3 Nephi 11

 

Covenant Obedience Brings Peace -

 3 Nephi 11 -- Mormon 7      Disobedience Brings Destruction


 

3 Nephi 11:1 There Were a Great Multitude Gathered Together, of the People of Nephi, Round about the Temple:

 

     According to John Welch, the stated purpose of the Sermon at the Temple is to show the disciple how to be exalted at the final judgment. Jesus said, "Whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day" (3 Nephi 15:1). The Sermon contains, therefore, not just broad moral platitudes, but a concise presentation of conditions that must be satisfied in order to be admitted into God's presence (see 3 Nephi 14:21-23).

     Interestingly, a few New Testament scholars have begun hinting that the Sermon on the Mount had cultic or ritual significance in the earliest Christian community. Betz, for example, sees the Sermon on the Mount as revealing the principles that "will be applied at the last judgment," and thinks that the Sermon on the Mount reminded the earliest Church members of "the most important things the initiate comes to 'know' through initiation," containing things that "originally belonged in the context of liturgical initiation." Indeed, the word "perfect" (teleios, Matthew 5:48) has long been associated with becoming initiated into the great religious mysteries. [John W. Welch, "The Sermon at the Temple," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, p. 254-255; for extensive information see also The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount]

     According to John Welch, Jesus could have picked a lot of places to appear, but he chose to appear at the temple. Thus, this is a profound temple-related text. . . . Some New Testament scholars, W. D. Davies in particular, have toyed with the idea that when the New Testament refers to the Sermon on the Mount, no normal mountain is meant. In ancient Israel there was one mount, and that, of course, was the Temple Mount. "Let us go up unto the mountain of the Lord" (Isaiah 2:2-3; Micah 4:2) refers to the temple in Jerusalem. Thus, some New Testament scholars who have sought Jewish backgrounds for the Sermon on the Mount have toyed with the idea that what Jesus is delivering is a new temple-related sermon in the Sermon on the Mount. [John W. Welch, "The Sermon at the Temple, Law and Covenant," in Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 126] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 12,13,14]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 The Temple:

 

     Andrew Skinner notes that one of the most widely read and respected LDS scholars, Hugh Nibley, Professor Emeritus at Brigham Young University, has written that:

           what makes a Temple different from other buildings is not its sacredness, but its form and function. What is that form? We can summarize a hundred studies of recent date in the formula: A Temple, good or bad, is a scale-model of the universe. The first mention of the word templum is by Varro, for whom it designates a building specially designed for interpreting signs in the heavens--a sort of observatory where one gets one's bearings on the universe. The root tem- in Greek and Latin denotes a "cutting" or intersection of two lines at right angles, "the point where the cardo and decumanus cross," hence where the four regions come together, every Temple being carefully oriented to express "the idea of pre-established harmony between a celestial and a terrestrial image." (Hugh W. Nibley, "What is a Temple?" in The Temple in Antiquity, p. 22).1

 

[Andrew C. Skinner, "Inextricable Link between Temple, Covenant, and Chosenness," in Covenant and Chosenness in Judaism and Mormonism, p. 74]

     Note* It is very interesting that of all the symbolic places where Jesus could have appeared to the Nephites, he chose to do so at the temple, a place symbolically represented by a cross. Moreover, the location of the temple was in Bountiful, denoting the abundance of all the earth, a spot which appropriately represented harmony and communion between heaven and earth. Christ's life was truly symbolic both spiritually and temporally (see 1 Nephi 22:1-3) [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 The Temple:

 

     An interesting passage from Isaiah reads:

           And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob . . . (Isaiah 2:2-3; see also 2 Nephi 12:2-3 and Micah 4:2)

 

     When Abraham built his altar called Bethel, it was on top of a mountain (Genesis 12:8). Throughout southern Mexico and Guatemala, the remains of ancient altars and shrines appear on mountain tops. . . . The Maya word for their temple towers is Ku, the same word for God. Hunab Ku designated the Maya father-God of the universe. Thus the concept of the temple as an artificial mountain made holy by the presence of God was also well-known in the New World. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, pp. 163-166] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 12:2-3]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 A Great Multitude Gathered . . . Round about the Temple Which Was in the Land Bountiful:

 

     The reader should notice that in 3 Nephi 11:1 it does not say that the temple was located in the "city of Bountiful," but rather "in the land Bountiful." If we were to interpret the phrase "land of Bountiful" as the general land Bountiful, then there could be a wide variance as to the location of this temple.

     One statement by the 16th Century writer Ixtlilxochitl points out that after Quetzalcoatl had taught his people, he "ascended" from them at Coatzacoalcos. (Ixtlilxochitl: 39) The city of Coatzacoalcos today is in the state of Veracruz, just across the Coatzacoalcos River by the Gulf of Mexico. [See Geographical Theory Maps] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 28:1]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 There Were a Great Multitude Gathered Together, of the People of Nephi, Round about the Temple:

 

     Why was there "a great multitude" (3 Nephi 11:1) gathered at the temple? John Welch suggests that if you were a Nephite and you were standing around in Bountiful after the signs of Jesus' death had been given, there would still be a bit of a question in your mind what you should do next. The law of Moses was a very broad concept. Not only did it require the observance of commandments and ordinances, it embraced the Nephites' entire constitutional law, public law, civil law, and private law on commercial transactions. You would have known by the Savior's words out of the darkness that the law of Moses was in some way superseded ("In me is the law of Moses fulfilled"--see 3 Nephi 9:17), but you would still ask yourself, What do we do? Do we go about reconstructing the law ourselves? Do we look to the prophet to give us the law? Do we wait for Christ himself to come? Do we still go up to the temple on feast days? These would have been questions that they wouldn't have had an immediate answer to. They knew that something incredibly important had happened--the destructions made that perfectly obvious. They knew that something was no longer applicable. But the voice from heaven in 3 Nephi 9 hadn't really clarified this issue very much either, the voice simply said, "In me is the law of Moses fulfilled." . . .

     One of the temple-related requirements for the law of Moses was a gathering three times a year. You will find this in Exodus 23, throughout Leviticus, and toward the end of Deuteronomy. . . . Three times a year all Israel had to present itself before God at the temple. What for? Primarily for covenant renewal. When Joshua says (in Joshua 24:15), "Choose you this day whom ye will serve," this isn't the first time Israel has chosen to follow Jehovah. This is part of a covenant renewal ceremony, very much like you renew your covenants of baptism every Sunday when the priests say a specially worded covenant prayer and you say, "Amen" and partake, and then listen to a gospel speech. Anciently at the temple they read the statutes, they read the law, they were instructed by the priests, and they performed certain rituals and ordinances. They had a liturgy that they followed very specifically on each of these high, holy festival days, these feasts. The three that were convocation festivals were Passover, Pentecost, and the Year-rite Festivals, which brought together in the ancient world all of the elements of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; the Feast of Tabernacles; and Rosh ha-Shanah, the New Year, which appears to have been a single ritual complex in the pre-exilic period.

     Additionally, in 3 Nephi 9:19-20 the voice said, "ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. . . ." That phrase, by the way, comes right out of Psalms 51:17, and as such was always thought in pious Judaism as the necessary precondition for making a valid sacrifice of any kind. Did that mean to the Nephites that their feast days had been done away with? In other words, would the broken heart and contrite spirit still be a part of feast day celebration, only they just wouldn't offer blood sacrifice?

     A logical conclusion might be that if they were living the law of Moses and still strictly doing so, the observance of the festival requirements would not yet have been abrogated; therefore, it would have been logical for all of this Nephite "multitude" to have presented itself before the Lord at the temple. [John W. Welch, "The Sermon at the Temple, Law and Covenant," in Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, pp. 122-123]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 (The Sermon at the Temple):

 

     For John Welch, the term "Sermon at the Temple" has come to symbolize, in general, all of Christ's interactions with and teachings to the Nephites found in chapters 11-18 of 3 Nephi. However, Victor Ludlow focuses on the fact that during his visit, Christ delivered three main sermons. He terms the first of these sermons "The Sermon at the Temple." So as to keep the reader from confusion, the following is an outline of the sermons:

     A. Welch: The General Sermon at the Temple (chapters 11-18)

     B. Ludlow: Three Main Sermons:

           1. The Sermon at the Temple (chapters 12, 13, 14)

           2. The Law and the Covenant Discourse (chapters 15, 16)

           3. The Covenant People Discourse (chapter 20:10--23:5)

     

3 Nephi 11:1 (The Sermon at the Temple):

 

     According to John Welch, ever since the publication of the Book of Mormon, one of the standard criticisms raised by those seeking to discredit the book has been the assertion that it plagiarizes the King James Version of the Bible, and the chief instance of alleged plagiarism is the Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi 12-14. Mark Twain quipped that the Book of Mormon contains passages "smouched from the New Testament, and no credit given." Reverend M.T. Lamb, who characterized the Book of Mormon as "verbose, blundering and stupid," viewed 3 Nephi 11-18 as a mere duplication of the Sermon on the Mount "word for word," and saw "no excuse for this lack of originality and constant repetition of the Bible," for "we have all such passages already in the [Bible], and God never does unnecessary things."

