Moroni Chapter 10
Moroni 10:3-5 Moroni's promise: And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
Moroni 10:18 Every good gift cometh of Christ.
Moroni 10:32-33 Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; then is his grace sufficient for you, and ye are perfect in Christ.
Moroni will never really say why he included his father's sordid and shocking letter in the previous chapter. In this chapter Moroni will extend to the reader an invitation to come unto Christ. There is a striking contrast between the two chapters. This is what Gerald Lund has called a "scriptural foil" ("An Anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon-the Face may be Strange, but the Voice is Familiar" in The Book of Mormon: Alma, the Testimony of the Word, 108). A foil is a person or thing that sets off or enhances another by contrast (Webster). In this setting a scriptural foil is the technique of placing two contrasting principles or examples side by side to demonstrate even more clearly the lessons they are trying to teach.
1 Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ.
verse 1 Moroni writes to the latter-day descendants of the Lamanites. Thirty-five years have passed since the great final battle between the Lamanites and Nephites, and about that same amount of time has passed since the death of his father Mormon.
2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
verse 2 "I seal up these records" There is no one else to pass them on to. Moroni will prepare the plates-the plates of Mormon and the small plates of Nephi-to remain buried for fourteen hundred years. There is no way to know his location at the time of his writing this verse. If he is about to bury the plates in the place where they will remain buried until they are delivered to the prophet Joseph Smith, then he has wandered into the area that is now western New York State. Moroni will deliver the plates himself to Joseph Smith, Jr., on September 22, 1827. The Doctrine and Covenants makes it clear that the Lord gave to Moroni the keys of the Book of Mormon for this latter dispensation (D&C 27:5; cf. 128:20).
"I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you" Exhortation is the act of inciting to laudable deeds; the incitement to do that which is good or commendable.
verse 3-5 These verses contain Moroni's well-known promise to anyone in the latter days who reads the Book of Mormon. It is, in a sense, the divine formula for testing the truth of religious matters.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down unto the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
verse 3 "I would exhort you" To exhort is to urge by argument to a good deed; to incite by words.
"if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them" One might well wonder if there would ever be a person, time, or place in which it would not be "wisdom in God" that the person should read the Book of Mormon. Perhaps the meaning of the phrase would be rendered clearer if it were restated: "and it is wisdom in God that ye should read them."
"remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down unto the time that ye shall receive these things" This phrase suggests a perspective that invites one to realize that God is a personal and loving individual who has been dealing with humanity for their salvation since time began on this earth. It also implies a reference to the Bible, for it is the most commonly possessed scripture that provides knowledge of God's dealings with his children since the creation.
"ponder it in your hearts" This phrase invites soulful seeking and wondering and praying.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
verse 4 There are several expressions in the Book of Mormon which are Hebrew-like, almost as if they had been translated directly from the Hebrew. This sometimes results in awkward English. One interesting example involves this particular verse. In Hebrew if/then statements are expressed in a peculiar way. In English we say: "If you go, then I will go." The then is optional. We might also say, "If you go, I will go." In Hebrew the literal translation of the way if/then statements is, "If you go and I will go." Obviously this is not acceptable English. It is interesting to note that the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon rendered Moroni 10:4 as follows: "And if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, and he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost" (Royal Skousen, "The Critical Text of the Book of Mormon," a FARMS reprint, italics mine). In the second edition of the Book of Mormon, this and was removed, presumably because it did not constitute acceptable English. In the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon there were at least eight other examples where the Hebrew "and" was used in an if/then statement (1 Nephi 17:50; Helaman 12:13; Helaman 12:14; Helaman 12:16; Helaman 12:17; Helaman 12:19; Helaman 12:20, and 21).
"if these things are not true" (italics added) Some critics of the Book of Mormon have claimed that a positive answer to the suggested prayer here indicates that the Book of Mormon is not true. This claim has been made because of the negative form of the question. There is actually an interesting Hebraism that is illustrated here which has not received much attention. It is the Hebrew use of negative rhetorical questions. When an emphatically positive meaning is intended, sometimes a negative question will be asked. In other words, when the questioner is completely certain of the answer and wishes to convey positive or even emphatic force, he may ask a negative question. A couple of biblical examples will serve to illustrate. In Judges 4:14 Deborah wishes to say to Barak, "The Lord is indeed going out before you," but instead she asks him, "Is not the Lord gone out before thee?" In Deuteronomy 11:30, the intended meaning is, "As you know, these mountains are across the Jordan." Instead, the author asks, "Are they not on the other side [of the ] Jordan?" In this verse, Moroni wishes to convey, forcibly the idea that the book is true, he therefore suggests that a negative rhetorical question be asked of the Lord: "if these things are not true."
