3 Nephi 19–26

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 230–236


Chapters 19–26 of 3 Nephi give an account of the events and teachings of the second and third days of the Savior’s ministry among the Nephites. A great multitude, having heard that Christ had ministered to 2,500 the first day, labored all that night to gather for His return. On the second day Jesus prayed with the people, administered the sacrament to them, and expounded important doctrine to them. Jesus described the people as having great faith (see 3 Nephi 19:35–36).

During the second day of His ministry, wrote Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Christ quoted in their entirety, with only slight variations, three revelations that, as Jehovah, he had given to Isaiah and Malachi respectively in an earlier day. … That he would do so, and that he would select these particular chapters to quote, deserves some examination” (Christ and the New Covenant, 288–89). As you read these chapters consider the value of Isaiah’s and Malachi’s words.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 123–26.

Suggestions for Teaching

3 Nephi 19:1–15. Receiving and following the words of Jesus Christ will help us prepare for His Second Coming. (15–20 minutes)

Have students imagine that Jesus Christ is coming to their home tomorrow, and ask:

  • What emotions might you experience?

  • Would you want to tell others about His visit? Why or why not?

  • If you could, who would you invite to be there with you?

Read 3 Nephi 19:1–3 and ask:

  • Who was told about the Savior’s visit?

  • How did they react?

  • What impresses you most about their reaction?

Read verses 4–15 as a class looking for what preparations the people made for the return of Jesus Christ the next day, and list them on the board. (They followed the leaders Jesus had chosen, they prayed, they taught and learned the words that Jesus had previously spoken, they were baptized, they desired and received the Holy Ghost.) Discuss the following questions:

  • How would each item in this list be helpful in preparing the people for the Savior’s return?

  • How willing did the people seem to follow these instructions?

  • How could following this pattern help us prepare for the Second Coming of the Lord?

  • What difference would it make if we had as strong a desire to prepare ourselves in these ways?

Encourage students to share their testimonies of the Savior with others and to prepare for the coming of the Lord.

3 Nephi 19:16–20:1. We are commanded to pray frequently and to always have a prayer in our hearts. Our prayers should be directed by the Spirit. (30–35 minutes)

List the following five statements on the board. Ask several students why they think each is important in their personal prayers, and discuss their answers.

•Use reverent titles and pronouns while praying (such as Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine).

•Follow the basic pattern when praying (Our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee. … We ask Thee. … In the name of Jesus Christ, amen).

•Pray from the heart.

•Pray regularly (every morning and night).

•Pray as directed by the Holy Ghost.

Ask students to quickly read 3 Nephi 19:16–36 and notice how often forms of the word pray appear. Ask: What does the frequent use of the word pray in this chapter teach you about the importance of prayer?

Tell students that 3 Nephi 19:16–20:1 describes four prayers. Divide students into four groups, and invite each group to read one of the following accounts:

  1. 1.

    The Nephite disciples pray as commanded by Jesus (see 3 Nephi 19:16–18, 24–26, 30; 20:1).

  2. 2.

    The Savior prays a short distance from the disciples (see 3 Nephi 19:19–23).

  3. 3.

    The Savior prays a second time (see 3 Nephi 19:27–29).

  4. 4.

    The Savior prays a third time (see 3 Nephi 19:31–36).

As the students read the accounts, have them look for answers to the following questions:

  • What was prayed for at this time?

  • What can you learn about the pattern of prayer from this experience?

  • What evidence is there of the sacred nature of this prayer?

  • What most impresses you about this prayer?

  • What do you think is the most important doctrine you can learn from this prayer?

Invite each group to share what they learned with the rest of the class, and discuss their findings. Ask:

  • How can we apply these teachings in our lives?

  • What can we do to improve our communication with our Father in Heaven?

  • How do you think improving our prayers would improve our relationship with the Lord?

Share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“If we would advance in holiness—increase in favor with God—nothing can take the place of prayer. … Give prayer—daily prayer, secret prayer—a foremost place in your lives. Let no day pass without it. Communion with the Almighty has been a source of strength, inspiration, and enlightenment through the world’s history to men and women who have shaped the destinies of individuals and nations for good” (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [1974], 8).

Encourage students to pray each day.

Note: As you teach 3 Nephi 19:18, help students understand that we do not pray to Jesus. The following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, may be helpful:

“Jesus was present before them as the symbol of the Father. Seeing him, it was as though they saw the Father; praying to him, it was as though they prayed to the Father. It was a special and unique situation that as far as we know has taken place only once on earth during all the long ages of the Lord’s hand-dealings with his children” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 561).

