From Feast upon the Word (http://feastupontheword.org). Copyright, Feast upon the Word.
(Redirected from Ether 12:4)
 Outline and brief summary
The relationship of Verses 1-21 to the rest of the chapter is discussed at Ether 12. These verses can be outlined as follows:
• Faith precedes blessing (1-21)
- a. Ether cannot be restrained from preaching faith, repentance, and hope (1-5)
- b. faith precedes witness and miracles (6-18)
- a. Brother of Jared could not be kept from within the veil because of his faith (19-21)
 Detailed discussion
 Verse 4
- See "Hope is a Vision" on the discussion page.
- Hope cometh of faith. One might think that hope precedes faith in the sense that one hopes that God exists and then develops a belief in God and eventually genuine faith in God. However, this verse suggests the opposite (see also Alma 32:21). First one has faith in God and then, somehow, out of that faith comes hope. One way to think of this is in the temporal sense that, since God currently exists, it is possible to believe in God now, whereas one hopes for things that are to come. For example, one must first have faith that God has the power to grant salvation. Then, once this faith is established, the believer can look forward to—that is, hope for—the salvation which will eventually come. (See also Moro 7:40, 42; Moro 8:26; 2 Ne 31:19-20.)
- Hope and knowledge. In Alma 32:21, the prophet says that faith is "not to have a perfect knowledge of things," apparently opposing faith to knowledge. A closer reading, however, suggests that faith is precisely a question of knowledge, just not a question of a "perfect knowledge." Since faith, a "less-than-perfect knowledge," is according to this verse (Ether 12:4) what issues from faith, there is at least a suggestion that hope is that "more-perfect-knowledge," perhaps even "a perfect knowledge of things." If this is a justified reading, it should be noted that this verse demolishes the dichotomy often read into faith/knowledge: faith is a kind of knowledge, and hope is a surer kind of knowledge. Moreover, knowledge itself should therefore be rethought: it is apparently not a question of confirmed belief, but rather a question of relation to something (faith is one relation, one kind of knowledge, and hope is another).
- Moroni on faith, hope, and charity. The explicit demarcation between faith and hope that is asserted in this verse seems to corroborate (unlike some other verses) with 2 Ne 31:19-20. It seems, in fact, that Moroni is the first Nephite prophet after many years clearly to understand the implication of what Nephi there writes. This fits in well with the many other broad parallels between Nephi's teachings and those of Moroni. However, it must be admitted that Moroni is here citing the teachings of Ether, the Jaredite prophet. This raises an interesting question. Did Moroni understand Nephi through Ether, or did he understand Ether through Nephi? That Moroni takes up a tangential discussion throughout the present chapter, introduced by his explicit desire to "speak somewhat concerning these things" (verse 6), suggests that Moroni wants to clear up much of what has been said concerning the three-fold theme of faith, hope, and charity. Why, however, Moroni would later quote the lengthy discourse of his father on the subject (Moro 7), which seems at times to revert to a different (or even unclear) reading of faith and hope, must then be handled. Perhaps it is safest to acknowledge that Moroni is here citing Ether, and that Nephi remains—at least for the moment—at a distance from his thoughts.
 Verse 6
- After discussing how Christ appeared to the Nephites (verse 6), Moroni claimed that Christ instituted "a way" that those who had not seen Christ in the flesh might also partake of "the heavenly gift." This may be an oblique reference to temple ordinances, where "the heavenly gift" would be an apt translation of what we call an endowment--a sacred ordinance where participants ceremonially interact with the Divine in ways that echo those depicted in 3 Nephi 11:14-15. The "heavenly gift" is mentioned without explanation in Heb 6:4; Moroni's explanation may help us better understand that passage, serving as another example of how the Book of Mormon restores previously lost sacred knowledge.
- That a sacred ordinance is involved with this heavenly gift is reiterated here by Moroni when he mentions being "called after the holy order of god"--which Alma taught involved an ordination "in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption" (Alma 13:2).
 Questions for further study and reflection
 Verse 2
- What does it mean when it says that Ether "could not be restrained" from going and preaching the Gospel to the people? Was he physically compelled? In Alma 43:1 it mentions Alma the younger having a similar experience: "And Alma, also, himself, could not rest, and he also went forth." Did these men both just have such strong convictions of the Gospel that they couldn't bear to not be preaching it? Do the prophets today experience the same thing?
 Verse 4
- What is the "better world" mentioned here?
 Verse 5
- It is clear that "seeing" is a major question here for the Jaredites, as well as for Moroni in the next verse. What role does seeing play in these verses, and how does it open up the themes Moroni is considering as he recounts the Jaredite history?
 Verses 7-8
- How do we reconcile the phrase "for [Christ] showed himself not unto the world" in verse 7 with the phrase in verse 8 "[Christ] has shown himself unto the world"?
 Verse 8
- What is the heavenly gift?
 Verse 10
- What does it mean to be "called after the holy order of God" (see Alma 13:2-8)?
 Verse 11
- How was the law of Moses given by faith--and how is that related to the ordinations mentioned in verse 10?
- How is the "gift of [Christ]" a "more excellent way" than the law of Moses (see discussion of the heavenly gift in Ether 12:8)?
- What does the word "it" refer to at the end of the verse?
 Additional resources
 Verse 4
- Hope and predestination. See this post by LXXLuthor at the FPR blog for a discussion of Paul's teaching on communal predestination and how it contrasts to the more common individual-foreordination interpretation of Paul by Mormons, and how these issues suggest a predestination reading of this verse that affords more assurance than a foreordination-type reading.