3 Nephi 12:6 — LeGrand Baker — ‘Filled with the Holy Ghost’

3 Nephi 12:6 — LeGrand Baker — ‘Filled with the Holy Ghost’

6 And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost

Righteousness is the Hebrew zedek, and means priesthood and temple correctness: doing the right thing in the right way in the right place, dressed the right way, saying the right words, holding one’s hand the right way, and with the right authority. For a fuller discussion of zedek see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, first edition, 279-286; second edition (the one in this website under “published books), pages 189-201. This discussion of 3 Nephi 12:6 is also from that book.

To “hunger and thirst after righteousness [zedek]” is the chief characteristic of the meek—those who remember (or are re-taught by the Spirit) to keep the covenants they made at the Council in Heaven, as we discussed with 3 Nephi 12:5.

In Hebrew tradition, as Adam and Eve left their Garden home, Satan and his henchmen began to bring their plan into play. They planned to “cast men into great distractions and pains in life, so that their men should be preoccupied with life, and not have time to attend on the Holy Spirit.” {1} But the Lord sent angels to teach Adam about sacrifice and the Savior’s Atonement so that Adam and Eve would know how to come home again. Thereafter, the great desire of the righteous was to find the way to “return to the Garden” where they could regain their garments of light, again enjoy the company of God, and where they could eat freely of the fruit of the tree of life and drink of the waters of life.

That also became the ultimate promise to the faithful Saints in New Testament times. John the Beloved concludes his Revelation with this vision of the celestial world:

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. …
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. …

1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. …

13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. …

16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 21:1-2, 6-7; 22:1-4, 13-14, 16-17).

Alma understood that the fruit of the tree of life and the waters of life were both the blessing to the righteous and the product of their own righteousness. He said:

40 And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.
41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
42 And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
43 Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you (Alma 32:40-43).

The Savior explained how that is so. He first taught it to the people in Jerusalem:

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever (John 6:53-58). {2}

And he taught it more fully to the Saints in America:

3 And it came to pass that he brake bread again and blessed it, and gave to the disciples to eat.
4 And when they had eaten he commanded them that they should break bread, and give unto the multitude.
5 And when they had given unto the multitude he also gave them wine to drink, and commanded them that they should give unto the multitude.
6 Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude;
7 But he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.
8 And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled (3 Nephi 20:3-8). {3}

This doctrine was not unknown to ancient Israel. It is not expressed that explicitly in the psalms we now have, but the understanding is there. Psalm 143 is a prayer. Ancient Israelites prayed with their hands lifted toward heaven (“I stretch forth my hands unto thee”). Recalling the peace of the Council in Heaven (“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works”), its author longs to be there again:

1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
3 For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.
4 Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.
5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works;
I muse on the work of thy hands.
6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.
7 Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
9 Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.
10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
11 Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
12 And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant (Psalm 143:1-12).

The 63rd Psalm is also a prayer—one that is simply running over with ancient temple imagery:

1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
8 My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
9 But those th at seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped (Psalm 63:1-11).

The blessing promised in the Beatitudes to “all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness” is that “they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
The classic—and probably the best known—LDS statement about the gift of the Holy Ghost was written by one of the Church’s foremost early poets, Parley P. Pratt:

The gift of the Holy Spirit adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It develops and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, invigorates, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.

In the presence of such persons, one feels to enjoy the light of their countenances, as the genial rays of a sunbeam. Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy, to the heart and nerves of others who have kindred feelings, or sympathy of spirit. No matter if the parties are strangers, entirely unknown to each other in person or character; no matter if they have never spoken to each other, each will be apt to remark in his own mind, and perhaps exclaim, when referring to the interview—“O what an atmosphere encircles that stranger! How my heart thrilled with pure and holy feelings in his presence! What confidence and sympathy he inspired! His countenance and spirit gave me more assurance, than a thousand written recommendations, or introductory letters.” Such is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and such are its operations, when received through the lawful channel – the divine, eternal Priesthood. {4}

In the ancient Temple, hungering and thirsting after zedek ultimately focused on the coronation ordinances of sonship.

As the Holy Ghost comforts, {5} teaches, cleanses (Moroni 6:4), sanctifies (3 Nephi 27:20), and empowers us to transcend the sorrows of this world, its empowerment may imply a restoration and maturation of the garment of light. That seems consistent with the Lord’s words to the Prophet Joseph.

33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved (D&C 84:33-40).

To “be filled with the Holy Ghost” is ultimately to fulfill the command to “receive the Holy Ghost.” It is the necessary prerequisite to accomplishing the next step in the Savior’s outline in the Beatitudes.


{1} Hypostasis of the Archons, trans. Bullard, 29, lines 7-11.

{2} See Matthew 26:26-28. Mark 14:22-24, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, Moroni 4-5, 3 Nephi 18:1-11. It is interesting that Mormon does not mention that Jesus also ate and drank with his disciples. His apparently not doing so may reflect what he told his apostles in Jerusalem: “Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25).

{3} According to a number of sources, some early Christians thought of the cross as a tree of life, and that the Savior’s body was the fruit of that tree, and his blood was the waters of life. See Griggs, “Tree of Life,” 29. The Gospel of Philip says the cross was made of olive wood, in The Nag Hammadi Library in English, ed. James M. Robinson,153.

{4} Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology (Liverpool, F.D. Richards & London, L.D.S. Book Depot,1855), 98-99.

{5} For a discussion of two Comforters, see Smith, Teachings of the Prophet, 149.



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