3 Nephi 20:3–9. Those who worthily partake of the sacrament will be filled with the Holy Ghost. (10–15 minutes)

Display pictures of various food items. Discuss the following questions:

  • How often do you need to eat?

  • What happens if you don’t eat often enough?

  • How often do you need spiritual nourishment?

  • How does spiritual nourishment help you?

Have students read 3 Nephi 20:3–9, and ask:

  • What spiritual nourishment did the Savior offer the Nephites?

  • What were they filled with? (see v. 9).

  • When was the last time they had taken the sacrament? (The day before; see 3 Nephi 18:1–9.)

  • What do you think would be the value of taking the sacrament again so soon?

Read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“To those brothers and sisters who may have allowed themselves to become lax in this vital renewal of the covenants of the sacrament, I plead in words of the First Presidency that you ‘come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the saints’ (‘An Invitation to Come Back,’ Church News, 22 Dec. 1985, 3). Let us qualify ourselves for our Savior’s promise that by partaking of the sacrament we will ‘be filled’ (3 Nephi 20:8; see also 3 Nephi 18:9), which means that we will be ‘filled with the Spirit’ (3 Nephi 20:9). That Spirit—the Holy Ghost—is our comforter, our direction finder, our communicator, our interpreter, our witness, and our purifier—our infallible guide and sanctifier for our mortal journey toward eternal life.

“Any who may have thought it a small thing to partake of the sacrament should remember the Lord’s declaration that the foundation of a great work is laid by small things, for ‘out of small things proceedeth that which is great’ (D&C 64:33). Out of the seemingly small act of consciously and reverently renewing our baptismal covenants comes a renewal of the blessings of baptism by water and by the Spirit, that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. In this way all of us will be guided, and in this way all of us can be cleansed” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 82; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 61).

Discuss with students how they think their lives would be different if they were not able to take the sacrament each week. Testify of the blessings that come as we worthily take the sacrament.

3 Nephi 21. The Book of Mormon was brought forth to the Gentiles, and from them it will be taken to the house of Israel. Those who reject the Book of Mormon and latter-day revelation will be cut off from the kingdom of God. (30–35 minutes)

Draw the following signs on the board (or use other signs that are common where you live). Ask students to identify what each sign means.

watch for persons in wheelchair red cross pedestrian crossing left turn two-way traffic

Discuss the following questions:

  • What are signs used for? (To prepare, warn, and instruct us.)

  • What could happen if a sign were posted in the wrong place?

  • Why is it important that a sign be posted properly and that the message on the sign be easy to understand?

Tell students that the scriptures also speak of “signs.” Scriptural or spiritual signs are intended to prepare, warn, and instruct us concerning the fulfillment of Heavenly Father’s plan. Invite students to quickly look through 3 Nephi 21:1–2, 7 and mark the word sign wherever it appears. Have them carefully read verse 1, and ask:

  • Why does the Lord say this sign will be given?

  • What events does this sign point to? (The gathering of Israel.)

Have students read verses 2–7 and underline the phrases these things and these works wherever they appear. Ask: What “sign” was the Savior speaking of? Hold up a copy of the Book of Mormon and testify that it is the sign that Jesus Christ spoke of. Share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The Book of Mormon is for both member and nonmember. Combined with the Spirit of the Lord, the Book of Mormon is the greatest single tool which God has given us to convert the world. If we are to have the harvest of souls … , then we must use the instrument which God has designed for that task—the Book of Mormon” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 6–7; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 7).

3 Nephi 21:22–22:17. Isaiah prophesied of the latter-day gathering of Israel. (20–25 minutes)

Before class scatter rocks around the classroom floor. Ask a student to gather all the rocks into a single container you provide (make sure the container is too small to hold all the rocks). When the container is full, ask the student:

  • What options do you have with the rocks that remain on the floor? (Leave them there or get a larger container.)

  • How might you decide which option to take?

  • If you knew that you would receive a large sum of money for each of the rocks, would that affect your choice? Why?

Have students imagine that the rocks represent people and gathering them represents missionary work. Ask:

  • What could the container represent? (The Church.)

  • What happens to the Church as more people are baptized? (More chapels and temples must be constructed, and more wards and stakes must be organized.)

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–16. What do these verses teach about the worth of a soul?

  • How do these verses help us understand why we should help the Church grow?

Have students read the first phrase of the chapter heading for 3 Nephi 21 and the first ten words of 3 Nephi 22:1. Ask what time period is being referred to. (The period after the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the gospel; see also 3 Nephi 21:26–29.) Invite students to read 3 Nephi 21:22–29 and answer the following questions:

  • What do people who join the Church become? (Covenant members of the house of Israel; see v. 22.)

