1. Jesus teaches the Beatitudes to the Nephites.
3 Nephi 12:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me
“…the Book of Mormon sermon added the phrase ‘who come unto me…’ Obviously in the 3 Nephi rendering, being poor in spirit is not in itself a virtue, but it will be so if such humility brings one to claim the blessings of the kingdom through the waters of baptism, making covenants, and moving toward all the promises given to covenant-making disciples. It is significant that the phrase ‘come unto me’ is used at least four more times in the twenty or so verses that follow this one.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 263)
3 Nephi 12:4 Blessed are all they that mourn
“The Beatitudes may be viewed as a recipe for righteousness with incremental steps, beginning with ‘the poor in spirit who come unto [Christ]’ (3 Nephi 12:3). The next step in the celestial direction is to mourn, especially for our sins, for ‘godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation’ (2 Corinthians 7:10)” (Spencer J Condie, Your Agency, Handle with Care , 8).
3 Nephi 12:5 Blessed are the meek
“If the Lord was meek and lowly and humble, then to become humble one must do what he did in boldly denouncing evil, bravely advancing righteous works, courageously meeting every problem, becoming the master of himself and the situations about him and being near oblivious to personal credit.
“Humility is not pretentious, presumptuous, nor proud. It is not weak, vacillating, nor servile. …
“Humble and meek properly suggest virtues, not weaknesses. They suggest a consistent mildness of temper and an absence of wrath and passion. … It is not servile submissiveness. It is not cowed nor frightened. …
“How does one get humble? To me, one must constantly be reminded of his dependence. On whom dependent? On the Lord. How remind one’s self? By real, constant, worshipful, grateful prayer” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball)
3 Nephi 12:6 Blessed are all they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness
‘The thing that keeps us moving on the path and toward the Savior is our longing (our hunger, our thirst) for the things of the Spirit, and to be reconciled with God (12:6). As we hunger and thirst for righteousness, the Lord makes a simple promise to us:You shall be filled. How long can you go without food before your stomach begins sending urgent messages to your mouth? How long can you go without scripture study, without prayer and service and spiritual experiences before your spirit begins sending messages to your heart?’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSLiving.com)
3 Nephi 12:7 Blessed are the merciful
“Our salvation rests upon the mercy we show to others. Unkind and cruel words, or wanton acts of cruelty toward man or beast, even though in seeming retaliation, disqualify the perpetrator in his claims for mercy when he has need of mercy in the day of judgment before earthly or heavenly tribunals. Is there one who has never been wounded by the slander of another whom he thought to be his friend? Do you remember the struggle you had to refrain from retribution? Blessed are all you who are merciful, for you shall obtain mercy!” (Harold B Lee, Stand Ye In Holy Places, p. 347)
3 Nephi 12:8 Blessed are all the pure in heart
‘The promises of the gospel are uplifting and ennobling, even exalting. We receive those promises by covenants which are conditioned on our living lives of purity and morality. When we live right and seek to purify our hearts, we draw closer to God and the Spirit. The condition of our heart determines how much evidence of divinity we see in the world now and qualifies us for the eventual realization of the promise that the pure “shall see God.” Ours is a quest for purity.’ (L Whitney Clayton, General Conference, October 2007)
3 Nephi 12:9 Blessed are all the peacemakers
“Peacemakers: In the full sense, only those who believe and spread the fulness of the gospel are peacemakers within the perfect meaning of this Beatitude. The gospel is the message of peace to all mankind. Children of God: Those who have been adopted into the family of God as a result of their devotion to the truth. By such a course they become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. (Rom. 8:14–18;Gal. 3:26–29; 4:1–7.)” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1971–73], 1:216).
3 Nephi 12:10-12 Blessed are all they who are persecuted for me name’s sake
“To be persecuted for righteousness’ sake in a great cause where truth and virtue and honor are at stake is God-like. Always there have been martyrs to every great cause. The great harm that may come from persecution is not from the persecution itself but from the possible effect it may have upon the persecuted who may thereby be deterred in their zeal for the righteousness of their cause. Much of that persecution comes from lack of understanding, for men are prone to oppose that which they do not comprehend. Some of it comes from men intent upon evil. But from whatever cause, persecution seems to be so universal against those engaged in a righteous cause that the Master warns us, ‘Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.’ (Luke 6:26.)
