1 Nephi 11-12: Nephi Learns of Christ and His Mission

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 22–23


What do you do when you read a passage of scripture or receive counsel from Church leaders that you know is important but you do not understand? In 1 Nephi 10:17–19, Nephi testified that we can understand the things of God through the power of the Holy Ghost, and he helped us understand what we must do. Nephi desired to “see, and hear, and know” (v. 17) what his father had been shown in an inspired dream.In 1 Nephi 11–14 is a record of how the Lord granted Nephi’s desire and showed him not only what Lehi saw, but also gave him the meaning of many of the symbols. As you read chapter 11, notice what Nephi did to be ready to receive such a wonderful revelation. In chapter 12, look for ways that Nephi applied this revelation to his own people.

Understanding the Scriptures

1 Nephi 11

Abide upon (v. 27)Rested upon
Ministering unto, minister unto (vv. 28, 30)Serving, giving what is needed
Tongues (v. 36)Languages

1 Nephi 11:16–36—What Is the “Condescension of God”?

Nephi sees Mary

“To condescend is literally to ‘go down among.’ The ‘condescension of God’ is to be understood … in two ways. The first aspect is the condescension of God the Father, meaning Elohim [see 1 Nephi 11:16–23]. ‘the condescension of God lies in the fact that he, an exalted Being, steps down from his eternal throne to become the Father of a mortal Son, a Son born “after the manner of the flesh”‘ ([Bruce R. McConkie,] The Mortal Messiah, 1:314). …

“The second aspect of the condescension of God was that of the Son, meaning Christ [see 1 Nephi 11:24–32]. Jehovah—the father of heaven and of earth, the creator of all things from the beginning, the great I AM and God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—would come to earth, leave his divine throne, take a body of flesh and bones, submit himself to the frailties of the flesh and the vile and vicious dispositions of humanity, and work out his own salvation as a mortal man; such is the doctrine of ‘the condescension of God’” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols. [1987–92], 1:78, 82).

1 Nephi 12

Tumultuous (v. 4)Loud
Rent (v. 4)Tore apart
Vapor (v. 5)Fog or mist
Gulf (v. 18)Wide gap, deep place in the earth
Dwindle in unbelief (v. 22)Fall gradually away or become weak because of lack of faith

1 Nephi 11–12—What Did Nephi Learn about Lehi’s Dream?

The following chart summarizes some of what Nephi learned about his father’s dream:

Symbol from Lehi’s Dream

The Interpretation Nephi Was Given

The tree with white fruit (see 1 Nephi 8:10–11)

The love of God, which He showed by giving His Son to be our Savior (see 1 Nephi 11:21–25; called the “tree of life” in 15:22)

The river of (filthy) water (see 8:13)

The depths of hell into which the wicked fall (see 12:16; called “filthiness” in 15:27)

The rod of iron (see 8:19)

The word of God, which can lead us safely to the tree (see 11:25)

The mist of darkness (see 8:23)

The “temptations of the devil,” which blind people so they lose their way and cannot find the tree (see 12:17)

The great and spacious building in the air (see 8:26)

The pride and vain imaginations of the world (see 11:36; 12:18)

People who start on the path to the tree but are lost in the mist (see 8:21–23)

Nephi did not identify specific people with all of the multitudes in the dream, but he saw the following kinds of people:

People who make it to the tree by holding on to the rod but fall away when they are mocked (see 8:24–25, 28)

People who desire the great and spacious building more than the tree (see 8:26–27, 31–33)

People who held on to the rod, fell down at the tree, and partook of the fruit; they ignored the mockers and did not fall away (see 8:30, 33).

Those who partake of the greatest of all of God’s gifts—eternal life (see 15:36)

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A and one of the other two activities (B or C) as you study 1 Nephi 11–12.

Activity A iconDiscover the Meaning of the Dream

From your reading of 1 Nephi 11 and 12, answer the following questions to describe what Nephi learned about his father’s dream. Use the “Understanding the Scriptures” section if needed. (You may want to write in your notebook the meaning of the symbols next to the matching verses in 1 Nephi 8.)

  1. 1.

    What characteristics or qualities does the tree with the delicious fruit have that make it an effective symbol for God’s love for His children and the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

  2. 2.

    How is the word of God (the scriptures and the words of the prophets) like the iron rod that Lehi saw?

  3. 3.

    How has the word of God helped you “taste” the joy that comes from God’s love?

  4. 4.

    How is temptation like “mists of darkness,” and what is the key to not getting blinded and lost?

  5. 5.

    What is the difference between the people who made it to the tree and then fell away and those who made it to the tree and remained?

Activity B iconFind What Nephi Learned about Jesus

Jesus healing

When Nephi was shown the meaning of his father’s dream, he learned many things about what Jesus would do when He came to earth nearly 600 years later.

  1. 1.

    Review 1 Nephi 11–12 and list at least eight events Nephi was shown about the life of the Savior.

  2. 2.

    What does this prophecy teach you about the accuracy of God’s knowledge of the future?

Activity C iconMake a Warning Sign

Make a diagram or a sign that shows the large and spacious building, the tree, and the gulf that separated them (see 1 Nephi 12:18). Label each symbol, and then write a slogan or warning message on the poster that would help convince others to avoid the building. Be creative and try to to use a new idea or approach with your poster.