  • What will they build? (The New Jerusalem; see v. 23.)

  • What work will they assist in? (Further gathering; see v. 24.)

  • Who will be among them? (Jesus; see v. 25.)

  • Who else will hear the gospel and be gathered? (The ten lost tribes; see v. 26.)

  • For what purpose are the people gathered? (To come unto Christ and call upon the name of the Father; see v. 27.)

Have students read 3 Nephi 22:1–3, and ask:

  • What did Isaiah prophesy would happen to the Church in the last days?

  • How can the enlarging of a tent be compared to the activity with the container and the rocks?

Read 3 Nephi 22:7–17 with students, discussing the following questions as you read:

  • What did the Lord promise would happen during this time of gathering?

  • How does the Lord feel toward those who are to be gathered?

Testify that the gathering is taking place today. Share the latest available statistics on the number of Church members, full-time missionaries, and wards and stakes in the Church (see the statistical report in the most recent May Ensign). Discuss the following questions:

  • How are these statistics evidence that Isaiah’s prophecy was accurate?

  • How do you feel being part of such a vibrant, growing church?

  • What can you do now to help the gathering continue?

  • What can you do in the future?

  • Why would it be important to do so?

weekly icon3 Nephi 23:1–5. The Savior commanded us to search the words of Isaiah. (10–15 minutes)

Invite two students to answer the following question: What is taking place right now 500 meters down the road? Give one of the students an advantage. (For example you could provide a pair of binoculars or allow that student to walk outside the classroom and look.) Ask the class: Which answer do you trust the most? Why?

Tell students that some people have the gift of being able to “see” into the future (see D&C 46:11–12, 22). Ask: What are some names for someone with that spiritual gift? (Prophet, seer, revelator.) Invite students to read Mosiah 8:13, 15–17, and discuss the following questions:

  • What does it mean to be a seer?

  • How valuable is the gift of seership?

  • What value should the words of a seer have for you?

Have students read 3 Nephi 23:2 looking for evidence that Isaiah was a seer. Read verses 1–5 and ask the following questions:

  • What did the Savior command us to do with Isaiah’s words?

  • Why do you think it would be important to search them?

  • How does knowing Isaiah was a seer and a prophet help motivate you to study his words?

Ask students to turn to 2 Nephi 12–24, 27 to see what they may have marked in these Isaiah chapters. Invite them to share verses that have special meaning for them.

3 Nephi 23:6–14. Jesus Christ commanded the Nephites to keep a record of the spiritual proceedings of their day. (20–25 minutes)

Bring to class several items such as the following: a journal, scriptures, a pedigree chart, family group sheets, a scrapbook, a family history. Discuss the following questions:

  • What do these items have in common?

  • Why is keeping records so important?

  • How can what was written in the past help us today?

  • How might it help us in the future?

Read 3 Nephi 23:6–11 and ask:

  • What did the Lord command Samuel the Lamanite to testify to the people?

  • Why do you think it would be important for people in the future to know if this prophecy had been fulfilled?

  • What did the Savior ask Nephi to do at this point?

Read verses 12–14 and invite students to mark words and phrases that show that Nephi obeyed the commandment of the Savior. Apply this lesson to today by asking: What records does the Church keep that contain the words of the current prophets? (Conference Reports, Church magazines, scriptures, meeting minutes, talk transcripts.)

Give each student a piece of paper. Invite them to spend five minutes writing a description of the last time they felt the Spirit of the Lord. The description might include:

  • Where they were.

  • What time it was.

  • What they were doing.

  • Who they were with.

Or they could write what they feel they can do to invite the Spirit into their lives.

Encourage students to keep a journal and record their spiritual experiences and feelings in it. Ask: How do you believe this kind of record can bless you or your posterity? Invite students to include in their journal the description they wrote in class today.

weekly icon3 Nephi 24–25. Jesus Christ quoted Malachi’s prophecies about the Second Coming, the law of tithing, and Elijah’s latter-day return to the earth. (40–45 minutes)

A few days before class, assign a student to prepare a two-minute presentation about the prophet Malachi. (They could use the Bible Dictionary, the Topical Guide, or similar sources.) Have the student give the presentation to the class.

Invite students to read the following scriptures to learn more about Malachi:

Ask: What do these references show about how important Malachi 3–4 is for us?

Give students copies of the worksheet “Malachi in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 24–25)” from the appendix (p. 305) or display it on an overhead projector. Have students complete the worksheet by reading the verses and filling in the answers. (You could divide your students into pairs or groups for this activity.) Correct the worksheets and discuss the answers.