“May youth everywhere remember that warning when you are hissed and scoffed at because you refuse to compromise your standards of abstinence, honesty, and morality in order to win the applause of the crowd. If you stand firmly for the right, despite the jeers of the crowd or even physical violence, you shall be crowned with the blessedness of eternal joy. Who knows but that again in our day some of the saints or even apostles, as in former days, may be required to give their lives in defense of the truth. If that time should come, God grant they will not fail.” (Harold B Lee, Stand Ye In Holy Places, p. 348)
2. Jesus declares that His followers are to be the salt of the earth and a light to other people.
3 Nephi 12:13 The salt of the earth
‘When men are called into mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;
They are called to be the savor of men’ (D&C 101:39–40; italics added).
The word savor (s-a-v-o-r) denotes taste, pleasing flavor, interesting quality, and high repute. …
A world-renowned chemist told me that salt will not lose its savor with age. Savor is lost through mixture and contamination. Similarly, priesthood power does not dissipate with age; it, too, is lost through mixture and contamination. …
Flavor and quality flee a man when he contaminates his mind with unclean thoughts, desecrates his mouth by speaking less than the truth, and misapplies his strength in performing evil acts. …
I would offer these simple guidelines, especially to the young men, as the means to preserve one’s savor: If it is not clean, do not think it; if it is not true, do not speak it; if it is not good, do not do it (see Marcus Aurelius, ‘The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius,’ in The Harvard Classics, Charles W. Eliot, ed., New York: P. F. Collier and Son, 1909, p. 211)” (Carlos E Asay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1980).
3 Nephi 12:16 Let your light so shine
“I wish to say that none of us ever need hesitate to speak up for this Church, for its doctrine, for its people, for its divine organization and divinely given responsibility. It is true. It is the work of God. The only things that can ever embarrass this work are acts of disobedience to its doctrine and standards by those of its membership. That places upon each of us a tremendous responsibility. This work will be judged by what the world sees of our behavior. God give us the will to walk with faith, the discipline to do what is right at all times and in all circumstances, the resolution to make of our lives a declaration of this cause before all who see us. (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, November 1996, p. 51.)
3. Jesus declares that He has fulfilled the law of Moses. He teaches the people a higher law.
3 Nephi 12:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law
“Jesus came to restore that gospel fulness which men had enjoyed before the day of Moses, before the time of the lesser order. Obviously he did not come to destroy what he himself had revealed to Moses anymore than a college professor destroys arithmetic by revealing the principles of integral calculus to his students. Jesus came to build on the foundation Moses laid. By restoring the fulness of the gospel he fulfilled the need for adherence to the terms and conditions of the preparatory gospel. No one any longer needed to walk by the light of the moon, for the sun had risen in all its splendor” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary).
3 Nephi 12:21 It is also written before you
‘The Nephites relied more heavily on the written law than the Jews in Jerusalem. The Nephites saw the law primarily as a written body (see 1 Nephi 4:15–16) and viewed any change in the written law with deep suspicion (see Mosiah 29:22–23). The Jews in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, on the other hand, had an extensive body of oral law to accompany the written Torah, and the oral law was very important in the pre-Talmudic period of Jewish legal history.
Accordingly, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says repeatedly to the Jews, “Ye have heard that it was said . . .” (Matthew 5:21,27,33,38,43; ). To the Nephites, however, such a statement would not have carried as much weight as would a reference to the written law. Thus, in the Sermon at the Temple Jesus consistently cites the written law, saying, “Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you” (3 Nephi 12:21), “it is written by them of old time” (3 Nephi 12:27), “again it is written” (3 Nephi 12:33), “behold, it is written” (3 Nephi 12:38), “and behold it is written also” (3 Nephi 12:43). “[John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, F.A.R.M.S., p. 99]
3 Nephi 12:22 Anger
‘The New Testament account of the Savior’s teachings is, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:22). The Savior’s teachings on this subject in the Book of Mormon are the same except that the phrase “without a cause” is deleted. This indicates that it is best to avoid anger altogether. It should be noted that the earliest known manuscript forMatthew 5:22 does not contain the phrase “without a cause” (see Daniel K. Judd and Allen W. Stoddard, “Adding and Taking Away ‘Without a Cause’ in Matthew 5:22,” in How the New Testament Came to Be, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Frank F. Judd Jr. [Sidney B. Sperry symposium, 2006], 161).’ (Institute Book of Mormon Student Manual)
3 Nephi 12:27-29 Avoid lust
“Love, as defined by the Lord, elevates, protects, respects, and enriches another. It motivates one to make sacrifices for another. Satan promotes counterfeit love, which is lust. It is driven by a hunger to appease personal appetite. One who practices this deception cares little for the pain and destruction caused another. While often camouflaged by flattering words, its motivation is self-gratification” (Richard G Scott, in Conference Report, Apr. 1991).
