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Mosiah Chapter 15

Chapters 15 and 16 constitute Abinadi's commentary on Isaiah's messianic prophecy contained in chapter 14 (Isaiah 53).

verses 1-5 God the Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate individuals. However, these truths about the Godhead might seem difficult, for the inexperienced student of the gospel, to pull out of these five verses. It is clear that all of the prophets including Isaiah and Abinadi understood the exact nature of the Godhead. In chapter 14 we read several verses from Isaiah 53 which referred to the Father and the Son as two separate beings (see verses 2, 6, 10, 11, 12). Let us take these first five verses in chapter 15 one at a time and see if we might ascertain Abinadi's specific meanings.

1 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.

verse 1 This verse contains the essence of Abinadi's message, that God himself, the great Jehovah, shall come to earth as a man in the flesh, even Jesus Christ, to redeem his people. See a discussion of the concept of the condescension of God in the commentary for 1 Nephi 11:16.

2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son-

verse 2 We know that Elohim is called Father because he is the father of the spirits of all men including that of Jesus Christ.

Christ is the Son:

1. He was sired, both in the premortal realm as a spirit child and here on earth by the Father.

2. Christ is also the "Son" by virtue of his dwelling here on earth in the flesh, yet submitting his will completely to the will of the Father.

Jesus is the Father:

1. Jesus is the Father by virtue of his role as creator of the heavens and the earth.

2. In his role as Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, he became known as the God or Father of heaven.

3. Those on earth who are "born again" and changed from a fallen state to a state of righteousness, are received into a new family relationship. They become the sons and daughters of Christ (Mosiah 5:7). Thus, Christ becomes their Father.

4. Finally, Christ is the Father by the divine investiture of authority. Speaking of the divine investiture of authority, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote, "The Father Elohim has placed his name upon the Son, has given him his own power and authority, and has authorized him to speak in the first person as though he were the original or primal Father" (Promised Messiah, 63).

3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son-

verse 3 This verse continues to consider reasons Jesus Christ is "the Father."

"The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God" This phrase seems to have reference to the principle of the divine investiture of authority. Because he was conceived on the earth by the Father, he possessed the power of the Father, or the authorization to speak for him. In D&C 93:4, the Savior teaches that he is "the Father because he [Elohim] gave me of his fulness [fulness of power and authority], and the Son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men."

"and the Son, because of the flesh" Again, the Savior is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, therefore he is known as "the Son."

4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

verse 4 "And they are one God" The key to understanding this phrase is to understand the antecedent of the pronoun they. In this context, it seems less likely to be referring to God the Father and God the Son. Rather, it appears to be referring to the two roles of Jesus Christ-his role as Father and his role as Son. Hence, the "one God" is Jesus Christ.

Abinadi seems to be teaching here what Elder Bruce R. McConkie has referred to as "the pronouncement of pronouncements, the doctrine of doctrines, the message of messages, which is that Christ is God. And if it were not so, he could not save us" (Promised Messiah, 98).

verses 5-7 These verses contain a rather specific description of the ministry, sufferings, rejections, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus.

Thus far in our reading of the Book of Mormon, the prophets often have spoken of Christ, and as we read subsequent chapters and verses of the book, prophets will yet speak of Jesus Christ, long before his birth into mortality. Lehi and his sons Nephi and Jacob knew of Christ's name and title, his baptism by John, his teachings, his selection of twelve apostles, his miraculous healings and casting out of devils, and his death on the cross (see 1 Nephi 10:7-10; 1 Nephi 11:27-33; 2 Nephi 10:3; 2 Nephi 25:19). King Benjamin knew the name of Christ's mother, along with other details of the Savior's life, such as the kinds of miracles he would perform, his temptation and suffering, his crucifixion, and his resurrection on the third day (see Mosiah 3:5-10). Alma also will write of the name of Christ's mother, Mary, and of Christ's suffering and death (see Alma 7:10-12). Samuel the Lamanite will speak of the heavenly signs that will accompany the birth and death of the Savior (Helaman 14:3-6; Helaman 14:20-27).