     The case of critics like Mark Twain and Reverend Lamb gains most of its appeal by emphasizing the similarities and discounting the differences between Matthew 5-7 and 3 Nephi 12-14. Under closer textual scrutiny, however, these differences turn out to be very significant. The Book of Mormon always correctly cites the differences in Christ's Sermons (Mount/Temple) that reflect a post-resurrection setting. [John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, F.A.R.M.S., p. 32]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 (The Sermon at the Temple):

 

     According to John Welch, if Jesus only had a short time to spend with the Nephites, what he would have taught them would have been things of ultimate importance. It is at the temple that we should expect to find, and in fact do find, a systematic and single presentation of the entire gospel--one that puts you into perspective with all that has gone on, where you have come from, why you are here, and what it will take for you to achieve exaltation. As we will see, this is in fact what we find in the Sermon at the Temple. I will suggest to you an interpretation that invites you to let your mind think about the temple, covenant, sacred, and secret kinds of things. . . . I'm not suggesting that what the Nephites had was exactly the same as what you will encounter and have encountered in Latter-day Saint temples, but the elements are there. They are there in a more astonishing and a more profound manner than anyone has previously suspected.

     There is a problem with the Sermon on the Mount for most non-Latter-day Saint interpreters. It is fair to say that the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew has been a real puzzle for those people who have tried to understand it. . . . The Book of Mormon offers us such a solution. It asks us to think as we read this text about temples, covenant making, etc. As far as I know, it is the only interpretation that will account adequately for all of the elements in the speech, and it does so masterfully. Consider for just an overview the prima facie case that what we are talking about here is some kind of ritual text:

     1. It begins in chapter 11 with certain initiatory kinds of ordinances--concerns about ordination to the priesthood, baptism, and a few other things that have to be taken care of before you can go on into the instruction portion of the text.

     2. When you get the actual commandments that are given, Jesus labels these his commandments several times, but only in the Book of Mormon. This is not a term that is known from the New Testament in this context.

     3. Next, we go through, in 3 Nephi 12;18-19, the giving of the law of obedience. What is that law of obedience? It is that we must sacrifice and bring the broken heart and contrite spirit. As the Nephites learned in 3 Nephi 9, as the voice of Jesus spoke from the heavens, that is now the replacement, the new law of sacrifice that they are to live.

     4. Next we go to an instruction about not being angry or speaking evil of one another.

     5. Another instruction pertains to the law of chastity and Christ teaches the importance of the new understanding of the commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

     6. Christ teaches them the law pertaining to generosity toward those who are in need, which has been identified in the Doctrine and Covenants as the law of the gospel, as we will see in a minute.

     7. The Savior goes on to explain that his covenant people must reach yet to a higher order and teaches them that they must be totally committed to the kingdom of God, that a man cannot serve two masters. A Man must serve either God or mammon, and he tells us what we must do in order to lay up treasures in heaven with our wealth.

     There are other elements that are involved as well. Even a person who is completely unfamiliar with the Latter-day Saint temple could readily see how a number of other elements in the Sermon on the Mount could easily be placed into a ritual context. For example:

     1. The use of beatitudes was a common and initial statement of promises in mystery religions and in ritual to tell the initiate what the ultimate blessings of obedience would be.

     2. There is also a requirement in the Sermon on the Mount that if anyone has hard feelings against his brother, he should lay his gift at the altar and go and be reconciled before coming to proceed any further.      3. There are instructions in the Sermon on the Mount as to how to swear one's oaths. They should not be sworn by the heavens or by the earth, but they should simply be a yes or no.

     4. There is instruction as to how to pray in a group context, and

     5. Ultimately Jesus robes his disciples in garments more glorious than the temple garments of even Solomon, and then explains to them how they will pass through the judgment and ultimately be admitted into the presence of God.

     That is just a skeleton but it should suggest to you at least a prima facie case that invites closer scrutiny of each aspect of this speech in a ritual context. . . . [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, pp. 129-130]

     The Doctrine and Covenants affirms that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel. One of the criticisms that has been raised by people--some legitimate and serious seekers of truth and others who were simply trying to discredit the Book of Mormon--is that if the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel, why doesn't it contain some of the things that Latter-day Saints think to be of ultimate importance? It seems to me that perhaps we can answer that question now in a more powerful way than we had ever suspected before. Indeed, of the Book of Mormon it is said that it will be viewed as a weak thing, as a thing of naught, and that it is out of some of the things that will be viewed as the weakest of all that the Lord will turn into great strengths. Sometimes we look beyond the mark. There it might be right under our nose, and yet we don't see. We don't perceive. Our eyes and ears are not attuned, and we're not ready. Or maybe it just is that it is not the time for those kinds of things to be brought forth. [John W. Welch, "Sacrament Prayers, Implications of the Sermon at the Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 149]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 (The Sermon at the Temple):

 

     John Welch proposes forty-seven elements of the Sermon at the temple. If these are understood in connection with defining a covenant relationship between man and God, consider how it makes better sense in connection with establishing a new order of a covenant people, and how it makes better sense if you imagine it being ritualized, or having at least the capacity of being built into a ritual ceremony. One of the main features of ritual in ancient Israel and elsewhere was to take the great, momentous events between god and man and ritualize those events. The momentous events in the Garden of Eden lend themselves to ritualization. The momentous events of God appearing at Mount Sinai became the basis of Israelite temple ritual as they reenacted, remembered, and renewed the covenant that was made at Sinai. . . . It would be therefore, quite logical for the Nephites also to have ritualized the momentous teaching of Jesus which brought in a new haven and a new earth. The following is a summary of those forty-seven elements:

     1. A thrice-repeated announcement from above. (3 Nephi 11:3-5)

     2. Opening the ears and eyes. (3 Nephi 11:5)

           . . . The opening of the ears and eyes can mark the beginning of a ritual ceremony (as it expressly does in Mosiah 2:9), and can symbolize the commencement of an opening of the mysteries and a deeper understanding of what is truly being said and done. . . .

     3. Delegation of duty by the Father to the Son. (3 Nephi 11:7)

           . . . The general pattern this reveals is how the Father himself does not personally minister to beings on earth, but does all things by sending the Son as his representative . . .

     4. Coming down. (3 Nephi 11:8)

           Graphically, Christ came down with teachings and instructions from above. He came robed in garments worthy of mention . . . elements rich with possible ritual implementation and significance. (See Hugh Nibley, "Sacred Vestments," F.A.R.M.S., 1987)

     5. Silence. (3 Nephi 11:8)

     6. Identification by marks on the hand. (3 Nephi 11:9-11)

     7. Falling down. (3 Nephi 11:12)

           . . . Bowing down--or more dramatically, full prostration . . . particularly in a temple context, had long been a customary part of the Nephite covenant-making ceremony (see Mosiah 4:1)

     8. Personally touching the wounds. (3 Nephi 11:13-15)

           The Lord asked all the people to "arise and come forth . . . that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet." . . . Thus, their knowledge was made sure . . .

     9. Hosanna Shout and falling down a second time. (3 Nephi 11:16-17)

           Reminiscent of Melchizedek's blessing of Abraham, "Blessed be the most high God!" (Genesis 14:20) . . .

     10. Ordination to the priesthood. (3 Nephi 11:18-22; 18:37; 19:4)

           . . . At first Christ presumably ordains them to the Aaronic Priesthood, because he only gives them at this time the power to baptize. It won't be until the end of the day (at the end of 3 Nephi 18) that these same twelve are given the power to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost and authority traditionally associated with the Melchizedek Priesthood.

     11. Baptism explained (3 Nephi 11:23-28)

           . . . This washing and purifying ordinance stands in this sequence as a necessary first step toward the kingdom of God.

     12. Assuring the absence of evil. (3 Nephi 11:28-30)

           Jesus took steps to assure that there were no disputations, contentions, or any influences of the devil among this people. . . .

     13. Witnesses. (3 Nephi 11:31-36)

           . . . This is an important element of most covenant making--that it be done in the presence of witnesses--and certainly on this occasion we have that condition fulfilled . . . the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. . . .

     14. Teaching the Gospel (3 Nephi 11:37-41)

     15. Commending his disciples unto the people. (3 Nephi 11:41--12:1)

           . . . In order to ease their way, Jesus exhorts the people to give strict heed to the words of the disciples whom he has chosen. . . .

     16. Blessings promised. (3 Nephi 12:3-12)

           Several blessings, well known as the Beatitudes, were bestowed upon "all" the people. . . meaning on each individual present there. . . .

