2 Nephi 31-33

What is the doctrine of Christ? Is it possible to live the Mosaic law and follow the doctrine of Christ at the same time? What does it mean to endure to the end? Does the Book of Mormon teach monotheism and modalism – which is different from modern Mormonism?

In these next three chapters, Nephi will, in effect, say “Goodbye” to the reader – knowing that he has very little time left on earth. 

2 Nephi 31:1 “And now I, Nephi, make an end of my prophesying unto you, my beloved brethren.  And I cannot write but a few things, which I know must surely come to pass; neither can I write but a few of the words of my brother Jacob.”

Nephi is now going to teach about what is known as “the doctrine of Christ.”

Keep in mind – Nephi is teaching about people and events which are nearly 600 years into the future.  No one in the Old Testament taught these things.  Prophesy is one thing, but this is beyond being even plausible.  Nephi would have to know that the Messiah would be called by a Greek term “Khristos” which was later translated into an English term “Christ” in the 14th Century AD.  So, referring to “Christ” in these verses of the Book of Mormon is entirely a linguistic anachronism.  The word “Christ” would not have been known by Nephi at that time.  The original text would have been translated “Messias” from the Hebrew.  So, we would expect to see “Messiah” rather than “Christ” in any reference dated B.C.    

2 Nephi 31:2 “Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying.”  The words “the doctrine of Christ” is also in 2 John 1:9 and Hebrews 6:1.

2 Nephi 31:3 “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men.  For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.”  The phrases “for after this manner” is in 1 Peter 3:5 and, “For the Lord God giveth light” is similar, to Revelation 22:5 and, “according to their language” is the same in Esther 8:9. 

2 Nephi 31:4 “Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.”  The phrase “the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” is similar, to John 1:29.

Nephi now tells us why Jesus had to be baptized.

2 Nephi 31:5 “And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfill all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!”  The phrase “have need to be baptized” is in Matthew 3:14 and, “to fulfill all righteousness” is the same in Matthew 3:15. 

2 Nephi 31:6 “And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?”

2 Nephi 31:7 “Know ye not that he was holy?  But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.” The words “know ye not that he” is also in 1 Corinthians 6:16.

2 Nephi 31:8 “Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.”  The phrases “baptized with water” is in Acts 11:16, and “the Holy Ghost descended” is also in Luke 3:22. In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 275, he taught that “The Holy Ghost is a personage.  It does not confine itself to the form of the dove, but in the sign of the dove.  The Holy Ghost cannot be transformed into a dove.” 

2 Nephi 31:9 “And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.” Here the gate is baptism. 

2 Nephi 31:10 “And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?”  The words “Follow thou me” is also in John 21:22.

2 Nephi 31:11 “And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.” Similar, to Acts 10:48.

2 Nephi 31:12  “And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.”   The words “the voice of the Son” is also in John 5:25 and, “Father give the Holy Ghost” is similar, to Luke 11:13 and, “and do the things which ye have seen me do” is similar, to John 8:38.  Did Jesus have the Holy Ghost?  Was the Holy Ghost functioning upon the earth at the time of the Savior’s mortal ministry?  Those questions are clearly answered in Verse 12.  This is supported by Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” 

2 Nephi 31:13 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism – yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.”  The phrases “with full purpose of heart” is similar, to Acts 11:23 and, “baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost” is similar, to Matthew 3:11, and “speak with the tongue of angels” is similar, to 1 Corinthians 13:1.  Here in this verse and other places, reference is made to the “Holy Ghost.”  But, the actual term “ghost” did not come into use until many hundreds of years after the Book of Mormon was supposed to have been inscribed on ancient plates.  That the writer borrowed the word “ghost” from the King James Bible is indisputable.  The word “Baptism” as we have mentioned before – is a transliteration of the Greek word “baptismo,” and was peculiar to the King James Version. 

Next, Nephi claims he heard the voice of Heavenly Father.

2 Nephi 31:14 The phrases “speak with a new tongue” is similar, to Mark 16:17 and, “it would have been better for you that ye had not known me” is similar, to 2 Peter 2:21. 

2 Nephi 31:15 “And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful.  He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”  The phrases “And I heard a voice from the” is similar, to Revelation 9:13 and, “are true and faithful” is the same in Revelation 21:5 and, “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved” is similar, to Matthew 24:13. 

