3 Nephi – President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “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).
3 Nephi 1 – When the time drew near for the fulfillment of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy about the Savior’s birth, believers watched for the signs Samuel had said would come. Unbelievers threatened to kill the believers if the prophecy was not fulfilled by a certain day. Nephi, a son of Nephi and grandson of Helaman, pleaded with the Lord on behalf of the believers. In answer to Nephi’s prayer, the voice of the Lord came to him, declaring that the sign would be given that night. When the sun set, there was no darkness, and a new star appeared. Despite Satan’s continued attempts to destroy the faith of the people, the majority of the people were converted to the Lord. But two years later, the Gadianton robbers began to lead many Nephites and Lamanites into wickedness.
VS2-3 – Helaman’s son Nephi gave the sacred records to his son Nephi and then departed out of the land. No one knew where he went. At this time, the collection of sacred records included the large plates of Nephi, the small plates of Nephi, the plates of brass, and the 24 gold plates written by Ether.
VS4-9 – The unbelievers taunted the believers saying the signs and miracles Samuel spoke of should have already happened. The believers were sorrowful, but kept watching in hopes their faith was not in vain. The unbelievers set a date by which the signs had to happen. If they didn’t happen, they were to put all the believers to death.
- If you were a believer at this time, and you might be put to death for your beliefs, what would you do?
- What do you think it means to “watch steadfastly”? How can watching steadfastly help us prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? We cannot watch steadfastly if we do not know or understand what we are watching for. Look for prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in your study of the scriptures and give close attention to the events recorded in 3 Nephi as a pattern for the last days.
VS10 -14 (read vs 13-14) – Nephi was very sad and worried for the believers. He prayed for his people all day. The Lord spoke to him and told him the sign would be given that night, and the following day He would be born.
VS15-21 – The next day, the sun never set. From all parts of the earth, those who had not believed in the prophets’ teachings of Christ fell to the earth as if they were dead. Many feared because of their iniquities and unbelief. The new star also appeared. All the words of the prophets regarding the birth of Christ had been fulfilled (read vs 20).
- How can knowing that the Lord will fulfill the words of the prophets help you when someone ridicules your standards or persecutes you for your beliefs?
- Why do sin and unbelief lead to fear?
VS22-23 – Satan spread lies to harden hearts and cause unbelief about the signs. Most people believed and were converted, repented, and baptized.
Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric: “Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today’s world, I wish to suggest a single choice—a choice of peace and protection and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. … Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism…“When logic, reason, or personal intellect come into conflict with sacred teachings and doctrine, or conflicting messages assault your beliefs … , choose to not cast the seed out of your heart by unbelief [see Alma 32:28]. Remember, we receive not a witness until after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6)” (“Faith—the Choice Is Yours,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 31, 32–33).
Q -When the adversary tries to get you to doubt, how will you maintain faith in Christ and His restored gospel?
VS24-28 – There was mostly peace for a few years, except for small contentions over doctrine and then the Gadianton robbers who started murdering. Nephite dissenters started to flee to them and join them.
In vs 25, what impresses you about the response of these people when they learned they were wrong?
VS29 –Many of the converted Lamanites’ children began to be led away by lyings and flattering words to join the Gadianton robbers. Their faith started to decrease because of the rising generation’s wickedness.
- President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency taught: “The young people of the Church … hold the future in their hands. The Church has always been one generation away from extinction. If a whole generation were lost, which will not happen, we would lose the Church. But even a single individual lost to the gospel of Jesus Christ closes doors for generations of descendants, unless the Lord reaches out to bring some of them back” (“We Must Raise Our Sights” [Church Educational System conference on the Book of Mormon, Aug. 14, 2001], 1; see LDS.org under gospel library/additional addresses/CES addresses).
- President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) counseled the youth of our day on how to avoid being led away from the truth:
“To our young people, the glorious youth of this generation, I say, be true. Hold to the faith. Stand firmly for what you know to be right.
