Lesson 121

3 Nephi 11:18–41

“Lesson 121: 3 Nephi 11:18–41,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


After the Nephites had come forth and felt the wound marks in the Savior’s hands, feet, and side, the Lord gave Nephi and others power to baptize. The Savior also warned the people to avoid contention and promised that those who live according to His doctrine will inherit the kingdom of God.

Suggestions for Teaching

3 Nephi 11:18–27

Jesus Christ gives Nephi and others the power to baptize

Before class, write the following questions on the board:

Who can baptize me? How is baptism done?

If you teach one or more students who have recently joined the Church, you might begin this lesson by asking them to share some experiences they had while learning about the Church. Ask them if they wondered about the answers to the two questions on the board when they decided to be baptized.

You could also begin this lesson by inviting students to imagine that one of their friends has recently decided to join the Church and has asked them the two questions on the board. Ask students to explain how they might answer these questions. Or you may want to invite two students to role-play a discussion between a Church member and his or her friend using these questions.

Remind students that in the previous lesson they learned about the appearance of Jesus Christ to a group of Nephites. Jesus Christ invited them to witness for themselves His Resurrection and divinity by feeling the wound marks in His hands, feet, and side. Explain that immediately following this experience, the Savior taught the people about the ordinance of baptism.

Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 11:18–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for answers to the question “Who can baptize me?”

  • Who did the Lord choose to baptize the people?

  • According to verses 21–22, what did the Lord give to Nephi and others?

  • What does it mean that the Lord gave them power? (In this verse, power refers to priesthood authority [see verse 21, footnote a].)

  • What truth can we identify from these verses that answers the question “Who can baptize me?” (Although students may use different words, they should identify the following truth: Baptism must be performed by a person who holds proper authority. Write this truth on the board under the question “Who can baptize me?”)

To help students understand this truth, you might briefly explain that baptism may be performed only by a person who holds the office of priest in the Aaronic Priesthood (see D&C 20:46) or by someone who has had the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred upon him (see D&C 20:38–39; 107:10–11). Additionally, this person must act under the direction of a priesthood leader who holds priesthood keys necessary to authorize the ordinance (such as a bishop, branch president, or mission president).

  • Why do you think the Lord requires the ordinance of baptism to be performed by an authorized priesthood holder?

  • If any of your students hold the office of priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, ask:

  • How does knowing that you have the authority to baptize influence you? (You may want to find out whether any students in your class have had the opportunity to baptize someone. If they have, invite them to share what they felt and learned during their experience.)

Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 11:23–27 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for answers to the question “How is baptism done?”

  • What did Jesus Christ teach about how baptisms are to be performed?

  • What truth can we learn from this? (Although students may use different words, they should identify the following truth: Baptism must be done in the manner set forth by the Lord. Write this statement on the board under the question “How is baptism done?”)

  • What is done during a baptism if the words of the ordinance are not spoken correctly or if the person being baptized is not fully immersed under the water? (The ordinance is repeated.)

  • Why do you think it is important that baptism is done precisely in the manner set forth by the Lord?

  • What does it mean to you to know that you were baptized by a person holding proper authority and in the manner set forth by the Lord?

  • Have you recently witnessed a baptism? What feelings did you have?

You may want to share your experiences and feelings about the sacred ordinance of baptism.

3 Nephi 11:28–30

Jesus Christ warns that contention is of the devil

Ask students if they have ever observed or been part of a discussion about religion that became contentious or argumentative.

  • What feelings accompanied this contentious situation?

  • What are some reasons people might become contentious when discussing religious beliefs?

As students continue to study 3 Nephi 11 today, invite them to look for what the Savior taught about contention.

Ask a student to read 3 Nephi 11:28–30 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what some of the Nephites contended about.

  • What had some of the Nephites been disputing about? (The ordinance of baptism [see also 3 Nephi 11:22] and the doctrine of Christ.)

  • According to 3 Nephi 11:29, where does the spirit of contention come from? (Write the following truth on the board: The spirit of contention is not of God but is of the devil. You may want to suggest that students mark this truth in 3 Nephi 11:29.)

