3 Nephi Chapter 19
3 Nephi 19:33-34 And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed. Nevertheless, so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man.
1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ascended into heaven, the multitude did disperse, and every man did take his wife and his children and did return to his own home.
2 And it was noised abroad among the people immediately, before it was yet dark, that the multitude had seen Jesus, and that he had ministered unto them, and that he would also show himself on the morrow unto the multitude.
3 Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus; and insomuch did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude.
verses 2-3 Those who had witnessed Jesus's first day of teaching got no sleep that night, as there was much excited talk-spreading the word that Jesus would visit again the following day.
Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines noised as, "Spread by report; much talk of."
4 And it came to pass that on the morrow, when the multitude was gathered together, behold, Nephi and his brother whom he had raised from the dead, whose name was Timothy, and also his son, whose name was Jonas, and also Mathoni, and Mathonihah, his brother, and Kumen, and Kumenonhi, and Jeremiah, and Shemnon, and Jonas, and Zedekiah, and Isaiah-now these were the names of the disciples whom Jesus had chosen-and it came to pass that they went forth and stood in the midst of the multitude.
verse 4 "Kumen" President Harold B. Lee reported:
At the Guatemala conference President Elberto Mosso Amodo, president of the Central District, told an interesting experience. He had found in northern Guatemala a city by the name of Kumen. He wondered at the origin of this name since most of the names were of Spanish or Indian origin, but not so with the name Kumen. When he read the Book of Mormon, to his delight, he found that one of the twelve disciples called by the Master when he visited the Western Hemisphere was called Kumen. Undoubtedly, the city was named for that disciple who most likely had frequented this place ("Mexico and Central America Area" General Conference Report, 1972, 118).
Undoubtedly many more than the first day's 2,500 Nephites were present on the second day of Jesus's Nephite ministry.
"Mathoni" "Mathonihah" For commentary on the derivations of these names, see the supplemental article, Names in the Book of Mormon.
5 And behold, the multitude was so great that they did cause that they should be separated into twelve bodies.
verse 5 Although the text offers no explanation of this division into twelve groups, it is likely that they were so organized to allow each member of the twelve to preside over and teach a group so that each person present could hear and understand.
6 And the twelve did teach the multitude; and behold, they did cause that the multitude should kneel down upon the face of the earth, and should pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus.
verse 6 It is notable that the twelve did not have to be commanded to begin teaching the people. They instinctively assumed that responsibility. They taught the same things which they had heard Jesus teach the day before.
7 And the disciples did pray unto the Father also in the name of Jesus. And it came to pass that they arose and ministered unto the people.
8 And when they had ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken-nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken-behold, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus.
verse 8 It is presumed the Nephite apostles taught the multitude, concentrating on those who had not been present for the Savior's appearance on the previous day. They taught, of course, the things they had heard Jesus teach.
9 And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.
verse 9 We can pray for nothing more important than the companionship of the Holy Ghost. President Heber J. Grant promised that "if we earnestly and honestly seek the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, I can assure you that we will receive it" (Gospel Standards. Compiled by G. Homer Durham. Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1969, 26).
Praying to receive the Holy Ghost and praying by the power of the Holy Ghost are two different things. Without the power or guidance of the Holy Ghost, "we know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26). The Holy Ghost will actually provide whoever is praying with precise particulars of what to pray for. Such was the state of the Nephite multitude who, while praying, "did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire" (3 Nephi 19:24). When we utter the things that God wants us to utter, then we are asking "in the Spirit," which is akin to asking "according to the will of God." When this occurs, our prayers will be answered, even as we ask (see D&C 46:30). Having the Holy Ghost dictate God's will concerning us should be the goal of all Latter-day Saints, knowing that "the time will come when we shall know the will of God before we ask. Then everything for which we pray will be right" (Marion G. Romney, Learning for the Eternities. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977, 117-18).
