The Testimonies of the Witnesses

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 22–23


Introduction

As prophesied in the Book of Mormon, the Lord in this dispensation chose individuals to be witnesses to the Book of Mormon to fulfill the divine law of witnesses. The Testimony of Three Witnesses and The Testimony of Eight Witnesses have been included in every edition of the Book of Mormon.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, p. 3.

Suggestions for Teaching

Testimony of the Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. The Lord chose men to be witnesses of the Book of Mormon, thus fulfilling the law of witnesses. (15–20 minutes)

Read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was then a member of the Seventy. As you read, have an individual, preferably someone class members do not know, walk through the classroom, pick up an item of value that you have left somewhere in the room, and then leave.

“Whenever the Lord has established a dispensation by revealing his gospel and by conferring priesthood and keys upon men, he has acted in accordance with the law of witnesses which he himself ordained. This law is: ‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.’ (2 Cor. 13:1; Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Matt. 18:15–16; John 8:12–29.)

“Never does one man stand alone in establishing a new dispensation of revealed truth, or in carrying the burden of such a message and warning to the world. In every dispensation, from Adam to the present, two or more witnesses have always joined their testimonies, thus leaving their hearers without excuse in the day of judgment should the testimony be rejected” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 436).

Ask students why the law of witnesses is so important. To illustrate this principle, ask:

  • What did the person who just entered the room look like? (Get student responses on the person’s height, weight, gender, hair color and length, and so forth.)

  • What was the person wearing?

  • At what exact time did the person enter the room?

  • What did the person do?

  • What did the person take?

Try to reconstruct what happened. Then ask the following questions:

  • How was it helpful to have more than one witness?

  • How did having multiple witnesses help you reconstruct what happened?

  • Why is the law of witnesses so useful in establishing the truth?

Invite students to quickly read The Testimony of Three Witnesses, The Testimony of Eight Witnesses, and Doctrine and Covenants 17 heading and verse 1. Have students list the experiences of both groups of witnesses, and write their findings on the board (see the accompanying chart).

Three Witnesses

Eight Witnesses

1. An angel showed them the plates, the Urim and Thummim, the breastplate, the Liahona, and the sword of Laban.

1. Joseph Smith showed them the plates.

2. The voice of God declared the divinity of the record.

2. They handled the plates.

Ask students how the combined experiences of the witnesses can help strengthen their own testimony. Read Doctrine and Covenants 8:2 and discuss how personal testimonies are developed through the mind and the heart.

Invite a student in advance to prepare to read aloud the Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith from the introduction to the Book of Mormon. (The student should practice enough to be able to read it smoothly and effectively.) Have the student read the passage to the class. Ask the other students to listen carefully for what Joseph Smith learned from Moroni’s visit, and list their findings on the board. (These might include what an angel is like, what the records were like, the means for translating them, how to prepare, and the strict instructions for caring for the records.)

Ask students to compare the Prophet Joseph Smith’s testimony with that of the other eleven witnesses. Ask if they know any other witnesses of the Book of Mormon (for example, prophets, teachers, parents, family). Speaking of the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“These things I know. The Lord has revealed them to me, and this knowledge I have had since the day I was baptized. I know that the power of the Almighty is guiding this people, that we are under covenant to keep his commandments, to walk in light and truth. It is my firm conviction that every member of this Church should be able to bear witness and declare by words of soberness that these things are true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that the destiny of this latter-day work is true, and, according to the revelations, must and will be fulfilled” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:201–2).

Ask students to share their testimonies of the Book of Mormon if they feel prompted by the Spirit to do so.