The Book of Mormon will also suggest that various other Old World prophets knew details of Christ's life long before he was born. Nephi noted that Zenock and Neum had written of the Messiah's crucifixion, while Zenos wrote of his burial and the three days of darkness that would be a sign of his death (1 Nephi 19:10). Nephi , the son of Helaman, will declare that "many prophets" of old had testified of Christ, including Moses, Abraham, Zenock, Ezias, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and "all the holy prophets" between the time of Abraham and the time of Moses (Helaman 8:13-20). Father Lehi's son Jacob will simply say, "all the holy prophets" knew of Christ (Jacob 4:4, italics added).

Here is a summary of the other major passages in the Book of Mormon where specific prophecies are given pertaining to the future life and ministry of Jesus:

1. 1 Nephi 11:3-33. This is the magnificent vision given to Nephi in the sixth century BC.

2. 1 Nephi 19:8-13. This is another messianic prophecy by Nephi in which he quotes Old Testament prophets, presumably taken from the plates of brass. These prophets were Zenock, Neum, and Zenos.

3. 2 Nephi 10:3-6. The prophet Jacob prophesies specifically of Christ's crucifixion in Jerusalem.

4. 2 Nephi 25:19-26. Again, Nephi, now toward the end of his mortal life, prophesies of the Savior to come.

5. Mosiah 3:5-10. These are the words of the angel to King Benjamin which he reported in his speech from the tower. As an aside, when was King Benjamin's speech relative to the time of Abinadi's speech to King Noah's court? You may be surprised to learn that King Benjamin's was some twenty-six years later!

6. Mosiah 14. This is the splendid messianic prophecy Abinadi quoted from the book of Isaiah, chapter 53.

7. Alma 7:10-12. As Alma taught the people in Gideon, he taught some specifics of Jesus's birth and ministry.

Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that such details of Christ's life could not have been known before he was born. But early Christians readily accepted the idea. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (died AD 107), wrote to the Magnesians: "The divine prophets lived according to Christ Jesus. On this account also they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to fully convince the unbelieving that there is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son" (see the discussion in John A. Tvedtnes, "That Which Is to Come," in his Most Correct Book, 235-41; see also Budge, Book of the Mysteries, 159). The Epistle of Barnabas, which was widely read in Christian congregations of the second century AD, indicates in its twelfth chapter that Moses knew that the Messiah would be called Jesus. Chapter 32 of the Book of the Bee, a thirteenth-century text first published fifty-six years after the Book of Mormon, preserves a number of early Christian traditions about prophecies of Christ uttered by various Old Testament prophets. According to this account, (1) The prophet Hosea "prophesied mystically about our Lord Jesus Christ who was to come; saying that when He should be born, the oak in Shiloh should be divided into twelve parts; and that He should take twelve disciples of Israel" (Sir Ernest A. Wallis Budge, trans., Book of the Bee [Oxford: Clarendon, 1886], 69). (2) The prophet Nahum "prophesied that when the Messiah should be slain, the veil of the temple should be rent in twain, and that the Holy Spirit should depart from it" (Ibid., 71). (3) The prophet Habakkuk "prophesied concerning the Messiah, that He should come, and abrogate [do away with] the laws of the Jews" (Ibid.). (4) The prophet Zephaniah "prophesied concerning the Messiah, that He should suffer, and that the sun should become dark, and the moon be hidden" (Ibid., 71-72). Even though the Book of the Bee is a relatively late document (thirteen century AD), there is evidence that the stories contained in it are very old. One piece of evidence is that the fourth-century Christian Father Epiphanius commented on one of the prophecies attributed to the prophet Nahum which is related in the book (see Ibid., 71, n. 2).