"with a sincere heart, with real intent" These phrases imply openness and determination. Each investigator must read the book with a phrase borrowed from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "a willing suspension of disbelief." They must genuinely allow for the possibility that the book just might be true.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
verses 4-5 It is through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost, and only through his ministrations that we can come to truly know the truth about any eternal or spiritual matter. It is probably true also that the Holy Ghost participates at time in facilitating the acquisition of secular knowledge. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Knowledge comes to us as flashes of light from heaven."
How might we summarize the essential steps of the divine formula for testing and gaining a testimony or spiritual witness of any gospel truth? I would suggest the following:
1. A person must first be brought to the point where he sincerely desires to know the truth. This desire may come about in several different ways. Perhaps some of the Lord's elect come to realize that in the world, regardless of the type of worldly experience one has had, there is not to be found complete satisfaction and spiritual fulfillment. There is something still missing. He must then manifest this desire by regular and persistent and sincere prayer to the Father.
2. He must search the scriptures and other writings and set about to learn all he can about the spiritual truth being tested.
3. He must then "experiment upon the word" or deliberately conform his life to that gospel truth. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:16-17).
4. He must bear testimony of the Savior and of the truth of the principles of the gospel. He thereby manifests his commitment and faith.
5. Then by personal revelation in the Father's own good time, the Father will manifest the truth of it unto each who seeks by the power of the Holy Ghost, "and by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
verses 8-26 In these following verses, Moroni discourses on the gifts of the Spirit. Prior to studying these verses, please review two chapters in volume 1 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine. They are chapter 7, Spiritual Growth-Gifts of the Spirit and chapter 8, The Blessings of Spiritual Gifts. Moroni will list various spiritual gifts including teaching the word of knowledge, faith, healing, working of mighty miracles, prophecy, ministering of angels, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. This list of gifts is only a small sample of the many gifts available.
8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
9 For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;
verse 9 "teach the word of wisdom" Moroni is not referring here to the Church's health law-D&C 89. Rather he is referring to the gift of being able to effectively teach the principle of wisdom.
10 And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
11 And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
12 And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles;
verse 12 Miracles are gifts of the Spirit sometimes given through individuals who have qualified themselves to possess the gift of requesting miracles for purposes that are "expedient unto" God (verse 23).
13 And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;
verse 13 In the book of Revelation we read the rather enigmatic statement, "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (19:10). Perhaps the best explanation of this phrase is that through personal revelation from the Spirit of God come all gifts including the testimony of Jesus and the ability to prophesy.
14 And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;
verse 14 Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: "If a man has power to part the veil and converse with angels and with the ministering spirits who dwell in the realms of light, surely this is a gift of the Spirit. Also, how can anyone discern between the spirits sent of God and the evil spirits that do the devil's bidding except by revelation? Among us, there are those so endowed" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 374).
15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;
16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.
verses 15-16 There seem to be at least three manifestations of the gift of tongues: (1) when individuals are enabled to speak with ease or with fluency a foreign but known language (see Acts 2); (2) when persons are enabled to speak the pure or Adamic language; and (3) when persons speak under the influence of the Holy Ghost, they speak with the tongue of angels; they speak what God or his ministering servants would speak if they were present. The prophet Joseph Smith cautioned the saints about the gift of tongues. He explained that it is one of the least of the gifts but generally the one most sought after (TPJS, 246). He warned that Satan may seek offer his own counterfeits in order to deceive the people (Ibid., 25, 229).
17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
verse 17 The preceding verses have described the role of the "Spirit of God," the Holy Ghost in imparting spiritual gifts to man. This verse states that "all these gifts come by the "Spirit of Christ." Is the "Spirit of Christ" simply another name for the Holy Ghost? The verses that follow suggest that the Spirit of Christ is not the same as the Spirit of God. The phrase Spirit of Christ is generally used to refer to the "light of Christ." For a discussion of the relationship between the Holy Ghost and the light of Christ, see The Concept of Light in volume 1, chapter 15 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine. The Holy Ghost transmits gifts of the Spirit through the light of Christ, the light that emanates from the Savior "to fill the immensity of space" (D&C 88:11-12). Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that the light of Christ is "the agency used by the Holy Ghost to manifest truth and dispense spiritual gifts to many people at one and the same time" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 70).
