Until the 1879 edition of the Book of Mormon, this book was titled simply “The Book of Nephi, the son of Nephi, which was the son of Helaman.” Elder Orson Pratt, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recommended the addition of the heading “Third Nephi,” which was approved by the First Presidency.
Mormon compiled the book of 3 Nephi from the records of a prophet named Nephi, who descended from the record-keeping family of Alma (see accompanying chart).
Alma the Elder
This book begins at the time of the Savior’s birth. The first few chapters tell what occurred among the Nephites and Lamanites during the period of Jesus Christ’s mortal life. The greater portion of 3 Nephi records the words and actions of the Savior during His visit to the Book of Mormon people after His Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Have you ever been ridiculed because of your beliefs? Consider how much faith a person would need to remain true and faithful even if it meant being imprisoned or sentenced to death. Believing Nephites and Lamanites experienced this very challenge as the time drew near for Samuel’s prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus Christ to be fulfilled. As you read 3 Nephi 1, try to imagine what non-believers might have said to the believers and how difficult it must have been to have remained faithful in those days. Most of us are familiar with the story of the Savior’s birth in Bethlehem, but the events that occurred among the Book of Mormon people at the time of Christ’s birth are just as significant.
Do activity A or B as you study 3 Nephi 1.
Write what you think someone living at that time might have written in his or her journal after the events in 3 Nephi 1:1–21. Describe the situation—the hopes, fears, and reactions this person may have had.
Explain what we can learn about the Lord and His prophets from such an experience.
List at least four different groups of people referred to in 3 Nephi 1:22–30 and describe how the signs of Christ’s birth affected each group’s testimony and conversion.
What does this teach you about the importance of signs in the conversion process?
The “more part of the people” were converted when the signs of Christ’s birth were given (see 3 Nephi 1:22). Signs, however, do not convert people, but they do strengthen and confirm truths for those who are already converted. 3 Nephi 2 records what happened as the people whose conversions were based on the signs forgot about the wonders and events they had witnessed.
Do activities A and B as you study 3 Nephi 2.
Although the change in the people’s attitudes you read about in 3 Nephi 2:3 seemed to occur quite quickly, it did not occur at once.
Make a diagram that represents the gradual steps some of the people took that brought them from a “great remission of sins” in 3 Nephi 1:23 to “great wickedness” in 3 Nephi 2:3. Label each step with phrases from 3 Nephi 1:27–2:3.
Make another diagram that represents the upward process toward greater spirituality. Identify what you can do to stay true to the gospel and increase your faith and testimony of Jesus Christ.
What did the Nephites and Lamanites do to protect themselves and “gain some advantage” over the Gadianton robbers? (see 3 Nephi 2:11–12, 17).
What gave the Gadianton robbers “many advantages”? (see v. 18).
What do you think is the message of these incidents to modern Church members?
Have you ever been afraid because of the wicked influences in the world? The scriptures teach us that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7), and “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). In 3 Nephi 3–4, the Gadianton robbers tried to strike fear in the hearts of the faithful. As you study these chapters, notice how the Nephites and Lamanites responded to evil with faith instead of fear.
Do activity A or B as you study 3 Nephi 3–4.
List what Giddianhi and Zemnarihah did and said in 3 Nephi 3:1–10; 4:7, 16–23 that reminds you of Satan’s methods and temptations.
How could you apply the counsel of Lachoneus and Gidgiddoni in 3 Nephi 3:11–22, 24–26; 4:8–10, 15, 18, 33 to overcome Satan’s attacks today?
Describe how the Gadianton robbers dressed (see 3 Nephi 4:7–8) and explain why you think they dressed that way. Did it seem to work?
Describe a situation in your life when you wanted to give a certain impression by the way you dressed.
Summarize the counsel given by our Church leaders on “Dress and Appearance” as given in the For the Strength of Youth booklet.
In 3 Nephi 4 you read how the threats from the Gadianton robbers motivated the Nephites and Lamanites to repent. In 3 Nephi 5 you will read about the blessings they received because of their repentance. From what you have read so far in the Book of Mormon, how long do you think that period of peace and prosperity lasted? Mormon also introduced himself in this chapter and explained why he kept and abridged the records we now call the Book of Mormon. Notice that in the last days the gospel will be taken to all people and that the house of Israel will be gathered.
3 Nephi 5:13—Mormon, a Disciple of Jesus Christ
Elder Theodore M. Burton, who was a member of the Seventy, taught that “in English, at least, the word discipline has the same root as the word disciple” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 81; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 65). It could be said that a disciple is a disciplined person who accepts, learns, and lives according to a doctrine or way of life (see John 3:25). Mormon was a follower of Jesus Christ and lived according to His teachings.
3 Nephi 5:21–26—The House of Jacob and the Seed of Joseph
In 3 Nephi 5:21–26, Mormon rehearsed an oft-repeated theme of the Book of Mormon—the gathering of the house of Jacob, or the house of Israel. The “remnant of the seed of Joseph” refers to the descendants of Lehi living today. The prophecies concerning the children of Lehi are now being fulfilled in dramatic ways.
Do activity A as you study 3 Nephi 5.
Review 3 Nephi 5:8–20 and list at least five things you learn about:
The records Mormon abridged for the Book of Mormon.
What does this knowledge add to your understanding and appreciation of the Book of Mormon?