Two second-century church fathers, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, writing of Christ's preaching to the dead while his body lay in the tomb, attributed to Jeremiah a prophecy (one not found in the Bible) in which the prophet wrote that the Lord would descend to preach salvation to the dead. In Dialogue with Trypho 72, Justin Martyr wrote, "And again, from the sayings of the same Jeremiah these have been cut out [by the Jews]: 'The Lord God remembered His dead people of Israel who lay in the graves; and He descended to preach to them His own salvation'" (Roberts and Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1:235. Many early Christian texts refer to Christ's preaching in the spirit world, an event additionally recorded in 1 Peter 3:18-19; 1 Peter 4:6; and D&C 138). Irenaeus cited the same passage in Against Heresies 4.22 (Ibid., 1:493-94).

The Book of the Bee also preserves an earlier tradition of another nonbiblical prophecy of Jeremiah, declaring that "this (prophet) during his life said to the Egyptians, 'a child shall be born-that is the Messiah-of a virgin, and He shall be laid in a crib, and He will shake and cast down the idols.' From that time and until Christ was born, the Egyptians used to set a virgin and a baby in a crib, and to worship him, because of what Jeremiah said to them, that He should be born in a crib" (Budge, trans., Book of the Bee, 72. Compare Isaiah 19:1).

Another Christian document known from medieval manuscripts in various languages is 4 Baruch, which is subtitled "The Things Omitted from Jeremiah the Prophet." The Ethiopic version attributes the book to Jeremiah's scribe Baruch, but the Greek says it was written by Jeremiah himself. Chapter 9 has Jeremiah prophesying of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; of his selection of twelve apostles; of his death and resurrection after three days; and of his return in glory to the Mount of Olives. According to the account, Jeremiah was stoned for this declaration (for an English translation of the Jeremiah passage, see James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha [Garden City: Doubleday, 1985], 2:387-88).

The New Testament suggests in passing that Abraham knew of Christ's coming (see John 8:56; Galatians 3:8), though the Old Testament story of Abraham itself does not demonstrate this. The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob noted that Abraham's offering of Isaac was "a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:5)-something that is confirmed in several early Christian sources, such as Epistle of Barnabas 7:3, Irenaeus's Against Heresies 4.4, 5, and Augustine's City of God 16.32.

From the Book of Abraham that Joseph Smith restored, we learn that the ancient patriarch actually saw Christ in the premortal council (Abraham 3:22-28). This kind of intimate knowledge of the Savior on the part of Abraham is suggested in a centuries-old Ethiopic text that derives from a Coptic text dated by the translator to the sixth century but not published until 1922. In Kebra Nagast 14, we read: "And God held converse with Abram, and He said unto him, 'Fear thou not. From this day thou are My servant, and I will establish My Covenant with thee and with thy seed after thee . . . and afterwards I will send My Word for the salvation of Adam and his sons forever'" (Sir Ernest A. Wallis Budge, The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek [London: Medici Society, 1922], 10. Kebra Nagast means "glory of the kings" of Ethiopia and is one of the most highly praised traditional stories among Ethiopian Christians). Chapter 104 of the same work says, "And thou dost not understand that they were justified by faith-Abraham, and David and all the Prophets, one after the other, who prophesied concerning the coming of the Son of God. And Abraham said, 'Wilt Thou in my days, O Lord, cast Thy word upon the ground?' and God said unto him, 'By no means. His time hath not yet come, but I will shew thee a similitude of His coming.'" God then has Abraham meet with Melchizedek, who "gave him the mystery of the bread and wine, that same which is celebrated in our Passover for our salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ibid., 200).

Isn't it fascinating to learn how much "plain and precious" information was taught by the Old Testament prophets concerning the coming of the Savior? We find little, if any, of this in our Bible today. It is no wonder that both Christians and Jews struggle in their attempts to interpret the Bible!

5 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.

verse 5 "the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit" As the son, Jesus was less than, and subject to his father. The atonement process required that the will of the Son be subjected to the will of the Father. The Son asked to have the cup pass from him. The Father willed that it be drunk to its dregs. The "flesh" is Jesus Christ, and the "Spirit" is the Father.

