Book of Mormon Lesson 06 (2 Nephi 1–5)
January 30–February 5
● Lehi reminded his sons how God protected them in bringing them out of Jerusalem before its destruction and leading to the land of promise (2 Nephi 1:1–4).
● The land of promise was obtained by covenant (2 Nephi 1:5–9).
● The consequences if the inhabitants of the land reject the Savior (2 Nephi 1:10–12).
● Lehi called his sons to repentance (2 Nephi 1:13–23).
● Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be “encircled about eternally in the arms of [the Savior’s] love” (v. 15).
LEHI BLESSES HIS POSTERITY
● Laman and Lemuel: Lehi’s oldest sons have been inconsistent in their faith and often rebellious. He counsels them to hearken unto Nephi and follow him because God is with him (2 Nephi 1:24–29).
● Zoram: An adopted member of the family, he has been a true friend. Lehi blesses him with the same inheritance as Nephi (2 Nephi 1:30–33).
● Jacob: Lehi acknowledges the sufferings of his “firstborn in the wilderness,” but also his great blessings, including having seen a vision of the Savior in his youth (2 Nephi 2:1–4).
— The blessings of adversity (see below under Doctrinal Insights).
— “Thou are redeemed” (vv. 3–4). Jacob was a very special person, who had beheld the Savior while still in his youth (v. 4) and had apparently been shown many things pertaining to the Lord’s earthly ministry (v. 3). As a result of his righteousness, and his vision of the Savior, his salvation was sure. (See additional information on salvation under Doctrinal Insights below).
— “The fulness of time” (v. 3). in this instance refers to the days of Christ’s mortal ministry and not to the latter days. Before the Savior’s birth, the day of his first coming was considered to be “the fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4–5), but after his death and resurrection the day of his Second Coming became the “fulness of time” (Ephesians 1:10).1
● Joseph: Lehi blesses his “last born in the wilderness” that his seed will not be utterly destroyed (2 Nephi 3:1–3, 25).
● The Children of Laman and Lemuel: Lehi acknowledges they have not been raised in righteousness but says they will be blessed or cursed according to their own choices (2 Nephi 4:1–9).
● The Sons of Ishmael and Their Families: The precise words of his blessing are not preserved, but since they have aligned themselves with Laman and Lemuel, we can imagine that it was similar to theirs (2 Nephi 4:10).
● Sam: This faithful son is promised the same blessings as Nephi (2 Nephi 4:11).
● As part of his final blessings to his posterity, Lehi taught important doctrines:
— Jacob’s blessing (2 Nephi 1): The atonement of Jesus Christ, the fall of Adam and Eve, agency, and the need for opposition in all things
— Joseph’s blessing (2 Nephi 3): Joseph in Egypt, Moses, the Prophet Joseph Smith in the latter days, and the Book of Mormon.
LEHI’S TEACHINGS ON THE PLAN OF SALVATION
The Need for the Atonement
● We are not saved by the law, but through the atonement of Jesus Christ (2 Nephi 2:5–7).
● How the Savior answered the ends of the law (Alma 34:13–16). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Man was not able himself to erect a system, or plan with power sufficient to free him from a destruction which awaited him . . . [This] is evident from the fact that God . . . prepared a sacrifice in the gift of His own Son who should be sent in due time, to prepare a way, or open a door through which man might enter into the Lord’s presence, whence he had been cast out for disobedience.”2
● Because of the atonement, we can repent and be forgiven of our sins (2 Nephi 2:8–10).
Agency and the Fall
● In order for there to be agency there must be choices, and choices become possible only through opposition. And there are consequences of the choices we make (2 Nephi 2:11–13).
● There is a God who is the creator of all things—including things with agency to act (like us) and things that are merely “acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:14).
● How Satan became the source of all evil and misery for mankind (2 Nephi 2:17–18).
● Conditions Before the Fall:
— They could act for themselves, but “they knew no sin” (2 Nephi 2:15–16).
— They could do no good or evil because they were incapable of sin.
