Overview: The Four Stages of Nephi’s Prophetic Worldview

John W. Welch

Nephi’s vision, which stands at the center of the book of 1 Nephi, is four chapters long. It is a powerful and unforgettable prophetic statement. It clearly sees the future of the world, commencing from Nephi’s moment in time, in four major stages:

Stage 1 foresees the coming to earth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God (Found in 1 Nephi 11).

Stage 2 laments the rejection of Christ by most of the people He lived with, visited, and taught, resulting in their being scattered (Found in 1 Nephi 12).

Stage 3 anticipates the role of the Gentiles in preserving parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bringing the word of God to the remnant of scattered Israel (Found in 1 Nephi 13).

Stage 4 speaks of the restoration of the house of Israel and Christ’s ultimate victory over the forces of evil (Found in 1 Nephi 14).

Nephi introduced these four stages in 1 Nephi 11–14. This same sequence will be repeated by Nephi in 1 Nephi 19–22 (See Figure 1).

Figure 1 Welch, John W., and Greg Welch. "Four Stages of the Nephite Prophetic View." In Charting the Book of Mormon. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1999.

Indeed, Nephi will again use this same prophetic worldview as the underlying structure behind his teachings in 2 Nephi 25–30, and it will become the foundational framework within which Jacob, Abinadi, and several other Nephite writers will subsequently see the future of their world. I call this "the Nephite prophetic worldview." Knowing this framework can help all readers in many ways. For example, it helps readers get through the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon, understanding why the Nephite writers used the particular chapters from Isaiah that they did.

Book of Mormon Central, "What Vision Guides Nephi’s Choice of Isaiah Chapters? (2 Nephi 11:2)," KnoWhy 38 (February 22, 2016).

John W. Welch, "Getting through Isaiah with the Help of the Nephite Prophetic View," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1998), 19–45.

John W. Welch Notes