"being one God" This time the phrase "one God" refers to the intimate unity between God the Father and God the Son. The phrase refers to the separate members of the godhead being "one God" or "one Eternal God" (see also 2 Nephi 31:21; Alma 11:44; Mormon 7:7). It would seem that the nature of the relationship of the three members of the godhead to one another leads to these statements. The three are so closely aligned and allied that they function as a single unit. Their powers, their influences, their intentions, their goals, their responses are indistinguishable and identical. The three, indeed, function as one God. It seems likely to me, as a student of the doctrine, that we mortals are not given as yet to understand this oneness that exists in the Godhead.

An alternate explanation is that this particular statement, "being one God," refers only to Jesus Christ. The powers and authorities of the Father, the spirit of the Son, and mortal flesh are all combined to become "one God," even Jesus Christ.

"suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation" Another essential ingredient of the atonement was that it was necessary that Jesus be unmarred by sin. He had to be the unblemished sacrificial lamb.

"suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people" The Son's participation was purely voluntary. He descended in suffering below what any man can tolerate. Yet, he did have the power to abort the process and save himself from going through the ordeal. He must have been tempted to do so, but he obviously did not.

6 And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

verse 6 "even as Isaiah said" See Mosiah 14:7 (Isaiah 53:7) and its commentary.

7 Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.

verse 7 "the flesh becoming subject even unto death" This phrase and the one which follows-"the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father"-are parallel statements having the same meaning. Thus, we learn that Christ's submitting "even unto death" meant that he submitted to the will of the Father. Paul wrote, in referring to Christ's atonement: "he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8).

8 And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men-

verse 8 On reading this verse for the first time, it is tempting to interpret "God" as being the Father. In context (see verse 9 and verse 23), however, it is obvious that "God" is the Son who is portrayed as giving himself, through his personal atoning death, the power to intercede for men with the law of justice.

"the bands of death" The concept of breaking the "bands of death" is unique to the Book of Mormon and is found nowhere else in the scriptures (see also Mosiah 15:9; Mosiah 15:20; Mosiah 15:23; Mosiah 16:7; Mosiah 23:12; Alma 4:14; Alma 5:7; Alma 5:9; Alma 5:10; Alma 7:12; Alma 11:41-42; Alma 22:14). The concept of gaining a "victory over death" is found in one other place in the scriptures, in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57. Here Paul is quoting from previous scriptures-he refers to this concept as the "saying that is written" (1 Corinthians 15:54). Some have suggested that Paul was quoting from Hosea 13:14, but this supposition requires quite a stretching of the imagination. Paul could not have been quoting Abinadi. It therefore seems likely that both Paul and Abinadi were quoting from an earlier scriptural text that has subsequently been lost.

"having gained the victory over death" Each and every descendant of Adam and Eve will be resurrected and thus enjoy the victory over physical death. Those who accept and live the gospel will be exalted and thus gain victory over spiritual death.

9 Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.

verse 9 All events in this verse are spoken of as having occurred in the past. They do, of course, still lie in Abinadi's future.

"Having ascended into heaven" After the Atonement, the Savior will ascend into heaven.

There are two phrases in this verse that are stated in parallel-that is, they are identical in their meaning. They are: "having the bowels of mercy" and "being filled with compassion towards the children of men." These phrases do, of course, describe the Savior.

Here is a little known yet most profound doctrine: Jesus suffered the agony of the atonement, not only that he may ultimately intercede for all humankind and stand "betwixt them and justice," but also in order that his own empathy and compassion for his brothers and sisters might be perfected-in order that he might become the perfect judge of us all (see The Essence of the Lord's Atonement in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 19). It is because he became the perfect judge, through acquiring perfect empathy through his atoning sacrifice, that he is allowed by the demands of justice to plead our case before the law of justice. Alma will later write, in referring to the atonement: "And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (Alma 7:12).

