Jacob 1–4

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 81–85


When Jacob received the responsibility of record keeping, fifty-five years had passed away since Lehi left Jerusalem (see Jacob 1:1). By this time Lehi’s posterity likely included his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. His descendants by this time may have numbered in the hundreds or even over a thousand. Not only had the people grown in number but also in wealth (see v. 16) and, unfortunately, wickedness (see v. 15). Jacob describes himself as “weighed down” (Jacob 2:3), and writes “it grieveth my soul” (v. 6) and “it burdeneth my soul” (v. 9) to have to call the people to repentance. He understood that if he “did not teach them the word of God with all diligence,” he would be partly to blame for their sins (Jacob 1:19). For this reason Jacob delivered a sermon to his people from the temple. He reprimanded them for their pride, their love for and misuse of riches, and their sexual impurity, and encouraged them to hear the word of God (see Jacob 2–3). Jacob taught that we should center our lives in Jesus Christ (see Jacob 4).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Note: Prayerfully study each assigned scripture block and consider the principles in this section before preparing your lessons.

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 45–46.

Suggestions for Teaching

Note: Choose from the ideas in this section, or use some of your own, as you prepare to teach the assigned scripture block.

video iconBook of Mormon Video presentation 6, “Pride” (9:51), can be used in teaching Jacob 2 (see Book of Mormon Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Jacob 1:1–8. Jacob was entrusted with the small plates of Nephi. (5–10 minutes)

Write entrust on the board. Ask students to define the word. (“To put something in the care of someone you trust.”) Explain that today you will study about someone in the Book of Mormon who was entrusted with the gold plates.

Read Jacob 1:1–8 looking for answers to the following questions (list responses on the board if desired):

  • Who was entrusted with the plates after Nephi?

  • What did Nephi tell him to write on the plates?

  • What did Nephi ask him to avoid writing on the plates?

These verses in Jacob can be used to help students understand who Jacob was, what condition the people were in, and what Jacob focuses on in his writings.

Jacob 1:17–2:3. The Lord holds His Church leaders accountable if they do not teach the people and warn them of their sins. (10–15 minutes)

Invite the students to imagine a family in their ward that has little or no food. Ask: Who might have responsibility to see that the family’s needs are taken care of? (The parents, extended family members, the bishop, the quorum leader, home teachers, the Relief Society president, visiting teachers.)

Invite students to study Jacob 1:17–19 and look for who had responsibility for the people. Ask:

  • Who are the leaders spoken of in these verses?

  • What were their positions of responsibility?

  • Who did they have responsibility for?

  • What does the phrase “magnify our office” mean?

  • How did these leaders feel about their responsibility?

Cross-reference Ezekiel 3:17–21 with Jacob 1:17–19, and discuss how these scriptures relate to each other. Ask:

  • According to the verses in Ezekiel, if our leaders teach us the truth, who then is accountable for our actions?

  • How does the second article of faith relate to these verses? (Prophets and Church leaders are responsible to teach and warn us, but we are responsible for our own sins. Help students understand that we are born with the light of Christ and are responsible to act according to the light we have [see Moroni 7:15–17]. When a prophet teaches a principle and we have an opportunity to hear and understand, we are responsible to live that principle as well.)

Invite students to raise their hands if they have ever served in a Church calling. Ask:

  • How is your calling similar to Jacob’s and Joseph’s? How is it different?

  • How do these scriptures change the way you feel about your calling?

Invite students to write what they can do to better magnify their callings.

Jacob 2:3–10. Some of the Lord’s commandments may seem difficult. Our obedience should be motivated by our desire to do Heavenly Father’s will above all else. (10–15 minutes)

Invite the class to name difficult tasks that the Lord has asked of His servants, and have a student list them on the board. (Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac, Jonah was asked to go to Nineveh to teach the gospel, Nephi was asked to build a ship to cross the ocean, Jesus Christ was asked to perform the Atonement.) Ask the students if they think these tasks were always pleasant or easy. Ask:

  • Which of these tasks has the Lord asked of us?

  • What other tasks might the Lord require of us in our day?

Read Jacob 2:3–9 and list the expressions Jacob used in these verses to describe the way he felt about his difficult task. (“I this day am weighed down” [v. 3], “it grieveth my soul and causeth me to shrink with shame” [v. 6], “it grieveth me” [v. 7], “it burdeneth my soul” [v. 9].) Ask:

  • What do these expressions suggest about Jacob’s feelings in calling the people to repentance?

  • Who wanted the people called to repentance? (see v. 10).

Invite students to read Mosiah 2:41 and 4 Nephi 1:12, 16. Ask:

  • What happens when we do the Lord’s will?

  • How can Jacob’s example of putting the Lord’s will above his own be helpful to us?

Point out to students that most of what the Lord asks of us is not difficult.

