1 Ne 12:1-23

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Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 10-15 > Chapter 12 / Verses 12:1-23
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Relationship to Chapters 10-15. The relationship of Chapter 10 to the rest of Chapters 10-15 is addressed at First Nephi 10-15.

Story. Chapter 12 consists of two major sections that can be outlined as follows:

a. Nephites and Lamanites gathered to battle (12:1-3)
b. physical destructions at time of Christ's death (12:4-5)
c. three generations pass away in righteousness (12:6-12)
a. Nephites and Lamanites gathered to battle (12:13-15)
b. spiritual apostasy (12:16-18)
c. Nephites destroyed and Lamanites dwindle in unbelief (12:19-22)

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 10-15 include:


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  • In these verses Nephi is seeing the future of his decendants. After the visit of Christ to the Americas the people live in righteousness for 3 generations. However, after that they begin to become wicked and are eventually destroyed.
  • Verse 12:18: "word of the justice" originally "sword of the justice" but mis-transcribed into the printers manuscript (see e.g. Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 7:1 "Joseph Smith's Translation of the Book of Mormon: Evidence for Tight Control of the Text")

Points to ponder[edit]

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  • Verse 12:1
    • Was Nephi prevented from seeing these people up close and determining their exact identities?
  • Verse 12:2
    • Why will there be so much destruction in the last days?
  • Verse 12:3
    • Why doesn't Nephi say "because of wars and contentions"?
  • Verse 12:4
    • Why doesn't Nephi pair valleys with mountains, like Ezekiel and Isaiah do?
  • Verse 12:6
    • What does it mean to see "the heavens open"?
    • How does the LORD descend from heaven? Who else has ever descended from heaven?
  • Verse 12:7
    • Were they chosen after they were ordained?
  • Verse 12:8
    • Why is this the only place in the scriptures where "Twelve Disciples" is capitalized?
  • Verse 12:9
    • An angel tells Nephi that the Twelve Apostles will judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Is this a reference to what will happen at the judgement day or does this judgement happen at some other time?
  • Verse 12:10
    • What does it mean to say that these individuals are righteous forever?
  • Verse 12:11
    • We know that wickedness returned to Nephite society between 194 and 245 AD (see 4 Ne 1:20 and 4 Ne 1:40). The same chapter tells us that the first generation passed away between 71 and 110 AD (see 4 Ne 1:14 and 4 Ne 1:18) and that the second generation was almost gone by 200 AD (see 4 Ne 1:22). Thus it seems that in 4 Nephi each generation lasted about 100 years. So why is Nephi saying that Nephite society did not become wicked until the third generation had passed and the fourth or fifth had started?
  • Verse 12:12
    • Why did Nephi see his people's faith dwindle in later generations?
  • Verse 12:13
    • Why did Nephi write about "multitudes of the earth" when other Old Testament prophets talked about "a multitude of people" (Gen 48:4), "a multitude of nations" (Gen 48:19), the "multitude of Israel" (2 Sam 6:19), and "the multitude of all the nations" (Isa 29:7)?
  • Verse 12:14
    • How was it possible to distinguish between these two groups if they had just spent two centuries intermarrying with one another?
  • Verse 12:15
    • If Lamanites emerged around 194 AD (see 4 Ne 1:20), then why is Nephi led to believe in this vision that the split between his seed and his brother's seed occurred during the fourth or fifth generation from the time Christ appeared?
  • Verse 12:16
    • Is the angel trying to compare the river of filthy water to the era of Nephite apostasy that has started unfolding in Nephi's vision?
  • Verse 12:17
    • How do temptations "blindeth the eyes" and "hardeneth the hearts" of people?
    • How can people be "led" by temptations?
    • What are "broad roads"? How might a broad road lead someone to perish?
  • Verse 12:18
    • What does the "terrible gulf" divide? Is it the righteous from the wicked? If so, how is this brought about by divine "word of justice"?
    • What is the "word of justice" mentioned here?
  • Verse 12:19
    • Is Nephi making a distinction here between "my seed" and "the people of my seed"?
    • What does it mean that these people were able to "overpower" others? Does that mean they were destroyed or killed, or just subjugated in some way?
  • Verse 12:20
    • Who are "the people of the seed of my brethren"? Are these literal descendants of Laman and Lemuel, or other people associated with or possibly ruled by the literal descendants?
    • What does it mean that the people were "overcome"? Is this similar or different from being overpowered (cf. vs. 19).
  • Verse 12:21
    • How was this Verse 12:influenced by the talk of "rumours of wars" in the New Testament?
  • Verse 12:22
    • It their population, their faith, or both that will dwindle?
  • Verse 12:23
    • Why is it important that we know of how the loss of faith destroyed the people of Nephi and made them a "dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people"?


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