In the Book of Mormon, four men of valor bore the name of Nephi.
In the index to the Book of Mormon, each man is distinguished by superscripts: Nephi1 for the son of Lehi and the first leader of the people who came to be known as the Nephites, Nephi2 for the son of Helaman, Nephi3 for the son of Nephi and grandson of Helaman, and Nephi4 for the son of Nephi and great-grandson of Helaman.The books of First Nephi and Second Nephi were named after Nephi1. The other three men by the name of Nephi are written about in the latter portion of the Book of Mormon. Nephi3 was the author of Third Nephi, with the record having been abridged by Mormon. Fourth Nephi is almost entirely an abridgement by Mormon.
The book of Helaman tells of the great missionary work of Nephi2. Early in the book of Third Nephi, Mormon wrote that this Nephi "departed out of the land, and whither he went, no man knoweth." (3 Ne. 1:3.) Another entry states that Nephi, son of Helaman, "did not return to the land of Zarahemla, and could nowhere be found in all the land." (3 Ne. 2:9.)
Readers of the Book of Mormon are introduced to Nephi3, grandson of Helaman, during the time when secret combinations were in full power, and when the hearts of the people "were turned from the Lord their God, and they did stone the prophets and did cast them out from among them." (3 Ne. 7:14.)
"This period in Nephite history was a time of terror, anarchy, and bloodshed," wrote Gary Lee Walker in Studies in Scripture, Volume Eight – Alma 30 to Moroni. "Nephi, son of Nephi and grandson of Helaman (3 Ne. 1:2-3), had been given custodianship of the records by his father in A.D. 1. Greatly blessed and endowed with many spiritual gifts, this great Nephite prophet bore a final witness to the wicked of his generation. His ministrations and preachings were attended by great miracles that he performed in the name of the Lord. (3 Ne. 7:15-26.) The wicked recognized the power and authority of this great prophet, but, as is tragically true in all generations, the truth only made the wicked angry. Thus, they rejected the word of the Lord from His authorized servant. (3 Ne. 7:18, 20.) Nephi labored for three years among his people, crying repentance and baptizing those who would heed his words. By A.D. 33, he apparently experienced some success, for he ordained `men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water.' (3 Ne. 7:23-25.) The number of converts would have been relatively small, however, when one considers the destruction that would shortly befall this wicked generation."
Nephi3 was one of the 12 Nephite disciples called by the resurrected Savior. (See 3 Ne. chapters 12-13.)
In A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, Daniel H. Ludlow wrote of the origin of the title of the book of Third Nephi:
"In the first edition of the Book of Mormon, the book that is now known by the title of
Third Nephi' was known only asThe Book of Nephi, the son of Nephi, who was the son of Helaman.' This original title was used until the edition of 1879 when, at the recommendation of Orson Pratt, the heading
Third Nephi' was added before the title of this book and the wordsFourth Nephi' were added before the title of the book that follows."
Nephi4 "kept [theT last record, (and he kept it upon the plates of Nephi) . . . ." (4 Ne. 1:19.) Little is mentioned of this Nephi, other than that he kept the record and died.
Brother Ludlow wrote:
"The small book of Fourth Nephi provides a classic example of the steps that lead to apostasy. In the first part of this book the historian tells of an almost perfect society. . . .
"Significantly the historian records step by step the things that led the people from the state of nearly perfect happiness to a state of exceeding wickedness."
Blessings follow obedience to law
"We covenant to live the law of the gospel," said President Ezra Taft Benson in addressing a seminar for temple presidents in September 1982.
"The law of the gospel embraces all laws, principles, and ordinances necessary for our exaltation. We agree to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and sincere repentance borne out of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. As we comply with the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, and continue in faith and prayer, the power of the Savior's atoning sacrifice covers our sins and we are cleansed from all unrighteousness.
"Now, this is the commandment: `Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel.' (3 Ne. 27:20-21.)
"The law of the gospel is more than understanding the plan of salvation. It consists of partaking of the ordinances and the sealing powers culminating in a man being sealed up unto eternal life.
Being born again,' said the Prophet Joseph Smith,comes by the spirit of God through ordinances.' "
Christ's Church bears His name
"It came to pass that the disciples were gathered together in mighty prayer and fasting.
"And Jesus . . . came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them: What will ye that I shall give unto you?
"And they said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; . . . " (3 Ne. 27:1-3.)
Jesus referred His Nephite disciples to the scriptures, and taught that those who wished to follow Him must take His name upon themselves. He then declared:
"And how be it my church save it be called in my name? . . . if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.
"Ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; . . . " (3 Ne. 27:8-9.)
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Gerry Avant
Sources: Studies in Scripture, Volume Eight – Alma 30 to Moroni, edited by Kent P. Jackson; A Commentary to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, by Daniel H. Ludlow; and The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.