— They were innocent—knowing neither misery nor joy.
— They did not have to till the ground for food (Moses 2:29) (2 Nephi 2:19).
— They could not have children (2 Nephi 2:23).
— They would have remained “in the same state . . . forever, and had no end” (2 Nephi 2:22).
● Conditions after the Fall: (See additional information under Doctrinal Insights below).
— They entered a state of probation where they could choose good or evil (2 Nephi 2:20–21).
— They were commanded to repent of their sins.
— Their days were “prolonged” to give them time to repent.
— They had to work to obtain food (2 Nephi 2:19).
— They could have children (2 Nephi 2:20).
— They became fallen and subject to physical death (Moses 6:48; 2 Nephi 2:22).
— They could do good and could also commit sin (2 Nephi 2:23).
— They experienced misery and joy.
● God planned all things from the beginning, including the fall of Adam and Eve (2 Nephi 2:24–25; Moses 5:10–12).
● The purpose of the plan was to bring us eternal joy.
Bruce R. McConkie said, “One of the most perfect summaries of the plan of salvation ever given fell from the lips of Eve: ‘Were it not for our transgression,’ she said, ‘we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.’ (Moses 5:11). Indeed, Eve is a joint-participant with Adam in all his ministry, and will inherit jointly with him all the blessings appertaining to his high state of exaltation.”3
● The atonement of Jesus Christ makes us free to choose, to learn by experience, and yet to still to be able to obtain exaltation (2 Nephi 2:26–30).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “The Lord has given you the gift of agency (Moses 7:32) and instructed you sufficiently to know good from evil (2 Nephi 2:5). You are free to choose (2 Nephi 2:27) and are permitted to act (2 Nephi 10:23; Helaman 14:30), but you are not free to choose the consequences. With absolute certainty, choices of good and right lead to happiness and peace, while choices of sin and evil eventually lead to unhappiness, sorrow, and misery.”4
Lehi Countered False Worldly Teachings
● False Teachings of the World:
—There is no good or evil.
—There is no law.
—There is no Christ.
—There is no existence after this life.
—There is no God.
—Life has no purpose.
—Our actions are determined by genetics and environment.
● Lehi’s Teachings (2 Nephi 2):
—”Men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil” (v. 5).
—”The law is given unto men” (v. 5).
—”Redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah” (v. 6).
—”All men [will] stand in the presence of [God], to be judged of him” (v. 10).
—”There is a God” (v. 14).
—”Men are, that they might have joy” (v. 25).
—We are free “to act for [our]selves and not to be acted upon” (vv. 26–27).
● Two heresies exist in modern Christendom which touch on this important subject:
1. “Salvation by grace.” Recognizing that nobody is perfect and therefore nobody can qualify for salvation by virtue of their own actions (no matter how good or how many they may be), some have falsely assumed that what we do is irrelevant and we are saved by grace—period.
2. “Salvation by obedience.” Believing that somehow our behavior will, by itself, qualify us for salvation, and we therefore need only to make sure that our good deeds outweigh our weaknesses. The rich young man who came to Jesus expecting to be praised for his good works believed this, and was disappointed to find that Jesus expected something more (Luke 18:18–27).
● Similar heresies exist in the Church today. Recent books published by Church members say that God is subservient to the law, making law the ultimate source of exaltation and godhood. “Such a doctrine makes of God a divine engineer, a master scientist, who, having discovered eternal law, now conforms his every action to it. In fact, law is the servant of God, not his master or copartner. God is the giver of the law, the author and maker of it” ( (D&C 29:31–35; D&C 82:4; D&C 88:36–38).5 (See more under Doctrinal Insights below).
LEHI’S TEAHINGS ABOUT JOSEPH AND THE RESTORATION
● The Four Josephs. Lehi taught concerning four persons named Joseph:
—Joseph, last-born son of Lehi and Sariah(2 Nephi 3:1–3)
—Joseph of Egypt(2 Nephi 3:4–5)
—Joseph Smith Jr.(2 Nephi 3:6–15)
—Joseph Smith Sr.(2 Nephi 3:15).