Think about someone your age who is righteous and has a strong testimony. Imagine that four years from now you see that person again and he or she is involved in all sorts of wickedness. What could have happened over those four years? How could it have happened so quickly when that person’s testimony was so strong? That is very similar to the story in 3 Nephi 6. The chapter begins in the 26th year after Christ’s birth and ends in the 30th year. As you read what happened to the Nephites in so short a time, pay attention to the reasons Mormon gave for their rapid fall.
Do activity A or B as you study 3 Nephi 6.
In your notebook, draw a road map that starts in the “State of Righteousness” and ends in the “State of Awful Wickedness.” Carefully study 3 Nephi 6:9–18, and insert points on the map that represent the “places” the people went through on their way down to a state of awful wickedness. Give each point a name that describes what the Nephites did that demonstrated their movement away from righteousness and note the verse where you found it.
Add another road to your map that leads to eternal life. As with the other road, label points that represent what a few people did in 3 Nephi 6 to remain righteous even when almost everyone else was traveling toward wickedness.
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In your own words, summarize what Mormon noted was especially wrong about the wickedness of the people in 3 Nephi 6:17–18.
What does Mosiah 2:36–39 say are some consequences of such attitudes and behaviors?
Why is it sometimes difficult for the wealthy to remain faithful amidst their prosperity? After the Nephites and Lamanites had won their freedom in a great war with the Gadianton robbers, nothing but their sins kept them from continual prosperity (see 3 Nephi 6:4–5). Some wanted more than freedom from war and want. They desired freedom from the laws of man and the commandments of God. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “We are free to obey or not to obey God’s commandments, but we are not free to alter the content of those commandments. Neither can we avoid the consequences of breaking those commandments. Choosing should always include wanting the consequences of what we want” (Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward , 11). As you read what happened to those people in 3 Nephi 7, think about whether they were really happy with the consequences of their wicked desires.
Do activity A or B as you study 3 Nephi 7.
Finish the following sentences in your own words with what you learn in 3 Nephi 7. Write each sentence in your notebook.
After the chief judge was murdered . . . (see vv. 1–8)
Jacob . . . (see vv. 9–14)
Nephi’s faith was so great . . . (see vv. 15–20)
People who were converted . . . (see vv. 21–26)
In 3 Nephi 7:14 we see that it has been 31 years since the birth of Christ. Soon the prophesied destructions at the death of Jesus Christ would come upon these people (see 3 Nephi 8:5).
Review 3 Nephi 7:15–22 and list all the evidences of God’s power found in these verses and the different ways people reacted to them.
Read Ezekiel 33:6–11 (in the Old Testament) and explain why you think the Lord showed the Nephites such great power.
What counsel have our living prophets given to prepare people for the destructions prophesied for the Second Coming of the Savior?
At the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the wicked will be destroyed and the righteous will be caught up to meet the Savior. Have you ever pondered on what that will be like? In 3 Nephi 8 is a description of the destructions that took place among the Nephites at the time Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. As you read, notice who was destroyed and why. Also note that events occurred just as Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied (see Helaman 14:20–27).
3 Nephi 8:25—Rejecting the Prophets
Many of those who were spared from the destructions described in 3 Nephi 8 recognized that if the majority of the people had not rejected the prophets they would not have been destroyed.
Do activity A or B as you study 3 Nephi 8.
What were the people looking for with “great earnestness” (v. 3) and why?
Summarize what Doctrine and Covenants 133:38–45 says about how the righteous will feel as the time of the Savior’s Second Coming approaches.
Compare 3 Nephi 8:4–22 and Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:28–33 and list the similarities you see between the coming of the Savior to the Nephites and what is prophesied to precede His Second Coming.
Why were the people “mourning,” “howling,” and “weeping” in 3 Nephi 8:23?
From 3 Nephi 8:24–25, what did they wish they, as a people, had done to avoid that great tragedy?
Suppose you were one of the Lord’s prophets. Write a message to all people concerning what they must do to avoid the promised destructions of the last days if the people will not repent.
The people who survived the disasters described in 3 Nephi 8 heard the voice of Jesus Christ in the darkness. His message is recorded in 3 Nephi 9. It was quiet for a time, and then they heard His voice again. His second message is recorded in 3 Nephi 10. Pay close attention to what the Savior said about the destructions in the land and what those who were spared needed to do.
3 Nephi 9:13—“That I May Heal You”
It was remarkable that anyone survived the destructions. Those who remained were righteous enough to be spared but much more was still required of them. They were commanded to “return” and “repent” and “be converted, that I may heal you.” President Harold B. Lee said, “The greatest miracles I see today are not necessarily the healing of sick bodies, but the greatest miracles I see are the healing of sick souls” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 178; or Ensign, July 1973, 123).
3 Nephi 9:16—“I Came Unto My Own, and My Own Received Me Not”
Jesus began His ministry among His ancient covenant people, the house of Israel—to the Jews in particular. They had the words of the prophets and the law of Moses and they witnessed the Savior’s many miracles, all of which testified of Him. However, because of their faithless condition, the majority of them rejected Him and His teachings. (See also John 1:11; D&C 6:21.)
As a mother hen cares for her chicks, the Savior provides protective care for those who follow Him by continually warning them of danger and gathering them to safety.
Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study 3 Nephi 9–10.
