2 Nephi 6:2-5; 9:1-3 A Prophet’s Motivation
Nephi recorded these powerful teachings of his younger brother Jacob, comprising 2 Nephi 6-10. Jacob states the reasons behind his teachings:
- It is his duty as an ordained leader of the people of Nephi (6:2).
- He has great love for them, being “desirous for the welfare of [their] souls,” with “great anxiety” (6:3).
- He wishes the people to “learn and glorify” the name of God (6:4).
- He counsels them to “liken” his words to themselves (6:5).
Additionally, Jacob wants his people to “know concerning the covenants of the Lord” (9:1), and to “rejoice, and lift up your heads forever, because of the blessings of the Lord” (9:3). Note also Jacob’s expression in 6:2, “my beloved brethren,” which he repeats twelve more times in chapters 9-10; showing his love and concern for his people. All this can be taken as a pattern for our own efforts, whether in callings or personal ministry. And, it is a pattern to observe in our modern prophets and other leaders and members.
2 Nephi 6:6-18 Why do People Suffer?
Jacob speaks of afflictions that have or will come upon people, such as the slaying and scattering of the Jews (verse 8); the smiting of those who crucified the Savior (verses 9-10); and others being driven, hated, and greatly oppressed (verses 11, 15, 18). We cannot know the cause nor reasons for trials and afflictions, but in 2 Nephi 26:24 we read that the Lord “doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world.” Thus, Jacob was sure to add the Lord’s promises: “I will lift up mine hand … and set up my standard” (verse 6), “thou shalt know that I am the Lord” (verse 7), “[I will] be merciful” (verse 11), “the Lord God will fulfill his covenants which he has made unto his children” (verse 12), “the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed” (verse 13), “he will manifest himself unto them in power and great glory” (verse 14), “the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people” (verse 17), and “all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer” (verse 18). Mortality is full of trials, but the Lord is in charge and will deliver and save His people.
2 Nephi 7-8 Jacob Quotes Isaiah
Like Nephi, Jacob appeals to Isaiah to teach about the Messiah and His redeeming work. A helpful approach is to highlight the things the Lord has done and will do for ancient and modern Israel, including:
- Of His atonement, “I gave my back to the smiter … I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (7:6).
- “The Lord shall comfort Zion. … Joy and gladness shall be found therein” (8:3; see also verse 11).
- “I will make my judgment to rest for a light for the people” (8:4).
- “On mine arm shall they trust” (8:5).
- “My salvation shall be forever” (8:6; see also verse 8).
- “Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings” (8:7).
- “Sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (8:11).
- “I am he that comforteth you” (8:12).
- “The Lord thy maker … hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth” (8:13).
- “[I] have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand” (8:16).
- “The Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people” (8:22).
We should always look for and remember the great things the Lord has done and continues to do for us.
2 Nephi 8:17-20 “These Two Sons”
This prophecy of two “sons” who will “lie at the head of all the streets” in Jerusalem is also foretold in Revelation 11:3-12. It refers to two prophets who will perform a ministry of miracles in Jerusalem before Christ’s coming.
2 Nephi 9:4-26 “O How Great!”
This chapter reveals more of “the merciful plan of the great Creator” (verse 6) and can be considered a companion discourse to Lehi’s teachings in 2 Nephi 2. Jacob answers one of mankind’s burning questions, What happens when we die? He teaches with great clarity, which is so typical of the Book of Mormon:
- The Fall led to physical death for all mankind (verse 6), defined in verses 12-13 as the separation of the body and spirit. Jacob calls this “the death of the body” (verse 10), the “temporal” death (verse 11), “the grave” (verse 11), and “the first death” (verse 15).
- The Fall also brought about our separation from God, or being “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (verse 6); also called “hell” (verses 10, 12), “the death of the spirit” (verse 10), and “the spiritual death” (verse 12). Jacob terms both deaths—and the devil’s role in them—an “awful monster” (verses 10, 19, 26).
- The only way we can be rescued from the predicament of these two deaths is through “a power of resurrection” (verse 6) and “an infinite atonement” (verse 7). See also 2 Nephi 10:25.
- Jacob teaches in verse 7 that if the Atonement were not infinite, “this corruption” (our physical bodies, which are corrupt in the sense that they are subject to illness, injury, disease, and death) “could not put on incorruption” (be resurrected to perfect, immortal bodies; see verses 13, 15), and the “first judgment which came upon man” (the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and the separation from God) would have remained forever upon all of us; our bodies left “to rot and to crumble … to rise no more.”
- What else would have happened to us without the Resurrection and the Atonement? Verses 8-9 make it clear that with our bodies in the grave forever, our spirits would have become eternally subject to the devil and we would become like the devil. But this is not to be, for “the great Creator” became subject to mortality, died for all, and resurrected (verses 5-6, 21-22). He prepared the way for our “escape” (verse 10) and “deliverance” (verse 11) from the captivity of both deaths (verses 12, 26).
- At this point, Jacob seems unable to withhold any longer an outburst of testimony and gratitude: “O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace!” (verse 8). He repeats multiple versions of this holy declaration: “O how great the goodness of our God” (verse 10); “O how great the plan of our God!” (verse 13); “O the greatness and the justice of our God!” (verse 17); “O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel!” (verse 19); and “O how great the holiness of our God!” (verse 20).
2 Nephi 9 Names and Titles of Christ
Another contribution from Jacob’s discourse is an expansion of the list of names or titles for Jesus Christ. Students of the scriptures have identified over 300 names and titles; 100 of them being in the Book of Mormon. What are the different names or titles in 2 Nephi 9, verses 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 11, 39, 40, 41, 44, 45, and 46?
2 Nephi 9:27-38, 44 “Wo!”
After his eloquent outline of the fall of man, death, resurrection, atonement, and the greatness and goodness of God, Jacob offers several warnings. He laments, “O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! … They hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves” (verse 28). By definition, every sin is an instance of choosing our way over God’s, which indeed is “foolishness.” And every unrepented sin comes with its consequences, as Jacob warns with ten expressions of wo (“wo” can mean a curse, denunciation, or exclamation of sorrow or calamity). Look for these in verses 27, 30-38. Then, for further emphasis, in verse 44 Jacob literally removes his outer clothing and shakes them before the people, indicating that he has fulfilled his priesthood responsibility to teach and warn the people (see also Jacob 1:19).
2 Nephi 10:3-8 The Jews Will be Restored and Gathered
After recording numerous names and titles for the Son of God, in verse 3 we see the Book of Mormon’s first instance of the name Christ, having been revealed to Jacob by an angel. (The first use of Jesus occurs in 2 Nephi 25:19.) It is significant to read that the Jews in the time and place of Jesus’s mortality would be “the more wicked part of the world” and the only ones who would crucify Him (verse 3); and that His appearance and miracles among other nations would have led to repentance (verse 4). Verse 5 teaches that the Jews would be driven by priestcrafts (see 2 Nephi 26:29), iniquities, and stiffneckedness (which means to be haughty and obstinate). All this would lead to five consequences for the Jews: Destructions, famines, pestilences, bloodshed, and scattering among all nations (verse 6), yet the Lord offers His glorious promise that when the Jews come to believe in Christ, they will be restored and gathered (verses 7-8).
2 Nephi 10:10-25 The Americas
Look in these verses for additional assertions, prophecies, and warnings regarding the land where the Nephites lived. The bottom line which we must all take to heart is Jacob’s counsel in verses 20, 23-24 to remember our merciful God, lay aside our sins, choose the way of eternal life, and receive His grace, which is our only way to salvation (see also 2 Nephi 25:23).