10 And when they had thus prayed they went down unto the water's edge, and the multitude followed them.
11 And it came to pass that Nephi went down into the water and was baptized.
12 And he came up out of the water and began to baptize. And he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen.
verses 11-12 Why did Nephi and the other disciples need to be baptized? Had they not already been baptized? President Joseph Fielding Smith has explained:
Before the organization of the Church [in this final dispensation] a few others, besides Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, had been baptized including each of the six other members of the organization. On the day of the organization, and after the vote had been taken all of those who had been baptized were baptized again. Why this was done has caused some needless discussion by members of the Church and ridicule by its enemies. However this act was consistent. The first baptism was, it is true, for the remission of sins, but baptism is of a dual nature; not only is it for the remission of sins, but it is also the doorway into the church, or the kingdom of God (John 3: 3-5). Therefore by command of the Lord all those who had been baptized before the 6th day of April, 1830, were baptized again. We have a like situation among the Nephites and Lamanites, when our Redeemer appeared to them. Before that day they were subject to the law of Moses, although they had practiced baptism from the beginning for the remission of sins (D&C 84:23-27). And baptism was the entrance into the Church as it was established among them at that time, yet the Savior commanded Nephi, son of Nephi, to be baptized and to baptize the other disciples whom he had chosen and then the people, although Nephi and the disciples had previously been baptized (3 Nephi 7:15-26; 3 Nephi 19:10-14) (Church History and Modern Revelation, volume 1, 93).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie added:
When the Church and kingdom is fully organized and operative, one baptism suffices for any one person. There is no need for and no ordinance of rebaptism in the Church. Excommunicated persons must of course be baptized a second time if they are to be restored to fellowship in the kingdom. If there were no record or proof that a person had been baptized, it would be necessary to perform the ordinance over again. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were, of course, baptized for the remission of sins on May 15, 1829 (JS-H 1:66-75), and were baptized again for admission to the Church on April 6, 1830 (HC, 1:75-78). Their first baptism could not admit them to membership in an organization which did not exist at the time the ordinance was performed. A similar situation once prevailed among the Nephites (3 Nephi 7:18-26; 3 Nephi 19:7-15). Many of the saints in this dispensation were baptized a second time after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:332-337) ("Baptism," Mormon Doctrine, 70).
13 And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
14 And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire; and it came down from heaven, and the multitude did witness it, and did bear record; and angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.
verses 13-14 "they were encircled about as if it were by fire" Let us review some basic principles. In order to have a chance at exaltation, it is necessary to experience the complete or total ordinance of baptism. This complete ordinance consists of three parts:
1. the baptism of water,
2. the baptism of the Spirit-the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost by one having authority), and
3. the "baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost." This expression refers to the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost. Sanctification occurs immediately following justification-the forgiveness of the particular sin the individual is striving to overcome. Sanctification itself consists of two separate phenomena:
a. The first is the purging out of a man's soul "as if by fire" an increment of the natural self the individual is currently striving to overcome through his persistent obedience. By the Spirit's influence the iniquity, carnality, sensuality, and every other evil thing can be "burned out" of the repentant soul as if by fire.
b. The second is granting of an increment of an attribute of Christ (gift of the Spirit) the individual is currently striving to earn through his obedience.
In other words, according to the principle of the "baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost," the person receives a remission of his sins-a removal of the penalty of sin, a burning away of an increment of his natural self, and an increment of a gift of the Spirit. The person who has been thus cleansed becomes a "new creature" of the Holy Ghost. It may be said of him that he is "born again." As the Holy Ghost carries out this justifying and sanctifying function, it is often said in scripture that he is applying the "atoning blood of Christ." It may also be said that the Spirit "cleanses their garments by the atoning blood of Christ" or "makes white their garments by the atoning blood of Christ." Those who would receive this justification and sanctification must, of course, be sincerely repentant. Please don't fail to review the verse commentary for Mosiah 14:11 on the important concept of justification.