As you review 3 Nephi 9:5, 7–9, 11; 10:12, look for what the Savior clearly identified as the reason some people were destroyed and others were spared.
What did Mormon want us to understand in 3 Nephi 10:14–16?
According to Doctrine and Covenants 1:14, how will the Savior’s Second Coming be similar to His appearance in the Book of Mormon?
Make two columns in your notebook. On one side list what Jesus told the “more righteous” to do in 3 Nephi 9:12–22. On the other side, list what Jesus promised them in those verses.
What does this teach you about Jesus Christ that gives you faith to do what He asks and trust that He can fulfill His promises?
Compare the devil’s response to the destructions in the land in 3 Nephi 9:2 with the way the Savior responded in 3 Nephi 9:13–14; 10:4–6.
Read 2 Nephi 2:18, 27; 26:24–25 and explain why the responses of the devil and Jesus were so different.
Write about a time when the Savior “gathered” or “nourished” you as He promised to do for His people in 3 Nephi 10:4–6.
For 600 years, Nephite and Lamanite prophets had talked, written, and prophesied of the coming of Jesus Christ. They knew that He would not come to them during His mortal life, but that He would appear to the children of Lehi after His Resurrection (see 2 Nephi 26:9; Alma 16:20). Believers put their whole faith and hope in Him and His saving mission. In 3 Nephi 11 you will read the glorious fulfillment of those prophecies. The record of the Savior’s visit to the Americas continues through 3 Nephi 28. As you read these chapters, ponder what it must have been like for those who were present when the Savior appeared. Consider carefully what Jesus chose to say and do in the short time He spent with them and what that teaches us about what He considered essential.
3 Nephi 11:14–15—The Wounds of the Savior
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, declared:
“Even though the power of the Resurrection could have—and undoubtedly one day will have—completely restored and made new the wounds from the crucifixion, nevertheless Christ chose to retain those wounds for a purpose, including for his appearance in the last days when he will show those marks and reveal that he was wounded ‘in the house of [his] friends’ [Zechariah 13:6; see also D&C 45:52].
“The wounds in his hands, feet, and side are signs that in mortality painful things happen even to the pure and the perfect, signs that tribulation is not evidence that God does not love us. It is a significant and hopeful fact that it is the wounded Christ who comes to our rescue. He who bears the scars of sacrifice, the lesions of love, the emblems of humility and forgiveness is the Captain of our Soul. That evidence of pain in mortality is undoubtedly intended to give courage to others who are also hurt and wounded by life, perhaps even in the house of their friends” (Christ and the New Covenant , 258–59).
3 Nephi 11:1–8—How Does God Speak to Man?
President Joseph F. Smith, then a counselor in the First Presidency, said, “The Holy Spirit of God has spoken to me—not through the ear, not through the eye, but to my spirit, to my living and eternal part,—and has revealed unto me that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 7).
3 Nephi 11:27, 32–36—The Oneness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost
In 3 Nephi 11 is another testimony of the doctrine that the members of the Godhead are separate individuals yet completely unified in their efforts “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). They can speak for each other and testify of each other because of their unity in purpose and doctrine. The people heard the voice of the Father, they saw and heard Jesus Christ, and they were taught concerning the different, but united, roles of these two individuals and the Holy Ghost. (See also John 17:20–23 and D&C 130:22 regarding the unity, yet separateness, of members of the Godhead.)
Do two of the following activities (A–E) as you study 3 Nephi 11.
Suppose you are assigned to speak in sacrament meeting on the subject “Learning to Listen to God.”
Write a talk using 3 Nephi 11:1–8 to explain how we can better prepare ourselves to hear the word of God. Consider discussing questions similar to the following: How did the voice come? How is it described? What did the people do to hear it? Why didn’t they hear it the first time?
Read also Doctrine and Covenants 136:32–33 and use the study helps in your scriptures to find more passages that might help a person hear and understand God’s voice through the Holy Ghost. Explain these passages in your talk (see D&C 1:38; 18:34–36 for additional help).
Of all the ways Jesus could have introduced Himself, why do you think He said what He did in 3 Nephi 11:10–11? What can we learn about the Savior from His introduction?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–20 and explain what was involved in drinking the “bitter cup.”
Review 3 Nephi 11:14–16 and explain what Jesus wanted the people to know and what the people did to obtain that witness.
Write a few sentences explaining why you think Jesus let the people see and touch Him one by one.
How can you know that Jesus was resurrected, without actually seeing and feeling His wounds?
List at least four important truths we learn about baptism from what Jesus said and did in 3 Nephi 11:18–40.
Write two questions about contention that can be answered from reading 3 Nephi 11:28–30. Include the answers.
Read Proverbs 15:1 and summarize what it says about one way to avoid contention. Then suggest two more ways you think a person can avoid contention in family relationships.
Elder Lynn G. Robbins, a member of the Seventy, said:
“Anger is a yielding to Satan’s influence by surrendering our self-control. . . .
“Understanding the connection between agency and anger is the first step in eliminating anger from our lives. We can choose not to become angry” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 106; or Ensign, May 1998, 80–81).
The Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5–7 in the New Testament, might be considered the best single source to find the foundation of Jesus Christ’s teachings during His mortal ministry. It is not surprising that Jesus taught nearly the same sermon to the Nephites when He visited them. Notice how His sermon to the children of Lehi clarifies and gives additional understanding to what we read in the New Testament. That sermon at the temple is recorded in 3 Nephi 12–14. It teaches us what the Savior expects of those who desire to be His disciples.
Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study 3 Nephi 12.
Find and underline the word blessed each time it occurs in 3 Nephi 12:1–11. This section of Jesus’s sermon is often called “the Beatitudes,” after the Latin word for “blessed,” meaning “to be fortunate or happy” (see Matthew 5:3, footnote a).
In your notebook, make a chart similar to the following example and fill it in with information you learn from 3 Nephi 12:1–12 and from your own thoughts and feelings.
What Jesus Said Would Make Us “Blessed”
The Blessings Jesus Said Will Come
Why a Person Would Be Fortunate or Happy
Giving heed to the words of the twelve disciples Jesus chose (v. 1)
Be baptized with water, fire, and the Holy Ghost (v. 1)
Because baptism is essential for the remission of sins
In 3 Nephi 12:13–16 Jesus compared His followers to salt and light. Some people might think that He should have said they were like gold if He really wanted them to feel valuable. Discuss this teaching with your parents or teacher and do the following:
List all of the reasons you can think of why salt is more useful than gold.
Explain why a light is an appropriate symbol for a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Jesus told the Nephites He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it (see 3 Nephi 12:17). One of the ways He did that was to help people understand the full meaning of the laws and commandments He had previously given to the children of Israel. The following are a list of laws He helped them to better understand in 3 Nephi 12:20–48. For each, explain the full meaning of the law in Christ’s gospel, as He outlined it in this chapter.
“Thou shalt not kill” (v. 21).
“Thou shalt not commit adultery” (v. 27).
“Thou shalt not forswear thyself” (v. 33).
“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (v. 38).
“Love thy neighbor” (v. 43).
© 1995 Gary L. Kapp
In 3 Nephi 13, the Savior continued teaching about a higher level of righteousness and addressed the problem of hypocrisy. A hypocrite is a person who says one thing and does another, for example, a person who publicly denounces watching inappropriate videos, but watches them privately. Notice that the Savior teaches that we are to do the right thing for the right reason in both our public and private behavior.
3 Nephi 13:25–34—Do Not Worry about What You Eat, Drink, or Wear
Many people have misunderstood the Savior’s counsel to “take no thought for your life” in Matthew 6:25–34. Some have thought it meant they were not to worry about having a job and supporting themselves. The Nephite version of this sermon helps us to understand that this counsel was specifically given to the Twelve Apostles and to the twelve Nephite disciples, who were to forsake their worldly pursuits and devote all their energies to their calling. All Church members, however, could apply these principles to themselves by focusing more on spiritual matters and less on worldly cares.
Do one of the following activities (A–C) as you study 3 Nephi 13.
Review 3 Nephi 13:1–24 and list the four examples Jesus gave of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. After each example, give a modern example of how a person could do those things for the right reasons.
Write about ways you would use 3 Nephi 13:5–15 to teach a short lesson on prayer to a class of young children. Include all of the ideas you would want to share from these verses and how they apply to the members of the class.
Describe at least two situations common to people your age that involve making many decisions. In what ways might the Savior’s counsel in 3 Nephi 13:19–20, 33 help to make righteous decisions?
Have you known someone who seemed to feel that membership in the Church was important but that keeping all of the commandments was really not required or expected? In 3 Nephi 14, which is similar to Matthew 7, Jesus Christ gave specific counsel to those who claim to be His followers but do not keep His commandments.
Do one of the following activities (A–C) as you study 3 Nephi 14.
Jesus’s commandment in 3 Nephi 14:1–5 (or Matthew 7:1–5) is often misunderstood and even misused. For example, imagine that a friend invited you to participate in an activity that you knew was against the Lord’s standards. Your friend quotes Matthew 7:1–5 and says that if you disapprove then you are judging him and others, and that is not what a Christian should do. Write what you think the Savior would have you say. In his inspired translation of the King James Bible, the Prophet Joseph Smith clarified the Savior’s teaching, that we must “judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment” (JST, Matthew 7:2; 3 Nephi 14:15–20 and Moroni 7:14–19 might also be of help).
What do you learn about Heavenly Father from Jesus Christ’s teachings in 3 Nephi 14:7–11?
Based on what these verses teach, what would Heavenly Father do if you asked for bread or a fish? Would He give you something harmful? What would your parents do?
Write about a time when you were thankful Heavenly Father did not give you what you thought you wanted. Explain why and how that experience might help you in future prayers and requests.
From what you learn in 3 Nephi 18:20; Doctrine and Covenants 50:28–29; 88:64–65, summarize how our Heavenly Father answers our requests.
Write at least three important and meaningful questions people often have that can be answered in 3 Nephi 14:13–27. Give the answers from scriptures.
Until the visit of Jesus Christ, the righteous children of Israel living in the Americas lived the law of Moses. In 3 Nephi 15, Jesus taught the people that the law of Moses had been fulfilled in Him. In chapters 15–16, Jesus explained that His visiting them was a fulfillment of a prophecy He had made in mortality (see John 10:16). His explanation included additional prophecies about the house of Israel.