"standing betwixt them and justice" If the law of justice were to mete out to every man and woman their just deserts without anyone's being available to rescue or protect them, then no one would be saved in God's eternal kingdom. None of us is able to satisfy the demands of the law of justice on our own without help. We all must be redeemed or rescued from the natural consequences of this law. Thus, is Christ "standing betwixt [us] and [the law of] justice."

10 And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed?

verse 10 "who shall declare his generation" We discussed, in the commentary for Mosiah 14:8, the few possible meanings of this phrase. Here, it likely means something like, "Who are his people?" "Who shall become the Savior's seed?" Abinadi will answer his own question in the next verse.

"when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed" When Christ has made himself an offering for sin, he shall be blessed by the Father. His blessings will include "seed" or "offspring." Each person who inherits the celestial kingdom will become his eternal "seed" or "offspring." In addition, Jesus's "seed" will include those in mortality who become his spiritually begotten sons and daughters-those who take upon themselves his name and his covenants and abide in them (see verse 11).

11 Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord-I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.

12 For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?

verse 12 "these are they whose sins he has borne" We know that Christ suffered for the sins of all men and not just for those who qualify to be his "seed" as in verse 11. All mankind on earth will receive the unconditional gift of resurrection which resulted from his atonement. The "offspring" of Christ, however, will be only those who qualify for the conditional gift of eternal life in his presence.

Notice the verb tenses in this verse: "whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions." Abinadi uses the past tense to refer to events yet in the future. Again, as we have previously discussed, we see the use of the "prophetic perfect" verb form.

13 Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed.

verse 13 Christ's "seed" will include his valiant prophets and missionaries.

14 And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth!

verse 14 As we have learned previously (see the commentary for Mosiah 12:21), "peace," "good tidings of good," and "salvation" are all terms that refer to the good news of the everlasting gospel. To "publish peace" is to announce, proclaim, or promulgate that gospel.

15 And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet!

verse 15 The prophet Abinadi clearly identifies those in Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!") who have and will yet "publish peace." They are all of the holy prophets since the world began who have prophesied and will yet prophesy of Jesus Christ. This includes the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

There is an ancient document that agrees with Abinadi's interpretation of Isaiah 52:7. It is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 11Q Melchizedek (also known as 11Q13), which cites the Isaiah passage, then explains that "the mountains are the prophets . . . And the messenger is the anointed of the spirit [the Messiah or Jesus Christ]" ("The Imagery of Isaiah 52:7-10," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch [Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1998], 261-65; see also John A. Tvedtnes, "How Beautiful upon the Mountains," in his Most Correct Book, 172-75).

16 And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace!

17 And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever!

18 And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people;

verses 15-18 "how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings" This phrase, which has its origins in Isaiah 52:7, whenever it is encountered in the scriptures, speaks of the Lord's latter-day messengers, especially his prophets and missionaries, taking the gospel to scattered Israel. In verse 18, Abinadi, however, applies it directly to the Lord himself.

Note in these four verses Abinadi's fourfold use of the phrase as he speaks of past, present, and future messengers and especially the Lord himself, the very "founder" or "prince" of peace. True peace comes only from the gospel.

This phrase is an example of a figure of speech called a synecdoche (sin ek' da kee) in which a part stands for the whole (i.e., the feet represent the entire person). For additional discussion of synecdoche, see the introductory commentary for Jacob 5.

19 For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished.

verse 19 Abinadi continues to speak in the past tense as he prophesies of future events.

"Were it not for the redemption . . . all mankind must have perished." This doctrine is stressed repeatedly in the Book of Mormon (see also 1 Nephi 10:6; 2 Nephi 9:8-9; Mosiah 16:4; Alma 34:9; and Alma 42:6). Simply stated, were it not for the atonement, all mankind would live eternally with Satan as sons of perdition.

20 But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead.

verse 20 Abinadi now uses both future and present tense verbs to describe Christ's victory over physical death (see the commentary for verse 8 of this chapter).

