3 Nephi 26:1-5 – LeGrand Baker – Jesus teaches the mysteries of eternity

3 Nephi 26:1-5 

1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had told these things he expounded them unto the multitude; and he did expound all things unto them, both great and small.

It is significant that the children would be included in the remarkable conversation that was to follow. Those same children had been blessed “one by one” by the Savior. Then “angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.” (3 Nephi 17:19-25)

There is no sure evidence that, at that time, each of those children had a sode experience in which they were taught their own eternal identity and their individual responsibilities while here in mortality. But then, “the angels did minister unto them.” To minister means to bless and/or to teach. So the children must have learned something, and the most important things they could have learned would have been about themselves, their relationship with each other and with the Savior, and their assignments while in this world.

With the instructions those children had already received, it is quite reasonable that they should have been included in the conversation in which Jesus “expound all things unto them.”

2 And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.

One wonders what “future generations” tells us here. Clearly he wanted the Nephites to have them in their record for their own sakes. But why Mormon included them in what he was preparing for us is a different matter altogether. He knew us well, as he says:

35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing (Mormon 8:35).

From his distant perspective and seeing the full sweep of our history and culture, he probably understood our needs better than we understand them ourselves. He also probably knew that we already have those chapters of Isaiah and Malachi, and that they are buried deep in our Old Testament where few of us will dig to find them. That very likely explains why Mormon included them in the record he was writing for us. He wanted to call our attention to them and to emphasize their importance.

3 And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away;
4 And even unto the great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
5 If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation; being on a parallel, the one on the one hand and the other on the other hand, according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began.

“And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until …. the heavens and the earth should pass away;.” The phrase “from the beginning” in the scriptures has a great variety of meanings depending on its context. If the context is an historical narrative, then “the beginning” is whenever the story starts. So, for example, it might refer to the time of Adam, or Abraham, or the exodus from Egypt. However, when its context is within the temple rites, or about the plan of salvation, or, as in this instance, about the Savior’s mission and ultimate triumph, then the “beginning” almost always is a reference to the creation sequence that began at the Council in Heaven (Abraham 3:22-26). I believe that is what it means here. If that is correct, then the Savior had chronicled and explained to the Nephites almost our entire journey through linear time.

However, Mormon wants us to understand that the full panorama of the Savior’s teachings did not start or end with linear time. He projects our thinking beyond the time when “the heavens and the earth should pass away” by describing the resurrection as an introduction to “everlasting life,” but he also wants our minds to try to reach to before the Council in Heaven.

Just as Enoch., during his sode experience, was taught about the Savior’s mission from “even before the very beginning,” {1} so Mormon wants us to get that same sense of the Savior’s infinity. To do that, Mormon describes the resurrection in terms of a continuation of the power of the Savior’s Atonement “according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began.”

Like Enoch, Mormon testifies of the Savior’s dominion and authority “before” the events of the Council in Heaven — laterally “infinite and eternal.” Pushing our understanding of the Savior’s role “from eternity to all eternity.”

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FOOTNOTE

{1} Book of the Secrets of Enoch, In The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, 2 vols. Translated and edited by R. H. Charles. Oxford: Clarendon, 1976. vol 2: 431-69, ch. 24:2.

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