Ask: How has knowing about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ influenced you in the past? How do you think it will influence you in the future? Ask students these same two questions about the law of tithing, and then ask the same questions about the restoration of sealing power by Elijah.

3 Nephi 26:1–12. The scriptures are the word of God. If we believe and obey what has been revealed in them, we are promised even greater revelations. (25–30 minutes)

Write the following scripture on the board: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24). Ask students:

  • What do you think this verse means?

  • Why is it important to receive “more light”?

  • What do you think the phrase “continueth in God” means?

  • Why do you have to be obedient to the light you have before you can receive more?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 93:12–14, 19–20, 27–28 and discuss how these verses add to our understanding of Doctrine and Covenants 50:24.

Divide the class into groups of two. Ask each pair of students to think of an example of how, once we master something basic, we can go on to something more difficult. (For example, once we understand arithmetic, we can learn algebra. Once we earn our parents’ trust, we may receive greater privileges.) Invite some of the students to share their examples.

Read 3 Nephi 26:1–8 and discuss the following questions:

  • What did the Savior teach or expound to the Nephites? (see vv. 3–6).

  • What portion of His teachings are included in 3 Nephi? (see v. 8).

  • Why do you think Mormon included these teachings?

  • How have the Savior’s teachings in 3 Nephi helped you?

Read 3 Nephi 26:9–12 and discuss the following questions:

  • What part of the Savior’s teachings to the Nephites are included in the Book of Mormon?

  • Why did the Lord say the other teachings were held back? (see vv. 9, 11).

  • Will we ever receive the parts that were held back?

  • What must we do first? (see vv. 9–10).

Share the following insight:

“‘I will try the faith of my people,’ the Lord said. This is not some cruel game that God plays with mankind. It is, rather, an act of love and mercy for us. For our own sake—our spiritual development and salvation—the Savior expects us to develop faith and righteousness by trusting in and following the teachings of the portions of his word that he has already revealed—as in our standard works and in the words of prophets and Apostles of our dispensation. He desires us to study, ponder, pray about, and heed those teachings we have so that we will desire more and be spiritually prepared to have ‘greater things’ manifest to us” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and others, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon: Volume IV—Third Nephi through Moroni [1992], 170).

Share the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve, and testify of its truth:

“Just as there will be many more Church members, families, wards, stakes, and temples—later on, there will also be many more nourishing and inspiring scriptures. However, we must first feast worthily upon that which we already have!” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 70; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52).

3 Nephi 26:13–21. Spiritual experiences are sacred and should not be shared except as directed by the Spirit. (15–20 minutes)

Share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Occasionally during the past year I have been asked a question. Usually it comes as a curious, almost an idle, question about the qualifications to stand as a witness for Christ. The question they ask is, ‘Have you seen Him?’

“That is a question that I have never asked of another. I have not asked that question of my brethren in the Quorum.”

Ask students:

  • How do you feel about the question Elder Packer was asked?

  • Why do you think Elder Packer would never ask that question of another person?

To help students understand why such a question would be inappropriate, share the conclusion of Elder Packer’s statement:

“That is a question that I have never asked of another … , thinking that it would be so sacred and so personal that one would have to have some special inspiration, indeed, some authorization, even to ask it.

“There are some things just too sacred to discuss. We know that as it relates to the temples. In our temples, sacred ordinances are performed; sacred experiences are enjoyed. And yet we do not, because of the nature of them, discuss them outside those sacred walls.

“It is not that they are secret, but they are sacred; not to be discussed, but to be harbored and to be protected and regarded with the deepest of reverence.

“I have come to know what the prophet Alma meant:

“‘… It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

“‘And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.’ (Al. 12:9–10.)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 123; or Ensign, June 1971, 87).

Have students read 3 Nephi 26:13–21 and mark the verses or phrases that teach the following points:

  • The doctrine that Jesus taught the Nephites at this time was sacred.

  • Events that occurred at this time were sacred.

  • The Nephites were instructed not to share these experiences.

When the students are finished, discuss what they found and marked. Have them read Matthew 7:6; Doctrine and Covenants 6:11–12; 10:37 looking for instructions the Lord has given to others on how to treat sacred communications. Discuss these as needed, and invite students to cross-reference them to 3 Nephi 26:13–21. Share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“I heard President Romney once counsel mission presidents and their wives in Geneva. ‘I do not tell all I know. I have never told my wife all I know, for I found out that if I talked too lightly of sacred things, thereafter the Lord would not trust me.’” (That All May Be Edified [1982], 337).