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
Lehi recounts the prophecy by Joseph of Egypt about the Prophet Joseph Smith
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. …
“To the youth … , I give a specific challenge: Gain a personal witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith” (Neil L. Andersen, “Joseph Smith,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 30).
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.
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 (1924–2015) 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” (Boyd K. Packer, “Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53).
2 Nephi 3:12. The Book of Mormon confounds false doctrines and establishes peace
While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder Tad R. Callister shared the following analogy and insights into how the Book of Mormon confounds false doctrine and establishes peace:
“The Bible is one witness of Jesus Christ; the Book of Mormon is another. Why is this second witness so crucial? The following illustration may help: How many straight lines can you draw through a single point on a piece of paper? The answer is infinite. For a moment, suppose that single point represents the Bible and that hundreds of those straight lines drawn through that point represent different interpretations of the Bible and that each of those interpretations represents a different church.
“What happens, however, if on that piece of paper there is a second point representing the Book of Mormon? How many straight lines could you draw between these two reference points: the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Only one. Only one interpretation of Christ’s doctrines survives the testimony of these two witnesses.
“Again and again the Book of Mormon acts as a confirming, clarifying, unifying witness of the doctrines taught in the Bible so that there is only ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism.’ For example, some people are confused as to whether baptism is essential for salvation even though the Savior declared to Nicodemus, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ (John 3:5). The Book of Mormon, however, eliminates all doubt on that subject: ‘And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, … or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God’ (2 Nephi 9:23).
“There exist various modes of baptisms in the world today even though the Bible tells us the manner in which the Savior, our great Exemplar, was baptized: ‘[He] went up straightway out of the water’ (Matthew 3:16). Could He have come up out of the water unless He first went down into the water? Lest there be any discord on this subject, the Book of Mormon dispels it with this straightforward statement of doctrine as to the proper manner of baptism: ‘And then shall ye immerse them in the water’ (3 Nephi 11:26). …
“The list of doctrinal confirmations and clarifications goes on and on, but none is more powerful nor poignant than the Book of Mormon’s discourses on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Would you like to have emblazoned on your soul an undeniable witness that the Savior descended beneath your sins and that there is no sin, no mortal plight outside the merciful reach of His Atonement—that for each of your struggles He has a remedy of superior healing power? Then read the Book of Mormon. It will teach you and testify to you that Christ’s Atonement is infinite because it circumscribes and encompasses and transcends every finite frailty known to man. That is why the prophet Mormon declared, ‘Ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ’ (Moroni 7:41)” (Tad R. Callister, “The Book of Mormon—a Book from God,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 75–76).
2 Nephi 3:8. “He shall do my work”
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that the work of the Lord that Joseph Smith accomplished is evidence of his prophetic calling:
“Questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven. Consider the totality of Joseph’s life—born in poverty and given little formal education, he translated the Book of Mormon in less than 90 days. Tens of thousands of honest, devoted men and women embraced the cause of the Restoration. At age 38, Joseph sealed his witness with his blood. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Settle this in your mind, and move forward!” (Neil L. Andersen, “Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 66).
2 Nephi 3:18. Who is the spokesman?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) 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” (Bruce R. McConkie, 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; see also lds.org/media-library]) and a picture of Joseph Smith (such as Brother Joseph [Gospel Art Book, no. 87; see also lds.org/media-library]). 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 (in the Bible appendix), 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 (in the Bible appendix).
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?