     17. The people are invited to become the salt of the earth. (3 Nephi 12:13-16)

           . . . This is an invitation to enter into a covenant with the Lord, carrying with it a solemn warning that those who violate the covenant will be cast out and trampled under foot (although one continues to invite them back (3 Nephi 18:32-33). . . .

     The doctrine of the Two Ways, the separation of opposites, light (3 Nephi 12:16) and dark, and heaven and earth is fundamental . . . Some scholars have identified the creation account of Genesis as playing a key role in ancient Israelite temple ritual, although the details remain obscure. . .      

     18. The first set of laws explained. (3 Nephi 12:17-18)

           . . . Jesus explains the essence of . . . the lower law administered anciently by the Aaronic Priesthood. . .

     19. Obedience and sacrifice. (3 Nephi 12:19-20)

           . . . The offering of "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" is none other than the new law of sacrifice, as the voice of the Lord had explained earlier from heaven (3 Nephi 9:19-20). This new law of obedience and sacrifice superseded the practices of sacrifice under the law of Moses and put an end to "the shedding of blood" (3 Nephi 9:19).

     20. Prohibition against anger, ill-speaking, and ridicule of brethren. (3 Nephi 12:21-22)

           . . . speaking evil against any other priesthood brother . . .

     21. Reconciliation necessary before proceeding further (3 Nephi 12:23-26)

           . . . if anyone desires to come unto him, he or she should have no hard feelings against any brother or sister . . . "first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you" (3 Nephi 12:23-24)

     22. Chastity (3 Nephi 27-30)

           The new law imposes a strict prohibition against sexual intercourse outside of marriage and . . . requires purity of heart and denial of these things. In committing to live by this law, the righteous bear a heavy responsibility . . . "wherein ye will take up your cross" (3 Nephi 12:30), a symbol of capital punishment..

     23. Marriages of covenanters are not to be dissolved except for fornication (3 Nephi 12:31-32)

           This demanding restriction applies only to husbands and wives who are bound by the eternal covenant relationship involved here.

     24. Oaths sworn by saying Yes or No (3 Nephi 12:33-37)

     25. Love of Enemies--the Law of the Gospel (3 Nephi 12:38-45)

           "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:37-38)

     26. Transition into a higher order (3 Nephi 12:46-48)

           . . . "therefore (a transition word) I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect."

     27. Giving to the poor (3 Nephi 13:1-4)

     28. The order of prayer (3 Nephi 13:5-15)

     29. Fasting, washing, and anointing (3 Nephi 13:16-18)

           . . . true fasting is to be accompanied with anointing the head and washing the face. Washing the face, the head, the feet, the hands, or other parts of the body is symbolic of becoming completely clean (see John 13:9-10), "clean every whit" (John 13:10).

     30. A requirement of consecration (3 Nephi 13:19-24)

           . . . "No man can serve two masters . . . Ye cannot serve God and Mammon" (instructions tantamount to requiring one to consecrate all that one has and is to the Lord. . . .

     31. Care promised for the twelve disciples. (3 Nephi 13:25-27)

     32. Clothing (endowing) the disciples. (3 Nephi 13:25, 28-34)

     33. Preparing for judgment. (3 Nephi 14:1-5 )

     34. Secrecy required (3 Nephi 14:6)

           . . . "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you" (3 Nephi 14:6)

     35. A three-fold petition. (3 Nephi 14:7-8)

           "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (3 Nephi 14:7)

     36. Seeking a gift from the Father. (3 Nephi 14:9-11

           "Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask [for] bread, will give him a stone?"

     37. [Charity towards] other people. (3 Nephi 14:12)

            . . . all followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are responsible to see that other people are shown the way to salvation and eternal life and, where necessary, assisted in every way possible. . . . and to perform for them, where necessary, any vicarious ordinances. . . .

     38. Entering through a narrow opening (3 Nephi 14:13-14)

           . . . "Enter ye in at the strait gate . . . "

     39. Bearing the fruit of the Tree of Life. (3 Nephi 14:15-20)

           . . . "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit . . . Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them. . . . (3 Nephi 18, 20)

     40. Entering into the presence of the Lord. (3 Nephi 14:21-23)

     41. Lecture on the portion of God's covenant with Israel yet to be fulfilled.

     42. Admonition to ponder. (3 Nephi 17:1-3)

     43. Healing the sick. (3 Nephi 17:5-10)

     44. The parents and the children. (3 Nephi 17:11-25)

            . . . "Behold, your little ones" . . . [they are yours]

     45. The covenant memorialized and a new name given. (3 Nephi 18:1-14)

     46. Continued worthiness required. (3 Nephi 18:15-25)

     47. Conferring the power to give the Holy Ghost (3 Nephi 18:36-37)

 

[John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, pp. 119-163; see also John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 34-83]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 (The Sermon at the Temple) [Illustration]: 47 Ritual Covenant Elements [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, pp. 119-163; see also John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 34-83]

 

3 Nephi 11:1 The Temple:

 

     John Welch notes, and every reader of the Book of Mormon should make note as well, that in light of all that can be said about temples in the Book of Mormon, it should be remembered that in 1829, when the Book of Mormon was translated, Joseph Smith had scarcely thought or dreamed of a temple. Two years later he and the Church would move to Kirtland, where a temple was dedicated in 1836. The ordinances of washing, anointing, and the washing of feet were performed in that temple, but the full endowment was not given until 1843 in Nauvoo. Joseph Smith did not live to see the completion of the Nauvoo Temple, but he completed the task of revealing its essential architectural and ceremonial components that epitomize the gospel of Jesus Christ and its eternal laws and ordinances. In retrospect, we can see today that the blueprint of the Restoration for worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in his holy house was already largely embedded in the texts of the Book of Mormon. [John W. Welch, "The Temple in the Book of Mormon," in Temples of the Ancient World, p. 377]

 

3 Nephi 11:3 They Heard a Voice . . . Voice . . .Voice . . .Voice:

 

     According to Donald Parry, "repetition" is the frequent appearance of the same word within a passage of scripture. This repeated word may be found at irregular intervals, i.e., at the beginning, middle, or end of the sentence. The chief purpose for the repetition of individual words is to draw attention to the word being repeated, or to cause the repeated word to become the principal theme of the passage. In other words, the inspired authors had a purpose in employing the repetition of the same word. Such frequent usage tends to join the several expressions of the paragraph into a unified body -- the various parts connected by the repeated word. Often this is done in such a subtle way, that a hasty and cursory reading of the text may persuade the reader to miss its significance. Attention should be paid to the frequent recurrence of the word "voice" in 3 Nephi 11:3. In this passage, the voice of the resurrected Jesus Christ is described by Nephi:

     They heard a voice as if it came out of heaven;

     and they cast their eyes round about,

     for they understood not the voice which they heard;

     and it was not a harsh voice,

     neither was it a loud voice,

     nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice

     it did pierce them.

     Nowhere in the scriptures is the voice of the Lord depicted in such a fashion. His voice is neither harsh nor loud. To the contrary, the voice of God is small, yet it has qualities which pierce the soul. Examples of this figure of speech are plentiful in the Book of Mormon. For instance, the word "filthy" is found five times in 1 Nephi 15:33-34; "names" six times in Alma 5:57-58; "order" 13 times in Alma 13:1-16; "light" seven times in Alma 19:6; "joy" seven times in Alma 27:17-18; "man" seven times in Alma 48:11; "remember" eleven times in Helaman 5:6, 9-10; "treasures" five times in Helaman 13:19; and "lifted" five times in 3 Nephi 27:14-15. [Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, F.A.R.M.S., pp. xlvi-xlvii]

 

3 Nephi 11:3,5 They heard a voice as if it came out of heaven . . . and their eyes were towards the sound thereof (Illustration): "And Their Eyes Were towards the Sound Thereof." Artist: Harold I. Hopkinson. [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ensign, September 1991, inside front cover]

 

3 Nephi 11:5 They . . . Did Open Their Ears to Hear It; and Their Eyes Were Towards the Sound:

 

     According to John Welch, it's hard to imagine opening your ears. You can open your eyes, but to open your ears seems strange. . . . But in a ritual context, the opening of the eyes and the opening of the ears is symbolic of opening your heart and your understanding to the mysteries--to the secrets, to the rituals, to the sacred things that will then unfold. We know this from King Benjamin's speech (Mosiah 2:9), where he says, "I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view." Functionally, something like this could certainly be analogized to what we see in early Christian ritual coming from Cyril of Jerusalem. Brother Nibley has spelled out in The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri that one of the initial ordinances given to early Christians was the anointing of eyes and ears. Cyril says that they ritualized this and said, " . . . that you might receive hearing ears of the mysteries of God." . . .