“You face tremendous temptation. It comes at you in the halls of popular entertainment, on the Internet, in the movies, on television, in cheap literature, and in other ways—subtle, titillating, and difficult to resist. Peer pressure may be almost overpowering. But, my dear young friends, you must not give in. You must be strong. You must take the long look ahead rather than succumbing to the present seductive temptation. …
“… You are the best generation we have ever had. You know the gospel better. You are more faithful in your duties. You are stronger to face the temptations which come your way. Live by your standards. Pray for the guidance and protection of the Lord. He will never leave you alone. He will comfort you. He will sustain you. He will bless and magnify you and make your reward sweet and beautiful. And you will discover that your example will attract others who will take courage from your strength” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 86–88; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 83–84).
Q – What do you think the phrase “became for themselves” means?
Sister Kathleen H. Hughes, a member of the Relief Society general presidency: “It implies to me that they looked to themselves first and indulged desires that prophets had warned them to avoid. They yielded to Satan’ enticements and allures” (“Grow Up unto the Lord,” Ensign, Feb. 2010, 18).
Q – Unrighteous actions can negatively affect others. What are some ways you can have a positive influence on the faith of your family, ward or branch, and community?
3 Nephi 2 – Nine years after the people saw the signs of Jesus Christ’s birth, they were less astonished by signs, and they hardened their hearts. Many of the people rejected further signs and wonders and increased in wickedness. As a result, the Gadianton robbers grew so strong that Nephites and Lamanites were compelled to take up arms against them. The converted Lamanites joined with the Nephites and became known as Nephites. Lachoneus, the chief judge of the Nephites, called on the people to repent and prepared them for battle. Because of their repentance, their faith in the Lord, and their diligent preparations, the Nephites triumphed over the Gadianton robbers. Following their deliverance, the people acknowledged the power of God in their preservation.
VS1–2 -They Began to Disbelieve the Signs That Had Been Given
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that we too can become vulnerable to Satan’s attack on our beliefs: “How quickly [Satan] moves in even where people have had special spiritual experiences, seeking to get people who have seen signs ‘to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen.’ (3 Nephi 2:1–2.) The adversary has a better chance to persuade us that what we believe is foolish if we worry about looking foolish in front of our fellowmen” (Things As They Really Are , 41).
- What is the lesson believers should learn concerning signs and salvation? (see D&C 63:8–12). Signs flow from faith and are a product of it. They strengthen the faithful and produce faith in the spiritually receptive. The chief purpose of signs, however, is not to produce faith but to reward it (see D&C 68:9–11). Signs do not force faith upon anyone. Sadly, it is common to see both in scripture and in today’s world most marvelous signs and evidences of God’s power ignored or rationalized away by those without faith.
Why Do the Wicked Sometimes See Signs?
- To vindicate prophets. The sign that Nephi, son of Helaman, gave to the people concerning the death of the chief judge showed that Nephi was right (see Mosiah 20:21).
- Leave the wicked without excuse. The wicked are completely responsible for their actions thereafter. The Lord has stated, “He that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation” (D&C 63:7).
- Show correctness of prophets’ words. Since the wicked seek to prove the prophet wrong, the Lord will occasionally show indisputable signs (see Helaman 9:2–4).
- Condemn the wicked. When the wicked see signs, it is through the Lord’s anger and to their condemnation (see D&C 63:11). The Savior stated, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Matthew 12:39).
- If we forget spiritual experiences, we will become more vulnerable to Satan’s temptations and deceptions.
President Henry B. Eyring explains how recording spiritual experiences in a journal helped him:
“I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: ‘Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?’ As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of [our family members] that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
“More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened” (“O Remember, Remember,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 67).
VS5–8 – Nephite calendars
Throughout their history, the Nephites used three different points of reference for measuring time with their calendars: (1) the time when Lehi left Jerusalem; (2) the time when the government changed from kings to judges; and (3) the time when the sign of the birth of Jesus Christ was given. It is not known exactly when the Nephites began to reckon their calendar from the time of Jesus Christ’s birth, but Mormon acknowledges this change in 3 Nephi 2:7–8.
|Reference Point||Approximately When Used||Scripture Block|
|From the time when Lehi left Jerusalem||600–92 B.C.||1 Nephi 1–Mosiah 29|
|From the time when the government changed from kings to judges||92 B.C.–A.D. 1||Mosiah 29–3 Nephi 1|
|From the time the sign of the birth of Jesus Christ was given||A.D. 1–421||3 Nephi 1–Moroni 10|
VS11-13, 17-19 – The Gadianton robbers were spreading so much death, the converted Lamanites and Nephites had to fight together agains them. They fought for the same cause Captain Moroni did. The Lamanites who fought alongside the Nephites had their curse taken from them and became fair. They became Nephites. They were able to drive the Gadianton robbers back, but because of wickedness, the Nephites were had the “sword of destruction” hanging over them.