3 Nephi 12:32 Divorce
‘Divorce is not part of the gospel plan no matter what kind of marriage is involved. But because men [and women] in practice do not always live in harmony with gospel standards, the Lord permits divorce [as in Moses’ time] for one reason or another, depending upon the spiritual stability of the people involved…
‘In this day divorces are permitted in accordance with civil statutes, and the divorced persons are permitted by the Church to marry again without the stain of immorality which under a higher system would attend such a course.’ (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:547)
3 Nephi 12:34 Swear not at all
‘From the beginning of time the oath was the most sacred, solemn attestation a person could make to affirm a statement or his word on a matter. Before much time had passed, however, the oath was misused or used for nefarious purposes, as when Cain and his followers swore an oath to Satan in order to gain power (see Moses 5). . . . Though we in modern times are prone to refer to the use of profanity or vulgarity as swearing, and though such things are and should be reprehensible and inappropriate for one who seeks to follow Jesus, in reality these verses have nothing to do with condemning this latter vice. ‘[Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Brent L. Top, “Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon]
3 Nephi 12 :39 Turn to him the other also
“To conquer by kindness is the greatest victory to be had. We should right all wrongs by kindness, and show those with whom we are associated that our love is broad enough to forgive them and that we have charity for their weaknesses. We ought to attain to this. We cannot go to God till we do.” (George Q Cannon, Collected Discourses 1886-1898)
3 Nephi 12:44 Love your enemies
“It is not always easy to live by these doctrines when our very natures impel us to fight back…Most of us have not reached that stage of compassion and love and forgiveness. It is not easy. It requires a self-discipline almost greater than we are capable of. But as we try, we come to know that there is a resource of healing, that there is a mighty power of healing in Christ, and that if we are to be his true servants, we must not only exercise that healing power in behalf of others, but, perhaps more important, inwardly.
“I would that the healing power of Christ might spread over the earth and be diffused through our society and into our homes, that it might cure men’s hearts of the evil and adverse elements of greed and hate and conflict. I believe it could happen. I believe it must happen. If the lamb is to lie down with the lion, then peace must overcome conflict; healing must mend injury.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Faith, The Essence of True Religion, p. 35)
3 Nephi 12:48 I would that ye should be perfect
“Perfection is an eternal goal. While we cannot be perfect in mortality, striving for it is a commandment which ultimately, through the Atonement, we can keep” (James E Faust, in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 22; or Ensign, May 1999, 19).
3 Nephi 15:4-5 The law is fulfilled
‘The old things (the law of Moses) have “passed away”—not by being removed or torn down but by being fulfilled or completed. Indeed, it might be more accurate to say that they have been transformed. They are still the law but are transformed into something new: the law of the gospel.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
4. Jesus teaches the Nephites how they must live to be His true disciples.
3 Nephi 13:1 Do not your alms before men to be seen of them
“The tossing of alms to a beggar, the pouring of offerings into the temple treasure chests, to be seen of men, and similar displays of affected liberality, were fashionable among certain classes in the time of Christ; and the same Spirit is manifest today. Some there be now who cause a trumpet to be sounded, through the columns of the press perchance, or by other means of publicity, to call attention to their giving, that they may have glory of men — to win political favor, to increase their trade or influence, to get what in their estimation is worth more than that from which they part. With logical incisiveness the Master demonstrated that such givers have their reward. They have received what they bid for; what more can such men demand or consistently expect?” (James E Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 237)
3 Nephi 13:9 Our Father
“How glorious it is to address such a holy and exalted person by the greatest of all titles, Father, and to be privileged to have audience with him on our own invitation, anytime we pray in faith with all the strength and energy of our souls!” (Bruce R McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, Book 2, p. 151)
3 Nephi 13:14-15 Forgiveness
“Life is too short to be spent nursing animosities or in keeping a box score of offenses against us…We don’t want God to remember our sins, so there is something fundamentally wrong in our relentlessly trying to remember those of others. When we have been hurt, undoubtedly God takes into account what wrongs were done to us and what provocations there are for our resentments, but clearly the more provocation there is and the more excuse we can find for our hurt, all the more reason for us to forgive and be delivered from the destructive hell of such poisonous venom and anger. It is one of those ironies of godhood that in order to find peace, the offended as well as the offender must engage the principle of forgiveness.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Ensign, Nov. 1996)
3 Nephi 13:19-24 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth
“Our affections are often too highly placed upon the paltry perishable objects. Material treasures of earth are merely to provide us, as it were, room and board while we are here at school. It is for us to place gold, silver, houses, stocks, lands, cattle, and other earthly possessions in their proper place.
