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Volume 1 I Nephi Wrote This Record

• September 1, 2013

Council of the Twelve


The first book in the Book of Mormon Commentary is titled “I Nephi Wrote This Record”.   This volume is 765 pages and covers First and Second Nephi.  Within the pages are the actual Book of Mormon verses, so it is not necessary to switch back and forth between books in order to cross reference the commentary with the Book of Mormon.  It is a thorough account and commentary of the Lehi, Nephi and their families and their travels.  More importantly, First and Second Nephi present a brief account of Nephi’s ministry written for the purpose of persuading men to come to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Jesus Christ) and be saved.  These two books were written in first person and are not an abridgement.  They contain the things pleasing to God and not to the world.


The following is the Introduction to Volume 1.

The Book of Mormon is the most electrifying book of our time and
the reader must go directly to the book itself to understand this
statement. Just as with other great books, an experienced teacher can
call attention to certain background information and cross references
that will enable the student to understand the book better. When Philip
asked the man of Ethiopia “Understandest thou what thou readest?”
the man replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?”
(Acts 8:30, 31). As a teacher, I have studied and taught the Book of
Mormon for over forty years. This work represents the materials and
concepts I have collected and developed during these years. It is
intended that this commentary will be a guide to your study of the
Book of Mormon, recognizing that the notes and observations are only
supplementary to the record itself.

The Book of Mormon is unique because it was written hundreds
of years ago but is addressed to and for a people hundreds of years
in the future. For example, Nephi wrote what are called the small
plates, about 570 B.C. (see 2 Nephi 5:28). He addressed them to the
people who would be living after A.D. 1830, some 2,400 years in the
future. Moroni wrote about A.D. 400 and addressed it to the same
audience some 1,400 years later. As we discover the uniqueness of
the Book of Mormon, and follow its teachings by studying and
restudying it, we come to a deeper appreciation of the book. We should
also come to realize that the perfecting of the Saints may be greatly
2 I Nephi Wrote This Record 1 Nephi & 2 Nephi
enhanced by our reading the Book of Mormon and applying its teachings
to our lives. The Book of Mormon, after all, was written for us.
Mormon abridged the many other records of the Nephites sometime
before A.D. 385, yet he addressed his work to a people who would live
at least 1445 years later. Moroni made his last recordings in A.D. 421,
some 1400 years before the Book of Mormon was translated in 1830.
As the years roll on, the time between the authors and the reading
audience lengthens, but the message is still as remarkably pertinent
today as when it was first written.

There were four major people who abridged the Book of Mormon.
They were all qualified to address the future because they had seen
it. Nephi, the first major writer, was shown a vision of the nations and
kingdoms of the Gentiles (see 1 Nephi 13–14). His vision included
seeing the discovery of the Americas by a man moved upon by the
Spirit of God; we know this man as Columbus.
Nephi also saw the remainder of the future of the earth’s nations
until the end of the world. He did not write all of what he was shown
because he was forbidden. He was told (about 592 B.C.) that the
Apostle John, of the meridian of time, had been designated to describe
this future period of time (this is a clear confirmation of foreordination).
Nevertheless, Nephi was fully aware of the situations and
conditions of the day in which the Book of Mormon would come forth.
Evidence of the knowledge of these things is shown in Nephi’s
later writings as he described the pride and false theories that would
be and are prevalent among the many churches of the last days, the
secret combinations that would be and are in operation, and the
priestcrafts that would and still stifle the people from approaching their
God to obtain salvation in his kingdom (see 2 Nephi 26:19–33). Nephi
also gave many other prophecies of the latter-day Gentiles that will
not be discussed or even listed here (see 2 Nephi 28–29).

Jacob, the second major writer, was not as explicit in noting that
his writings were intended for the latter days as was Nephi, however,
he did confirm that he had seen the future. He spoke of having seen
the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and of the Gentiles in the latter days
(see 2 Nephi 6:9–13). In the book that carries his name, he addressed
his beloved brethren of the latter days, a further indication that he had
seen the day when the Book of Mormon would come forth (see Jacob
4:10–13, 17–18; 6:1, 5).
Mormon, the major abridger, did not speak of a specific vision of
the latter days, but his writings certainly imply it. He spoke to all of
the latter-day groups of Israel: the Lamanites, the Jews, the rest of the
tribes of Israel, to the Gentiles, and to all the ends of the earth (see
Mormon 3:19–22 and Mormon 5:8–15). His warnings and admonitions
to the reader indicate he knew of the future, and that knowledge could
only have come to him through vision or revelation (see Mormon

It is only logical that Mormon would have been shown the day in
which the Book of Mormon would come forth since he was the major
contributor to the work. All the other three major contributors had been
shown that time period in vision.