Share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“People serve one another for different reasons, and some reasons are better than others. …

“Some may serve for hope of earthly reward. …

“Another reason for service … is that motivated by a personal desire to obtain good companionship. …

“Some may serve out of fear of punishment. …

“Other persons may serve out of a sense of duty or out of loyalty to friends or family or traditions. …

“[A] higher reason for service is the hope of an eternal reward. …

“The last motive I will discuss is, in my opinion, the highest reason of all. …

“‘Charity is the pure love of Christ’ (Moroni 7:47). The Book of Mormon teaches us that this virtue is ‘the greatest of all’ (Moroni 7:46). …

“… Our service should be for the love of God and the love of fellowmen rather than for personal advantage or any other lesser motive” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 14–16; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 13–14).

Read Matthew 26:36–39 to find what the Savior said about His willingness to experience the pain of the Atonement. Both Jesus and Jacob teach us that if we love our Heavenly Father above our own desires, then we will do what He asks, even when it requires great sacrifice or is not what we would normally choose to do. As Elder Lorenzo Snow, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, counseled, we should “submit our will to the will of our Heavenly Father” (in Journal of Discourses, 20:191).


  • How can knowing that the Lord may require us to do things that are unpleasant help us as we strive to accomplish His will in our lives? (One possible answer is that there is no reason to feel guilty if we don’t enjoy everything we do.)

  • How can we use the Savior’s example to show Heavenly Father that doing His will comes first in our lives?

scripture mastery iconJacob 1:15–16; 2:12–35 (Scripture Mastery, Jacob 2:18–19). Pride, misuse of riches, and sexual immorality are grievous sins and must be avoided. (20–25 minutes)

Write the following quote by President Ezra Taft Benson on the board, but leave a blank in place of the words sexual immorality:

“The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality. This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of Israel than any other. (See Journal of Discourses, 8:55.)” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 277).

Invite students to guess what the words in the blank might be.

Read Jacob 1:15–16 looking for the sins Jacob said the people of his day were guilty of. (They had become hardhearted, sexually immoral, and proud, and they sought after riches unrighteously.) Read Alma 39:3–5 looking for which of these sins is the most serious. Fill in the blank words if the students still haven’t guessed them.

Divide the class into two groups. Have the first group study Jacob 2:12–21 and list what they find about the sins associated with riches and pride. Have the second group study Jacob 2:22–35 and list what they find about the sin of sexual immorality. Encourage students to look for and include in their lists:

  • Why people fall into these sins.

  • How these sins affect other people.

  • How people justify these wicked actions.

  • The consequences of these sins.

  • How the Lord and Jacob feel about these sins.

Invite each group to share what they found. Ask students:

  • In what ways do you see these sins in the world today?

  • Which sin do you think is most common?

  • What are the benefits of avoiding these sins in our lives?

  • What can we do to avoid having these sins creep into our lives?

Jacob 2:27–30. The practice of plural marriage is forbidden unless the Lord commands it through His prophet. (5–10 minutes)

Invite students to read Jacob 2:27–30 and look for why practicing plural marriage is sometimes considered righteous while at other times it is considered wicked. Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“I have constantly said no man shall have but [more than] one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 324; see also the commentary for Jacob 2:23–30 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, p. 46).

Ask: How does this principle show the importance of listening to the current prophet?

Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. …

“If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, ‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law’ (Articles of Faith 1:12). …

“More than a century ago God clearly revealed unto His prophet Wilford Woodruff that the practice of plural marriage should be discontinued, which means that it is now against the law of God. Even in countries where civil or religious law allows polygamy, the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 92; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71–72).

Jacob 3. Where much is given, much is required. Those who sin with greater knowledge receive a greater condemnation. (10–15 minutes)

Ask three students to come to the front of the class. Give the first student a fake check or play money totaling $5,000. Give the second student $500. Have them imagine that the first two students don’t have any pressing needs but that the third student needs a lifesaving medical procedure and has no money. Ask the two students with the money how much they would give to help the third student. Ask the class:

  • Which student do you think should give the most money? Why?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 82:3. Why would we expect the student with the most money to share the most?

  • This verse isn’t about money. What is it about?

Draw the accompanying continuum on the board, and ask students to consider where they would place themselves on the scale.

Explain that today they will study two groups of people. One group had much more gospel understanding than the other. Write the following questions on the board, and invite students to read Jacob 3:3–11 to find the answers. If desired, write the students’ responses next to each question.

• Who are the two groups of people?

• Which one had greater gospel understanding?

• What promises were given to the Lamanites?

• Why were the promises given?

Discuss the following questions:

  • What responsibility do those of us who have an understanding of the gospel have toward those who don’t have that understanding?

  • What responsibility do parents have for their children?

  • What will happen to those who understand the gospel but don’t live it?