3 Nephi 15:2–7—The Fulfillment of the Law of Moses
When Jesus declared that the law of Moses was “fulfilled” and “hath an end,” He was not indicating that the principles and doctrines had ended, but rather that the ceremonies and sacrifices that pointed to His Atonement were ended (see Alma 34:13–14). You have already learned how some of the principles of the law given to Moses were actually expanded in the law of the gospel (see 3 Nephi 12:21–48; see also 3 Nephi 24; 25; D&C 59:5–14). In other words, the way the gospel was practiced under the law of Moses came to an end, but not the basic commandments, principles, and doctrines of the gospel, which exist forever.
3 Nephi 16:4–15—The Gentiles
The word gentiles means “nations.” It refers to those not of the house of Israel or who do not believe in the God of Israel. As the term is used in the Book of Mormon, it also refers to those who come from gentile nations, which are all the nations outside the land of Israel, even if they are descendants of Israel by blood (see 1 Nephi 13:13–19; see also Bible Dictionary, “Gentile,” p. 679).
Do two of the following activities (A–D) as you study 3 Nephi 15–16.
Read Mosiah 13:27–30 and Alma 25:15–16 and the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for 3 Nephi 15:2–7 and summarize what they teach about the law of Moses.
Summarize what Jesus said about the law of Moses in 3 Nephi 15:2–10.
Explain what you think Jesus meant in the first sentence of 3 Nephi 15:9.
Suppose someone who is not a member of the Church asks you what John 10:16 means.
Using what you learn from 3 Nephi 15–16, write what you would say to that person.
What would you say if you were asked, “How can I know that what the Book of Mormon says is true?”
According to 3 Nephi 15:11–16:5, why didn’t Jesus’s disciples in Jerusalem know who the “other sheep” were?
What did the Lord command to ensure that this knowledge would not be lost?
Suggest two lessons we can learn from this incident.
When the Book of Mormon speaks of Gentiles it is referring to anyone who is not of the house of Israel or who is not from the land of Israel. Even though most members of the Church today are members of the house of Israel by lineage, to the Book of Mormon people we would be considered Gentiles.
What did the Lord promise to offer the Gentiles (us) in 3 Nephi 16:1–7? Has this prophecy been fulfilled? If so, in what ways?
What did He say would happen if the Gentiles accepted the offer and what would happen if they refused? (see vv. 8–15). What evidence do you see of any of this happening today?
What did the Lord promise the descendants of Lehi? (see v. 16).
Most of the people who lived where Jesus taught during His mortal ministry did not believe that He was the promised Messiah. All of those who saw the Savior in the land Bountiful believed in Him, worshipped Him, and listened to His teachings because they were the righteous remnant who survived the destruction at the time of His Crucifixion (see 3 Nephi 10:9–14). In 3 Nephi 17, their first day with Him was coming to a close. Try to imagine being there as you read this chapter.
Do one of the following activities (A–C) as you study 3 Nephi 17.
What did Jesus ask the Nephites to do in 3 Nephi 17:1–3 to help them better understand His teachings?
Make a list of what you can do to apply those same principles for learning to your own gospel study.
As you consider all that happened in 3 Nephi 17, write about the specific events you would have enjoyed seeing or participating in and explain why.
Compare what Jesus did in 3 Nephi 17:14 with what happened in verses 15–24 and answer the following questions:
Why was Jesus troubled in verse 14?
Why was He weeping in verses 21–23?
What do those events teach us about Jesus?
How can knowing the way Jesus feels about us help sinners to repent?
To be in the presence of Jesus Christ was a wonderful and spiritual experience for the people in the land Bountiful. It is easy to understand why they did not want Him to go (see 3 Nephi 17:5). Before He left them, however, He taught them how they could always have His Spirit to be with them. What the Savior taught in 3 Nephi 18 about receiving His Spirit applies as much to us today as it did to the people in the Book of Mormon.
3 Nephi 18:6–14—The Blessings of the Sacrament
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “Every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely that is why this particular ordinance with all its symbolism and imagery comes to us more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life. It comes in what has been called ‘the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the Church’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56], 2:340)” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 88–89; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 67–68).
Elder Melvin J. Ballard, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:
“Who is there among us that does not wound his spirit by word, thought, or deed, from Sabbath to Sabbath? We do things for which we are sorry and desire to be forgiven. . . . If there is a feeling in our souls that we would like to be forgiven, then the method to obtain forgiveness is not through rebaptism; . . . but it is to repent of our sins, to go to those against whom we have sinned or transgressed and obtain their forgiveness and then repair to the sacrament table where, if we have sincerely repented and put ourselves in proper condition, we shall be forgiven, and spiritual healing will come to our souls. . . .
“I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load being lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food” (Melvin J. Ballard: Crusader for Righteousness , 132–33).
3 Nephi 18:28–29—When Are We Worthy to Partake of the Sacrament?
Elder John H. Groberg, a member of the Seventy, taught: “If we desire to improve (which is to repent) and are not under priesthood restriction, then, in my opinion, we are worthy. If, however, we have no desire to improve, if we have no intention of following the guidance of the Spirit, we must ask: Are we worthy to partake, or are we making a mockery of the very purpose of the sacrament?” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 50; or Ensign, May 1989, 38).
Do activity A and activity B or C as you study 3 Nephi 18.
Write five important truths we can learn about the sacrament from what Jesus taught in 3 Nephi 18:1–14, 28–32.
Compare what Jesus said about the sacrament in 3 Nephi 18:12–13 to what He said about baptism in 3 Nephi 11:38–40. What does that reveal about the importance of the sacrament?
