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.
Before class, draw the accompanying 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 (Gospel Art Book , no. 87; see also lds.org/media-library). Inform students that much of 2 Nephi 3 focuses on a prophecy by Joseph of Egypt about the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Remind students that when the angel Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith, he said that Joseph’s name would “be both good and evil spoken of among all people” (Joseph Smith—History 1:33). Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The negative commentary about the Prophet Joseph Smith will increase as we move toward the Second Coming of the Savior. The half-truths and subtle deceptions will not diminish. There will be family members and friends who will need your help. …
As students study 2 Nephi 3 today, invite them to look for truths that can help them strengthen their testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Divide the class in half. Assign one half to read 2 Nephi 3:6–9 and the other half to read 2 Nephi 3:11–15. Ask the class to look for 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.)
After sufficient time, invite students to come to the board and, near the figure that represents Joseph Smith, list the words and phrases they found. They should list phrases such as “a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins,” “esteemed highly,” “the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants,” “I will make him great in mine eyes,” “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.”
After students have finished writing on the board, point out the phrase “unto him will I give power to bring forth my word” in verse 11.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 135:3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for examples of the word of God that Joseph Smith brought forth. Before the student reads, explain that John Taylor (1808–1887), who later became the third President of the Church, wrote these words soon after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
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.)
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 invite students to consider writing 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.”
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: The Book of Mormon and the Bible work together to …
How would you complete this statement based on the teachings in verse 12? (Using students’ responses, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following truth: The Book of Mormon and the Bible work together to confound false doctrines, establish peace, and bring people to the knowledge of the Lord’s covenants.)
What are some examples of how the Book of Mormon works with the Bible to confound false doctrines?
You can find examples of how the Book of Mormon and the Bible work together to confound false doctrines in the October 2011 general conference talk “The Book of Mormon—a Book from God” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 74–76), by Elder Tad R. Callister, who served as a member of the Seventy. If time permits, consider using Elder Callister’s analogy by drawing one dot on the board and asking how many straight lines can be drawn through it. Then draw a second dot on the board and ask how many straight lines can be drawn to connect and go through both dots. (Only one line can be drawn to connect and go through both dots.) Ask students to explain how this may represent the truth that is written on the board.
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?
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?
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 report the words and phrases they found, add their responses to the list on the board.
To help students identify another truth from their study of 2 Nephi 3, refer to the list of phrases on the board describing the Prophet Joseph Smith, and ask:
Based on what we have learned from 2 Nephi 3, how would you summarize why the Lord raised up the Prophet Joseph Smith? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: The Lord raised up the Prophet Joseph Smith to help bring about the Restoration of the gospel.)
To help students understand this truth, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Brigham Young (1801–77):
“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” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 96, 343.).
Why is it important to know that Joseph Smith was raised up by the Lord to help bring about the Restoration of the gospel?
Invite students 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 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?
Invite a few students to share with the class what they wrote, and consider sharing an experience of your own.
To help students know how they can further strengthen their testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen:
“A testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith can come differently to each of us. It may come as you kneel in prayer, asking God to confirm that he was a true prophet. It may come as you read the Prophet’s account of the First Vision. A testimony may distill upon your soul as you read the Book of Mormon again and again. It may come as you bear your own testimony of the Prophet or as you stand in the temple and realize that through Joseph Smith the holy sealing power was restored to the earth. With faith and real intent, your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith will strengthen” (Neil L. Andersen, “Joseph Smith,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 30).
Invite students to consider what they can do to further strengthen their testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and how they can share that testimony with others.