2 Ne 2:6-10
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Relationship to Chapter 2. The relationship of Verses 2:6-10 to the rest of Chapter 2 is discussed at Chapter 2.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 2:6-10 include:
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- 2 Ne 2:7-10: Ends. The phrase "ends of the ___" is used with 3 nouns in the Book of Mormon: "ends of the law," "ends of the atonement," and "ends of the earth." It is difficult to tell from context exactly what the "ends of the law" are or the "ends of the atonement." On the other hand, it is pretty clear what the "ends of the earth" means from context. In 2 Ne 29:2 the Lord's voice hisses forth "unto the ends of the earth." The meaning here is that it it hisses forth all the way to the ends of the earth. With this phrase Nephi tells us that the Lord's voice hisses forth to the entire earth. In the same way the phrase "unto the ends of the earth" is used many times in the scriptures to represent the whole earth. Even when the "unto" is dropped, "ends of the earth" still means the whole earth. Moro 7:34 and Mosiah 12:24 are good examples.
- One might ask why the phrase "the ends of the earth" is used in these cases to mean "the whole earth" rather than simply saying "the whole earth." The answer may be as simple as the poetic language typical of the scriptures. In this synecdoche, the "ends" represent the whole. The phrase creates a more visual image of something moving toward and achieving completion--imagery not created through the use of the word whole. One way to think about this is that the meaning of unto is preserved even in those cases where it is dropped.
- The "ends of the law" and "the ends of the atonement" can be understood, similarly, to mean the whole law and the whole atonement. It may be helpful to imagine adding back the unto here as well. To verse 7, imagine the phrase "ends of the law" as "all the way to the ends of the law." This definition of "ends" as "whole" is not at all in conflict with the concept of ends as purpose. The end of something is where it is going and where it finds completion. Its completion is its purpose. The harmony of these two meanings is most clear in verse 10 where "ends of the law" means both "the whole law" and "the purpose of the law" and similarly for "ends of the atonement."
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Prompts for further study
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- 2 Ne 2:6: This verse begins with “wherefore,” or “because.” Redemption comes through the Messiah because the law cuts us off. What does that teach? And it comes to us through him because he is full of grace and truth. Presumably the contrast is between Christ and us: as fallen beings, we are not full of grace or truth, but he is. What is grace? What is truth? What does it mean to say that Christ is full of them? What does it mean to say that we are not?
- 2 Ne 2:7: What are the ends of the law? “Ends” usually means “purposes.” Does it mean that here? What does “to answer the ends of the law” mean? Why does Lehi tell us that we must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit to partake in Christ’s redemption? Why doesn’t he mention obedience or ordinances if they are necessary?
- 2 Ne 2:8: Jacob is in the wilderness of a new land and presumably has little chance to tell very many others this gospel. So why does Lehi tell Jacob that it is important to make these things known to everyone?
- 2 Ne 2:8: Why does Lehi connect resurrection to redemption? What does the phrase “merits, and mercy, and grace” mean? Should we understand each of those three terms separately, or should we understand the phrase as a unit? To think about what is being said here, ask yourself what it means to rely only on the merit of the Messiah. Then ask yourself what it means only to rely on his mercy. And then on his grace.
- 2 Ne 2:9: Why is the Savior said to be the firstfruits? Notice that in the Old Testament, the word is mostly used to describe the first grain or other produce to ripen. How is that description appropriate? Is it related to his title of First Born? What meaning does the phrase “unto God” add to “firstfruits"? Lehi tells us that Christ is the firstfruits inasmuch as, or because, he intercedes. How does his intercession make him the firstfruits?
- Suggested answer: Jesus said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." [John 12:24] Because of the intercession of Jesus Christ, his suffering death in our behalf, he was the first to resurrect and thereby was the first fruit. It was because of the atonement, that he is able to bring forth much fruit.
- 2 Ne 2:10: Notice that this verse speaks of the law as something that the Father has given. What does that mean? Sometimes Latter-day Saints speak of the law as something to which even the Father is subservient. Is that compatible with what Lehi says? (Those wishing to pursue the theology here (rather than the scriptural teachings) may wish to read Brigham Young’s response to Orson Pratt’s teaching of related doctrine: in James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1833-1964, vol. 2 (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 233-240, 214-223.)
- 2 Ne 2:10: According to this verse, what are the ends of the law?
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