     Jesus specifically said in connection with the teaching of the parables that the reason that he speaks in parables is so that everyone won't understand (Matthew 13:10-13). You think, why on earth is Jesus not wanting everyone to understand? Well, there are some things that people aren't yet ready to receive. He will give them and let them understand at the level at which they are prepared to receive. The same things is true with the temple. Hardly anything is taught in the temple that cannot be taught outside the temple. Those principles and doctrines are all there for everyone to hear and see, but it is only in certain connections that you really see and you are fully taught. [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 132]

 

3 Nephi 11:7 Behold My Beloved Son:

 

     About fifty of the Israelite-Jewish names of the Messiah were applied to the New-World Messiah. In Mesoamerica, as in the Near East, He was the God of the Sky and Earth, God of Abraham and Jacob, Great Lord, Yohualli, Sovereign Lord, Father of Life, God of Rains, Lord of the Green Earth, Creator, Son of God, the Wonderful King. The virgin-born and crucified Man-God, Itzamna-Quetzalcoatl, was symbolized by the cross, the serpent, the quetzal bird, the Tree of Life, fire, the hand, the shepherd's staff, Venus -- the Morning Star -- and other appropriate reminders of the Creator Life-God. These symbols preceded the earthly ministry of Jesus by many centuries, going back to "the beginning." [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 22]

 

3 Nephi 11:8 They Saw a Man Descending Out of Heaven:

 

     To the Nephites who had gathered at the temple in the land Bountiful (3 Nephi 11:1), there came "a Man descending out of heaven" (3 Nephi 11:8) and who declared unto them: "I am Jesus Christ" (3 Nephi 11:10). This same voiced had previously declared to them out of the darkness of destruction: "I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens . .." (3 Nephi 9:15).

     It is interesting, in view of some major Book of Mormon geographical theories which place the land of Bountiful in the Tabasco-Chiapas region of southern Mexico, that one of the names for this region was Tamoanchan, which means literally "place of the bird-serpent." Rafael Girard, in El Popol-Vuh Fuente Historica, provides an illustration of the hieroglyph for the name "Tamoanchan (see illustration). It shows a bird above a serpent, and on the body of the serpent are stars. He states that, according to the concept of the present Maya chorti priests, the bird is a representation of the God of the Sky.

     In the National Museum in Mexico city is a large mural from Teotihuacan, the great city of ancient Mexico dating to the days of Christ (illustration not available). Around the border of this huge mural is the body of a serpent, star-studded over its entire length--the Milky Way. Water falls from the hands of the deity portrayed in the mural. Rafael Girard and others have pointed out that tamoanchan was the sky home of deity where there were water and rain in the center of the sky, the source of rain, the Milky Way (Girard 1952, 25). One of the names for the Messiah in Mesoamerica was Itzamna, which means "the dew from heaven." The primary symbol of Itzamna, as for Jehovah, was the serpent, the emblem raised up by Moses in similitude of the Messiah (see 1 Nephi 17:41; 2 Nephi 25:20; Helaman 8:14-15). With this in mind, it is also interesting to note that in Egypt the sky goddess (Tiamat or Nut) is represented not only by the serpent symbol, but by the Milky Way. Thus here we have in the Tamoanchan hieroglyph and the Teotihuacan mural the identical elements in Mexico as found in the Near East--stars and serpents.

     In 1912, the National Museum of Mexico published a paper by Henning, Plancarte, Robelo, and Gonzalez entitled "Tamoanchan," In it the authors point out that tamoanchan was one of several names used by the ancients in referring to their ancient, and now unidentified lost capital. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, pp. 150-152]

       Note* Could this lost capital have been the land of Bountiful, the land to which the "serpent," the God of the Heavens, Jesus Christ came? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

3 Nephi 11:8 They saw a Man descending out of heaven (Illustration): Fig. 41: Bird and serpent symbol of the sky god with stars on the body of the serpent. Scene from a Maya codex. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 151]

 

3 Nephi 11:8 They saw a man descending out of heaven (Illustration): Christ Appears to the Nephites. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #315]

 

3 Nephi 11:8 They saw a man descending out of heaven (Illustration): Christ Descending [Robert T. Barrett, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 7]

 

3 Nephi 11:8 They saw a Man descending out of heaven (Illustration): "Behold, I am Jesus Christ." Artist: Gary L. Kapp. [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ensign, May 1997, front and back cover]

 

3 Nephi 11:9-10 He Stretched Forth His Hand and Spake unto the People, Saying: Behold, I Am Jesus Christ, Whom the Prophets Testified Shall Come into the World:

 

     When Jesus first appeared to the Nephites, they "wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them" (3 Nephi 11:8). According to John Welch, this confusion was only removed as Jesus stretched forth his hands and identified himself as "Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world" (3 Nephi 11:10). Here we have another instance of a place where the Nephites would have recognized, quite probably, the way in which some old aspect of their beliefs had now become fulfilled and new in the visitation of Christ. It is found in Zechariah, a prophet who lived and worked shortly after the time of Lehi in Israel, that we read, "they shall look upon me whom they have pierced. "And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." (Zechariah 13:6) The identification by marks on the hand was also something that early Christians understood. For example, in the "Odes of Solomon," one of the earliest sets of hymns that were used by the Syriac saints in Damascus, we read from the words of one of their texts, "I extended my hands and approached my Lord, for the expansion of my hands is his sign." [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 133]

 

3 Nephi 11:9 He stretched forth his hand . . . saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ (Illustration): The Book of Mormon Testifies of Jesus Christ. Artist: Greg Olsen [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ensign, April 1997, pp. 4-5, also back cover]

 

3 Nephi 11:10: Behold, I Am Jesus Christ:

 

     Kent Brown notes that an important and rather common legal function in the ancient world was that of one person sending an envoy or representative to recover a third person who has been enslaved in a distant place. In all such cases, the agent had to bear credentials from the sender in order to prove who he was and whom he represented. The reasons were twofold. First, the captor had to be convinced that the agent had authority to negotiate the release of the one held captive. Second, the captive too had to be reassured that the agent represented the person who was seeking the release, particularly if the agent was not known to the captive. Hence, we see the need for an agent to bear credentials which prove that he or she is an authorized representative of the one seeking the release of the captive. For example, the opening of the Exodus account brims with the legal essentials required in cases wherein one seeks the release of another. In that instance, it was the Lord who sought the release of the children of Israel through his agent Moses.

     Significantly, in the case of Christ's visit to a distant branch of the house of Israel, the credentials of the resurrected Jesus included a name, the same name that the Lord's envoy, Moses, carried from the holy mount into the Hebrew slave camps. It was the name I AM. Please notice the words with which Jesus began his visit in the New World: 'Behold, I Am Jesus Christ" (3 Nephi 11:10).

     Moreover, Jesus was the envoy or representative who came not only in his own name, but that of the Father (3 Nephi 11:7). But one might say, Who was the captor? According to the text, the reason for Christ's visit to the Nephites was to rescue his people from both Satan (see 3 Nephi 9:2) and their own sinful state (3 Nephi 20:26). But what, we may ask, did he bring as his credentials? We need not look far. He bore the proofs of his rescue mission in his own body. One need only repeat his words of invitation to the spellbound crowd who had gathered at the temple in Bountiful on the first day of his visit: "Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet" (3 Nephi 11:14). [S. Kent Brown, "Moses and Jesus: The Old Adorns the New," in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon, pp. 162-164]

 

3 Nephi 11:10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world (Illustration): Jesus Christ Visits the Americas. Artist: John Scott [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ensign, March 1986, p. 2] [See also The Ensign, January 1997, pp. 4-5]

 

3 Nephi 11:11 Behold, I Am the Light and the Life of the World:

 

     According to Warren and Ferguson, Bernadino Sahagun, a sixteenth century Spanish priest, wrote: "And when Don Hernando Cortes came [to Mexico] they thought it was He [Quetzalcoatl] and they received Cortes as such until his conversation, and that of those Spaniards who came with him, undeceived them"(Sahagun Book 8:21).

     Juan de Torquemada, a Catholic priest born about 1564, arrived in Mexico from Spain early in the seventeenth century and describes Quetzalcoatl as a:

     "white man, large of body, wide of forehead, large eyes, long and black hair, large and round beard . . . They held him in great esteem, . . . and in spiritual and ecclesiastical matters this Quetzalcoatl was supreme, a great priest. . . . They say about this God, Quetzalcoatl, that while living in this mortal life, he dressed in long clothes down to his feet. He was perfect in moral virtues and they say that He is alive and He is to return."