21 And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ-for so shall he be called.

verse 21 "even a first resurrection" Earlier prophets had taught of the resurrection, but Abinadi was the first in the Book of Mormon to describe and use the phrase "first resurrection." His discourse on the subject begins in Mosiah 15:20 and extends through Mosiah 16:11, a total of two complete pages. Prior to reading this discussion of Abinadi's, please review carefully the sequence of the resurrections as discussed in the commentary for 2 Nephi 9:15. Abinadi's reference to the "first resurrection" applies to what we now understand as "the morning of the first resurrection," or that resurrection wherein the righteous come forth with celestial bodies to inherit the eternal presence of God. Abinadi's teachings are generally in harmony with the expanded knowledge about the resurrection that the prophet Joseph Smith gained through revelation. However, Abinadi's record is incomplete and does not tell it all. What he does not say, at least in what we have of his record, is that those who die after the time of Christ, who are righteous, will also be part of the first resurrection (see the commentary for the following verse).

"until the resurrection of Christ-for so he shall be called" The earliest reference to the specific name "Christ" in the Book of Mormon text is in the teachings of Jacob in 2 Nephi 10:3. The name means the "Messiah" or the "anointed one."

22 And now, the resurrection of all the prophets, and all those that have believed in their words, or all those that have kept the commandments of God, shall come forth in the first resurrection; therefore, they are the first resurrection.

verses 21-22 "first resurrection" Again, for a discussion and explanation of the two resurrections, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 9:15. If you have not done so, it is important that you take a few moments to review that discussion now. An alternate source for learning about the sequence of the resurrections is the section titled "When Are We Resurrected?" in volume 2, chapter 13 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, The Spirit World. The "first resurrection" (actually the morning of the first resurrection) will begin at the time of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

23 They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.

verse 23 This verse refers to all who qualify to be "raised" or resurrected in the morning of the first resurrection and inherit the celestial kingdom. The titles "God" and "Christ" here are certainly synonymous and refer to the Lord Jesus Christ.

24 And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.

verse 24 This verse might be a bit confusing. The initial phrase, "And these are those who have part in the first resurrection," refers to all those who will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. These include "all the prophets and all those that have believed in their words, or all those that have kept the commandments of God."

The next phrase causes the confusion. If we were to remove the phrase "and these are they that have" and replace it with "and these will be accompanied by those who," then the meaning is clearer. But even with this adjustment in the wording, some additional explanation is required. More details are needed: Those who lived upon the earth without having the opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ who, in the judgment of the Savior, would have accepted with all their hearts if they had heard it, will also be heirs of the celestial kingdom (D&C 137:5-9). These individuals may have lived before the mortal advent of Jesus or at any time in the history of the world.

25 And little children also have eternal life.

verse 25 Also, all children who die before the age of accountability who would have received the gospel had they been allowed to tarry, will be exalted in the celestial kingdom (D&C 137:5-10).

26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.

27 Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.

verses 26-27 Abinadi continues in his warnings to the wicked Nephites of Noah's kingdom. These verses likely have reference to all those who do not come forth in the first resurrection. They apply to those who will inherit a lesser kingdom of Glory and to those assigned to the kingdom without glory-outer darkness.

To be redeemed or saved, in these verses, means the same as receiving a celestial resurrection. These individuals will not be resurrected in (the morning of) the first resurrection. They "have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them." By rebelling against God these individuals cut themselves off from his atoning sacrifice. The law of justice, untempered by Christ's mercy, lays claim to them, and they suffer the wrath of God in the spirit world or "hell" before being resurrected to a lesser kingdom or becoming sons of perdition (D&C 76:82-85).

"for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such" The word redeem, as it is used in the scriptures, has a few different meanings:

1. The first and ultimate meaning is that Christ redeems us when he grants us the opportunity for salvation or exaltation. This redemption is, of course, conditional as is made clear in this particular verse and is based on an individual's accepting Christ and obeying his gospel.