Enduring to the end means what?  Does it mean keeping commandments, and laws, and ordinances till the day you die – hoping to be good enough to be saved?  Does it mean enduring till you reach exaltation?  Jesus said in Matthew 24:13 “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”  This verse is part of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse – an explanation to His disciples about things to come.  It is best understood when read in the context of Matthew 24:9-14.  Jesus is speaking about “end times” or “the last days.”  He warns them about increasing persecution, increased wickedness, and false teachers.  Those who are truly born again, whose lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit – true followers of Jesus Christ will stand firm in the face of all the tribulations before Christs Second Coming – which took place in 70 AD.  

2 Nephi 31:16 The words “the Son of the living God” is also in Matthew 16:16.

Nephi goes on to emphasize that the gate we must enter is repentance and baptism by water – and then, the remission of our sins by the Holy Ghost.  He teaches that the more righteous you become, the more perfect you become in keeping commandments and covenants.   

2 Nephi 31:17 The phrase “repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins” is similar, to Mark 1:4.

2 Nephi 31:18 The phrases “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” is similar, to Matthew 7:14 and, “have received the Holy Ghost” is also in Acts 10:47.

2 Nephi 31:19 The words “who is able mighty to save” is similar, to James 4:13.

This next verse reminds us to strive for exaltation.

2 Nephi 31:20 “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”  In Mormoneze – the language of Mormonism – “Eternal Life” is distinct from immortality.  It doesn’t describe living eternally with God – but living eternally AS God.  Thus, it is another name for godhood and synonymous with exaltation.  And exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom see Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-4.  It can only be achieved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  On the other hand, Biblical Christianity teaches that eternal life is living WITH God.  It is His gift (Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9) and is received the moment a person is brought to faith in Christ (John 5:24).

In 2 Nephi 31:4-20, we just learned that, in the LDS context, the grace Jesus gives does not elevate a person to a new relationship with God – it merely provides a staircase or ladder to allow humans the opportunity to climb their way to the top by their obedience to laws and ordinances, and by keeping commandments of the Mormon gospel.  Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 says, after keeping the commandments and enduring to the end – THEN, you will have eternal life. 

Nephi now concludes his sermon on the “doctrine of Christ.”

2 Nephi 31:21 “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.  And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.  Amen.” This was Joseph Smith’s monotheistic view when the Book of Mormon was written. These are phrases that would never be used by anyone NOT believing in the Trinity.  In order for it to be interpreted as three separate beings or gods, who are one in purpose – it would at least need to read in the plural, not singular – such as, “which ARE one God” instead of “which IS one God.” 

It wasn’t until years later that Joseph Smith took on a tri-theistic point of view as recorded in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 370 “I will preach on the plurality of God… I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods.”  Although Smith appears to have made a start at deleting monotheism from the Book of Mormon, he did not get that far.  He either did not have time to complete the task, missed or overlooked the rest of the references, or gave up caring what it said.  We have, to realize that Joseph did not use the Book of Mormon in most of his sermons.  And don’t forget – he even tried to sell the copyright at one point (see Ep 75 False Prophecies of Joseph Smith – Copyright links are in the description below).  In addition to the Trinitarian context of this Book of Mormon verse – this was the pre-Christian era in which the Old Testament has no references to Christ or the Son of God or the Holy Ghost – at all.  Additionally, the doctrines of Christ have no place in the Mosaic Law which the Nephites were supposedly living.  Remember, Christ came to fulfill the Law of Moses.   

2 Nephi 31:21 This verse is a problem for the Latter-day Saint because other verses talk about God becoming the Son, who becomes the Holy Ghost – making God – modalistic.  Modalism – is a term describing God as, not three distinct persons – like in modern Mormonism – but rather three modes or forms of activity under which God manifests himself.  For example in Mosiah 15:1-4 “And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.  And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son – The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son – And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.”  Now, the Latter-day Saint will say – they are “One in purpose,” – but it doesn’t say one in purpose – it says, “Which is one God.”  You can’t read it as one in purpose.  It says in 2 Nephi 31:21 “This is the doctrine of Christ, the only true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost – which is one God.”  (see D&C 20:28; Alma 11:26-29; Alma 11:38-39; Alma 11:44; 3 Nephi 11:36; D&C 49:5,28; 3 Nephi 26:12; 3 Nephi 11:14,17,25,27; Helaman 14:12; Mormon 7:7; Ether 3:14-15).   

