Talk:Ether 12

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Personal reflections[edit]

There are a couple of things in verse 4 that stick out to me. First, the mention of how our belief in God will allow us to not only hope that our eternal future will bring good things, but we can hope with a surety, or in other words...KNOW that this will be the case! Hope, combined with true faith, eventually leads us to a spiritual knowledge of things that are not seen or have not yet come to pass.

Second, I like the description of how hope and faith anchor our souls to the Gospel. When a ship is anchored, it may start to drift slightly away from where it is centered, but the anchor keeps it from drifting too far. Likewise, when our lives are centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, He becomes our Anchor. Tempations may continue to beset us, but our faith and hope in the Savior, coupled with His redeeming power, keeps us from drifting too far away from Him.

User:BenRasmussen 11 Dec 2005

Personal Comments[edit]

I feel this to be the most powerful scripture and to me the most powerful in the Book of Mormon. This "better world" that is mentioned in verse 4 is what we are all striving for in our mortal lives. We are here to find happiness(joy). By the anchoring of faith, hope, and charity (I dont believe you can have one without the other) we are bound to the gospel of Jesus Christ, always doing good things for us and all mankind- this in turn glorifies our Heavenly Father. It is a beautiful passage that has so many levels. For the believer or the non-believer there are so many different levels that can help the understanding of ourselves or others. Again, this anchor is what keeps us strong and helps us to endure (Helaman 5:12). If we can take this passage to heart, we will live according to our hope, the gospel will never stray far from our hearts or desires.

User:Bunk 24 April 2006

Hope is a Vision[edit]

In the english dictionary it states that hope is To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment. The invitation in the first part of this verse is to whosoever beleiveth in God. God does not limit this hope or expectation of blessings to just one person or certian people, but to whoso belevieth. That is our key, the invitation is open to us but we must believe. "Believe in God," "Be still and know that I am God" These invitations are found all over the sciptures. We must believe and part of beleiving is trusting. We trust in his word, if as he says in Enos that I have bulit mansions in the heavens above, do we beleive that if we keep the commandments of God that we will be partakers of this most precious fruit? Once we trust God and we beleive in him and keep his commandments a special feeling comes in us that not only do we beleive but we expect these blessings to come. In the widow and the mite, not only did she beleive that if she took all that she had and gave it to the Lord, that God would bless her but she expected to be blessed. King Benjamin stated that if we keep the commandments of God that we are blessed in all things. "I would that ye remember the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God, for they are blessed in all things both temporal and spiritual" That is where the surety of a better world comes in. A world where we are free of temptations and we a crowned with eternal glory. "Even a place at the right hand of God." This expectation of the "Better World" or blessings of a eternal blessing is or hope. Which this hope cometh of faith. The faith on Gods word. This faith that comes from a knowledge of God and his works makes a anchor to the souls. Just as a anchor is set to still a raging boat, This faith writes upon the souls of men and this Hope becomes a part of them, It becomes a part of the character and thoughts of this person. Which would make this person sure and steadfast always abounding in good works. They expect that if they love one another they will receive the blessings of God. In short it is as though this hope can be seen in there mind. Almost as though it were in their sight. A vision. Where there is no vision people perish. (Proverbs) A hope is a vision of blessings that are expected by that person that come from God. Than at the end it wraps up the verse so beautifully "Being led to Glorify God" It is his work , and He wishes to share this vision of a better world with every one. It always comes back to not our own ability but giving praise to God for what he has given us.--Jeff Batt 04:28, 20 Oct 2006 (UTC)