2. The second meaning is that all of mankind is redeemed in that they will all be resurrected. "Now, verily I say unto you, that through the redemption which is made for you is brought to pass the resurrection from the dead. And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul" (D&C 88:14-16; see also Mormon 9:12-13; Helaman 14:17). The scriptures teach that Christ came into the world to "redeem the children of men from the fall" (2 Nephi 2:26). This redemption includes definitions 1. and 2.

3. It is also possible to be redeemed in this life. Forgiveness of sin constitutes redemption from sin. By virtue of Christ's atoning blood, a man may be redeemed from sin as he repents and comes to Christ (2 Nephi 1:15; Alma 5:21; Alma 9:27; Mosiah 27:24). Father Lehi rejoiced: "The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love" (2 Nephi 1:15).

"for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim" "Justice" here refers to the law of justice. The law of justice in essence states that for every violation of God's law, a penalty must be paid. No man can be exalted in the celestial kingdom without being "justified." A man is said to be justified when all penalties are paid. Then the man is "reconciled to God" or brought into perfect harmony with God to the point where he can be exalted. Even God himself cannot redeem a man when the man has not satisfied the demands of justice. God cannot break the law of justice. For a review of the concepts of the law of justice, the fall, and the atonement, see The Essence of the Lord's Atonement (Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 19) and Consequences of the Savior's Atonement (Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, chapter 2).

verses 28-31 Abinadi now quotes from Isaiah 52:8-10 which verses prophesy of the latter days when Israel will be gathered for the final time just prior to the Millennium.

28 And now I say unto you that the time shall come that the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

29 Yea, Lord, thy watchmen shall lift up their voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

verse 29 "thy watchmen" It was traditional in Palestine to place watchers or guards on the walls of the cities to observe those who approached.

"thy watchmen shall lift up their voice" Symbolically, the watchmen are priesthood leaders who keep watch over the Church and call out the good news of redemption.

"with the voice together shall they sing [a new millennial song entitled] when the Lord shall bring again Zion" The words of this song are given by the Lord in D&C 84:99-102:

The Lord hath brought again Zion;

The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel,

According to the election of grace,

Which was brought to pass by the faith

And covenant of their fathers.

The Lord hath redeemed his people;

And Satan is bound and time is no longer.

The Lord hath gathered all things in one.

The Lord hath brought down Zion from above.

The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.

The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength;

And truth is established in her bowels;

And the heavens have smiled upon her;

And she is clothed with the glory of her God;

For he stands in the midst of his people.

Glory, and honor, and power, and might,

Be ascribed to our God; for he is full of mercy,

Justice, grace and truth, and peace,

Forever and ever, Amen.

"they shall see eye to eye" Unity is one of the key characteristics of Zion. Moses recorded: "The Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind" (Moses 7:18). Through the Prophet Joseph, the Lord said, "I say unto you be one; and if ye are not one, ye are not mine" (D&C 38:27). Joseph Smith wrote, "What if all the world should embrace this gospel? They would then see eye to eye, and the blessings of God would be poured out upon the people, which is the desire of my whole soul" (HC, 5:259).

30 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

verse 30 "Break forth into joy, sing together" All the righteous will join in chorus.

"ye waste places of Jerusalem" This expression refers to the ancient ruins of Jerusalem about to come alive again as Israel gathers there.

"for the Lord hath comforted his people" The comfort comes in the form of redemption and a restoration to the Lord's promises.

"he hath redeemed Jerusalem" Jerusalem will be set free from captivity, both physical and spiritual.

31 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

verse 31 "The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations" The expression has its origin in the Hebrew practice of throwing back the cloak from his right arm so that it does not produce an impediment in combat. At his second coming, Christ will "make bare his holy arm" when he shows forth his power for all to see.

"in the eyes of all the nations" Here Isaiah answers the question which he asked in Mosiah 14:1: "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" All the world will know of his salvation, meaning the victory of our Lord over the forces of evil and corruption. The same idea is then repeated: "and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."

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