Moroni, son of Mormon, and the final writer and abridger, was
the last major writer of the plates that were designated to come forth
at the beginning of the dispensation of the fulness of times. He makes
a direct, forthright statement that he had seen the day when the book
would come forth, and this lends strong support to the idea that the
others had had similar experiences. He declared:
Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things
concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these
things shall come forth among you.
Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not.
But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your
doing. [Mormon 8:34–35]
In further support that he had seen the latter days, he gave detailed
descriptions of the day when the Book of Mormon would come forth.
He described the Saints as being the victims of secret organizations,
the conditions and acts of nature in foreign lands, and the moral status
4 I Nephi Wrote This Record 1 Nephi & 2 Nephi

of the people (see Mormon 8:26–33). He further described the pride
and pollutions among the people and their love of money (Mormon
8:36–37). Moroni could only have known such definite characteristics
and instructions by vision or revelation, and the specific exactness of
his wording supports the claim that he had seen it.

Since each of these major writers had seen the days when the Book
of Mormon would come forth, they were qualified to address the
readers—the people of our day—personally and specifically. Each
writer seemed to have had a personal interest in both his own time and
in our time. He periodically stopped what he was writing or abridging
to give valuable insights and admonitions. These insights and admonitions
are clearly comments to the latter-day readers.
For example, Nephi used the phrase “I will show unto you”
(1 Nephi 1:20) as he prepared the reader for what he was about to
record. When he wanted to stop and draw a conclusion or make sure
his reader understood he had written about, he would introduce it with
“thus we see” (1 Nephi 16:29).

Jacob and Mormon followed a pattern similar to Nephi’s using
the same introductory or concluding phrases. Moroni used a slight
variation as he addressed various groups of people: the polluters, the
hypocrites, and the false teachers (see Mormon 8:38–41); those who
did not believe in Christ (see Mormon 9:1–6); those who denied
revelation (see Mormon 9:7–14); and those who imagined God could
not perform miracles (see Mormon 8:15–20). Moroni then admonished
them collectively concerning the work of the Lord and the coming
forth of the Book of Mormon in their day (see Mormon 9:21–37).
As Moroni abridged the book of Ether, he regularly stopped to
address the reader with “And, now, we can behold,” or “O, ye Gentiles”
(Ether 2:9, 11). He also spoke directly to the latter-day translator
(see Ether 5). In his concluding book that bears his name, Moroni
wrote for the benefit of “my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future
day” (Moroni 1:4; 10:1).

The above admonitions by the four major writers are some of the
major precepts in the oft-quoted statement made by the Prophet Joseph
Smith in 1841: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the
most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion,
and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than
by any other book” (TPJS, 194; quoted in Book of Mormon Introduction).
The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth
because of the doctrine or the gospel that it teaches. The angel Moroni
told Joseph Smith “that the fullness of the everlasting gospel was
contained in the [record].” The Lord confirmed the angel’s statement
several times in modern revelation (see D&C 14:10; 20:9; 27:5; 35:17;
39:11; 42:12). Thus, it is a primary source of the doctrine of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Isaiah foretold
of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (see Isaiah 29 and
2 Nephi 27). In the concluding statement of these chapters, he said:
“They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they
that murmured shall learn doctrine” (Isaiah 29:24; 2 Nephi 27:35).
In a revelation concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon, the
Lord said that in it “are all things written concerning the foundation
of my church, my gospel and my rock” (D&C 18:4). On the day that
the church was organized, the Lord specified many of the doctrines
that the Book of Mormon teaches (see D&C 20:17–36). The doctrines
taught in the chapters of the Book of Mormon covered in each chapter
of this book will be summarized in the end of that chapter. There will
undoubtedly be some doctrines overlooked, but the majority of them
will be included.

