon Plates,” which lists information about each of the witnesses, in the appendix on page 409).
The Lord directed Joseph Smith to have Martin Harris visit a learned man. Oliver Cowdery reported that during Moroni’s initial visit to Joseph Smith on September 21–22, 1823, Moroni quoted the prophecy of Isaiah cited here in 2 Nephi 27 and said that Joseph was to fulfill it: “‘Yet,’ said he, ‘the scripture must be fulfilled before it is translated, which says that the words of a book, which were sealed, were presented to the learned; for thus has God determined to leave men without excuse, and show to the meek that his arm is not shortened that it cannot save’” (“Letter IV. To W. W. Phelps,” Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1835, 80). This prophecy was fulfilled in 1828 when Martin Harris visited the “learned” man, Charles Anthon (see Joseph Smith—History 1:63–65).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expanded on the singular event with Professor Anthon to include the general reaction of the learned of this world to the Book of Mormon: “This is not solely a reference to Professor Anthon, since the plural pronoun they is used [2 Nephi 27:20]. The reference suggests a mind-set of most of the learned of the world, who, by and large, do not take the Book of Mormon seriously. Even when they read it, they do not really read it, except with a mind-set which excludes miracles, including the miracle of the book’s coming forth by the ‘gift and power of God’” (“The Book of Mormon: A Great Answer to ‘the Great Question,’” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., The Book of Mormon: First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation , 9).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke of how the Lord will ultimately overcome all objections to His work: “God lives in an eternal now where the past, present, and future are constantly before Him (see D&C 130:7). His divine determinations are guaranteed, since whatever He takes in His heart to do, He will surely do it (see Abraham 3:17). He knows the end from the beginning! (see Abraham 2:8). God is fully ‘able to do [His] … work’ (2 Nephi 27:20) and to bring all His purposes to pass, something untrue of the best-laid plans of man since we so often use our agency amiss!” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2003, 72; or Ensign, May 2003, 70).
In an earlier setting, Elder Maxwell also noted that God fulfills His purposes without nullifying the agency of man: “Because the centerpiece of the Atonement is already in place, we know that everything else in God’s plan will likewise finally succeed. God is surely able to do His own work! (See 2 Nephi 27:20–21.) In His plans for the human family, long ago God made ample provision for all mortal mistakes. His purposes will all triumph and without abrogating man’s moral agency. Moreover, all His purposes will come to pass in their time (see D&C 64:32)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 17; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 15).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell discussed our timing and God’s timing: “Faith also includes trust in God’s timing, for He has said, ‘All things must come to pass in their time’ (D&C 64:32). Ironically, some who acknowledge God are tried by His timing, globally and personally!” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 119; or Ensign, May 1991, 90).
On another occasion, Elder Maxwell said: “Faith in the timing of God [is] to be able to say Thy timing be done, even when we do not fully understand it” (“Glorify Christ” [an evening with Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Feb. 2, 2001], 7, www.ldsces.org).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles indicated how people who murmur against revealed truth shall learn new doctrines: “Such is the purpose of the Book of Mormon. Members of false churches who err in spirit, who think they have the truth, are brought by the Book of Mormon to the fulness of the gospel. Those who have based their beliefs on isolated verses and obscure passages, and who have wondered and murmured at seeming biblical conflicts, come to learn sound doctrine. No longer do they worry about the atonement, salvation by grace alone, infant baptism, the priesthood, the gifts of the Spirit, the passages about an apostasy, a gospel restoration, and the gathering of Israel. All things fall into place because of this new witness for Christ and his gospel” (The Millennial Messiah , 174–75).
What does the phrase “after all we can do” mean to you as it relates to being saved by grace? (2 Nephi 25:23).
How have you seen pride and the love of money contribute to declining spirituality in those around you?
Nephi discussed the importance of witnesses in 2 Nephi 27. Identify the different witnesses he refers to (see verses 12–14). How does each member of the Church, including you, play a role as a witness in establishing God’s word? (see verse 14).
To a family member or trusted friend, explain the doctrine of grace as declared by the prophet Nephi.
Prepare a talk or family home evening lesson concerning the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the “marvelous work and a wonder” (2 Nephi 27:26) the Lord is performing in the latter days.