2 Nephi 31:21 The phrase “there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved” is similar, to Acts 4:12.

Nephi is now, going to continue his final teachings – with the tongue of an Elizabethan Englishman – using lots of “ye’s” with his “you’s”. 

2 Nephi 32:1 The phrase “why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?” is similar, to Mark 2:8.

2 Nephi 32:2 “Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?  And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?”  The words “Do ye not remember” is also in Mark 8:18 and, “speak with the tongues of angels” is similar, to 1 Corinthians 13:1.

2 Nephi 32:3 “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.  Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” 

2 Nephi 32:4 Nephi tells his people that, if they don’t get what he has been teaching them – they “must perish in the dark.” 

2 Nephi 32:5 The words “again I say unto you that if” is also in Matthew 18:19 and, “receive the Holy Ghost” is also in Acts 8:15.

2 Nephi 32:6 He has explained to them the “doctrine of Christ.”  The words “shall ye observe to do” is the same in Deuteronomy 8:1.

2 Nephi 32:7 Suddenly the Spirit has stopped speaking through Nephi and he is “left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness.”  The words “knowledge, nor understanding” is also in Isaiah 44:19.

Next, Nephi emphasizes the role of prayer in obtaining knowledge through the Holy Ghost.

2 Nephi 32:8 Since his audience isn’t understanding what he’s been teaching concerning the doctrine of Christ, he says “For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would  know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.” 

2 Nephi 32:9 “But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.”  Wow, we get a trifecta in that verse – “ye” “thy” and “thee.”  Only the Quakers still use these antiquated words.  The phrase “pray always, and not faint” is similar, to Luke 18:1 and, “the Father in the name of Christ” is similar, to Ephesians 5:20.

Okay, this is the last chapter of the book of Second Nephi.

2 Nephi 33:1 “And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.”

Now, speaking of those who don’t believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God – Nephi says in 2 Nephi 33:2 “But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.”  Meaning they consider them to be of no worth.  The words “hath no place in them” is similar, to John 8:37.

2 Nephi 33:3 “But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people.  For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.”  The words “have written what I have written” is similar, to John 19:22 and, “hear my cry” is also in Psalm 61:1.

2 Nephi 33:4 “And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people.  And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.”  So, Nephi is confident that his prayers will be effective.  The words “in weakness will be made strong” is similar, to Hebrews 11:34.

2 Nephi 33:6 “I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.”

2 Nephi 33:7 “I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat.”  Joseph Smith taught that there will be much work to do beyond death as members of the Latter-day Saint Church go on to gain exaltation.  In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 348 he said, “When you climb up a ladder; you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel – you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation.  But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them.  It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”  

2 Nephi 33:8 The words “from whence I came” is also in Matthew 12:44.

There are literally thousands of grammatical errors in the original edition of the Book of Mormon – errors that have gradually been changed in later editions.  One such change was here in 2 Nephi 33:9 where it is says in part “But behold, for none of these can I hope.” In the 1830 edition it read “Behold, for none of these I cannot hope.” Because that was a double negative statement – it had to be changed.  The words “be reconciled unto Christ” is similar, to 2 Corinthians 5:20.

2 Nephi 33:10 “And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ.  And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.” 

2 Nephi 33:11 “And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye – for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.”  The words “with power and great glory” is the same in Luke 21:27 and, “at the last day” is in John 6:39.

2 Nephi 33:12 “And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.”

Now Nephi will say goodbye to his listeners and readers.

2 Nephi 33:13 “And now, my beloved brethren, and all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.”  When Nephi says “I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust” he is making, reference back to 2 Nephi 27:13. 

Then a big word of warning to those who believe and follow what Nephi has been teaching.  Those who don’t – God will condemn to hell on judgment day.    

2 Nephi 33:14-15 “And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day.  For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey.  Amen.”  The phrase “these words shall condemn you at the last day” is similar, to John 12:48.

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