Words of Mormon 1: A Word of Explanation

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 71–72

Mormon, like Nephi (see 1 Nephi 9:5 ; 19:3), did not know why two sets of records covering the same time period were necessary. Mormon included the complete small plates of Nephi with his abridgment of the large plates of Nephi because the Lord inspired him to do so. Look for why Mormon felt the small plates were so important. (See “The Main Sources for the Book of Mormon,” p. 12, for more information.)

Understanding the Scriptures

Words of Mormon 1

Profit (v. 2)Benefit, bless
Abridgment (v. 3)Shortened version
Contention (v. 16)Arguing, fighting
Many dissensions away unto the Lamanites (v. 16)Many Nephites left to join the Lamanites

Words of Mormon 1:5–7—What Was the Wise Purpose for Including the Small Plates of Nephi?

The Lord had commanded Nephi to keep two sets of records: a historical record on the large plates and, for a “special purpose,” a religious record on the small plates (see 1 Nephi 9). Even though Mormon had made an abridgment from the large plates of Nephi that covered the time period from Lehi to King Benjamin, he was inspired to add the small plates of Nephi, which covered that same time period, “for a wise purpose” (Words of Mormon 1:7). He added them without making any changes in them. For an explanation of what that wise purpose was, see the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for 1 Nephi 9:3–6 (p. 20).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Words of Mormon 1.

Activity A iconMatch the Phrase with the Definition

It is sometimes difficult to know which plates Mormon was referring to when he wrote of the various records he was working with. Write the following phrases in your notebook. Then, as you read Words of Mormon 1:1–9, match one of the four definitions to each phrase. You may want to write the definition in the margin of your scriptures next to each phrase.


“The record which I have been making” (v. 1)

“These records” (v. 2)

“The plates of Nephi” (v. 3)

“The records which had been delivered into my hands” (v. 3)

“I found these plates” (v. 3)

“These plates pleasing me” (v. 4)

“I chose these things” (v. 5)

“My record” (v. 5)

“Plates of Nephi” (v. 5)

“I shall take these plates” (v. 6)

“To finish out my record” (v. 9)


1. The Book of Mormon

2. Nephi’s historical record (the large plates)

3. Nephi’s religious record (the small plates)

4. The collection of records Mormon used for his abridgment

Activity B iconDesign a Book Cover

In your notebook, draw a book cover for the small plates of Nephi that shows what is in the book. Design it so people will be enticed to read it. Read Words of Mormon 1:3–6 for ideas that you may want to include on your book cover.

Activity C iconConstruct a Time Line

Because the book of Mosiah begins when King Benjamin was old, Mormon wanted us to know about his great accomplishments. After reading Words of Mormon 1:12–18, make a time line of the events in King Benjamin’s life. Then write one sentence that summarizes his life.