VS14-16 – Curse was removed
President Joseph Fielding Smith:
“The dark skin was placed upon the Lamanites so that they could be distinguished from the Nephites and to keep the two peoples from mixing. The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord. …
“The dark skin of those who have come into the Church is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse. Many of these converts are delightsome and have the Spirit of the Lord” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 3:122–23).
3 Nephi 3 – Giddianhi tells Lachoneus and the Nephites to either give up all their lands and possessions, or join the Gadianton robbers. If not, the robbers will destroy them. Lachoneus doesn’t listen to Giddianhi and instead prepares his people spiritually and temporally. Gidgiddoni helps the people prepare for war.
VS1-10 – Giddianhi, the governor of the Gadianton robbers, sends an epistle to Lachoneous, the governor of the Nephites.
It is easy to see Satan’s imprint in Giddianhi’s words (3 Nephi 3:1–10) as he used flattery (verse 2), feigned concern (verse 5), and made false promises (verses 7–8) to accomplish his evil designs. How like the devil’s promises were Giddianhi’s promises of freedom when all he had to offer was bondage and a promise to share possessions that were not even his to share (see verse 7).
VS11-17 – Lachoneus is astonished, but does not fear Giddianhi’s threats. He prepares his people for the threat instead of giving in. We can learn from his reaction that righteous men and women need not fear the wicked and should not give in to their intimidation.
|Preparations of Lachoneus||Modern Parallels|
|Prayed for strength||Pray for strength|
|Lachoneus called the people to repentance||Church leaders call us to repentance|
|Built strong fortifications||Build strong testimonies|
|Gathered the people to one place||Gather together for strength; gather on the Sabbath day|
|Gathered to the center of the land||Avoid dangerous environments|
|Gathered provisions for the people||Prepare temporally|
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught what we should do to prepare for the events that precede the Savior’s coming:
“What if the day of His coming were tomorrow? If we knew that we would meet the Lord tomorrow—through our premature death or His unexpected coming—what would we do today? What confessions would we make? What practices would we discontinue? What accounts would we settle? What forgivenesses would we extend? What testimonies would we bear?
“If we would do those things then, why not now? Why not seek peace while peace can be obtained? If our lamps of preparation are drawn down, let us start immediately to replenish them.
“We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult—the spiritual. …
“Are we following the Lord’s command, ‘Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly’? (D&C 87:8). What are those ‘holy places’? Surely they include the temple and its covenants faithfully kept. Surely they include a home where children are treasured and parents are respected. Surely the holy places include our posts of duty assigned by priesthood authority, including missions and callings faithfully fulfilled in branches, wards, and stakes” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 7–8; or Ensign, May 2004, 9–10).
- Questions think about:
- How can we fortify our homes against the attacks of the adversary?
- Why are temporal preparations—such as getting an education and home storage—important in the last days?
- How does gathering in families and in wards or branches provide protection for us?
- How can prayer help you gain spiritual strength?
- How can repentance prepare us for the future?
- What blessings come as we follow the living prophets and apostles?
- How can we invite the spirit of revelation into our lives?
VS18-26 – Gidgiddoni was appointed as the chiefest chief captain. He was a great prophet. He told the people that the Lord would not want them to attack. He promised that if they wait, the Lord would deliver the robbers into their hands. All marched to Zarahemla with all their provisions. They were fortified against their enemies physically, and also spiritually as they repented. They made many weapons of war.
3 Nephi 4 – The Nephites defeat the Gadianton robbers and praise God.
VS10 – Faith in God Overcomes Fear
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote concerning the faith that is needed to face the challenges of our day: “Preparing ourselves and our families for the challenges of the coming years will require us to replace fear with faith. We must be able to overcome the fear of enemies who oppose and threaten us. The Lord has said, ‘Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail’ (D&C 6:34)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 43; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 34).
Truths in this chapter:
- As we prepare ourselves spiritually and temporally, the Lord will strengthen us to overcome challenges.
- As we repent and humble ourselves, God will sustain us through and deliver us from our trials.