The more I read this comment on "Hope is a Vision," the more I feel compelled to work it into some commentary. Working through it is, however, never so simple. Some initial thoughts, though:
    1. If hope is a vision, does it therefore contrast with faith, which is a question of that which is not seen? Or, in other words, would it be better to understand faith and hope to be paired, rather than faith and knowledge to be paired. Frankly, there is little scriptural justification for the idea of progression from faith to knowledge (I suspect it comes into our discourse through Plato's divided line in the Republic), but rather the scriptures seem to teach that faith is a kind of knowledge (albeit not a "perfect" one). This verse, it must be admitted, suggests that hope follows on faith, is a sort of confirmation of faith (anchoring it). Perhaps the better way to say all of this first point is: since hope comes of faith as a sort of confirmation or making-sure, isn't it justified to read hope as a question of vision, of what is seen, since faith is a question of what is not seen. (If one who has faith does not have "a perfect knowledge" of something, is hope, then, "a perfect knowledge"?)
    2. If hope is a question of vision, as over against faith, what can be said of the role of faith (or belief) at the beginning of this verse? The verse makes faith a question of "whosoever believeth in God," not of "whosoever believeth God." Faith is not here, apparently, a question of trusting God directly, but of trusting in Him, of trusting--it seems--what some person other than God says about God. The above comment, in ruminating on the meaning of this "believing in God," ranges through the scriptures, through the messages spoken by earthly messengers. This, I think, alerts us to what faith is: a question of trusting some messenger that is not God but who speaks of God. Is faith, then, not a question of seeing--though still a question of knowing--precisely because it is a question of hearing, of speaking with another human (or perhaps an angel)? If this is the meaning of faith here, is hope, as a vision, the confirmation of faith because it entails a vision of God, a speaking directly with Him, an encounter, etc. All the talk of making an anchor of--of making sure--what is believed seems to suggest something of theophany. In fact, as this verse goes on to speak of this hope leading one to praise God, theophany is more explicitly suggested: throughout the Book of Mormon, those who are in the presence of God (usually angels, but the prophets throughout the book as well) praise Him.
    3. If hope entails a sort of theophany, or at least a more direct relation to God--unmediated, perhaps?--might we then say that the "expectation" suggested by the dictionary definition of hope is tied to a promise or an assurance made while one is in the presence of God? Does one abound in good works--I think it is clear that Moroni is making reference to 2 Ne 31:19-20 here--because one passes through the veil (the gate?), because one has come to a certain point of no return (without some absolutely devastating consequences at least)? In short, should this not all be read in terms of "making one's calling and election sure"?
    4. If this verse returns at its end to consider the source of hope, to recognize the grace involved in one's gaining hope, does it not seem that even having one's calling and election made sure is an act of grace? Eph 1 and 2 Pet 1 both would suggest as much. Is praise the act of hope because it can only be bestowed upon us as a gift (cf. Moro 8:26)? If hope is what sets us to praise, and if hope is also what draws us into the very presence of God, what is to be made of charity? Is charity something beyond having one's calling and election made sure? Is charity to be understood to be something greater than being in the presence of God? That this verse does not quite get to charity is powerfully suggestive.
    5. Finally, why does Moroni turn so quickly from all of this to his own thoughts? Why did Ether teach these things, and what did they have to do with the Jaredites? Certainly, faith, hope, and charity is Moroni's most common theme, but why does he leave off Ether's own discussion of it. Something peculiar is at work in this text.
Now, I realize very well how rocky all of that sounds. I punched it out too rapidly. But I think the comment posted above on hope as a vision has been ignored too long. That comment itself calls for organization and it suggests that it has some important insights into Ether's message, but in working it out, I struggle to make sense of some of these details. Any thoughts, all? --Joe Spencer 18:36, 1 Jul 2006 (UTC)
Good thoughts Joe, I hardly scratched the surface, but tried to get the exegesis going. Regarding charity, I read the good works mentioned as parallel to charity. I'll see if I can find some other passages by Moroni that make link charity and good works. My belief is that God's love and grace are the cause of our good works (hence my wresting of 2 Ne 25:23!), rather than our good works being a pre-requisite to experience God's love and grace (if not, as you asked before, what does grace mean?). In this sense, I believe the love of God (charity) and good works are tightly linked, and I believe my view on this is partly rooted in Moroni's later writings. --RobertC 20:06, 4 Jul 2006 (UTC)
I posted some further commentary (not logged in, though... whoops!). There is still quite a bit to work out. I'll have some more time tomorrow. --Joe Spencer 00:20, 5 Jul 2006 (UTC)

I wish to go further in depth to the thoughts that I commented earlier about hope is vision.