     The Fair God of ancient Mexico and Central America was known by many symbolic names. But in central Mexico the most common symbolic names for him was Quetzalcoatl. Two symbols, the Quetzal bird and the serpent, identify this ancient deity as the "Life of the World." In Guatemala this ancient god was commonly called Gucumatz -- a Quiche Maya term identical in meaning to the Aztec name Quetzalcoatl. . . . In Yucatan the Messiah was known as Itzamna, the Son. . . . A belief in his divine power as creator and in his second coming was general throughout the ancient Mesoamerican world. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 3-5]

 

3 Nephi 11:11 Behold, I Am the Light and the Life of the World:

 

     According to Joseph Allen, virtually all 16th Century writers wrote about a white god called Quetzalcoatl (Ket-sahl-kwah-tull). In the Aztec language of Mexico, the word "coatl" means serpent. The word "quetzal" means feathers. The gorgeous national bird of Guatemala is called the quetzal bird. By placing the word "quetzal" in front of the word "coatl", we convey the idea of a "feathered serpent.." The symbolic association of Jesus Christ with the tradition of the white god, Quetzalcoatl is indeed impressive. The fact that the serpent is associated with Satan in the Garden of Eden may suggest that Christ was originally associated with the serpent and that in the Garden of Eden, Satan, as the great counterfeiter, took upon himself the identity of Christ to deceive Eve. Christ as a "serpent" is spoken of in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon (See John 3:14; 2 Nephi 25:20; Alma 33:19-20; Helaman 8:14-15). The beautiful quetzal bird is symbolic of the heavens, and the serpent is symbolic of the earth. Christ is God over both the heaven and earth. Christ descended to the earth and took upon himself flesh. As the serpent, he descended lower than man and was scourged and hung upon the cross. Like the quetzal, Christ ascended to heaven, and through the atonement, we may also resurrect and ascend to heaven. We should, however, exercise caution as we read about the legends of Quetzalcoatl because throughout pre-Columbian Mexican history, scores of individuals, both mythological and real, were given the name or title of Quetzalcoatl. Nevertheless, similarities of Christ and Quetzalcoatl include the following:

     1. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl were recognized as creator of all things. (Mosiah 4:2; Saenz 1962:19,40)

     2. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl were born of virgins. (Alma 7:10; Gamiz 95)

     3. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl are described as being white or as wearing a white robe. (3 Nephi 11:8; Torquemada 47)

     4. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl performed miracles. (3 Nephi 26:15; Sejourne 136-137)

     5. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl taught the ordinance of baptism. (3 Nephi 11:23; Irwin 1963:170)

     6. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl prophesied of future events. (Ixtlilxochitl:40)

     7. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl were universal as opposed to just being recognized as local gods. (3 Nephi 16:1; Sejourne 1962)

     8. A great destruction was associated with both Christ and Quetzalcoatl at exactly the same time period in history. (3 Nephi 8:5; Ixtlilxochitl:40)

     9. The cross was a symbol to both Christ and Quetzalcoatl. (3 Nephi 27:14; Irwin 1963:165)

     10. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl sent out disciples to preach their word. (3 Nephi 12:1; Wirth 1978:55)

     11. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl promised they would come a second time. (2 Nephi 6:14; Sahagun 1:40)

     12. A new star is associated with both Christ and Quetzalcoatl. (3 Nephi 1:21; Anales de Cauhtitlan 7)

     13. The children of both Christ and Quetzalcoatl will become lords and heirs of the earth. (4 Nephi 1:17; Ixtlilxochitl:40)

[Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 159-161]

 

3 Nephi 11:11 Behold, I am the light and the life of the world (Illustration): The Quetzal Bird] [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 160]

 

3 Nephi 11:13 The Lord spake unto them [at the temple] (Illustration): Christ at the Temple [Robert T. Barrett, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 6]

 

3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and Come Forth unto Me . . . That Ye May Feel the Prints of the Nails in My Hands and in My Feet, That Ye May Know That I Am . . . the God of the Whole Earth:

 

     In 1994, Steven Jones asked himself the following question: In view of the Book of Mormon account of Christ's visit to the Americas after his death in which he let them "feel the prints of the nails in [his] hands and in [his] feet" (3 Nephi 11:14), and since artwork around the Mediterranean Sea shows the resurrected Jesus with marks in his hands and feet, did the same thing apply in Mesoamerica? He began a search for symbolic hand markings in ancient Mesoamerican artwork portraying a deity with deliberate markings on his hands. The following is a collection of brief excerpts from an article reporting on his work:

     One of the first sculptures which he came across was of a Mayan deity known as Itzamna, or "the old god." A non-LDS Mayanist described him in the following way:

     Chief of the beneficent gods was Itzamna. He was the personification of the east, the rising sun with all of its manifold mythical associations . . . As light is synonymous with life and knowledge, he was said to have been the founder of the culture of the Itzas and the Mayas. He was the first priest of their religion. (Daniel Brinton, American Hero-Myths).j

 

     Many sources indicate that Itzamna later became identified with Quetzalcoatl (the Aztec feathered-serpent god) who was called by the Maya Kukulcan. And a number of LDS scholars have associated Quetzalcoatl with Jesus Christ. With this in mind, the following sculptural evidence proves interesting.

     Figure 1 (see below) shows the sculpture of Itzamna and an accompanying line drawing. George E. Stuart and Gene S. Stuart describe the sculpture as ". . . the exalted Itzamna, lord of sky and earth" (The Mysterious Maya, 97). And Robert Elliot Smith describes the line drawing as "Itzamna, the old god . . . [with] prominent cheekbones, markedly Hebraic nose . . ." (The Pottery of Mayapan, 50-52). According to Michael Coe, Itzamna can be traced in the hieroglyphic record to "the mid-second century after Christ" (Early Steps, 117). Note the pronounced holes in the hands or wrists. . . .

 

3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and come forth unto me . . . that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am . . . the God of the whole earth (Illustration): Figure 1: Sculpture of Itzamna, lord of sky and earth, with accompanying line drawing. [Steven E. Jones, Behold My Hands: Evidence for Christ's Visit in Ancient America," in Jace Willard ed. The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, Volume II, Issue III. Orem: Book of Mormon Tours, 1999, p. 2]

 

     Figures 3a and 3b (see below) show photographs of ancient painted capstones from a Mayan temple in the Yucatan peninsula, from a ruin known today as Dzibilnocac. Eric Thompson suggests that the paintings depict God K of the Maya (F. Nelson, personal communication), who is sometimes identified with Itzamna (Nicholas P. Dunning, Lords of the Hills: Ancient Maya Settlement in the Puuc Region, Yucatan, Mexico, 142). The original painting on the upper right (3b) is badly faded, but if you search near the center of the painting you will see a clear black spot on the palm of this deity's hand. In fact, the spot on the hand is among the clearest surviving features on this painting. The line drawing (Figure 3d) retains this circle on the back of the hand, but shows only an open circle whereas the Mayan artist clearly filled in the spot on the hand. The other capstone (Figures 3a and c) also shows the deity with a circular marking on the palm of the hand. (The fingers are not detailed in this case.)

 

3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and come forth unto me . . . that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am . . . the God of the whole earth (Illustration): Figure 3 a-d: Figures 3a and 3b are painted capstones from a Maya temple in the Yucatan Peninsula, of which figures 3c and 3d are line drawings. H. E. D. Pollock and W. R. Bullard, Jr., Monographs and Papers in Maya Archaeology I, 1970, p. 31. Line drawings by Clifford Dunston. [Steven E. Jones, Behold My Hands: Evidence for Christ's Visit in Ancient America," in Jace Willard ed. The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, Volume II, Issue III. Orem: Book of Mormon Tours, 1999, p. 3]

 

     The Latter-day Saints understand that the crucifixion of Christ involved nails through both hands and wrists. In Mesoamerican art, Figure 7 (see below) is a stone carving at Yaxchilan, depicting marks in both the hand and wrist.

 

3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and come forth unto me . . . that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am . . . the God of the whole earth (Illustration): Figure 7 (a) Photograph taken by David E. Jones of a stone carving at Yaxchilan; (b) Drawing by Clifford Dunston. [Steven E. Jones, Behold My Hands: Evidence for Christ's Visit in Ancient America," in Jace Willard ed. The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, Volume II, Issue III. Orem: Book of Mormon Tours, 1999, p. 6]

 

     While studying Mesoamerican artwork, Steven Jones observed that hands in various orientations are frequently used as hieroglyphs in Mayan writing, literally numbering into the thousands--and nearly all of these hand symbols bear the peculiar spot motif.

     Figure 10 is taken from Piedras Negras, Guatemala, and provides a typical example of marked hand symbolism in Mayan hieroglyphic writing. I should mention that a Mayan stone carving may show an actual hole in the hand, while the modern line-drawing of the carved glyph often simply uses a circle. Sometimes the modern line drawer fills in the circle, but usually just open circles are depicted.

