10 things about Second Nephi

February 24, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 10:19 pm   Category: Scriptures

I’m making pretty good progress on my Goal this year to read the Book of Mormon from beginning to end. I just finished second Nephi. Previously I had reported on 10 things I never knew before in First Nephi. Here are 10 things about 2nd Nephi.

1. 340 of the 777 vs. in 2 Nephi are Isaiah verses. This is ~44%. (Also, information like this is completely worthless.)

2. 2 Nephi 2 is the great LDS theodicy. I hope to do a post on this later. To Summarize: God allows opposition because without it, we’d have no agency (“all things would be a compound in one”- ie- we’d only have one choice, and only one choice is no choice at all). Agency allows for mistakes and sin. Sin requires either an atonement or captivity. The atonement gives us freedom to choose.

3. 2 Nephi 32 is the full doctrine of the church. If you only read one thing I ever write, read this. Or better yet, read that chapter. McConkie spent hundreds of pages trying to layout the doctrine of the church, and his effort was riddled with problems. Nephi laid it out in the first six vs of this chapter. To paraphrase him. Why are you asking me what you should do? The Holy Ghost is available to you. Feast on personal revelation. (remember the words of Christ here is not some written scripture, since it didn’t exist yet, but personal revelation) the Holy Ghost “will show you all things ye should do.” That is all the doctrine of the Church, and there won’t be anymore. (I think this is what Geoff has preached all along as well, right?)

4. 2 Ne. 5:6 is the only place in the Book of Mormon Nephi mentions his “sisters” I always before took him literally, but am now wondering if he meant his sister-in-laws or sisters in some other sense. I say this in part because it seems so odd these sisters are not mentioned in the tree of life vision. Another alternative is that these sisters were born after that vision, like Joseph and Jacob.

5. 2 Nephi 9:5-6 blurs the lines of the God head, to the “Great Creator” who “suffereth” and dies “for all men” , and this fulfils “the merciful plan of the great Creator”. So is the plan Christ’s plan or Heaven Fathers? I have always understood it to be Heavenly Fathers, but this vs. calls both the Great Creator.

6. 2 Ne. 10 takes the Grace vs. Works issue on (as does chapters 31 and 32) in a concise and simple way “after ye are reconciled to God” it is by “the grace of God that ye are saved.” While we can and must workout our salvation, we would still be insufficient without Christ, and it is important to remember that our “works” do not obligated God to make up for our inadequacies. Yet he does all he can.

7. 2 Ne. 16 (Isaiah 6) contains a powerful testimony of the atonement I had never noticed before. In vs. 5 Isaiah notes he is unclean (sinful) and the lord takes away his iniquity and purges his sins by taking a “live coal” from the altar of the temple. A live coal on the altar would have been there from the burning of a sacrifice and perhaps would have been a piece of the sacrificed being itself. Christ’s sacrifice for us is thus beautifully captured in symbols I had not before notices.

8. On my mission a man told me that missionaries must shave because of 2 Ne. 17:20 (Isaiah 7:20) In actuality, this vs. notes that the Lord is not shaving himself, but the people. It is said of this vs that ancient societies shaved the nations the conquered to mark them and demoralize them.

9. Lucifer, in 2 Ne 20:12, clearly refers to a name given to the king of Babylon mentioned in vs 4. Many different thoughts on this can be proposed, as to whether it is a type or an epithet, or the king’s actual name, I don’t know. What is more interesting to me, is that in vs. 24 following, the Lord says “all nations” will eventually receive this fate. It’s a good thing to remember in the fit of all this nationalist pride as we discuss immigration.

10. 2 ne 25:18 says “there is save one Messiah spoken of by the prophets” thus pushing away the idea that Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David are two sepearte people. This is especially useful for when people try and suggest Messiah Ben Joseph is Joseph Smith.


  1. Matt: Feast on personal revelation. (remember the words of Christ here is not some written scripture, since it didn’t exist yet, but personal revelation) the Holy Ghost “will show you all things ye should do.” That is all the doctrine of the Church, and there won’t be anymore. (I think this is what Geoff has preached all along as well, right?)

