3 Nephi 19:9-22 — LeGrand Baker — Holy Ghost & the “Second Comforter”

3 Nephi 19:9-22 
9 And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.
10 And when they had thus prayed they went down unto the water’s edge, and the multitude followed them.
11 And it came to pass that Nephi went down into the water and was baptized.
12 And he came up out of the water and began to baptize. And he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen.
13 And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire (3 Nephi 19:9-13).
19 And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said:
20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.
21 Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words.
22 Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them (3 Nephi 19:9-22).

For me, a careful discussion of the Holy Ghost must begin with the Beatitudes. (There is an analysis of each in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord. A click on the search engine of this website will take you there. Use “Savior’s Coronation Sermon” as the search words.)

Briefly, the Beatitudes in the Book of Mormon walk us through the following sequence: (v. 1) Follow the Brethren; (v. 2) first principles and ordinances (visited by the Holy Ghost); (v. 3) endowment for the living; (v. 4) endowment for the dead; (v. 5) keep eternal covenants; (v. 6) hunger for priesthood and temple things and filled with the Holy Ghost; (v. 7) how to be a king and a priest; (v. 8) Zion shall see God; (v. 9) peacemakers called (new name) “children of God”; (v. 10-12) righteous will be persecuted; (v. 13) missionary responsibilities; (v. 14-16) be a light to the Saints. (If you haven’t seen that sequence in them before, please check the documentation in the book—thanks.)

The Beatitudes are important to our discussion of the Holy Ghost because near their beginning one is “visited with the Holy Ghost,” but it is not until after temple work, keeping eternal covenants, and hungering for temple and priesthood things, that one is “filled with the Holy Ghost.” There is a carefully outlined progression between being “visited” and being “filled.”

Some time before the Savior came to the Nephites, Nephi had already established a priesthood organization so that all who repented could “be baptized with water (3 Nephi 7:25).” So it is easy to recognize this baptism in 3 Nephi 19 as a re-baptism. or more correctly as a baptism into the new church and kingdom established by the Savior.

There are also many references to the Holy Ghost throughout the Book of Mormon, just as there are prior references to baptism, so there can be no question that by the time we enter the scene described in 3 Nephi 19, the people who participated in these ceremonies had long since already been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, their desire “that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them,” and the Savior’s response, make it apparent that their request was to receive something in addition to what they already had. When that request is fulfilled, the language describing the event is the same as is in verse 6 of the Beatitudes:

13 And it came to pass when they [the Twelve Disciples] were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire (3 Nephi 19:13).

In our own time, after we are baptized, priesthood holders lay their hands upon our heads and give us the command—and therefore the authorization—to receive the Holy Ghost. Thereby, we begin the journey to ultimately become “filled.” Parley P. Pratt penned the most beautiful description of the blessings that come in consequence of our accepting that command and moving toward its fulfillment. He wrote:

.       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.{1}

Mormon’s description is much more succinct, yet even more complete:

25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;
26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God (Moroni 8:25-26).

Mormon’s reference to the Holy Ghost as the “Comforter” is not only important in this context, but it also helps us understand what that means in other scriptures as well. Mormon says this Comforter “filleth with hope and perfect love.” In his great sermon on faith, hope, and charity (Moroni 7), Mormon uses hope to mean one’s living at thought the covenants were already fulfilled. And that, Mormon says both here and in the sermon, leads to perfect love which is charity.{2} Charity is, as Peter teaches us, the ultimate step toward making one’s “calling and election sure” and receiving entrance “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1-11).”

It is evident from Mormon’s explanation that to “comfort” means much more than just to give encouragement or good advise. His understanding of “comfort” is perfectly consistent with the way the word in is used in both the Old and New Testaments and by the Savior in the Beatitudes in the Book of Mormon.

There, to give “comfort” means to bestow on another the power to transcend sorrow. A “Comforter” then, is one who gives another that abiding and overriding power. For example, in the Beatitude that reads, “And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” the Savior was paraphrasing Isaiah 61. There, the initiate is comforted or empowered by receiving an enthronement ceremony. During that coronation the recipient is washed, anointed, clothed, crowned, and given a new royal king-name. Thus, in Isaiah, to empower means to make one a priest or priestess and a king or queen.{3}

A wonderful example in the Book of Mormon of the meaning of “comfort” as empowerment is this brief account of the beginning of the mission of the sons of Mosiah:

10 And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted (Alma 17:10). (I take it that “his Spirit” means the same thing here as it does in Ether 3.)

A similar one is this testimony by Alma:

27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success (Alma 26:27).

If I read them correctly, in both of those accounts it is not the Holy Ghost, but the Savior who administered the comfort or empowerment. The Prophet Joseph explained how that is so by quoting John to show that there are two Comforters. He said:

The Two Comforters
.        There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.
The Second Comforter
.       The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.
.       When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.
.       Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses:
.       “16. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
.       “17. Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
.       “18. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. * * *
.       “21. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
.       “23. If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
.       Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions—Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.{4}

An Old Testament example where “comforted” is used in this way—and in a context that relates to the ancient Israelite temple drama, and which associates “comfort” with the power of redemption—is this frequently quoted passage from Isaiah. In this passage, “redeem” has the same meaning as it does in the Brother of Jared story in Ether 3:10-13.{5}

7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, {6} that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God (Isaiah 52:7-10).{7}

There is a very important discussion of the Holy Ghost in the Lectures on Faith, Lecture 5. If you do not have convenient access to the book, that lecture can also be found on this website under the “Favorite Quotes” section at the top of the home page. From there go to “Smith, Joseph, Lectures on Faith, lecture 5.”



{1}Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology (Liverpool, F. D. Richards, 1855), 98-99.

{2} For a discussion of faith, hope, and charity in Moroni 7 see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord , the four chapters called: Moroni 7: Faith, Hope, and Charity; Meaning of “Faith” — pistis; A Meaning of “Hope”; and A Meaning of “Charity”. In the paper back edition (the one that is on this website) those chapters are on pages 696-721.

{3} The word “comfort” as used in that coronation ceremony is discussed in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord in two chapters. In the paperback version that is avaliable in this website, they are: The Meaning of “Comfort,” on pages 340-43; and the discussion of the Beatitude on pages 656-59.

{4} Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), 149.

{5} In Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, see the chapter called: A Meaning of “Redeem”— to “Come Unto Christ” on pages 510-19.

{6} Isaiah”s words “How are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings” can be understood in three different ways. See Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, pages 498-99.

{7} This passage from Isaiah is quoted four times in the Book of Mormon: Mosiah 12:21-25, 15:28-31; 3 Nephi 16:16-20, 20:30-35.


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