As I stated hope is vision, in which when we have hope we expect things to happen. When we have hope in Jesus Christ we expect the promises and blessings in which he has made will come to past. That is the meaning of hope. I find it interesting how in this chapter Moroni uses hope and faith as though it were almost a definition of both words, meaning that hope defines faith and faith is the basis of hope. In verse six Moroni states the definition of faith. “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen” How can we expect something to happen which we cannot see? Alma 32:23 “Wherefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” Both of these definitions define faith with the term hope woven right in it? Why? Perhaps instead of it being two different topics maybe they are two different aspects of the same concept. Which of course would make sense since all of God’s teachings are related into one great whole. In verse 8 he states “and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, That they might HOPE for those things which they have not seen.” In the sense that when we have this hope and we sense that we will receive the blessings the Lord has promised that part of faith is hope. What gives a man the courage that if he is obedient to the Lord, that all other things will be taken care of. In a spiritual sense he can see the blessings come to pass. It is a spiritual vision that gives him this hope and allows him to continue being obedient. A martyr may have never had a physical vision but when he gives up his life to protect the kingdom of God he places his hope in the vision of God that he has promised this better world for us. When we have this hope and see with our spiritual perspective that God will bless us, although we still don’t see how exactly, so it still requires faith, we will abound in good work, for this hope of a better world.--Jeff Batt 04:28, 20 Oct 2006 (UTC)

So in short here are my thoughts 1. Hope is a part if faith in which we expect the blessings of God when we are obedient. 2. Hope is a spiritual vision in which we can feel the blessings. 3. When we have this part of faith which is hope we will always as long as we keep this hope do good things that will help us coming unto Christ.

I am still working out my thoughts on this, I feel as though it is a great powerful scripture and of course I do not know it all but it has been a scripture that I have pondered on time and time again, it has led me to great reflection on exactly what part hope plays in faith and even on to charity. My thoughts aren’t perfect, but As we ponder and study over things God will bless us with understanding or as it states in the scriptures “Open the eyes of our understanding” So any further thoughts would be helpful. I may have to clarify some things and also reedited some things. --Jeff Batt 04:28, 20 Oct 2006 (UTC)

Jeff B

Jeff, you are forcing me to deal with the fact that Moroni ties faith and hope like Mormon and Alma.... It raises this question for me: if faith and hope are so hopelessly intertwined, according to these several prophets, what are we to make of verse 4 here (where it seems faith and hope are radically separate) and of 2 Ne 31:19-20 (where they are separate again, perhaps still more radically)? The brute fact: all Nephite prophets except for Nephi seem to read faith and hope as helplessly intertwined. How do we make sense of that? The difficulty I'm facing in thinking that is a sort of dichotomy between the life of love on the one hand and the life of faith/knowledge/hope on the other: doesn't the clear separation between charity/love and faith/hope/knowledge make a real difficulty for us? Doesn't that separation suggest a separation between our relation to God and our relation to others? I'm not sure, I admit, what to make of this point.
But it must be dealt with. I need to do some more thinking... --Joe Spencer 02:30, 10 Jul 2006 (UTC)

Joe, could you clarify the seperation of life of love and the life of faith/knowledge/hope? That you made reference to. Are you talking about our own salvation which would be the faith and hope compared to charity which is being activly involved in the salvation of others? Just wanted to get alittle clarification. Thanks--Jeff Batt 04:28, 20 Oct 2006 (UTC)