 

3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and come forth unto me . . . that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am . . . the God of the whole earth (Illustration): Figure 10: Stela 3 from Piedras Negras, Guatemala. These are a few of the many examples of marked hand iconography in the Maya hieroglyphics. (J. Marcus, Mesoamerican Writing Systems, 1992, p. 348) [Steven E. Jones, "Behold My Hands: Evidence for Christ's Visit in Ancient America," in Jace Willard ed. The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, Volume II, Issue III. Orem: Book of Mormon Tours, 1999, p. 14]

 

     Figure 11 shows Maya glyphs representing "the god of the seventh day." Noted Mesoamerican scholar Eric Thompson has this to say relative to these hieroglyphics:

           [Note] the close relationship between Maya hieroglyphic writing and religion, for there is no doubt that many of the forms and perhaps the names of hieroglyphs have religious connotations" (Thompson, Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing, 9) . . . As in the case of several of the day signs already examined, the design has been shown to reproduce a characteristic attribute of the deity to whom the day was dedicated; it is virtually certain that the hand is the symbol of the god of the seventh day. . . . The hand is also associated with Itzamna . . ." (Thompson, Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing, 76)

 

3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and come forth unto me . . . that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am . . . the God of the whole earth (Illustration): Figure 11: Maya glyphs representing "the god of the seventh day." [Steven E. Jones, Behold My Hands: Evidence for Christ's Visit in Ancient America," in Jace Willard ed. The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, Volume II, Issue III. Orem: Book of Mormon Tours, 1999, pp. 2-3, 11, 14]

 

     Evidently the marked or imprinted hand is connected to deity--in particular with Itzamna, the great Mayan deity previously discussed. It should be noted that one name of this deity is Kabal, the Great Hand, or Maker with His Hands.

     In conclusion, Jones found these correlations striking and significant, for the hand with a hole or circle marking associated with Itzamna/Quetzalcoatl is precisely the same symbol Christ chose for his bleeding on the cross and subsequent triumph over death (John 20:24-28; 3 Nephi 11:14-17). Christ was also closely associated with the seventh day in the Hebrew calendar: "For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day" (Matthew 12:8). [Steven E. Jones, "Behold My Hands: Evidence for Christ's Visit in Ancient America," in Jace Willard ed. The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, Volume II, Issue III. Orem: Book of Mormon Tours, 1999, pp. 2-3, 6, 11, 14]

 

3 Nephi 11:14 Come Forth unto Me, That Ye May Thrust Your Hands into My Side:

 

     According to Warren and Ferguson, in volume 2 of Antiquities of Mexico, Kingsborough explains:

           It is extremely singular that several Mexican paintings should represent Quetzalcoatl with his side pierced with a spear and water flowing from the wound. . . . The paintings which represent Quetzalcoatl pierced with a spear and water issuing from the wound, occur at the sixty-first page of the Borgian manuscript [Kingsborough's Volume 6] and at the ninth page of the Mexican painting preserved in the library of the Institute at Bologna." (Ferguson 1958:138) [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 37]

 

3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and come forth unto me (Illustration): Jesus Teaching in the Western Hemisphere. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #316]

 

3 Nephi 11:14 I Am the God of Israel:

 

     The resurrected Jesus, whom the Nephites heard and saw, was and is the same Jehovah who was seen and heard by Moses and other ancient prophets. He is the great "I Am" (see Exodus 3:14; John 8:56-58); the "Holy One of Israel" (see Isaiah 45:11-15; 2 Nephi 25:29); the "Shepherd of Israel" (see Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 40:11; John 10:11,14-18). [Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Brent L. Top, "Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. IV., p. 53]

 

3 Nephi 11:14 I Am the God of Israel, and the God of the Whole Earth:

 

     T. J. O'Brien gives the following list and asks the reader who it describes:

1. Born of a virgin about 2,000 years ago in the east.

2. Has a little-known childhood, identified with a star.

3. Appears as a holy man and teacher among men.

4. Is of fair complexion, and bearded.

5. Wears a long white robe and sandals.

6. Is tempted by the adversary and endures a 40-day fast.

7. Brings a message of peace, love, charity, and lives chastely.

8. Prays to his Father in Heaven and teaches others to pray.

9. Says: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, avoid violence.

10. Creates all people and blesses his followers.

11. Works miracles: walks on water, heals the sick, cures the blind.

12. Instigates confession, communion, fasting, and baptism of water.

13. Has a body, yet is worshiped as a god by his followers.

14. Is identified with healing and with the serpent.

15. Is persecuted by his enemies, yet offers forgiveness.

16. Is scourged, wears a crown of thorns, and carries a cross.

17. Is crucified, his side is pierced, and water flows from it.

18. Sheds his blood for our sins, and darkness occurs at his death.

19. Visits the underworld of the dead, and speaks of heaven and hell.

20. Although he dies on Friday, he resurrects three days later.

21. Ascends to the heavens, where he now dwells.

22. Returns to the throne of his Father, who is the Supreme God of heaven.

23. Becomes a Savior and Redeemer for all. Resurrects the dead.

24. Is worshiped as One God, yet forms part of a trinity with his father.

25. Is called the life and the light of the world, omnipotent, omniscient.

26. Apostles and disciples continue his work building temples and altars.

27. Will return to reign and bring about a resurrection and golden age.2

 

     According to O'Brien, it would appear that the list describes Jesus of Nazareth, for the list admittedly contains remarkable parallels with his life as depicted in the New Testament. But it is not Christ who is described here. It is, instead, the culture hero of the ancient Americas. [T.J. O'Brien, Fair Gods and Feathered Serpents, pp. 230-231]

 

3 Nephi 11:14 I Am the God of Israel, and the God of the Whole Earth:

 

     According to Warren and Ferguson, about fifty of the Israelite-Jewish names of the Messiah were applied to the New-World Messiah (see illustration). In Mesoamerica, as in the Near East, He was the God of the Sky and Earth, God of Abraham and Jacob, Great Lord, Yohualli, Sovereign Lord, Father of Life, God of Rains, Lord of the Green Earth, Creator, Son of God, the Wonderful King. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 22]

 

3 Nephi 11:14 I am the God of Israel and the God of the whole earth (Illustration): Old-World and New-World Names of the Messiah. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, pp. 22-24]

 

3 Nephi 11:15 The Multitude . . . Did Feel the Prints of the Nails in His Hands and in His Feet:

 

     According to Warren and Ferguson, referring to another of the manuscripts of the Aztecs, Kingsborough notes, "The seventy-fifth page of the Borgian manuscript [reproduced by Kingsborough] is very remarkable for the representation which it contains of Quetzalcoatl in the attitude of a crucified person, with the impressions of the nails visible in his hands and feet." (Ferguson 1958:139) [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 37]

 

3 Nephi 11:15 [They] thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet (Illustration): That Ye May Know. "The multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet." Artist: Gary Kapp. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 526]

 

3 Nephi 11:15 This They Did Do, Going Forth One by One until They Had All Gone Forth:

 

     According to Catherine Thomas, the image of 2,500 people going forth "one by one" (3 Nephi 11:15) arrests our attention. Even if each person had only ten seconds to touch the Lord's body, that adds up to nearly seven hours that he stood patiently and graciously allowed this examination. [Catherine Thomas, "Theophany," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 182]

 

3 Nephi 11:15 Going Forth One by One until They Had All Gone Forth, . . . and Did Know of a Surety:

 

     In 3 Nephi 11:15 it says:

           And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come. (emphasis added)

 

     Hugh Nibley says that chapter 11 of 3 Nephi is perhaps the most powerful statement in the Book of Mormon:

           I never can read it, because I choke up every time I try to do it. And it's very simple--that's the idea. The stranger is one of their own. You do not dispute. You repent and get your act together, he says. I am pulling the family together, he says. I want to bring you back to the Father again. He appears entirely to individuals. He always appears to individuals. That's what an atonement [at-one-ment] is. He greets them one by one, he gives them the signs and tokens one by one, he converses with them one by one, he blesses the children one by one. He gives each person to understand; for example, it comes through here in 3 Nephi 11:15. That's the one by one.

[Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 88--emphasis added]

 

3 Nephi 11:16-17 They Did Cry Out with One Accord, Saying Hosanna!:

 

     At the time of the appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ to the Nephites, the multitudes went forth, felt the resurrected body of the Savior, and testified that "it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come" and then cried out "with one accord, saying: Hosanna!" (3 Nephi 11:15-16).