18 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.
verse 18 "every good gift cometh of Christ" Gifts of the Spirit are the increments of the attributes of Christ which we receive by personal revelation as a result of our obedience to gospel commands. The Holy Ghost has a vital role in this process of sanctification. In his role as the Holy Spirit of Promise, he judges us for worthiness and readiness to receive the gifts, and it is then through his agency that they are imparted to us or not imparted to us. He also burns out of our soul "as if by fire" the increments of our natural self. These are the two processes that characterize the process of sanctification. But the gifts of the Spirit do not originate with the Holy Ghost. They do not come from him. Rather, the Savior himself is the source of those gifts of the Spirit which we receive. As we are allowed to receive a gift of the Spirit, we are allowed to partake of a portion of the light of Christ. In his light are contained his attributes, and as we receive them we partake of the light of Christ. A portion of the Lord's light becomes ours, and we then radiate that portion of light as a part of our own light.
19 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.
20 Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.
verse 20 Again, we read the familiar sequence of faith, hope, and charity. There is logic and reason in this sequence. See "The Fruits of Faith" in Other Notes on Faith in volume 1, chapter 11 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine. Faith starts the sequence. Without the conscious exercise of deliberate faith, there can be no gifts of the Spirit. When faith ceases, so do spiritual gifts. Without spiritual gifts there is no perfection. Without perfection there is no possibility of exaltation. Therefore, Moroni concludes in this verse, "there must be faith."
21 And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope.
verse 21 One well-known, but commonly misunderstood, scriptural verse indicates plainly that no man can be exalted without his possessing hope. This verse is D&C 131:6: "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance." This verse means that no man can be exalted while he is still ignorant of the fact that he's is going to be exalted. An ever-increasing confidence incrementally revealed to a diligently righteous individual is called the gift of hope.
22 And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.
verse 22 Despair is a state of hopelessness.
23 And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.
24 And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth-that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.
verse 24 Moroni speaks through the Book of Mormon to "the ends of the earth." His message is that as long as the Spirit of God ministers to people upon the earth, there will be gifts of the Spirit. The absence of gifts means the absence of the influence of the Spirit of God, a most desperate situation indeed.
25 And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.
verse 25 If a man neither possesses nor exercises faith, he will receive no gifts of the Spirit. In this case, inevitably, his natural man tendency will manifest itself rampantly and unopposed.
26 And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not.
verse 26 "them who shall do these things away and die" To "do some thing away" is to deny that thing. Those who deny the influence of the Holy Ghost and gifts of the Spirit will die spiritually-they will be separated eternally from God..
27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?
28 I declare these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies. And behold, they shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the everlasting God; and his word shall hiss forth from generation to generation.
verse 28 "his word shall hiss forth from generation to generation" For discussion of the colorful word "hiss," see the commentary for 3 Nephi 29:8.
29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true.
verses 27-29 The Book of Mormon will stand as a witness against all people in the last days who disregard its message. At the judgment bar of God, Christ will confirm the testimonies of all of the Book of Mormon prophets.
30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.
verse 30 For a discussion of evil gifts, see "Do Evil Gifts Exist?" in The Blessings of Spiritual Gifts, volume 1, chapter 8 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine.
31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.
verse 31 This verse is a combination of Isaiah 52:36 and Isaiah 54:2. It is basically a rallying cry for the gathering of the house of Israel, particularly the tribe of Judah, in the latter days just prior to the Millennium.
In this verse Isaiah personifies Zion as a woman who should put on her beautiful garments. This verse is an example of a figure of speech called a synecdoche in which a part stands for the whole. See also the introductory commentary for Jacob 5.
"strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders" The term "stakes," as we use it in the Church today has its origin in the Book of Isaiah. The word "stakes" is used twice by Isaiah (Isaiah 33:2; Isaiah 54:2). Tents formed the dwellings of some people in the ancient Hebrew world. Stakes, which tethered the "cords," formed the anchors for the tents or dwellings. They gave the tents their structural strength and stability.