Jeff, my answer will prove to be complex. That complexity might be due to the fact that I am about to embark on a study of this subject that will result in elucidation, and that complexity might be due to the fact that my lack of direct consideration of this issue has left the subject relatively simple (complex now=simple later). I don't know which. But here's my answer: I am trying to draw a distinction, if we are reading faith and hope as "one," between faith/hope and charity. Faith/hope(/knowledge) would be understood in terms of a direct relation to God, while charity would be understood in terms of a direct relation with others. Basically what you said. However, at the same time, I am very skeptical about making such a distinction. Broadly speaking, I understand hope and charity to be "one" in the sense we are now suggesting that faith and hope are "one." I have thought of faith as a sort of preliminary stage of "spiritual development" in which one is directed towards God through others (this messenger is the person I believe or trust in faith, believing his message such that I believe in God). In other words, I have not understood faith as uniquely a question of God or as uniquely a question of others. I have understood faith to be a question that binds God and others into one experience. Hope and charity, on the other hand, I have understood to be two sides of a single relation to God/others. Hope expresses one's desire for God once one has passed beyond the mediation of messengers, and charity expresses one's desire for others once one has passed beyond the mediation of messengers. (I have assumed very broadly that faith is, then, a question that comes before, as it were, a role in, say, the priesthood, whereas hope and charity are the two sides of the priesthood responsibility--two sides bound as one: in the service of fellow being/in the service of God.)
In other words and in short, yes, I am drawing the distinction you mention, but I don't believe in the distinction as such. What I am attempting to think through is this question: why do most Book of Mormon prophets read faith and hope as intertwining (a vital word for my now-in-process rethinking of these issues), when Nephi (and apparently the brother of Jared) reads them as radically separate? The implications here are, I think, wide-reaching.
My preliminary answer--or better: the hint that guides the thinking I am now beginning to undertake on the subject--is this: it seems that faith and hope are tied to each other in Nephi's reading (I have 2 Ne 31:19-20 in mind here--see the comments there), though through a door (a "gate"--even a veil?). In thinking the relation between them as an intertwining, I am trying to think the relation between faith and hope through the sort of intertwining signaled in the threshold, in the doorway, etc. Even the preliminary thoughts that will guide my study (to start tomorrow) are too complex to hash out yet here. I'll post again. Hopefully this has not been too much already, too complex. Until then... --Joe Spencer 21:45, 10 Jul 2006 (UTC)
Jeff now privately forces me to face the text (during a phone call I wish all involved in this discussion had been privy to). Hope: a double vision. It appears that hope is a broad vision (as spoken of in this verse) that is based on a particular vision (a personal appearance). That, in fact, hope is a sort of mature faith and faith is a sort of preliminary hope. Hmm... I'll have to argue this in the commentary. Tomorrow... --Joe Spencer 18:37, 17 Jul 2006 (UTC)

This discussion seems to me to need redirection in the direction of the discussion on the talk page at 2 Ne 31:19-20. Without simply cutting and pasting the discussion there, there are some dead ends here that can only be worked out there. To sum things up, it seems to me that faith/hope must be thought by way of the idolatry/iconism distinction (and if that is too technical, see forthcoming discussion and commentary on that same talk page). The reason to dislocate this conversation: Jeff increasingly presses me to see hope as a visionless vision, as a seeing without sight, as a "spiritual" vision (albeit one that might be accompanied by a literal theophany). In other words: "hope is a vision" means that hope is a Weltanschauung, even a sort of divine phenomenological standpoint, not a vision in the prophetic sense. Because hope and faith are so inextricably intertwined, to call hope a phenomenology seems to force one to call faith a phenomenology as well. I am beginning to wonder if the world in its double sense (the world as vanity--Ecclesiastes--and the world as love--John) calls for two phenomenologies: faith on the one hand and hope on the other. In other words, I am beginning to think faith as the phenomenology that functions at man's initial response to the divinely distracting call that strikes one in the world of vanity. When faith itself is distracted (perfected?), it might well become hope, a phenomenology that corresponds to the world of love. That's too much for a segue... But so I'm beginning to think. See the discussion linked above. --Joe Spencer 17:41, 18 Jul 2006 (UTC)

Personal reflections[edit]

Verse 7[edit]

A thought i had as i read through this chapter was about this specific verse. We know that after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he ascended to his Father. The way I read this verse makes me think that part of his reasoning for doing so was to wait for sufficient faith among the Nephites, so that he could show himself to them. --Tyboojwa 14 Apr 2006


Hi Rob, Here is my thinking behind removing the word sacred. Of course, all ordinations are sacred so there's nothing wrong with saying that that ordination was sacred. But since you are saying here what Alma claims and he doesn't emphasize that the ordination was sacred I took it out. Or, to put it another way, had Alma taught that getting the Melchezidek priesthood involved a sacred ordination I think this would better support the claim that the ordinance to the Melchezidek priesthood was similar to the endowment would be stronger--since though all ordinances are sacred, those performed in the temple are treated as more sacred at least because we only perform them in a place where only those set apart to go can go. Of course, feel free to re-revise.

