Abraham 3:18–28: The Lord Taught Abraham about the Premortal Existence

The Pearl of Great Price: Teacher Manual, (2000), 44–46


Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events

  • Each person on earth has a dual nature and is composed of a mortal, physical body born to earthly parents and of an eternal spirit created by our Heavenly Father in the premortal life. Our spirits were organized to receive knowledge and intelligence (see Abraham 3:18–19, 21; see also Hebrews 12:9; D&C 88:15; 93:29–38; Moses 3:7; Abraham 5:7).

    Dual nature of Man
  • Each spirit child of Heavenly Father differs in intelligence. Jesus Christ is more intelligent than all of Heavenly Father’s spirit children, and His wisdom excels them all. As an individual acquires more light and intelligence they may in time become more like Heavenly Father (see Abraham 3:18–21; see also D&C 88:41; 93:36–37).

  • In the premortal existence, Heavenly Father chose His noble and great spirit children to become rulers in His work on earth (see Abraham 3:22–23; see also Romans 8:29; Alma 13:3; D&C 138:55–56).

  • Noble and great spirit children of Heavenly Father helped Jesus Christ create the earth (see Abraham 3:24).

  • One purpose of life is to be tested, to prove whether we will do whatever the Lord commands us (see Abraham 3:25; see also Mosiah 23:21–22; D&C 98:14).

  • The spirit children of Heavenly Father who “kept their first estate” (were obedient to God in the premortal life) have received additional opportunities by coming to earth as mortal beings, with bodies of flesh and bones. Those who were not obedient in their first estate will not receive such opportunities. Those who keep their second estate, accepting and obeying the gospel in mortality (or in the postmortal spirit world), will receive eternal glory from God (see Abraham 3:26; see also Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:7; D&C 29:36–38; 76:69–74; 138:32–35).

  • In the premortal life, Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to implement the plan of salvation. The rebellious Lucifer was not chosen and was cast out of heaven, along with his followers (see Abraham 3:27–28; see also 1 Peter 1:19–20; Ether 3:14; D&C 76:25–29; Moses 4:1–4).

    Plan of Salvation - 2nd reference

Suggestions for Teaching

Abraham 3:18–22. “One Shall Be More Intelligent than the Other”

Show a picture or illustration of a clear sky at night depicting many astronomical orbs and stars differing in brightness and glory. Invite students to read Abraham 3:16–18and discuss what we learn in these verses concerning the differences in the heavenly orbs and about the differences between the spirit children of Heavenly Father.

To help students understand that the “intelligences” in Abraham 3:22–23refer to spirit children of Heavenly Father, read and discuss the following statement from the First Presidency—Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose: “God showed unto Abraham ‘the intelligences that were organized before the world was’; and by ‘intelligences’ we are to understand personal ‘spirits’ (Abraham 3:22, 23); nevertheless, we are expressly told that ‘Intelligence’ that is, ‘the light of truth was not created or made, neither indeed can be’ (Doc. & Cov. 93:29)” (“The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition from the First Presidency and the Twelve,” in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,6 vols. [1965–75], 5:26).

Refer students to the statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith in the student manual under the heading “Abraham 3:18–19. What Does It Mean to Be ‘More Intelligent’?” (p. 37). Ask how one spirit can be more intelligent than another.

Invite students to read Abraham 3:19, 21. Ask what it means to be “more intelligent than they all.” Remind students that in Abraham 3astronomical orbs are compared to each other as to their “greatness.” Have students read Abraham 3:16; then ask which is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam (stars) shown to Abraham. Next invite students to review Abraham 3:3–4, 9, 16looking for phrases that describe Kolob that might also figuratively describe the greatness of Jesus Christ.

Read and discuss Doctrine and Covenants 93:36–40; 130:18–19. Ask:

  • How can any of Heavenly Father’s children attain more intelligence?

  • Why is it important to increase in intelligence?

Caution:As already noted, the intelligences mentioned in Abraham 3:22–23refer to spirits. Inasmuch as questions arise concerning the nature and origin of “intelligence,” it is imperative for the gospel teacher to consider the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Some of our writers have endeavored to explain what an intelligence is, but to do so is futile, for we have never been given any insight into this matter beyond what the Lord has fragmentarily revealed. We know, however, that there is something called intelligence which always existed. It is the real eternal part of man, which was not created nor made. This intelligence combined with the spirit constitutes a spiritual identity or individual” (Answers to Gospel Questions,comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:127).

Refer to Doctrine and Covenants 93:29–38and the material in the student manual under the heading “Abraham 3:18–19. Our Spirits Are Eternal” (p. 37) for more information on the nature of intelligence.

Abraham 3:22–23. “The Noble and Great Ones”

Read Abraham 3:22–23and ask students what they think their generation in the Church is expected to accomplish for the Lord, in the world and in the Church. Share the following quotation from President Gordon B. Hinckley: “This is the time when the God of heaven has moved in fulfillment of His ancient promise that He would usher in the fulness of the gospel in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. … You’re not just here by chance. You are here under the design of God” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley[1997], 720). Invite students to share their thoughts and feelings about being among the noble and great spirits who were preserved to come to earth in the last days.

Abraham 3:24–25. “We Will Prove Them”

Ask students how they feel about quizzes, exams, and tests. Write on the board: Life is a test!Read Abraham 3:24–25and ask students to tell about the ways Abraham and Sarai were tested in Abraham 1–3. What did the Lord command Abraham and Sarai to do? How did they respond to each command?

Abraham 3:26. Keeping Our First and Second Estates

Ask various students to explain Abraham 3:26in their own words. Invite a student to explain, as if he or she were teaching a person who is not a member of the Church, how the plan of salvation makes it possible for us to become like Heavenly Father, having “glory added upon [our] heads for ever and ever.”

Abraham 3:27. “Here Am I, Send Me”

Read Abraham 3:27and ask students what Jesus volunteered to do. Invite students to ponder Jesus Christ’s willingness to fulfill the Father’s plan and become our Savior. Referring to Jesus’ statement, “Here am I, send me,” Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “It was one of those special moments when a few words are preferred to many. Never has one individual offered, in so few words, to do so much for so many as did Jesus when He meekly proffered Himself as ransom for all of us” (Plain and Precious Things[1983], 53). Ask how we can follow the Savior’s example of obedience to Heavenly Father and unselfish service to others.