Conclude by singing or reading the words to “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymns, no. 219).

weekly iconJacob 4:9–16; 6:8–12. To return to the presence of God and live with Him forever, we must come to know Jesus Christ and build our lives on His foundation. (25–30 minutes)

Share the following incident, as related by Gerald N. Lund, a Latter-day Saint educator:

“The belay system is the way a mountain climber protects himself from falls. Someone goes up first, gets in a firm, secure position, gets the rope tightly around his waist, and then calls down to his partner, ‘You’re on belay,’ which means, ‘I have you if you fall.’ This is what [an] article says about Alan Czenkusch, [a] man who runs [a] climbing school (and who, incidentally, is not a Latter-day Saint):

“‘Belaying has brought Czenkusch his best and worst moments in climbing. Czenkusch once fell from a high precipice, yanking out three mechanical supports and pulling his belayer off a ledge. He was stopped, upside down, 10 feet from the ground when his spread-eagled belayer arrested the fall with the strength of his outstretched arms.’”

Ask students the following questions:

  • How would you feel if someone saved your life?

  • How would you repay someone for such an act?

Finish the narrative:

“‘“Don saved my life,” says Czenkusch. “How do you respond to a guy like that? Give him a used climbing rope for a Christmas present? No, you remember him. You always remember him.”’ (Eric G. Anderson, “The Vertical Wilderness,” Private Practice, Nov. 1979, p. 17; emphasis added.)” (“To This End Was I Born,” in A Symposium on the New Testament, 1984 [1984], 30).

Ask students to consider for a moment all those who have helped them in their life. Ask:

  • How do you feel about these people?

  • Who has done the most for you? (see D&C 135:3).

Read Jacob 4:12 and look for what Jacob thought we ought to talk about. Then share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the Seventy:

“The doctrine of the atonement embraces, sustains, supports, and gives life and force to all other gospel doctrines. It is the foundation upon which all truth rests, and all things grow out of it and come because of it. Indeed, the atonement is the gospel” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 60).

Give students copies of the accompanying chart as a handout, with the right-hand column left blank. Have them read the verses and fill in the right-hand column, or complete the chart as a class.

What Can We Learn of Christ in Jacob 4?


Christ’s Life and Mission


One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to testify of Jesus Christ.


“All the holy prophets” believed in Him.


We worship the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.


The purpose of the law of Moses was to point souls to Jesus Christ.


Abraham’s offering of Isaac was a type of the Father’s offering of Jesus.


By searching the writings of the prophets we can increase in hope, faith, grace, and power through Christ.


Through the power of God’s word, man and the earth were created.


The Lord counsels with wisdom, justice, and mercy.


We are reconciled unto the Father through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


We are resurrected through Christ.


We obtain a hope of glory through Christ.


The Spirit and the prophets reveal the need for the Atonement for our salvation.


Jesus is the mark we must aim for and the stone upon which we must build to have a safe foundation.


Many Jews of Jesus’s day rejected Him. However, their descendants will someday accept Him.

Ask: How does knowing these characteristics of Jesus make you feel a deeper gratitude for His sacrifice and mission? Share your feelings and love for the Savior with the class. Invite any students who would also like to share their feelings to do so.

weekly iconJacob 4:14. Our lives should be centered in Jesus Christ. (15–20 minutes)

Draw a target on the board.

Put a piece of masking tape on the floor some distance from the target. Invite a few students to stand behind the masking tape and shoot a rubber band at the target. Before class, arrange with one of the students who will participate to shoot the rubber band at the opposite wall instead of the target. Ask the class if there is a difference between those who try to hit the mark and miss and those who are not even aiming at the mark.

Read Jacob 4:14 looking for what group looked beyond the mark. Read Moroni 4:3 looking for three covenants we make that help us know what our mark or target in life should be. Go back to the target on the board and label the center Jesus Christ. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, then an Assistant to the Twelve, said of Jacob 4:14, “The mark is Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 39; or Ensign, May 1976, 26). Point out that the bull’s-eye of a target is in the center, not off to one side. Read Helaman 5:12 and Ether 12:41 and look for ways we can make Jesus Christ the mark in our lives.

Read the following statement by Bishop H. Burke Peterson, who was then a member of the Presiding Bishopric:

“Nephi once said that because of the simpleness of the way or the easiness of it, there were many who perished. (See 1 Ne. 17:41.) Jacob put it another way when he said that they became blinded because they were continually looking beyond the mark in their search for answers. (See Jac. 4:14.) They didn’t believe in the simplicity of the gospel teachings” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 78; or Ensign, May 1975, 52–53).

Share also this statement by Elder Gene R. Cook, a member of the Seventy:

“The teacher [should] teach in simplicity, according to the true needs of the people, basic gospel doctrines like faith, repentance, and prayer, which all men—all men—can apply. (See D&C 19:31; Al. 26:22.) He will not look beyond the mark by exaggerating, by teaching in the fringe areas, by expanding on the scriptures, or by teaching exotic extremes in any principle, like excessively lengthy prayers, false doctrines about the Savior or about Adam, or extremes in diet, or politics, or investments. He will remember that Satan works in the extremes. He knows of the exactness of the Lord’s doctrine, but also of ‘temperance in all things.’ (D&C 12:8.)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1982, 37; or Ensign, May 1982, 26).

Ask: What does it mean to look beyond the mark? Allow time for students to write ways they can try harder to put Christ in the center of their lives.