Having read 3 Nephi 18:1–14, 28–32 and the quotations about the sacrament from the “Understanding the Scriptures” section, write a plan for what you intend to do to make the sacrament a more meaningful part of your life.
Write five questions about prayer that could be answered from 3 Nephi 18:15–23. After each question, write your answer, along with the verse the answer came from.
In 3 Nephi 12:14–16, Jesus told His followers they were to be the “light of this people” and to let their light shine before others. That principle applies equally to us today. According to 3 Nephi 18:22–25, what is the light we are to hold up? How do we hold up this light?
After the events in 3 Nephi 18, Jesus Christ left the people and ascended into heaven. Chapter 19 tells what the people did throughout the night and the next day, when Jesus returned. At the end of this chapter is Jesus’s testimony about the strength of their faith. As you read, look for what they did that demonstrated their faith, and consider how you might follow their example.
3 Nephi 19:11–13—Weren’t These People Already Baptized?
President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught:
“Although they had been baptized previously for the remission of their sins. . . . The Savior commanded Nephi and the people to be baptized again, because he had organized anew the Church under the gospel. Before that it had been organized under the law [of Moses].
“For the same reason Joseph Smith and those who had been baptized prior to April 6, 1830, were again baptized on the day of the organization of the Church” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:336).
Do activity B and activity A or C as you study 3 Nephi 19.
After we are baptized, the person who confirms us will bless us to “receive the Holy Ghost.” In other words, the power of the priesthood can confer or bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, but it is up to us to receive it.
What did the disciples do in 3 Nephi 19:8–14 that led them to the experience of receiving the Holy Ghost?
How can you follow the example of those disciples to feel the Holy Ghost in your life more often? As you answer, consider also what you learned in 3 Nephi 18.
List what Jesus said in His prayers about those who believe in Him (see 3 Nephi 19:19–23, 27–29).
What most impresses you about what Jesus prayed for?
What difference might it make in your life on a daily basis to know that this was the Savior’s prayer for you?
In 3 Nephi 19:35, Jesus said that the disciples had demonstrated “great faith.” Write what you think are two significant examples of faith in 3 Nephi 19.
In 3 Nephi 20–22 are prophecies about the house of Israel and the Gentiles and how the Lord will fulfill the covenants He has made with His children. Descendants of those with whom the Lord has made covenants are called the “children of the covenant” and are entitled to certain blessings associated with those covenants if they are faithful. Ultimately, however, the covenant of the Lord is that all of the children of Heavenly Father will have the opportunity to become a part of the covenant family and receive salvation and exaltation. The teachings in these three chapters are a testimony from Jesus Christ Himself that He will, in time, fulfill every part of this great covenant for both the house of Israel and the Gentiles—in other words, for the entire family of God.
3 Nephi 21:6—Gentiles Become Numbered with the House of Israel
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Every person who embraces the gospel becomes of the house of Israel. In other words, they become members of the chosen lineage, or Abraham’s children through Isaac and Jacob unto whom the promises were made” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:246; see also 2 Nephi 30:1–2).
3 Nephi 21:22–25 (see also 3 Nephi 20:22)—The New Jerusalem
3 Nephi 22:2—Curtains, Cords, and Stakes
Isaiah compared the house of Israel to a tent. The longer the cords and curtains and the stronger the stakes, the bigger the tent can be.
Do two of the following activities (A–D) as you study 3 Nephi 20–22.
The gathering of Israel is not just for other people in other places; it involves us and our day. Study 3 Nephi 20:13, 18–19, 29–33; 21:1, 20–28; 22:13–14, 17, and list what the Lord said about why He would gather Israel and what would happen when He did.
According to 3 Nephi 20:25–26, what is one of the ways the Lord has blessed, and continues to bless, the “children of the covenant”?
According to 3 Nephi 20:27, in what ways has the Lord blessed the gentile nations?
How have these two blessings helped you in your life? (See the introduction to 3 Nephi 20–22 and the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for help, if needed.)
In your own words, explain what the Lord said in 3 Nephi 21:14–21 about what will happen if the gentile nations do not repent? Use some modern examples of what was said.
What did the Lord say in 3 Nephi 21:22–25 about Gentiles who do repent and are gathered to the New Jerusalem?
In 3 Nephi 22, the Savior quoted Isaiah 54, which is a poetic testimony of the Lord’s love for His people as He fulfills His covenant to gather them together and into the presence of God.
Throughout the scriptures, the Lord has often compared His covenant relationship with His Church to a marriage relationship. He is the Husband, and the Church is the wife. Consider some qualities of the Lord’s being a good husband to His Church, such as being a righteous example and providing love, material needs, comfort, and protection for His family. For each of these responsibilities, find at least one phrase from 3 Nephi 22 that shows how the Lord is the perfect “husband” to the Church.
How might the message of 3 Nephi 22 comfort a new convert? How might we use what the Lord said in 3 Nephi 22 to help us care for new converts?
Have you ever had a thought or experience that you wanted to remember? Did you write it down so you would remember it clearly? Have you noticed that if you do not keep a record of those experiences and thoughts that the memory of them fades and even changes? Look for how the Savior taught this principle to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 23.
Do activity A or B as you study 3 Nephi 23.
Identify two words that Jesus used to describe how we should read the prophecies of Isaiah. You may want to underline them in your scriptures.