    Amen and amen brother.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2008 @ 11:59 pm

  2. Re:3

    Actually, 2 Ne 32:6 is the ending declaration of the doctrine of Christ. The beginning declaration is 2 Ne 31:3. The two verses are like bookends, and everything in between them is the doctrine of Christ, which is mostly 2 Ne 31.

    Re: 4

    I have to agree. I have thought they were his sisters-in-law for some time. He also doesn’t mention them in the heading of 1 Nephi, and 1 Ne 7:6 says “the two sons of Ishmael and their families” implying they were already married and did not need Nephi’s literal sisters to marry.

    Re: 5

    Jesus is central to the plan, as in it revolves around him. In that sense, it is his.

    Re: 6

    Technically, we work out our exaltation. Salvation is free (according to 2 Ne 2). This, of course, is referring to the “common salvation” spoken of by Jude in Jude 1:3.

    Re: 7

    You might be interested in some the parallel found in Jeremiah’s experience in Jeremiah 1.

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 25, 2008 @ 6:12 am

  3. This is especially useful for when people try and suggest Messiah Ben Joseph is Joseph Smith.

    Yeah, who is that Tvedtnes guy, anyway?

    Comment by mondo cool — February 25, 2008 @ 8:35 am

  4. Here’s one more thing to add to your list: the first four chapters of 2 Nephi contain Lehi’s blessings upon all family and extended family members but one. Whose blessing is missing from Nephi’s record? ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — February 25, 2008 @ 11:53 am

  5. Kim,

    This, of course, is referring to the “common salvation” spoken of by Jude in Jude 1:3.

    What evidence do you find in the text for this interpretation? You said “of course” but it doesn’t seem obvious to me, so I’m curious to see how you would back up this statement.

    Comment by Jacob J — February 25, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

  6. [completely irrelevant beard-shaving comment deleted]

    [completely irrelevant Isaiah-peyote comment deleted]

    I recently had a conversation with a bailiff/Baptist preacher friend about grace and works. He quoted 2 Ne 25:23 and understandably got hung up on the “after all we can do.” He would probably agree with 2 Ne 10:24 “that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.” Can anybody reconcile these two scriptures in a way that would make sense to someone not of our faith? Say, a bailiff/Baptist preacher kind of a fellow?

    Comment by Josh Smith — February 25, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

  7. Kim:

    There is a noticeable break in the flow at 2 Ne 32:1 which I think clearly points to the Doctrine here being spoken of as the “Word of Christ” to be feasted upon, but point taken.

    Mondo: I am cool with JS as a type of Christ, just like Moses etc., but I’m not really sure I am good with multiple Messiahs. I haven’t read Tvedtnes. I’ve just talked to grandpa.

    Josh Smith: Wow, someone has fast editing fingers. didn’t see what you said, but I trust the goalie. Anyway, as for what’s left, I’m not super familiar with Baptist theology. From what little I know, his conception of the atonement is either:
    1. We are saved by Jesus if we have faith in him.
    2. We are saved by Jesus no matter what.
    3. We are saved by Jesus if we do the right things.

    1. and 3. are essentially the same (since faith is something we do) so then all that’s really left to discuss is what really needs to be done to have “salvation”.

    2. means it is irrelevent what we do or do not believe and thus there is no point in discussing it or telling anyone who believes otherwise that they are wrong.

    hope that helps.

    Comment by Matt W. — February 25, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

  8. The editing was self editing. If I get going on a topic completely irrelevant or offensive, I try and delete it before I hit the send key. Sometimes I have poor judgment.

    I think my preacher friend would say we are saved if we have faith in Jesus. Period. He would probably say it is arrogant and stressful to believe we are saved by grace, “after all we can do.” According to him, God’s grace through Jesus is sufficient.

    I think 2 Ne. 10:24 supports the preacher’s point: after we are “reconciled” to God, “that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.”

    My question is how can 2 Ne 25:23 (“after all we can do”) and 2 Ne 10:24 (“only in and through the grace of God”) be reconciled in a way understandable to someone who isn’t Mormon?

    Comment by Josh Smith — February 25, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

  9. I really do have a preacher friend. He really is a bailiff. And he really is disturbed by 2 Ne 25:23.

    Comment by Josh Smith — February 25, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

  10. Josh, some people I’ve spoken with reference Alma 24: 11-12 and the idea that all we can do is repent. I like this theory, because you can’t really accept Christ and not desire a new life by turning to him and forsaking your sins (which is repentance). Look at the use of “all we could do” in the following verses. Anybody that says that Christ can save you without repentance is going to have to deny the Gospels.

