As you study 3 Nephi, you will learn about the Savior’s words and actions during His ministry among the people of the Book of Mormon. Church leaders have referred to 3 Nephi as the “fifth Gospel” of our Lord because, like the four Gospels of the New Testament, it focuses on the direct teachings and ministry of Jesus Christ (see Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Cornerstones of Our Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 52). President Ezra Taft Benson taught that “3 Nephi contains some of the most moving and powerful passages in all scripture. It testifies of Jesus Christ, His prophets, and the doctrines of salvation” (“The Savior’s Visit to America,” Ensign, May 1987, 6). In seeing how Jesus Christ demonstrated compassion for the people “one by one” (3 Nephi 11:15; 17:21), you can better understand His concern for you as an individual. You can also learn important lessons by noting how some people prepared themselves to meet the Savior while others prevented themselves from experiencing magnificent blessings.
Mormon abridged records from the large plates of Nephi to create the book of 3 Nephi. The book is named for Nephi, the son of Nephi, whose labors spanned the periods before, during, and after the Savior’s appearances to the people. During the time of great wickedness that preceded Jesus Christ’s visits, Nephi ministered “with power and with great authority” (3 Nephi 7:17). Yet Nephi’s ministry was only a prelude to the ministry of Jesus Christ, whose words and deeds constitute the principal focus of 3 Nephi. While making his abridgment of Nephi’s record, Mormon also added his own commentary and testimony to this book (see 3 Nephi 5:8–26; 26:6–12; 29–30).
The original records used as sources for the book of 3 Nephi were likely written between 1 A.D. and 34 A.D. Mormon abridged those records sometime between A.D. 345 and A.D. 385. Mormon did not record where he was when he compiled this book.