  • Why do you think it is important to avoid contention when discussing the gospel with others?

To emphasize an important consequence of contention, write on the board the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency. (The statement is found in “What I Want My Son to Know before He Leaves on His Mission,” Ensign, May 1996, 41.) You might want to encourage students to write it in their scriptures next to 3 Nephi 11:29.

“When there is contention, the Spirit of the Lord will depart, regardless of who is at fault” (President James E. Faust).

  • When have you felt the Spirit of the Lord depart because of contention? How did you know the Spirit had departed?

Explain that it is important to stand up for our beliefs but that we should do so without becoming contentious. Point out the Savior’s statement concerning contention in 3 Nephi 11:30: “This is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”

  • How can we “do away” with contention and disputations? (Answers might include the following: We can seek to be peacemakers [see 3 Nephi 12:9]. We can pray for wisdom and patience to overcome contention. We can try to avoid situations in which we might be tempted to contend with others.)

  • When have you felt blessed for your efforts to avoid or overcome contention?

  • How can remembering the Savior’s teachings in 3 Nephi 11:29–30 help you when you find yourself in a situation that is or could become contentious?

You may want to share an experience you have had when you felt blessed for your efforts to avoid or overcome contention. To encourage students to apply what they have learned from 3 Nephi 11:28–30, invite them to set and write down a goal for how they will seek to avoid or overcome contention.

3 Nephi 11:31–41

Jesus Christ declares His doctrine

Read 3 Nephi 11:31 aloud to the class. Explain that the remainder of 3 Nephi 11 contains Jesus Christ’s declaration to the people of Nephi of His doctrine, which includes the principles and ordinances of faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost (see also Articles of Faith 1:4).

Divide students into pairs or small groups. Invite them to read 3 Nephi 11:32–41 together, looking for and marking words or phrases that teach the doctrine of Christ. After sufficient time, ask students to report what they found.

  • According to verses 34 and 38, what are the consequences of not accepting and applying the doctrine of Christ? (You may want to explain that the word damned in verse 34 means to be stopped in our spiritual progress.)

  • What truth can we identify from these verses about what is required to enter the kingdom of God? (Students may use different words, but they should express the following truth: To enter the kingdom of God, we must repent, believe in Jesus Christ, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost.)

You may want to conclude by sharing your testimony of this truth. Encourage students to live according to the doctrine of Jesus Christ so they will be able to inherit the kingdom of God. You may also want to remind them to work on their goals to avoid and overcome contention.

Commentary and Background Information

3 Nephi 11:19–22. Jesus Christ gave the Nephites the authority to baptize

Why would the prophet Nephi and others need to receive authority to baptize when they were already performing that ordinance before the Savior came? Consider the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Although these Nephites had authority to baptize in the old Mosaic dispensation, Christ invited Nephi forward to affirm his priesthood authority to baptize in the new gospel dispensation, and perhaps to ordain him to the apostleship at the same time [see 3 Nephi 11:18–21; History of the Church, 4:538; D&C 20:38]. Then he called another group forward, instructing them how to baptize and noting that there would be ‘no disputations’ among them on this crucial doctrine” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 259–60).

3 Nephi 11:28. Do not contend over points of doctrine

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why it is important for Latter-day Saints to avoid contention:

Elder Robert D. Hales

“Because … power resides in the Spirit of the Lord, we must never become contentious when we are discussing our faith. As almost every missionary learns, Bible bashing always drives the Spirit away. The Savior has said, ‘He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me’ (3 Nephi 11:29). More regrettable than the Church being accused of not being Christian is when Church members react to such accusations in an un-Christlike way! May our conversations with others always be marked by the fruits of the Spirit—‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance’ (Galatians 5:22–23)” (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 73).

3 Nephi 11:33–34. The ordinance of baptism is essential

The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) taught that the ordinance of baptism is essential to enter the kingdom of God:

Prophet Joseph Smith

“Baptism is a sign to God, to angels, and to heaven that we do the will of God, and there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to Him to be saved, and enter into the kingdom of God, except faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and any other course is in vain; then you have the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 91).