     According to Daniel Ludlow, the word "Hosanna" is a transliteration of a Hebrew word of supplication which means in essence "Oh, grant salvation." Evidently the people were asking the Savior to teach them the way to salvation; thus it is not surprising that He immediately teaches them the basic principles and ordinances of the gospel. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book Of Mormon, p. 261]

 

3 Nephi 11:17 Hosanna:

 

     According to McConkie, Millet, and Top, the word "Hosanna" literally means "Save now, save we pray" and is taken from a messianic psalm found in the Old Testament (see Psalm 118:25). It was commonly used in ancient times in connection with their worship of Jehovah at the Feast of Tabernacles. Shouting Hosannas and waving palm branches was a means of worshipping the Messiah and acknowledging his saving power (see Matthew 21:9, 15). . . . In the modern Church also the "Hosanna shout" is used as a sacred means of worshipping the Lord and expressing our profound respect, love, and gratitude for him and his holy mission. The modern proclamations of "Hosanna" are usually reserved for deeply sacred events such as temple dedications. Whether done anciently or today, it is a symbol of deep reverence for and worship of our Lord. [Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Brent L. Top, "Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. IV., p. 53-54]

 

3 Nephi 11:17 Hosanna! Blessed Be the Name of the Most High God!:

 

     Once Christ identified himself to everyone "one by one" (3 Nephi 11:15), the people "did cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God!" In Hebrew, Hosannah means "save now." This phrase is somewhat puzzling to many biblical scholars. It has been alternatively interpreted as an intercessory prayer, asking that the Lord might now send salvation; asking for assistance, that it be given to the Messiah. It has also been understood as some kind of royal supplication addressed to the Messiah, or perhaps a call of triumphant joy. Whatever it was, we know that the phrase Hosannah had great Messianic significance, and that it was associated with the anticipated coming of the Messiah, with the cleansing of the temple, and was certainly at home in Israelite temple ritual.

     The Hallel, an ancient festival hymn which was a part of Israelite temple liturgy, reads "Hosannah. Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, and now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord." (Psalms 118:25-26). This was certainly well known in Israel, so it is significant, I think, that in this temple context at the temple in Bountiful all of these Nephites broke forth, crying out in unison spontaneously with this familiar liturgical temple expression. [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 134]

 

3 Nephi 11:19-20 And Nephi Arose and Went Forth, and . . . and . . . and . . . and:

 

     Hugh Pinnock writes that polysyndeton is among the easiest of repetitious ancient Hebrew writing forms to identify because it repeats "the word and at the beginning of successive clauses." A good example of how polysyndeton strengthens a prophet's message is found in 3 Nephi 11:19-20:

     And Nephi arose

     and went forth

     and bowed himself before the Lord

     and did kiss his feet.

     And the Lord commanded him that he should arise.

     And he arose

     and stood before him.

 

     Easily recognizable, polysyndeton was a tool frequently used by Hebrew writers and is an obvious support for the Book of Mormon's Hebraic roots. For additional examples of polysyndeton, see Genesis 8:22; 22:9-11, 13; Exodus 1:7; 1 Samuel 17:34-35; 2 Kings 5:26; Isaiah 2:12-19; Haggai 1:11; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 7:11-18; 1 Nephi 2:4; 4:9; Enos 1:23; Alma 7:27; 8:21-23; 9:21; 4 Nephi 1:5-7; Mormon 8:37; Ether 9:17-19, 21-27.

 

[Hugh W. Pinnock, Finding Biblical Hebrew and Other Ancient Literary Forms in the Book of Mormon, FARMS, 1999, pp. 21, 26-27] [See the commentary on Alma 1:29, Helaman 3:14, 3 Nephi 4:7]

 

3 Nephi 11:21 I Give unto You Power That Ye Shall Baptize This People:

 

     According to Warren and Ferguson, Bishop Diego de Landa, who arrived in Yucatan on the heels of Cortes and before the smoke of battle had cleared away, was surprised to learn that baptism had been practiced, as a "rebirth," for many centuries prior to the time of Columbus. Baptisms were performed in the name of the Messiah or Fair God. . . . In his book The Conquest of Yucatan, Frans Blom, a pioneer Mesoamerican archaeologist-explorer, says that the ancient Mayan baptismal rite "was in some ways more elaborate than Christian baptism, but contained the same fundamental ideas." (79)

     Knowledge of baptism -- a special symbol of the cleansing, rebirth, and regeneration of the individual -- was widespread in Mesoamerica. Thomas Lopez Medel, in a document written in 1612 concerning Mesoamerica, also mentions the ancient baptismal rite:

           There was also practiced and used among the Yucatecan Indians a certain kind of baptism which although it was not obligatory nor general among all, was held in repute. . . And when they had already attained to six or seven years, the time when they were to be baptized was discussed with the priest, and the day . . . appointed. By this and other similar ceremonies which had been observed in Yucatecan Indians and in others, some of our Spaniards have taken occasion to persuade themselves and believe that in times past some of the apostles or a successor to them passed over to the West Indies and that ultimately those Indians were preached to. (226)

     The Maya term for the ceremony, caput sihil, means "to be born anew." The meaning of this Maya term is confirmed from the central-mesa account of Sahagun. This "rebirth" in water was one of two requisites to the attainment of "glory" of the kingdom of God in Mesoamerica. Bishop Landa said that by baptism and by "a well ordered life" the Mayas hoped to attain the kingdom. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, pp. 16-19]

 

3 Nephi 11:22 On This Wise Shall Ye Baptize; and There Shall Be No Disputations among You:

 

     According to Gary Walker, in just twenty-two verses containing the opening remarks of the Savior, the word baptism (or one of its forms) occurs nineteen times. (3 Nephi 11:22--12:2.) Without valid baptism by one having authority from the Lord, we could not return to dwell with the Father and the Son and be one with them. Baptism is, in the literal and eternal sense, a unifying ordinance between God and his people. Hence, the principle of unity as exemplified in the Godhead was connected with the instructions regarding baptism: "After this manner shall ye baptize in my name, for behold verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one" (3 Nephi 11:27). [Gary Lee Walker, "The Downfall of the Nephite Nation: Lessons for Our Time," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 151]

 

3 Nephi 11:27 Verily I Say unto You, That the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost Are One:

 

     According to T.J. O'Brien, one of the strongest arguments for Christian teachings in ancient America would be the presence of one of Christianity's most enigmatic doctrines, the belief in one God who forms a trinity. Even devout Christians have never been able to explain fully how one God is also three. To find such a parallel among native beliefs would be remarkable indeed, yet it exists . . . [T.J. O'Brien, Fair Gods and Feathered Serpents, p. 218]

 

3 Nephi 11:27 The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost Are One:

 

     According to Donna Nielsen, in the original Hebrew, the word for "one" (see 3 Nephi 11:27) was echad," which meant a composite oneness rather than the absolute number "one." It was the word, for example, that would be used for a single cluster of grapes. It often took at least two to make one. The scriptures have many examples. This same word, echad, appears in Genesis 2:24 to signify that Adam and Eve became "one flesh." The purpose of marriage in biblical understanding was to "become one." so that together they could "bring forth." The word "echad" appears again in Ezekiel 37:16-19 to describe the sign of the two sticks that became "one" in the prophet's hand. In John 10:30 it is found in the declaration that Christ and the Father are "one." And in John 17:20-23 we find this word used to describe how Christ and his disciples are "one." [Donna B. Nielsen, Beloved Bridegroom: Finding Christ in Ancient Jewish Marriage and Family Customs, p. 138]

 

3 Nephi 11:27 The Father and I Are One:

 

     According to Avraham Gileadi, the concept of God's "oneness" (3 Nephi 11:27) describes not singleness but unity and can be understood better in light of the ancient Near Eastern suzerain-vassal covenant relationship. Those who are one with God are in the process of ascending the spiritual ladder (see Moses 6:68). By becoming "sons" of God, they are "one" in Christ as he is "one in the Father (D&C 35:2). Their unity expresses itself in a suzerain-vassal type of relationship when both parties to the covenant keep its terms. . . .

     In this covenant progression, there exist several levels on which suzerain-vassal relationships function. The intent of each such relationship is to facilitate humanity's redemption. Suzerain-vassal relationships establish an environment that enables those on a lower plane to ascend to a higher one and partake of blessings that pertain to it. . . . Each category or level of progression that divides people is governed by a suzerain-vassal type of relationship. Each category or level of progression, moreover, is marked by blessings commensurate with the law of its covenant.

     Gileadi calls this phenomenon of higher and lower relationships a "paradigmatic hierarchy." In the book of Isaiah, those on a lower plane emulate a key personage on a higher plane and thus become like him. At the same time, the one on a higher plane emulates and becomes like one higher still. Each time a person ascends to a higher plane, he enters a new reality--he is "born" again. All intelligences who don't stop short are involved in an upward progression until they become like God. The lower become like one higher when they acquire his attributes. The lower acquire his attributes by subjecting their will to his--by exercising loyalty toward the higher. Fulfilling the will of one higher acts as the vehicle for becoming like him. Becoming like him qualifies one as an heir.

     The higher serves as a model, or paradigm, to the lower, and the relationship between them is covenantal (see John 15:9-10). The higher exercises a governing and mediatory function toward the lower (see Abraham 3:1-28) and by that means attracts them to himself (see 2 Nephi 26:24). The lower do what they see the higher one do. By so doing they grow in power and are saved from a lower condition. Jesus invites all men to do what they have seen him do (3 Nephi 27:21); but Jesus does what he has seen the Father do (John 5:19). In that way, Jesus is glorified in them (3 Nephi 19:29), as the Father is glorified in him (3 Nephi 9:15; 11:11). In that way, also, they are one with Jesus, as he and the Father are one (John 17:7-23).

