Annotated Book of Mormon
Evaluated According To My Current Knowledge

2 Nephi Chapter 2

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Book of Mormon Annotations

Chapter 2

 

1 And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.

 

2 Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.

 

3 Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.

 

4 And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.

 

5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

2 Ne 2:5-25

Here’s my summary of what I think these verses say.

  • God has a purpose (that men might have joy, 2 Ne 2:25).
  • Without opposition, nothing has purpose, because a thing without its opposition is as nothing (2 Ne 2:11-13)
  • God gave the law (though it cuts men off per 2 Ne 2:5) because the law inflicts punishment which punishment is in opposition of happiness or joy (2 Ne 2:10).
  • This happiness is inseparable from the atonement (2 Ne 2:10).
  • God gave unto man to act for himself which is made possible by being enticed by things in opposition—forbidden fruit vs. tree of life (2 Ne 2:15-16).
  • Acting for oneself seems to be necessary in order for the law to inflict punishment or for the atonement to endow happiness.

In short I think this is to justify the need for the atonement. I think the presentation lacks clarity, but that could be expected if a person were writing by engraving metal plates or if Joseph were just dictating, without notes, an account he created to a scribe.

Secondarily the need for opposition in all things could be seen as an explanation for the problem of evil (2 Ne 2:17-19). In justifying the problem of evil, I think it would fall short. It doesn’t overcome the problem that Satan himself committed horrific evil (enough to become perdition) in the pre-mortal existence even without being tempted by some outside force like a devil. It also doesn’t overcome the fact that the scriptures tell us God intercedes in many cases to overcome evil, but fails to intercede in other instances of evil.

Also, Satan could have thwarted God’s purpose in all of this at any time by just refusing to play. If Satan did not participate, there would be no opposition in all things.

6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

Also, doesn’t it seem similar to an ancient tribal religion in which God requires a human sacrifice?

8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

9 Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

10 And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement—

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

19 And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

20 And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

Also, as confirmed by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, prior to Adam’s fall, “death and procreation had yet to enter the world” (“Christ and the Creation” by Elder Bruce R. McConkie). And President Harold B. Lee also taught that by the fall of Adam, “a change was wrought over the whole face of the creation, which up to that time had not been subject to death” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee).

Regardless of when you think humankind began, whether 6,000 or 200,000 years ago, is it rational to believe there was no death before humans with the evidence to the contrary?

23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

Also, even as a believer this made no sense to me. Having children is somehow falling out of innocence? Having children can help a person progress from naiveté, but this verse seems to be indicating a fall from innocence that is more a sin or transgression. Maybe that’s just an artifact of how I understood this as a believer. However, if that is how it should be understood, how does one explain that having children is a sin or transgression?

 

A more humorous way to look at this is that before the fall, Adam and Eve were in paradise, and perhaps having children is not compatible with paradise.

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

Annotation for 2 Ne 2:5-25 above

Also, this is one of my favorite verses. The verse indicates that this is a purpose behind human existence and a part of the divine intention or implicit in the creation, and I don’t accept that the universe cares about us or has an implicit purpose at all. However, I find/make meaning in my life in the pursuit of joy for myself and in trying to help others have joy.

26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

 

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

This tells us all men are given what they need in order to choose between eternal life or death, but what about the references in the Book of Mormon that tell us Christ’s “blood atoneth for the sins of those . . . who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned” (Mosiah 3:11 and Moroni 8:22-24)? If some are ignorant as these verses in Mosiah and Moroni claim, how could they choose? After all, “man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” (2 Ne 2:16).

28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;

 

29 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

According to D&C 19:6-12 the words “endless” and “eternal” do not mean without end when it comes to “endless torment” or “eternal damnation”. These verses in the D&C explain that these words are used because, “it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men.” When people read these words in the Book of Mormon, how do they likely understand the words “endless” and “eternal”? Is this honest communication if D&C 19 reveals the actual meaning of these words?

30 I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons, in the last days of my probation; and I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet. And I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls. Amen.

 

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