Write about three methods a person could use to read the scriptures in the way Jesus described.
Review 3 Nephi 23:6–13 and describe what Jesus asked Nephi to do, and then write how you think this message applies to you.
Malachi was an Old Testament prophet who taught around 430 B.C., almost 200 years after Lehi left Jerusalem. In 3 Nephi 24–25, the Savior quoted from what is now Malachi 3–4 so the Nephites would have those important teachings. These chapters also have a special message for us in the latter days.
3 Nephi 24:3–4—The Sons of Levi
Under the law of Moses, the members of the tribe of Levi held the priesthood and administered the ordinances of the law for the people. Today we call the priesthood they held the “Aaronic Priesthood” (see D&C 13:1; 84:31–32; 128:24).
3 Nephi 24:10–12—The Blessings of Tithing
Speaking of the spiritual and temporal blessings of tithing, President Heber J. Grant said: “Prosperity comes to those who observe the law of tithing. When I say prosperity I am not thinking of it in terms of dollars and cents alone. . . . What I count as real prosperity . . . is the growth in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same. That is prosperity of the truest kind” (Gospel Standards , 58).
3 Nephi 25:5–6—The Lord Will Send Elijah
In fulfillment of this promise of the Lord through Malachi, Elijah returned to the earth in 1836 in the Kirtland Temple and committed keys of the priesthood making it possible to perform saving ordinances for those who have died (see D&C 110:13–16). He restored what is sometimes referred to as the sealing power of the priesthood. It is this power whereby families are sealed together for eternity.
Do activity A and activity B or C as you study 3 Nephi 24–25.
Make two columns in your notebook. In one column, write the words and phrases from 3 Nephi 24–25 that describe who will not “abide the day” and what will happen to them. In the other column write what these two chapters say about who will “abide the day,” what will happen to them, and what they will do.
What did the Lord say in 3 Nephi 24:8–9 about those who do not pay their tithing?
From verses 10–12, write what the Lord said about those who do pay their tithing.
Compare Doctrine and Covenants 64:23 to 3 Nephi 25:1 and write what the Lord promised faithful tithe payers. In addition to tithing, what else might we sacrifice to the Lord in preparation for His Second Coming?
Write about the most significant ways you think the fulfillment of 3 Nephi 25:5–6 has influenced your life.
Jesus’s second visit to the Nephites, which began in 3 Nephi 19, concludes in chapter 26. You will notice that Mormon explained in this chapter that Jesus said and did much more among the people than what is recorded in the Book of Mormon. He also said, however, that we could someday have additional records of what was said and done. As you read, look for why we do not have those records and what we must do to have them.
3 Nephi 26:9–11—The “Greater Things” Withheld
President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “When we ourselves, members of the Church, are willing to keep the commandments as they have been given to us and show our faith . . . , then the Lord is ready to bring forth the other record and give it to us, but we are not ready now to receive it. Why? Because we have not lived up to the requirements . . . in the reading of the record which had been given to us and in following its counsels” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1961, 20).
Do activity A as you study 3 Nephi 26.
Review 3 Nephi 26:6–12 and write what we learn is in the Book of Mormon.
Read also Alma 12:9–11, Doctrine and Covenants 84:54–58, and the “Understanding the Scriptures” section above, and write about what we must do individually and what the Church must do as a whole to receive “greater things” from the Lord.
List some of the “greater things” that happened among the Nephites after Jesus departed (see 3 Nephi 26:15–21).
During His first two visits to the Americas, Jesus Christ personally taught His gospel and directed the establishment of His Church among the Nephites. He chose and ordained leaders to carry on His work. They continued to teach His gospel and administer saving priesthood ordinances. As recorded in 3 Nephi 27, after an unspecified period of time the Savior made a third visit to His Nephite disciples. That visit teaches us that Jesus Christ, as the head of His Church, is not far away and gives direction to His Church leaders. The Lord continues to direct His Church through His appointed servants. President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, testified: “Let it be understood by all that Jesus Christ stands at the head of this church, which bears His sacred name. He is watching over it. He is guiding it. Standing at the right hand of His Father, He directs this work” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 75; or Ensign, May 1994, 59). As you read, notice what Jesus taught about His gospel in this chapter.
3 Nephi 27:3–8—The Name of the Church
Jesus made it clear in 3 Nephi 27 that His Church would be called in His name. As the Lord restored His gospel in our day, He revealed that His Church should again be called by His name (see D&C 115:3–4). With all of the different churches claiming to be Christian at the time of Joseph Smith, few were called after the name of Jesus Christ.
Do activity B and activity A or C as you study 3 Nephi 27.
You may want to highlight in 3 Nephi 27:1–10 any phrase having to do with the name of Christ (such as, “in the name of Jesus,” “the name of Christ,” “by this name,” “in his name,” or “in my name”). Read also Mosiah 3:17; 5:7–13 and write a paragraph that explains why everything we do or say in the Church must be done “in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Read the paragraph of the Bible Dictionary entry for “prayer” on page 753 that begins, “There are many passages . . .” Write a paragraph explaining what it means to pray “in the name of Jesus Christ.”
The word gospel literally means “good news” or “glad tidings.”
Read carefully 3 Nephi 27:9–21 and underline the word gospel each time it appears.
What specifically does Jesus say constitutes His gospel?