     This covenantal unity promises the redemption of the lesser party from a lower, or fallen, state. We thus define salvation as deliverance from a lower state, and that lower state as something evil or less than desirable. "Returning to our Father in heaven" (as we would say), in effect, involves ascending through several spiritual levels, each governed by a suzerain-vassal relationship, until one reaches the "celestial kingdom," the kingdom of God. In order that we might accomplish that exaltation, God ordains helps or helpers in the form of righteous proxies.

     Within this system of divine help--within God's plan for salvation and exaltation of his children--the greater party pays the price that secures the salvation of the lesser. Outside this covenant arrangement, there exists no savior who can save his people. There is but a single God--Jesus Christ, the Savior of all--on whom all depend for their everlasting salvation. Hence, King Benjamin's parallelistic statement, "There is no other head [suzerain] whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh" (Mosiah 5:8). [Avraham Gileadi, The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, pp. 241-243]

 

3 Nephi 11:28 According As I Have Commanded You Thus Shall Ye Baptize:

 

     According to John Welch, although Jesus gave power and instructions to the disciples to baptize (3 Nephi 11:21-28), these baptisms weren't carried out immediately as the Nephites heard Jesus at this time. Baptisms would have taken far too much time. But they were carried out the very next morning. Some might wonder why they didn't stop at this point to go and actually be baptized. One reason might be that as they had come up to the temple that morning it's quite possible that they had already properly washed and purified themselves, as an Israelite normally would have done in coming up to the temple on a routine day.

     This perhaps then gives us one other instance where we might see the old form of washing and purification transformed into the new ordinance or baptism with the coming of Jesus. We know, for example, from excavations around the temple of Jerusalem, dating back to around the second century B.C., that there were mikvaoth or baptismal fonts lining the roads up to the temple so that those who were pilgrims coming to the temple could ritually immerse themselves and be then pure to present themselves at the temple. Those kinds of older forms of washings--which are precedented as early as Exodus 19:10 where Moses told the Israelites to wash their clothes and purify themselves against the day when the Lord would appear to them at Mt Sinai--had now been completely replaced by the true order of baptism which Jesus instructed them in. [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 134]

 

3 Nephi 11:30 Such Things [of the Devil] Should Be Done Away:

 

     According to John Welch, Jesus took steps to assure that there were no disputations, contentions, or any influences of the devil among the people at his temple sermon (see 3 Nephi 11:28-30). The Sermon at the Temple calls these the influences "of the devil, who is the father of contention" (3 Nephi 11:29). With a simple authoritative statement, Jesus asserted that "such things should be done away" (3 Nephi 11:30). This declaration fills the role of warding off the presence or influence of Satan--a standard element in ritual drama--and I assume that for this reason Satan's personal presence is not indicated anywhere again in the Sermon. One of the purposes of Jesus' teaching is to give the righteous the ability to be delivered "from evil," as the Lord's Prayer requests later in the Sermon (see 3 Nephi 13:12). The Greek for this can be read, "deliver us from the Evil One" (Matthew 6:13). Another power apparently given to the righteous is the ability to "cast out devils" (3 Nephi 14:22) although the Sermon warns that some will exercise this power unrighteously. [John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, pp. 40-41]

 

3 Nephi 11:32 The Father . . . The Son . . . The Holy Ghost:

 

     To the Nephites, the resurrected Lord declared:

           And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. (3 Nephi 11:32)

 

     According to Richard Hopkins, in his First Apology, written in 150 A.D., Justin is emphatic in defending the total separateness of the Father and the Son, and the role of the pre-mortal Christ as the God of the Old Testament. He wrote:

           The Jews, always thinking that the Father of all things spoke to Moses, he who spoke to him being the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, are rightly upbraided both by the Spirit of prophecy and by Christ himself, as knowing neither the Father nor the Son. For they who say that the Son is the Father are proved neither to know the Father, nor that the Father of all things has a Son, who, being moreover the first-born Word of God, is also God.3

 

     Justin's doctrine of separation between the three members of the Godhead was such that he placed the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in order of hierarchy as follows:

           Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove.4

[Richard R. Hopkins, How Greek Philosophy Corrupted the Christian Concept of God, p. 128] [See the commentary on Ether 12:41]

 

3 Nephi 11:32 The Father Commandeth All Men, Everywhere, to Repent:

 

     Hugh Nibley asks a pertinent question: "Who is righteous in the Book of Mormon?" There's a very simple definition of righteousness in the Book of Mormon, as in the book of Ezekiel. One is righteous because he is repentant, and a person who is not repenting is a person who is not righteous. That's all there is to it, because we're all wicked and we all need to repent all the time. "Say nothing but repentance to this generation (D&C 6:9)." The first word of the Lord to the Nephites was, "This is my doctrine . . . and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere to repent . . ." (3 Nephi 11:32). You have to do that. And as Ezekiel tells us, if a person has been righteous all his life but he's not repenting any more, he's wicked (see Ezekiel 18:20-32). Of course, he may have been wicked all of his life, and if he's repenting now, he's righteous. It makes no difference. So, always repent, always keep repenting. "But behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent" (1 Nephi 22:28). The phrase "all nations" occurs ninety times in the Book of Mormon. You see, the gospel isn't just for one special tribe, or a chosen people, or church, or anything like that. . . . So the Church is not provincial and it's not ethnic. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 228, 242] [See the section on the doctrine of Christ in The Covenant Story, Vol. 2, 2 Nephi 31-33; see 1 Nephi 17:35]

 

3 Nephi 11:36 The Father, and I [The Son], and the Holy Ghost:

 

     In 3 Nephi 11:35-36, Jesus identified three who would witness the making of the covenant on this occasion, the Father, Christ himself, and the Holy Ghost. According to John Welch, from the Old Testament we know that it is in the mouth of two or three witnesses that all things are to be established. One may think also of the three messengers who visited Abraham, or the calling of witnesses in Joshua 24:15, where Joshua says, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve" and then points out that the people themselves on that occasion were witnesses of what they had done. That is an important element of most covenant making--that it be done in the presence of witnesses--and certainly on this occasion we have that condition fulfilled as well. [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 135]

     Filling a covenantal role that is familiar from several other occurrences in scripture (d.g., Genesis 18:2; Deuteronomy 4:26; 19:15; 2 Nephi 11:3), these three stand together at the commencement of this dispensation of the new law to the Nephties to witness of the gospel. [John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, p. 41]

 

3 Nephi 11:39 Gates of Hell:

 

     According to Larry Dahl, the word hell appears sixty-two times in the text of the Book of Mormon. Thirty-three times it stands alone, without modifiers or explanation of what it means, as in "And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell" (Alma 30:60).

     Twenty-nine times the word hell is used with descriptive modifiers, for example, "depths of hell" (1 Nephi 12:16), "hell which hath not end" (1 Nephi 14:3-4), "awful hell" (1 Nephi 15:29, 35; Alma 19:29; 54:7), "sleep of hell" (2 Nephi 1:13), "gates of hell" (2 Nephi 4:32; 3 Nephi 11:39-40; 18:13), "pains of hell" (Jacob 3:11-12; Alma 14:6; 26:13; 36:13), "chains of hell" (Alma 5:7,9,10; 12:11; 13:30; 26:14), "child of hell" (Alma 11:23; 54:11), "powers of hell" (Alma 48:17), "everlasting hell" (Helaman 6:28), "hell fire" (3 Nephi 12:22; Mormon 8:17), and "endless hell" (Moroni 8:13).

     Numerous times in the Book of Mormon other terms or phrases are used to mean hell, and these terms add to our understanding of what hell really is. For example, the reader should note Nephi's explanation--which he received from an angel (1 Nephi 12:16-18)--of the river of filthy water in his and his father's vision of the tree of life. . . . Other terms or phrases used in the Book of Mormon to refer to hell are "eternal gulf of misery and woe" (2 Nephi 1:13), "kingdom of the devil" (2 Nephi 2:29; 28:19; Alma 41:4), "spiritual death" (2 Nephi 9:12), "awful monster" (2 Nephi 9:10), "lake of fire and brimstone" (2 Nephi 9:19,26; 28:23), "misery and endless torment" (Mosiah 3:25; Mormon 8:21), "awful chains" (2 Nephi 28:22), "everlasting chains of death" (Alma 36:18), "slumber of death" (Jacob 3:11), "deep sleep" (Alma 5:7), "second death" (Alma 13:3), "place of filthiness" (1 Nephi 15:34), "endless night of darkness" (Alma 41:7), "misery which never dies" (Mormon 8:38), and "dregs of a bitter cup" (Alma 40:26). [Larry Dahl, "The Concept of Hell," in Doctrines of the Book of Mormon: The 1991 Sperry Symposium, pp. 42-44]