2 Nephi 3 contains Lehi’s words to his youngest son, Joseph. Lehi recounted the prophecy by Joseph of Egypt concerning the role of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration of the gospel.
Suggestions for Teaching
Before class, draw the following diagram on the board.
To prepare students to understand the teachings in 2 Nephi 3, inform them that this chapter includes information about four men with the same first name. Invite students to quickly search the scripture reference below each figure on the board to determine who is represented by each figure. When a student finds an answer, have him or her write it on the board. (The first figure represents Lehi’s son Joseph. The second represents the prophet Joseph who was sold into Egypt approximately 1,700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The third represents the Prophet Joseph Smith. The fourth represents Joseph Smith Sr.)
Display a picture of the Prophet Joseph Smith, such as Brother Joseph (62161; Gospel Art Book , no. 87). Inform students that much of 2 Nephi 3 focuses on the prophecy by Joseph of Egypt about the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Invite three students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Nephi 3:6–8. Ask the class to identify words and phrases that Joseph of Egypt used to describe Joseph Smith and the work he would accomplish. (You may need to explain that when Joseph of Egypt used the phrase “fruit of my loins,” he was referring to his descendants.) On the board beneath the figure that represents Joseph Smith, list the words and phrases that students find. They should identify phrases such as “a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins,” “esteemed highly,” “the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants,” and “I will make him great in mine eyes.”
As we have studied 2 Nephi 3:6–8, what have you learned about the Prophet Joseph Smith? (Help students understand that the Lord raised up the Prophet Joseph Smith to help bring about the Restoration of the gospel.)
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 3:11–15 silently. Ask them to search for additional phrases about what God would accomplish through the Prophet Joseph Smith. When they have had enough time to study these verses, ask them what they have found. Add their answers to the list on the board beneath the figure that represents the Prophet Joseph Smith. (Answers may include “bring forth my word,” “out of weakness he shall be made strong,” “they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded,” and “called … after the name of his father.”)
To help students further understand and ponder the role of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Restoration of the gospel, read 2 Nephi 3:11 aloud, giving special emphasis to the phrase “power to bring forth my word.”
What are some examples of the word of God that Joseph Smith brought forth? (Answers may include the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, the Joseph Smith Translation, and the Prophet’s own sermons.)
In the course of this discussion, be sure to point out that Joseph of Egypt prophesied that the Prophet Joseph Smith would bring forth the Book of Mormon. You may need to explain that 2 Nephi 3:12 mentions two books: the book written by the descendants of Joseph of Egypt was the Book of Mormon; the book written by the descendants of Judah was the Bible. You may want to suggest that students write these explanations in their scriptures.
Invite students to search 2 Nephi 3:12 for phrases that describe the impact that the Book of Mormon and Bible will have on the world as they “grow together.” (For example, students might identify “confounding of false doctrines,” “laying down of contentions,” and “establishing peace.”)
To help students reflect on how the Book of Mormon has influenced their lives, ask:
When have you experienced the power of the Book of Mormon in your life or seen its influence in the lives of friends or family members?
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 3:15 aloud. Ask the class to give special attention to the phrase “bring my people unto salvation.”
In what ways does the Book of Mormon help bring people to salvation?
What difference has the Book of Mormon made in your life?
To help students understand and appreciate the foreordained mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Brigham Young:
“It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back … to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 108).
Summarize 2 Nephi 3:16–24 by explaining that Joseph of Egypt compared Joseph Smith to Moses. Have students look for words and phrases that describe the Prophet Joseph Smith in 2 Nephi 3:24. As they share the words and phrases they have identified, add their responses to the list on the board.
Read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Ask students to listen for truths revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“Permit me to name a few of many doctrines and practices which distinguish us from all other churches, and all of which have come of revelation to the youthful Prophet [Joseph Smith]. …
“[The] knowledge of Deity. …
“The Book of Mormon. …
“… The restored priesthood. …
“… The plan for the eternal life of the family. …
“The innocence of little children. …
“… The great doctrine of salvation for the dead. …
“The eternal nature of man. …
“… The principle of modern revelation. …
“… During the brief 38 and one-half years of his life, there came through him an incomparable outpouring of knowledge, gifts, and doctrine” (“The Great Things Which God Has Revealed,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 80–83).
Invite a student to add President Hinckley’s list to the list on the board.
Have a student read Doctrine and Covenants 135:3 aloud. Explain that Elder John Taylor of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who later became the third President of the Church, wrote these words soon after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask students to look for items in this verse that they can add to the list on the board. Add their responses to the list.
Give students time to review the list on the board. Invite them to ponder what they have learned about the role of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Invite them to reflect on what they know and feel about the Prophet by writing a response to one of the following questions in their scripture study journals or class notebooks:
What have you learned or felt today that has strengthened your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith?
What did Joseph Smith do, teach, or restore that you feel is “of great worth” (2 Nephi 3:7) to you?
Divide students into pairs. Encourage them to share their testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith with each other. If you have time, you might encourage some students to share with the entire class. Share your own testimony that God raised up Joseph Smith to bring about the Restoration. Invite your students to prayerfully seek ways to share their testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon with others, particularly their friends and family.
Commentary and Background Information
2 Nephi 3:12. How the Book of Mormon and the Bible will “grow together”
Soon after the publication of the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible, with its Topical Guide and its footnotes referencing all the standard works, President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “The Old Testament and the New Testament … and … the Book of Mormon … are now woven together in such a way that as you pore over one you are drawn to the other; as you learn from one you are enlightened by the other. They are indeed one in our hands” (“Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53).
2 Nephi 3:18. Who is the spokesman?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on the identity of the people spoken of in 2 Nephi 3:18. The words in brackets are Elder McConkie’s insertions. He said: “Note these words of the Lord: ‘And I, behold, I will give unto him [Mormon] that he shall write the writing of the fruit of thy loins [the Nephites], unto the fruit of thy loins [the Lamanites]; and the spokesman of thy loins [Joseph Smith] shall declare it.’ That is, Mormon wrote the Book of Mormon, but what he wrote was taken from the writings of the Nephite prophets; and these writings, compiled into one book, were translated by Joseph Smith and sent forth by him unto the Lamanites” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 426).
Supplemental Teaching Idea
2 Nephi 3:5–17. “Like unto Moses”
Display a picture of Moses (such as The Ten Commandments [Gospel Art Book (2009), no. 14]) and a picture of Joseph Smith (such as Brother Joseph [62161; Gospel Art Book, no. 87]). Explain that Joseph of Egypt prophesied that Moses and Joseph Smith would be great seers. Invite students to compare Moses and Joseph Smith as deliverers for the house of Israel, as gatherers, and as restorers of gospel truth. Ask them to silently read 2 Nephi 3:9–10, 17 and Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:29, 34–35, looking for prophecies concerning the mission of Moses. Then invite them to silently read 2 Nephi 3:5–8, 11, 13 and Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:30–33.
What similarities exist between the prophesied missions of Moses and Joseph Smith?
How can these prophecies help us appreciate the role of the Prophet Joseph Smith?
You may want to ask each student to prepare a short lesson about the work of the Prophet Joseph Smith and how it affects us today. Give them time to prepare their lessons, and then divide them into pairs and have them share their lessons with each other.