● Lehi taught his son Joseph about Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel who was “carried captive into Egypt, and also about a great latter-day prophet who would be named Joseph (2 Nephi 3:3–5; Jacob 2:25; Genesis 49:22–26).
● Joseph of Egypt saw a “choice seer” in vision—the Prophet Joseph Smith (2 Nephi 3:6–15).
● Lehi spoke of the greatness of the Prophet Joseph Smith (2 Nephi 3:22–24). (See more on this topic under Doctrinal Insights below).
● The prophecies of Joseph were on the brass plates (2 Nephi 4:1–2).
● Where are these great prophecies of Joseph today? The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and a small part red, ink or paint, in perfect preservation.”6
The Prophet Joseph Smith next described how the mummies and the record came into his possession and then concluded: “Thus I have given a brief history of the manner in which the writings of the fathers, Abraham and Joseph, have been preserved, and how I came in possession of the same—a correct translation of which I shall give in its proper place.”7
The record of Abraham translated by the Prophet was subsequently printed, and it is now known as the book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. However, the translation of the book of Joseph has not yet been published.
EVENTS FOLLOWING LEHI’S DEATH
The Psalm of Nephi
● Soon after Lehi’s death, “Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with [Nephi] because of the admonitions of the Lord (2 Nephi 4:12–14).” As a result, they sought to take away his life.
● The Psalm of Nephi: Nephi’s strength and character are revealed in this soliloquy he recorded just after his father’s death (2 Nephi 4:15–35).
— Nephi loved the scriptures and pondered them continually (2 Nephi 4:15–16).
— Nephi was righteous, obedient, and humble, yet he says that he is a “wretched man” whose “soul grieveth because of [his] iniquities (2 Nephi 4:17–19).”
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ. No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind.”8
— Nephi found hope because the Lord had helped him in the past (2 Nephi 4:19–25).
The Lord had:
— Been Nephi’s support (v. 20).
— Led Nephi through afflictions in the wilderness (v. 20).
— Filled him with His love (v. 21).
— Confounded his enemies (v. 22).
— Heard his cry (v. 23).
— Given him knowledge by visions (v. 23).
● This passage reveals the “sin” that plagued Nephi—anger toward his enemies (his brothers and those that followed them) (2 Nephi 4:26–27). It also reveals the results of harboring anger—sorrow, weakness and loss of peace.
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “We need a more peaceful world, growing out of more peaceful families and neighborhoods and communities. To secure and cultivate such peace, we must love others, even our enemies as well as our friends . . . We need to extend the hand of friendship. We need to be kinder, more gentle, more forgiving, and slower to anger. We need to love one another with the pure love of Christ. May this be our course and our desire.”9
● Nephi resolved to do better and to rejoice in God’s love for him (2 Nephi 4:28–30).
● The conclusion of Nephi’s psalm is a prayer of thanksgiving for the following blessings: (2 Nephi 4:30–35).
— The Lord “deliver[ed him] out of the hands of [his] enemies” (vv. 31, 33).
— The Lord made him “shake at the appearance of sin” (v. 31).
— The Lord helped him “walk in the path of the low valley” and “be strict in the plain road” (v. 32).
— The Lord had “encircle[d him] around in the robe of [His] righteousness” (v. 33).
THE NEPHITES AND LAMANITES SEPARATE
● Nephi’s brothers were angry. Nephi prayed for help and the Lord answered that he and his followers should flee into the wilderness (2 Nephi 5:1–5).
● Those who followed Nephi lived in peace and prospered: (2 Nephi 5:6–19).
— They believed the revelations of God (v. 6).
— They kept the law of Moses (v. 10).
— They were industrious and learned skills (v. 15, 17).
— They built a temple (v. 16).
● Those who followed Laman: (2 Nephi 5:20–25).
— Were cut off from the presence of the Lord (experienced “spiritual death”) (v. 20).