The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion because it
is a second witness of Jesus Christ, and it proves “to the world that
the holy scriptures [Bible] are true, and that God does inspire men
[give them revelation] and call them to his holy work [the priesthood]
in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old” (D&C
20:11). The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Take away the Book of
Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none;
for without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall” (TPJS, 71).
6 I Nephi Wrote This Record 1 Nephi & 2 Nephi
Jesus Christ is spoken of prominently in all but six of the two hundred
and thirty-nine chapters of the Book of Mormon, and these six chapters
are historical, setting the stage for a testimony of his work. A summary
of the sacred preaching, great revelations, and prophesying is also
given in the end of each chapter.
Following a conference of the Church in June 1831, the Lord gave
a revelation to the Elders of the Church covering missionary work.
In the revelation, they were instructed to journey . . . “preaching the
word by the way, saying none other things than that which the prophets
and apostles have written, and that which is taught them by the
Comforter through the prayer of faith.” (D&C 52:9; italics added) The
Lord repeated basically the same message again in the thirty-sixth

The statements by some of the General Authorities of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quoted in this work, or added at
the end of the chapters, were made with the above admonition of the
Lord in mind. They have been of great value to me in reading and
teaching the Book of Mormon over the past some fifty years, and it
is hoped will also be of great value to others as they study the Book
of Mormon. A few statements pertaining to the entire book are quoted
below as a conclusion to this introduction.
The Prophet Joseph Smith:
The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western
tribes of Indians; having been found through the ministration of a holy
angel, and translated into our own language by the gift and power of
God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred
years, containing the word of God unto them. [History of the Church

President Heber J. Grant:
The Book of Mormon is the great, the grand, the most wonderful
missionary that we have. (Conference Report, April 1937; Improvement
Era 39:660)

Elder Melvin J. Ballard:
The Book of Mormon has converted more people than all the other
literature combined that the Church has produced. Our enemies have
regarded it the strongest evidence that we offer that we have a divine

More efforts have been contributed to the destruction of the Book
of Mormon than all the other efforts against the work, and yet at the
end of a hundred years this book stands firm and unshaken, and the
evidence of its divinity are increasing. [Sermons and Missionary
Services of Melvin J. Ballard, Bryant S. Hinckley, 1949, 191]

President Joseph Fielding Smith:
I started to read the Book of Mormon before I was old enough to
be a deacon, and I have been reading it ever since, and I know that
it is true. Every member of the Church ought to know that it is true,
and we ought to be prepared with an answer to all of these critics who
condemn it . . .
It seems to me that any member of this Church would never be
satisfied until he or she has read the Book of Mormon time and time
again, and thoroughly considered it so that he or she could bear
witness that it is in very deed a record with the inspiration of the
Almighty upon it, and that its history is true. . . .
I want to address myself to the men holding the priesthood,
particularly, and to their wives and to all other members of the Church.
No member of this Church can stand approved in the presence of God
who has not seriously and carefully read the Book of Mormon.
[Improvement Era, June 1961, 925–26]

President Ezra Taft Benson:
In our day the Lord has inspired his servant to reemphasize the
Book of Mormon to get the Church out from under condemnation—
the scourge and judgment.
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
8 I Nephi Wrote This Record 1 Nephi & 2 Nephi
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, 1988,
Introduction and pp.7–8).
The entire book is highly recommended. It contains the many great
sermons on the Book of Mormon given while he was president of the
Church and a member of the Council of the Twelve. Several excerpts
will be quoted in other parts of these volumes on the Book of Mormon.

Elder Spencer W. Kimball.
A Book of Vital Messages, Conference Report, April 1963, also
published in Faith Precedes the Miracle, chapter 32, 1972. Too long
to be included here (9 pages), it has an intriguing message to all people
of all walks of life. It is also highly recommended.
The above quotations and those that will be cited throughout this
work will be selective in that only the heart of the sermon or article
will be quoted. The references are given so that the reader may read
more if they care to look them up. There will be some duplication of
quotations and other materials in the chapters that follow. Some of
the quotes are applicable to more than one part of the Book of
Mormon. For convenience they will be quoted again so that the reader
does not have to turn back to a previous lesson.

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Category: Volume 1