Sanctification is an ongoing process. It is the receiving, line upon line, precept upon precept of those gifts of the Spirit-those incremental attributes of the Father and the Son-by personal revelation after we have strived to obey the Lord's commands. It is also the inevitable cleansing of a man's soul that is associated with receiving gifts of the Spirit. Complete sanctification does not occur at once. Along the progressive road to sanctification, however, there is apparently a plateau or a milestone which may be achieved by persistent conformity to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. This landmark achievement may be referred to as reaching "a state of grace" or a state of saintliness, or simply "a state of sanctification." Such a person is said to be "perfect in Christ" or "holy and without spot" or "sanctified in Christ by the grace of God." Is this sanctified state identical to that achieved by the individual who qualifies to have his calling and election made sure? Perhaps it is. Though it is apparently possible to fall from this state of grace (see D&C 20:32- 34), it is a most sublime accomplishment since such a person is "enabled to stand spotless before the judgment bar of Christ (2 Nephi 27:19-21)." Also the person who has attained this state of cleanliness is able to see God and view the things of his kingdom (Ether 4:7). For more thoughts on the processes of justification and sanctification, see Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 17, Justification and Sanctification. See also the commentary for Mosiah 3:19 and the introductory commentary for Alma 5.
In a few exceptional instances, as in this particular instance, literal fire has attended the baptism of the Spirit-the giving of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Examples include the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and the occasion of the conversion of some Lamanites (Helaman 5). Also, perhaps with similar significance, during Christ's appearance on the western hemisphere, the children were surrounded by fire as they were taught by angels (3 Nephi 17:23-24).
15 And it came to pass that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples, behold, Jesus came and stood in the midst and ministered unto them.
16 And it came to pass that he spake unto the multitude, and commanded them that they should kneel down again upon the earth, and also that his disciples should kneel down upon the earth.
17 And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray.
18 And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.
verse 18 Jesus had previously instructed the Nephites that they should pray unto the Father in his name. Why then are these Nephites praying directly to Jesus? Jesus, in his prayer to the Father, provides the answer in verse 22. "They pray unto me because I am with them." It is also possible that the Nephites began praying to Jesus as a natural reaction to, and an acknowledgment of, his glory. He did not stop or correct them.
The Book of Mormon teaches unequivocally that the true saint worships the Father in the name of the Son (2 Nephi 25:16; Jacob 4:5). Accordingly, one is to pray to the Father in the name of Christ (2 Nephi 32:9; 3 Nephi 17:3; 3 Nephi 18:20; 3 Nephi 19:6; 3 Nephi 19:21:27). As Christ prayed for the Nephites, he taught that as they believe in him they become "one" with him and the Father (3 Nephi 19:23; 3 Nephi 19:29; cf. John 17:20-22).
verses 19-23 While the multitude is praying, Jesus separates himself from the rest and prayed to the Father on behalf of the Nephite apostles.
19 And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said:
20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.
21 Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words.
22 Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.
verse 22 It is significant that one of the ultimate evidences that God observes of our belief in Deity is that we are seen and heard praying. Disciples of Christ should be seen and heard in prayer.
23 And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.
verse 23 For further thoughts on the unity that exists between the Father and the Son, see the commentaries for 3 Nephi 1:14 and 3 Nephi 9:15.
24 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.
verse 24 "they did not multiply many words" The essential ingredients of prayer are faith and sincere desires of the heart, not eloquence or the length of the prayer.
"it was given unto them what they should pray" We have been taught that "the Spirit . . . teacheth a man to pray" (2 Nephi 32:5; 2 Nephi 32:8). The Lord has also taught us in the Doctrine and Covenants that if a man is properly influenced by the Holy Ghost, he is promised to receive whatsoever he asks for in prayer (see D&C 46:30). The reason for this bold promise lies in the fact that such a man is taught the things for which he should pray by the Holy Spirit (see D&C 50:30; 3 Nephi 19:24).
"they were filled with desire" The most important motivator toward spiritual progress is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a confidence in the blessings of his atonement. Please don't ever hear or read the phrase "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" without reminding yourself that the most basic form of this faith is deliberate obedience to the Lord's commandments.