    11 And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—
    12 Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren.

    Comment by Kent — February 25, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

  11. Stephen Robinson likes to say that “after” is just another way of saying “despite”. Look it up in a 1820’s Webster dictionary, I don’t know.

    Comment by Kent — February 25, 2008 @ 5:33 pm

  12. Jacob,

    See the footnote in 2 Ne 2:4.

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 25, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

  13. Thanks Kent.

    I hadn’t thought about those Alma verses in that way before. I think that notion of repentance preceding grace, and that really “all we could do” is repent prior to receiving grace, is very close to my preacher friend’s idea of grace. I’ll have to bring it up next time I see him.

    I also think that interpretation goes a long way to reconciling 2 Ne 25:23 and 2 Ne 10:24. I think I’ll cross-reference the two. Next time I’m in a “be ye therefore perfect” class, an “if you work hard enough” class, I’ll be a bit better prepared.

    Comment by Josh Smith — February 25, 2008 @ 5:54 pm

  14. Like Kent said, Robinson goes with the idea that “After all we can do, we are Saved by Grace.” Note that it is not all that we can do that is saving us, but it is the grace. I recommend Blake Ostler’s study of unconditional love in the first chapter of his second book also as a good source kind of to wrap your mind around. Blake notes, and I think it’s important, that the Lord loves us so much so as to respect our agency and to not save us if we do not choose it (ie- faith and repentance)

    Comment by Matt W. — February 25, 2008 @ 6:47 pm

  15. 2 Nephi 31-32 are Nephi’s greatest chapters, his closing effort to help us come to Christ.

    Reading these chapters I see:

    1. The need for ordinances (the church).

    2. The need for real intent

    3. Receive the Holy Ghost = born again

    4. Receive Fire and the Holy = conversion & sanctification

    5. When these things are done one has received the First Comforter and is moving towards receiving the Second Comforter by “relying wholly upon the merits of” Jesus Christ.

    Notice there is no explicit mention of the church, callings, priesthood, education, service and other things that we in our day hold as important.

    …the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there
    2 Nephi 9:41

    Receiving the First and Second Comforter is not a group activity, it would appear.

    And I would guess that you could have two people who did exactly the same things, from the point of view of an observer, and yet one of them could have received both the First and Second Comforter, and the other received neither. This is what is taught in the parable of the 10 virgins.

    Another way of saying this is that one can be active in the church and not the gospel.

    I enjoyed the post and comments.

    Comment by Jared — February 25, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

  16. after all we can do

    Can be read “in spite of anything we can do” rather than “we must do everything.”

    I’d agree with Robinson, obviously

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — February 25, 2008 @ 8:02 pm

  17. Matt W.
    I’m pursuing the possibility that the traditions of a messiah ben Joseph arose in Jewish thought at some time after the Lehites left Jerusalem. I’ll let you know what I find out. Otherwise, do a search at Meridian Magazine for “Joseph Smith: The Lord’s Anointed” by John A. Tvedtnes.

    Comment by mondo cool — February 25, 2008 @ 9:09 pm

  18. Matt W.
    Dr. Tvedtnes says he can’t think of any *text* about messiah of Joseph that pre-dates the 2nd century A.D. Samaritan tradition also refers to a messiah ben Joseph and may go back to their separation from the Jews in the 5th century B.C. Also, both traditions may come from Isaiah 11 – stem, rod & root.
    So, I think it plausible that the idea of a messiah ben Joseph may not have been part of Nephi’s understanding. Hence, his statement: “…one Messiah…”

    Comment by mondo cool — February 26, 2008 @ 11:16 am

  19. Kim (#12),

    So because someone choose to put a footnote to Jude 1:3 it is therefore obvious that this is what Lehi was referring to? I’m not buying it, but I’m glad to know your reasoning, thanks for responding.

    Comment by Jacob J — February 26, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  20. It’s consistent with that said by general authorities. There are two salvations: general and individual. The general salvation is for all and is salvation from death. Individual salvation is equivalent to eternal life.

    Comment by Kim Siever — March 2, 2008 @ 9:47 pm