Summarize in a paragraph how these verses about the gospel of Jesus Christ relate to the third and fourth articles of faith.
How is the gospel “good news” to you?
In your personal life, what does it mean to “live the gospel”?
What special assignment did the twelve Nephite disciples receive from the Savior in 3 Nephi 27:24–27?
What did Jesus say they would need to do or be in order to succeed in their task?
Write a paragraph describing how you are trying to become more like Christ. Include specifically what you have done and what you would like to do better.
If you could ask for something that you desired from the Savior, what would it be? The twelve Nephite disciples were given this opportunity. Notice what they requested. Would your request be similar to or different from theirs?
3 Nephi 28:13–17, 36–40—Transfiguration and Translation
Mormon said that three of the twelve Nephite disciples were “transfigured.” This refers to a temporary change that a person must experience in order to stand in the presence of God and not be destroyed (see D&C 67:11; Moses 1:11). Transfiguration should not be confused with translation of the body, though both possibly affect the body in similar ways. Transfiguration is a momentary change, whereas translation is a long-term change in the body that ends only when one passes from mortality to immortality, or is resurrected (see 3 Nephi 28:8). Among those who have at some time been translated are Enoch and the city of Zion (Moses 7:18–23, 27), Elijah, the Apostle John (D&C 7), and the three Nephite disciples (3 Nephi 28:4–11, 15–40).
Do activities A and B as you study 3 Nephi 28.
Write what nine of the twelve Nephite disciples desired in 3 Nephi 28 and list the blessings the Lord promised them.
Write what the other three disciples desired in 3 Nephi 28 and list the blessings the Lord promised them.
If you were given the choice between what was given the nine or the three, which would you choose? Why?
Using what you learned about translated beings in general and the three Nephites in particular, write a “true or false” quiz. The quiz should include at least five statements. After each statement, write the correct answer and the verse in which you learned it.
Instead of continuing to tell what happened after Jesus Christ’s visits to the Nephites, Mormon finished 3 Nephi with his own testimony, counsel, and warnings to future readers. Remember, as you read chapters 29–30, that Mormon was writing directly to people of our day.
Do activities A and B as you study 3 Nephi 29–30.
Read what Mormon said in 3 Nephi 29:1–4, 8–9 and list what we should know or do because this record has been brought forth to the world. If there is a reason given in these verses for why we should know or do those things, write it next to that item on your list.
List the specific groups of people Mormon gave warnings to in 3 Nephi 29:5–7; 30:2. If there is a consequence to the warning mentioned, write it next to that item on the list.
From the counsel and warnings he gave in 3 Nephi 29–30, list what Mormon was inspired to know about our day.
Carefully read 3 Nephi 30:1–2. Whose words are recorded in verse 2? Why do you think Mormon was commanded to write them?
Until the 1879 edition of the Book of Mormon, this book was titled simply “The Book of Nephi, which is the son of Nephi, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ.” Elder Orson Pratt, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recommended the addition of the heading “Fourth Nephi,” which was approved by the First Presidency.
The first part of 4 Nephi has sometimes been called “The Golden Era.” For 170 years the people were unified and lived in peace without contentions, and they had “all things common among them” (4 Nephi 1:3). How were they able to establish such a blessed and prosperous period? Later, the people began to be divided again and did “all manner of iniquity” (v. 34). After such a blessed period of peace, why would the people choose such a course?
After the wicked had been destroyed and the remaining people were taught and ministered to by the Savior and heavenly angels, the people lived in peace and righteousness for many generations. Their life was similar to that experienced by the people of Enoch, who were called Zion (see Moses 7:18). Mormon wrote that “there could not be a happier people” (4 Nephi 1:16). As you read, look for what gospel principles they lived that brought such happiness.
Unfortunately, the people eventually became as wicked as in the days before Jesus Christ came. We should carefully consider and learn from the mistakes they made that resulted in that fall from great righteousness and happiness to wickedness and misery, which brought the eventual destruction of the Nephite nation.
Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study 4 Nephi.
In 4 Nephi 1:16, Mormon wrote there could not have been a happier people than the people described in 4 Nephi 1:1–22. List at least five principles found in these verses that you believe were most influential in leading them to this happiness.
According to 4 Nephi 1:15, what was the single reason contention was eliminated? Explain why you think that quality of the people made the difference.
Imagine that a group of young people from the time described in 4 Nephi 1:1–22 were available to be interviewed in our day. Write three questions you think young people from our day would want to ask them. Then write the answers you think they might give, based on what you read in 4 Nephi.
Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught, “Sin, like a journey, begins with the first step” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 214). In 4 Nephi, Nephite society lived in obedience to God’s commandments for the first half of the chapter, but by the end they had become extremely wicked. In your notebook, draw a set of stairs leading downward. There should be from five to eight steps. On the top step, write what 4 Nephi seems to indicate was the first step the people took that led them down and list the verse in which you learned it. Continue labeling each step with what the rest of 4 Nephi teaches were the other steps downward, leading the people away from the kind of life the Lord would have them live.
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By the end of 4 Nephi, very few people in their society could have been considered righteous. Next to each step on your diagram, briefly write what you think the righteous people might have done to remain righteous when the rest of their society took that step downward.
How do you think it might have felt to have been among the few living true to the teachings of Jesus Christ by the end of 4 Nephi? What challenges do you think a righteous person would have faced then?