— Received a mark (a dark skin) to distinguish them from the righteous (vv. 21–23).
— Became idle and full of mischief (v. 24).
● The Nephites enjoyed the blessings of the priesthood and “lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:26–27).
● It was at this time that Nephi created and wrote on the small plates (2 Nephi 5:28–34).
● The blessings of adversity. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, longsuffering, and self-mastery. The sufferings of our Savior were part of His education. ‘Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him’ (Hebrews 5:8–9).”10
● Salvation vs. Exaltation. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Unconditional or general salvation, that which comes by grace alone without obedience to gospel law, consists in the mere fact of being resurrected. In this sense salvation is synonymous with immortality; it is the inseparable connection of body and spirit so that the resurrected personage lives forever. . . . Conditional or individual salvation, that which comes by grace coupled with gospel obedience, consists in receiving an inheritance in the celestial kingdom of God. This kind of salvation follows faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost, and continued righteousness to the end of one’s mortal probation. (D&C 20:29; 2 Nephi 9:23–24).”11
● Conditions After the Fall of Adam and Eve.
— Bruce R. McConkie said, “Eve was the first woman; she became the mother of the whole human race, her very name signifying ‘mother of all living.’ (Moses 4:26; 1 Ne. 5:11.) Strictly speaking it was she who first partook of the forbidden fruit, with the resultant change in the physical body from a state of immortality to mortality. Adam thereafter partook in order to comply with the command to multiply and fill the earth with posterity. ‘Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.’ (1 Tim. 2:14).”12
— Joseph Fielding McConkie said, “The events associated with the Garden of Eden make it the archetype of our temples, here Adam received the priesthood, here Adam and Eve walked and talked with God; here our first parents were eternally married by God himself; here they learned of the tree of good and evil and of the tree of life; here they were taught the law of sacrifice and clothed in garments of skin; and from here they ventured into the lone and dreary world that they and their posterity might prove themselves worthy to return again to that divine presence.”13
● Heresies In the Church Today Regarding God and the Law.
Lamar E. Gerrard said:
“[Some] say that there is a God but that there is also an eternal (self-existing) moral law in the universe that exists independent of God. . . . Some even suggest that God became God by obeying such a law, which implies that the law is ultimately the sovereign power in the universe. In such a universe, it would be more reasonable for people to worship the law (which incidently has no body, parts, or passions) since it is more powerful than God and he is subject to it.
“[An Apostle,] Anthon H. Lund, explained that God is the author of law and that it is to him that we should pray. He is not impotent, and the laws are subservient to him (in Conference Report, April 1916, 12)”. . . . Lehi’s statement [v. 13] clearly indicates that moral laws in the universe do not exist independent of God: if there is no law, there is no God, and if there is no God, there is no law; for God is always the author of law. He further taught that the laws of God are ‘given unto men’ and . . . that not only is God the author of law, but that he will judge us as to how we kept his law and then reward or punish us accordingly [v. 10].”14
● The Greatness of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Elder LeGrand Richards said: “The Prophet Joseph Smith brought us the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and many other writings. As far as our records show, he has given us more revealed truth than any prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth.”15
President Brigham Young said: “It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation.”16
1. George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 1:191.
2. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 58.
3. Mormon Doctrine, 242, EVE.
4. In Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 94; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 75.
5. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 354; Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 1:193.
6. History of the Church, 2:348.
7. History of the Church, 2:351.
8. In Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 106; or Ensign, May 1987, 85.
9. In Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 87; or Ensign, May 1992, 63.
10. Faith Precedes the Miracle , 98.
11. Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 669–670.
12. Mormon Doctrine, 242, EVE.
13. Gospel Symbolism , 258.
14. “Creation, Fall, and Atonement,” in Kent Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 7: 1 Nephi to Alma 29 , 93–94.
15. In Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 43; or Ensign, May 1981, 33.
16. Discourses of President Brigham Young, sel. Elder John A. Widtsoe , 108.