25 And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.
verse 25 "his countenance did smile upon them" Elder Melvin J. Ballard experienced that divine smile:
As I entered the door, I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious being my eyes have ever beheld or that I ever conceived existed in all the eternal worlds. As I approached to be introduced, he arose and stepped towards me with extended arms, and he smiled as he softly spoke my name. If I shall live to be a million years old, I shall never forget that smile. He took me into his arms and kissed me, pressed me to his bosom, and blessed me, until the marrow of my bones seemed to melt! When he had finished, I knelt at his feet, and, as I bathed them with my tears and kisses, I saw the prints of the nails in the feet of the Redeemer of the world. The feeling that I had in the presence of him who hath all things in his hands, to have his love, his affection, and his blessing was such that if I ever can receive that of which I had but a foretaste, I would give all that I am, all that I ever hope to be, to feel what I then felt (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Service of Melvin J. Ballard [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1949], 155-56).
"the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus" The disciples were transfigured, a process that we are not given to fully understand, though we do know that it allows those individuals who are transfigured to withstand the presence of a celestial being without being wholly consumed (D&C 76:118).
26 And Jesus said unto them: Pray on; nevertheless they did not cease to pray.
27 And he turned from them again, and went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth; and he prayed again unto the Father, saying:
28 Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.
verse 28 "I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen" The disciples were cleansed from all sin. Their faith in the Savior motivated them to good works and repentance. The Spirit then extended to them the blessing of the Savior's atonement, and their sins were removed-burned out of them as if by fire-through the cleansing or sanctifying function of the Holy Ghost.
29 Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.
verse 29 "for those whom thou hast given me out of the world" These are, of course, his disciples. Though like all mortals they are in the world, they are not of the world. Thus they are "out of the world."
"that I may be glorified in them" To be "glorified" is to take on more light, or truth, or intelligence (see The Concept of Light in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 15). There is an important concept here that it would seem we are not given, as yet, to fully understand. How is the Savior "glorified in," or by, his faithful servants? The Lord Jesus was certainly speaking for himself as well as his Father when he said to Moses: "For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). It is indeed his "work" to enable and encourage us to progress toward our exaltation. But it is also his "glory," that is, as we progress we add to his glory or light. The Savior glorified himself and added to the glory or light of his Father by atoning for the sins of mankind (see 3 Nephi 11:11) and enabling men to glorify themselves (see 3 Nephi 19:29; see also Isaiah 53:12; Luke 22:29; and D&C 132:31). Somehow as we progress spiritually, and take upon ourselves more light, we add to the light of the Father and of the Son-they are "glorified in," or through, us. It would seem that we are not, as yet, given to know the detailed mechanics of that process.
30 And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were white, even as Jesus.
verse 30 "they were white, even as Jesus" Again, reference is made to transfiguration of Jesus's disciples.
31 And it came to pass that he went again a little way off and prayed unto the Father;
verse 31 This is the third time on this second day of his Nephite ministry that the Savior "went . . . a little way off" to pray. Since the words of his first two prayers were recorded into the record, we presume that, like this third prayer, they were uttered within earshot of the multitude.
32 And tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed.
33 And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed.
34 Nevertheless, so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man.
35 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying he came again to the disciples, and said unto them: So great faith have I never seen among all the Jews; wherefore I could not show unto them so great miracles, because of their unbelief.
36 Verily I say unto you, there are none of them that have seen so great things as ye have seen; neither have they heard so great things as ye have heard.
verses 31-36 See the commentary for 3 Nephi 10:18. Obviously these Book of Mormon people were prepared to hear and accept the Savior's teachings. As Jesus taught among the Jews in the Old World, he taught in parables as most of the Jews were slow to perceive spiritual things, and he wished not to "cast pearls before swine" (JST Matthew 21:34). Among the Nephites, Jesus used no parables, and he taught them the gospel in direct and plainly spoken words.