Lesson 11: 2 Nephi 31-33
Verse 2: What does the word “doctrine” mean? Why is what Nephi and Jacob have written sufficient? Sufficient for what? The phrase, “the doctrine of Christ” can be understood to mean “the doctrine that comes from Christ” or “the doctrine about Christ.” Which meaning do you think Nephi intends?
Verses 2-3: Nephi uses variations of the word “plain” three times, twice in the second half of verse 2 and once in the beginning of verse 3. Why does he delight in plainness? Does what he has said about the manner of prophesying of the Jews help us understand that? (See 2 Nephi 25:2-8.) A common meaning of “plain” is “unornamented.” However, Webster’s 1828 dictionary also gives “honesty”as one of its meanings. Is that meaning part of the extension of Nephi’s word? If you say yes, what makes you think so? When Nephi says he delights in plainness, “for after this manner doth the Lord God work,” what is he telling us? Given the highly figured language in works such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the importance of types in the Old Testament as well as the Book of Mormon, how can Nephi say that the Lord works plainly?
Verse 5: What does “to fulfil all righteousness” mean? To think about that, begin by asking what the word “righteousness” means? After you feel that you have a satisfactory definition, ask yourself why Nephi uses the qualifier “all” and what it means to fulfill righteousness. We usually say that baptism is for the remission of sin. Though that is true, apparently it isn’t the only reason for baptism, for if it were, Christ wouldn’t need to be baptized. What other purpose or purposes might baptism also serve?
Verses 6-8: Nephi’s rhetorical question in verse 6 suggests that these verses tell us what it means to fulfill all righteousness. How do they do so? Does this have something to do with other reasons for baptisms besides the remission of sin? Verse 8 begins with “wherefore”: because the events of verse 7 happened, the event of verse 8 happened. What does this teach us? Does it say anything about the Gift of the Holy Ghost?
Verse 9: Nephi gives another reason for Jesus’ baptism. What is it? Why is that an important lesson for us? How is it related to the teaching of verses 7-8?
Verses 10-12: These verses begin and end with admonitions to follow Christ. What do they teach in between, and what has that to do with following Christ? Compare what Nephi teaches here with 3 Nephi 18:24. How are these two teachings related? Usually when someone tells us to keep the commandments, that person mentions the law of chastity, the word of wisdom, tithing, or things them. Here, Nephi mentions only repentance and baptism. Why does he focus on those particular commandments?
Verse 13: Does Nephi give a list here: follow with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy, acting no deception before God, having real intent, repenting of sin, witnessing that you are willing to take the name of Christ, etc.? Or is he naming one thing, following with full purpose of heart and then explaining what that means in the last that follows? How is this teaching related to that of Moroni 7:6-11? What does it mean to speak with the tongue of angels? Is it significant that “tongue” is singular rather than plural? What is the connection between having the Holy Ghost and speaking with the tongue of angels? Why is the Holy Ghost necessary if we wish to shout praises to the Holy One of Israel? To whom does “the Holy One of Israel” refer? What is the significance of that name?
Verse 14: How does one deny Christ?
Verses 15-18: How do these verses define enduring to the end? What circumstances might have been the catalyst for Nephi’s emphasis on being baptized because Christ was?
Verses 19-20: What does “relying wholly upon the merits of him who is might to save” mean? (Compare Moroni 6:4.) What would it mean not to rely wholly on his merits? On what other merits might we suppose to rely? Does the first part of verse 20 tell us that if we are to rely wholly on the merits of the Savior, then we must press forward in perfect hope and love? What does it mean to have perfect hope? perfect love? Consider the context, then ask yourself what “feasting upon the word of Christ” means in that context. To what does “the word” refer here? That phrase is used in verse 19 and verse 20. Does one use help us understand the other? Is there a referent for the phrase in some of the earlier verses of the chapter?
Verse 21: Why does Nephi say this doctrine is “the only and true doctrine”? What do the words “only” and “true” each mean that helps us understand his point when they are put together?
Verses 1-3: Notice the strangeness of these verses: Speaking to his extended family, Nephi notes that they may wonder what they should do after they have entered in by the way. Then he answers by reminding them that after they receive the Holy Ghost, they can speak with the tongue of angels. How does that answer the question of what one does after entering the way? What does verse 3 teach us about what it means to speak with the tongue of angels? What does it mean to speak the words of Christ? Nephi tells them that if they have the Holy Ghost they will speak with the tongue of angels. Then he tells them that the angels speak the words of Christ by the Holy Ghost. And he concludes by saying that the words of Christ will tell them everything they should do. Given that series, are they to speak the words of Christ or hear them? Is it significant that in 2 Nephi 31:20 Nephi told us to feast on the word (singular) of Christ but now he says we should feast on the words (plural)?
Verse 4: To what does “these words” refer?
Verse 6: To what does “this is the doctrine of Christ” refer? To what Nephi teaches in verse 6?
Verse 7: Is Nephi speaking of his own people here or of his family, including the group with Laman and Lemuel, or of humanity in general? If knowledge is given in plainness, what need is there to search it?
Verses 8-9: About what are Nephi’s listeners pondering? Why do you think they might be doing so? What kinds of things do we “perform to the Lord”? What is the significance of using “to” rather than “for”? What does it mean for a person to have her performance consecrated to her? What would it mean for that not to be the case?
Verse 2: Is Nephi describing his own people here or warning them of what might happen to them by telling them what has happened to many people?
Verse 4: What might Nephi mean when he says that he has written these words in weakness? Notice that doing good and believing in Christ are parallel in this verse. The scriptures very often use parallel phrases or ideas to mean the same thing. Is that the case here?
Verse 6: What does it mean to glory in Jesus? Do we glory in Jesus? How?
Verse 8: Why does Nephi add the note about Jews at the end of this verse? How is his own background relevant to understanding this note?
Verse 9: Why does he add what he says about the Gentiles in this verse when there is nothing comparable in what he says about his people and the Jews?
Verse 10: Nephi says “if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words.” Does he mean that literally? After all, it follows logically from that sentence that if you don’t believe these words, then you don’t believe in Christ? One could use what Nephi says to argue that only Latter-day Saints are Christians. Does that make sense? How or why not?
Verse 12: Of whom is Nephi speaking in this verse? In other words, to whom does “many of us, if not all” refer?
Verse 14: To what does “words of the Jews” refer? How does one respect those words? Could an anti-Semite respect the words of the Jews? (Reread 2 Nephi 29:4-5.)
Verse 15: What has Nephi sealed on earth? How are we to understand that sealing power? Are there other times when we’ve seen it used?