Here Moroni delivers an inspired call to action to the house of Israel in the latter days: "Strengthen and enlarge your house or dwelling place and prepare for the gathering of Israel."
verses 32-34 These wonderful verses may well be among the richest, most meaningful, and most important in all of the Book of Mormon. To get the most out of them, review the concepts in the introductory commentary for Alma 5. Then savor the breadth and depth of these priceless passages. They are a fitting denouement for this incomparable book of Scripture.
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
verse 32 "deny yourselves of all ungodliness" "And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments" (JST, Matthew 16:26). If you "take up [your] cross," you consistently deny the natural self within you.
The verse says that if you hunger and thirst after righteousness "then is his grace sufficient for you." This means that the Lord will extend his grace-the blessings of his atonement-and you will be cleansed of your sins and therefore become "perfect in Christ." While the Lord expects the individual to do the best they can at keeping the commandments, no one can ever live the commandments well enough to merit being called "perfect." It is only through the Lord's grace-his matchless love and willingness to be merciful-that the blessings of his atonement are extended. It is only then, "in Christ," that we can be considered "perfect." We cannot do it on our own, but with his help we can. It must be said also that in this mortal life we will not reach or even approach perfection in absolute terms; yet the Lord applies to us the term perfect when we are striving with all our hearts to follow his example.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
verse 33 "if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ" Again, the idea is reiterated that we may find relative perfection only through the grace of Christ. Please recall that grace is the love of God-particularly that aspect of his love that inclines him to extend to us blessings that we don't really merit. In order to qualify for that grace we must consistently strive to keep his commandments (see D&C 6:8-9; D&C 11:21; D&C 20:77); and we must "list to obey" his commandments (D&C 29:45; see also Alma 3:27). After the resurrection, there will be time to perfect our performance, receive the desires of our hearts, and eventually to keep all the commandments, therefore ultimately receiving the fulness of the Father.
34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.
verse 34 "I soon go to rest in the paradise of God" Moroni will likely not do much "resting" while in paradise. For a discussion of the rest of the Lord, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 21:10. It is interesting that the Book of Mormon is silent on the concept of post mortal repentance and the spirit prison, yet Moroni obviously understands the concept of "paradise."
The word quick means living flesh. Thus the phrase "both quick and dead" refers to all mankind, the living and the dead.
Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and now Moroni, the four most prominent writers of the Book of Mormon all have testified in sobering farewell statements that we of this final dispensation will stand with them at the judgment bar of God to answer for what we have done with the teachings of the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 33:10; Jacob 6:5-13; Mormon 7:5-10; Moroni 10:24-34).
The travels and fate of Moroni following his last entry onto the plates of Mormon is unknown. We do know that Joseph Smith, Jr. retrieved the plates from a hill in Manchester County, New York, on September 22, 1827. Whether or not they were buried there personally by Moroni is also not known. It is possible in his later years that Moroni did make his way to the area of western New York and personally bury the plates. The box in which the plates were buried was made of flat stones laid on the bottom and sides which were cemented together to make it waterproof.
There exists only one account of the death of Moroni, and that is a fourth-hand account. It probably ought to be accepted with some reservation:
At a meeting at Spanish Fork, Utah Co., in the winter of 1896, Brother Higginson stated in my presence that Thomas B. Marsh told him that the prophet Joseph Smith told him (Thomas B. Marsh, he being then president of the Twelve), that he became very anxious to know something of the fate of Moroni, and in answer to prayer the Lord gave Joseph a vision, in which appeared a wild country and on the scene was Moroni after whom were six Indians in pursuit; he stopped and one of the Indians stepped forward and measured swords with him. Moroni smote him and he fell dead; another Indian advanced and contended with him; this Indian also fell by his sword; a third Indian then stepped forth and met the same fate; a fourth afterwards contended with him, but in the struggle with the fourth, Moroni, being exhausted, was killed. Thus ended the life of Moroni (Charles David Evans, "The Fate of Moroni, 1897." Archives Division, Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah).
In this last dispensation, we have become the third Book of Mormon civilization to enter into the covenant to serve Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon record of the covenant is our own record. Our civilization's survival, like that of the Nephite and Jaredite nations, depends on our keeping the covenant to serve him.
In the spirit of Moroni's farewell, and using words of the longing soul-cry of John the Revelator (Revelation 22:20), we conclude: "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."