The book of 2 Nephi will help students understand basic doctrines of the gospel, such as the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and agency. Additionally, this book is filled with prophecies from Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah, who were special witnesses of the Savior. They prophesied of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days, the scattering and gathering of God’s covenant people, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the Millennium. The book of 2 Nephi also contains Nephi’s explanation of the doctrine of Christ and concludes with Nephi’s testimony of the Savior.
Lehi’s son Nephi wrote this book. Nephi was a prophet and the first great leader of the Nephite people after their separation from the Lamanites. His writings reveal that he experienced the Lord’s redeeming power (see 2 Nephi 4:15–35; 33:6) and desired with his whole soul to bring salvation to his people (see 2 Nephi 33:3–4). To accomplish this purpose, he taught his people to believe in Jesus Christ and he established a temple.
Nephi wrote with three audiences in mind: his father’s descendants, the Lord’s covenant people in the last days, and all the people in the world (see 2 Nephi 33:3, 13). The book of 2 Nephi was written on the small plates of Nephi, which were designated by the Lord to be a record of “the ministry and the prophecies” of Nephi and his descendants (see 1 Nephi 19:3–5). On these plates Nephi recorded “the things of [his] soul, and many of the scriptures which [were] engraven upon the plates of brass” (2 Nephi 4:15). He explained that he wrote “for the learning and the profit of [his] children” (2 Nephi 4:15). He declared, “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26). He concluded his record by inviting all people to “hearken unto [his] words and believe in Christ” (2 Nephi 33:10).
Nephi began writing the account that became 2 Nephi in approximately 570 BC, which was about 30 years after he and his family left Jerusalem. He wrote it when he was in the land of Nephi (see 2 Nephi 5:8, 28–34).
Although Nephi is the author of 2 Nephi, the book is a compilation of teachings from various sources. As shown in the following list, many chapters in the book include quotations from other prophets. Because Lehi, Jacob, and Isaiah had seen Jesus Christ and were witnesses of Him, Nephi included some of their teachings in an effort to persuade readers to believe in Jesus Christ. Lehi and Jacob also quoted other prophets in their sermons.
2 Nephi 1–4 Shortly before his death, Lehi counsels and blesses his posterity.
2 Nephi 4–8 Nephi glories in the Lord. He leads his followers into a land they call Nephi. He records Jacob’s teachings on the scattering and gathering of Israel.
2 Nephi 9–10 Jacob teaches about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He also prophesies of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus Christ and the future gathering of Jews and Gentiles in the promised land.
2 Nephi 11–24 Nephi expresses his delight in testifying of Jesus Christ. He quotes Isaiah’s prophecies regarding the scattering and gathering of Israel, the humbling of the proud and wicked before the Second Coming, and the birth, mission, and millennial reign of the Messiah.
2 Nephi 25–27 Nephi prophesies of the Savior’s Crucifixion, Resurrection, and visit to the Nephites; the scattering and gathering of the Jews; the destruction of the Nephites; the Apostasy; the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; and the Restoration.
2 Nephi 28–30 Nephi warns against the wickedness of the last days, explains the future role of the Book of Mormon, and prophesies of the gathering of souls into the covenant.
2 Nephi 31–33 Nephi exhorts us to follow Christ, feast upon His words, and endure to the end. He testifies that he has written the words of Christ.