“Yes, this is but a place of temporary duration. We are here to learn the first lesson toward exaltation—obedience to the Lord’s gospel plan” (Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1971).
3 Nephi 13:34 No thought for the morrow
‘The Book of Mormon clarifies the meaning ofMatthew 6:25–32 by indicating that Jesus was speaking to the twelve Nephite disciples for this portion of the sermon (see 3 Nephi 13:25–34). After Jesus delivered this charge to them, he then turned and began to speak to the multitude again (see3 Nephi 14:1). It is helpful to note that Jesus repeatedly turned back and forth between these two audiences throughout His sermon.’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)
3 Nephi 14:2 Judgement
“Throughout my life…I have observed that as a rule it seems as if human beings like to gossip. We like to hear unsavory things about our neighbors and talk about each other. It seems that ofttimes we get a certain degree of satisfaction or even joy out of saying bad things about other people. We thoughtlessly and sometimes maliciously judge each other. We censure our associates sometimes unjustly, many times unkindly; and most of the time we speak without having the evidence to back up what we are saying. We seem to forget that James, the brother of the Lord, warned that the unbridled tongue is ‘full of deadly poison.’ (James 3:8.)
“I know that even sometimes people who are faithful in the Church pass judgment and condemnation on those with whom they associate without knowing the facts. Such is displeasing to God.” (Milton R Hunter, Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 64)
3 Nephi 14:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, cast not your pearls before swine
‘These phrases make good sense in a temple context. The clue couldn’t be more obvious, it is the word “holy.” Jesus is talking about a covenant and an obligation of secrecy at this point. There are certain things that are not to be divulged. Interestingly, we also encounter a covenant penalty. If you do cast “your pearls before swine,” they will “turn again and rend you” and trample [the covenants] under their feet” (3 Nephi 14:6). Those are common curses that you will see referred to in the Old Testament, reserved for those people who violate the covenant.’ [John W. Welch, “Christ at the Nephite Temple,” in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 143]
3 Nephi 14:7-8 Asking through prayer
“Access to our Creator through our Savior is surely one of the great privileges and blessings of our lives. … No earthly authority can separate us from direct access to our Creator. There can never be a mechanical or electronic failure when we pray. There is no limit on the number of times or how long we can pray each day. There is no quota of how many needs we wish to pray for in each prayer. We do not need to go through secretaries or make an appointment to reach the throne of grace. He is reachable at any time and any place” (James E Faust, in Conference Report, Apr. 2002).
3 Nephi 14:12 The Golden Rule
“[Jesus] taught the Golden Rule, saying, ‘All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them’ [Matthew 7:12]. This principle is found in nearly every major religion. Others such as Confucius and Aristotle have also taught it. After all, the gospel did not begin with the birth of the Babe in Bethlehem. It is everlasting. It was proclaimed in the beginning to Adam and Eve. Portions of the gospel have been preserved in many cultures. Even heathen mythologies have been enriched by fragments of truth from earlier dispensations.
“Wherever it is found and however it is expressed, the Golden Rule encompasses the moral code of the kingdom of God. It forbids interference by one with the rights of another. It is equally binding upon nations, associations, and individuals. With compassion and forbearance, it replaces the retaliatory reactions of ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’ [Matthew 5:38]. If we were to stay on that old and unproductive path, we would be but blind and toothless” (Russell M Nelson, in Conference Report, Oct. 2002).
3 Nephi 14:13 Strait is the gate
“The course leading to eternal life is both strait and straight. It is straight because it has an invariable direction — always it is the same. There are no diversions, crooked paths, or tangents leading to the kingdom of God. It is strait because it is narrow and restricted, a course where full obedience to the full law is required. Straightness has reference to direction, straitness to width. The gate is strait; the path is both strait and straight. (2 Ne. 9:41; 31:9, 17-18; 33:9; Alma 37:44-45; Hela. 3:29-30; 3 Ne. 14:13-14; 27:33; D. & C. 22; 132:22; Matt. 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24; Heb. 12:13; Jer. 31:9.)
“Thus by entering in at the strait gate (which is repentance and baptism) a person gets on the ‘straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life.’ (2 Ne. 31:17-18.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 769)