2 Ne 32:1-9
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- 2 Ne 32:2: Tongue of angels. What does it mean to speak with the tongue of angels? The phrase "tongue of angels" occurs only in three places in the scriptures: here, in the previous chapter in verse 13 and 14, and in 1 Cor 13:1.
- It may be that speaking in the tongue of angels means speaking in a language that is not understood by men--at least not without a gift to interpret through the Holy Ghost. The view that speaking in the tongue of angels is speaking in a way that is unintelligible is loosely supported by the New Testament. The New Testament describes both speaking in tongues where listeners don't understand 1 Cor 14 and speaking in tongues where listeners do understand Act 2:1-6. Since both types of speaking in tongues were known to the people and both labelled speaking in tongues, and since Paul clearly thinks how the tongues are understood by others is important in how we think of the gift of speaking in tonges (see 1 Cor 14), it seems reasonable to conjecture that the distinction Paul makes between speaking in the tongue of men and speaking in the tongue of angels in 1 Cor 13:1 is a distinction between speaking in a language others can understand versus speaking in a way that is unintelligible (without another gift of interpretation).
- Nephi's use seems different. Here's one reading of this passage. In verse 1 Nephi tells listeners that he is going to answer the question in their hearts of what they should do after they are baptized. (The answer he thinks should already be obvious--but he will make it even more explicit.) To answer this question he draws (verse 2) the listeners' attention to what he already told them--that they could speak with the tongue of angels. Now with a rhetorical question Nephi tells us that someone can only speak with the tongue of angels by speaking through the power of the Holy Ghost. Then he says (verse 3) that because angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost they speak the words of Christ. One reading here then is that Nephi is telling them that to speak the words of Christ is to speak the language of the angels.
- Alternately, it may be that Nephi is purposefully stopping short of telling them what they should do in verses 3-5 except to tell them that they should figure that out by studying the words of Christ and listening to what the Holy Ghost tells them. In that case this passage doesn't address what it means to speak with the tongue of angels.
- 2 Ne 32:3: Words of Christ. The footnote in this verse refers the reader to Jer 15:16, where the prophet Jeremiah refers to eating the word (HEB dabar) of the LORD. This Hebrew word is variously translated hundreds of times in the Old Testament as "word" or "thing". It is the "thing" in "nothing" that the LORD will do when he reveals his secret/council to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). Interestingly, the English word "thing" originally meant "A meeting, assembly, esp. a deliberative or judicial assembly, a court, a council" (OED).
- 2 Ne 32:3: Feast upon the words of Christ. The words of Christ are more than just the scriptures--as they are here tied directly to the speach of angels, the Divine Council, and the working of the Holy Ghost. As indicated above, the Hebrew word for "word" is dabar, which can also be translated as "thing". It refers not to mere words written on a page, but to speech acts--especially those which occur in the Heavenly Council, where the angels praise God (cf. Isaiah 6) and the LORD speaks his will. When Nephi indicates that the "words of Christ" will tell us "all things" that we should do--these "things" are the commands, counsel, words of the Heavenly Council--the "secrets" that he reveals to his servants, the prophets (Amos 3:7).
- We feast upon these words by joining the discussion--by becoming baptised and washed clean and recieving the Holy Ghost, and pressing forward listening to and obeying the commands, counsel, and will of the Divine Council. Sometimes we may be blessed to literally see the Council in vision, but most often we will probably recieve the words of the LORD through the ministration of the Holy Ghost. Interestingly, a feast is also a ceremonial gathering (HEB mishteh or chaga). There is no salvation as a lone solitary person--but only as one gathers with others, feasts, and enters into dialogue and council, the "things" of God.
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- 2 Ne 32:2: What does it mean to speak with the tongue of angels (verse 2)?
- 2 Ne 32:3: What does it mean to "feast upon the words of Christ"? How can we do that?
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- 2 Ne 32:7: Why is Nephi constrained. See this post by Robert C. suggesting the reason is because Nephi speaks in "too much" plainness, contra Isaiah.
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