--Matthew Faulconer 08:28, 10 Jul 2005 (CEST)

Verse 7[edit]

I have always found verse 7 confusing. Can anyone help me out--maybe by explaining in the exegesis section a better interpretation of this verse? As I read this verse I feel like it says something like the following. Note that I think is a bad way to read it (hence this call for help to find a better way).

I just said that you won't receive a witness that something is true until after your faith is tried. Now let me give you an example. It was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers after he had risen from the dead--he didn't show himself to them until after they had faith. We know it wasn't until atleast some of them had faith in Christ that he showed himself unto them because why else would he have shown himself unto just them. If it didn't require faith he would have shown himself to the whole world, so since he didn't show himself to the whole world we know that the reason that he just showed himself to them is because of their faith.

I think most everyone would agree that there is something funny about that argument. It seems pretty circular. I can think of other reasons why Christ might choose to show himself to one set of people rather than another (e.g. one group had a promise, the other didn't. Any suggestions? --Matthew Faulconer 08:50, 10 Jul 2005 (CEST)

PS Whatever is going on here, I think something similar is going on in 1 Ne 17:33-38.

The fact that in the very next verse Moroni says Christ did show himself unto the world suggests that the above interpretation (by me) is probably missing something significant. See the question I just added to the questions section of the commentary page. --Matthew Faulconer 15:30, 19 Jan 2006 (UTC)
I think there is a subtle yet possibly significant change in verb tense between verses 7 and 8. Verse 7 says "he showed himself not unto the world" while verse 8 says "he has shown himself unto the world." Verse 7 could be referring to the period of time before Christ's birth, whereas verse 8 could be referring to Christ's life on earth in Jerusalem. --RobertC 00:45, 18 Apr 2006 (UTC)

I think I understand your point about circularity if we read the passage as a logical progression (as suggested by the "wherefore"). Maybe we can read this with a poetic rather than logical structure:

A: Because of their faith
B: Christ showed himself to our fathers
C: after he had risen from the dead;
B': he showed not himself unto them
A': until after they had faith in him
A*: wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him
B*: for he showed himself not unto the world.

Another thought is that maybe there's a punctuation issue here. It may be a bit heretical to suggest the current punctuation and versification is not canonical, but if the final "for he showed himself not unto the world" phrase in verse 7 were moved to the beginning of verse 8, it would seem to ease the logical tension you've legitimately pointed out.

--RobertC 01:03, 18 Apr 2006 (UTC)

Verse 12:27[edit]

I'm thinking of revising again the lexical note (and maybe moving it to exegesis as well). I'm not seeing the significance of the difference of interpretting this verse as saying "God gives us weakness" versus "God gives us our weaknesses" since the way to give us weakness (generally) is by giving us the set of weaknesses each of us particularly have. So the note hinges on making a distinction where it seems there's really no difference. Other thoughts? --Matthew Faulconer 07:19, 30 May 2008 (CEST)

Yeah, I think this is tricky. Not sure how you can argue for "weakness" in general without "weaknesses" in particular. Especially when the verse ends with a reference to "weak things"--which I'm having trouble reading as anything but individual "weaknesses".--Rob Fergus 13:03, 30 May 2008 (CEST)

I think one difference is that "weakness" (singular) seems to emphasize a permanent kind of state whereas "weaknesses" seem to be more temporary and limited. That is, I'm reading this in terms of "weaknesses" (plurarl) more as something we can overcome whereas "weakness" is a more general condition that we cannot overcome per se. I think this has relevance for how we understand the phrase "weak things become strong unto them." If "weakness" (singular) is emphasized rather than "weaknesses" (plural) being thought, then I think this would strengthen the view that "things" is referring to those who are weak, not the weaknesses of one (or each) particular person. This isn't coming out very well, but I'm guessing you can follow the drift of what I'm trying to get at....
(The "unto them" phrase at the end does, however, seem to undermine the view that "things" refers to those who are weak--besides the fact that "things" would seem awkward referring to people since it's typically only used for inanimate objects. So, let me try again: Because "weakness" singular is used, then when "weak things become strong," it would seem that the condition of weakness still remain. If "weaknesses" were plural, then when "weak things become strong," it would seem that the weaknesses would no longer remain.) --RobertC 00:02, 2 June 2008 (CEST)