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2 Nephi 32
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2 Nephi 32
Nephi Reiterates His Teachings
2 Nephi 32:1–3
1 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?
2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
This chapter is also the same as it was in the 1830 edition. What is interesting is that it is clearly a companion to 2 Nephi 31. It picks up on the themes Nephi talked about and expands them. It certainly should be read together with chapter 31. The reason for the chapter break is the testificatory amen at the end of chapter 31. Both Nephi and Mormon felt that such a testimony required the end of a chapter. This isn’t the presence of the word, but rather the function. If the amen is part of the description of a prayer, it didn’t create a chapter ending. When the amen functioned as a testimony, that function triggered the end of a chapter, even if the topic had not ended. That is the situation in this chapter. The material had not ended, but the testimony to the previous chapter created the division.
As Nephi continues the theme, he spoke of entering the narrow path. Nephi notes that his people wonder what “ye should do after ye have entered in by the way.” This is another emphasis on doing. See the commentary following 2 Nephi 25:23 for more information on the relationship of grace and the idea of what we must do.
For Nephi, salvation requires change. That is the implication of repentance, which is not simply sorrow, but a turning from the divergent way to return to the correct way. What Nephi declares here is that the Holy Spirit is the means by which we can understand how to keep our actions moving on the correct path. The Spirit testifies of the words of the Messiah. Since Nephi understood the Messiah to be Yahweh in a mortal ministry, the words of the Messiah are the same as Yahweh’s words—and those are the scriptures. Thus, the scriptures will tell us all we need to do to keep moving along the path to eternal life.
2 Nephi 32:4–6
4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
6 Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.
Nephi declared at the beginning of the last chapter (2 Nephi 31:3) that he delighted in plainness. Here he reiterates that he has spoken plainly. If we do not understand, it is not because he did not explain as clearly as he could, but because we do not have the Spirit assisting us. It is because “ye ask not, neither do ye knock.”
This leads Nephi to reiterate what he had just said in verse 3. There he indicated that the words of the Messiah would tell us all we need to do; here it is the Holy Spirit that will show us. That slight difference creates a parallelism that expands on the meaning. The scriptures may tell, but the Spirit shows. We not only need the scriptures, but we also need the Spirit to help us understand and apply the scriptures.
When Nephi declares “this is the doctrine of Christ,” it is the conclusion to the discussion he began in 2 Nephi 31:2 where he indicated that “I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ.” He declared what he would do, and now declares that it has been done.
This process of baptism, repentance, and enduring to the end is the short summation of all of the doctrine of Christ. The doctrine of Christ is to reach the end of the way, and that end is eternal life. There is no other way to accomplish that purpose. Therefore, “there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh.” This is sufficient for those who live under the law of Moses to understand how they should live until such time as Christ will provide more instruction. Reiterating his other theme, Nephi declares that in the future, there will be more doctrine, but that it will still show what we should observe to do.
2 Nephi 32:7–9
7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.
8 And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
Nephi has born a powerful testimony of the mission of the atoning Messiah. It was a sermon that was not given to support those who already knew and lived it, but one to guide those who needed it. That such guidance was needed is clear in this closing. Nephi is “left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men.” Nephi appears to be coming to the end of his life, and this sad statement suggests that all is not well in his community. If his Nephite people were living well according to the narrow path of the Messiah, if they were doing the law of Moses, he might not have needed to preach it so completely, and he would not have had such reason to mourn. This sad view of the state of his nation will become more apparent when we see that people in the book of Jacob.
In verse 8, Nephi grieves to have to tell the people that they should pray. It is the evil spirit that teaches not to pray, and it appears that was not a theoretical opposition. Rather, it appears that it is the rule that Nephi wishes would be contradicted by seeking the Spirit through prayer.
Finally, Nephi declares that the Father would “consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” Once again, Nephi insists that the doctrine of Christ is not about what we believe, but what we do to progress along the path to eternal life. Standing still, while believing that there is an end, will not reach that end.
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