“Nephi Speaks to the Spirit of the Lord As One Man Speaketh to Another”

Monte S. Nyman

The desire of Nephi to see the tree was granted. What followed is a good example of how revelation comes to mankind. “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more” (2 Nephi 28:30). Nephi was given more revelation as the Book of Mormon chapters that follow illustrate.

Who the Spirit was that accompanied Nephi is considered a mystery, something that the Lord has not seen necessary to reveal. Some people become more concerned over who he is than learning from the message that he delivered. Hopefully, without detracting from that message, and with the desire that the mission and power of the Holy Ghost may be further exemplified, the comments of Dr. Sidney B. Sperry are included.

Two schools of thought prevail among students of the Book of Mormon, and each gives a plausible answer to the problem. One of them holds that the Spirit beheld by Nephi was none other than the pre-existent Christ. Those who adhere to this point of view direct our attention to a precedent which they think should have great weight in convincing one of the correctness of their position. This precedent was the open appearance of our pre-existent Lord of the brother of Jared (Ether 3:13–16). The other school of thought believes that the Spirit of the Lord who talked with Nephi was the Holy Ghost in person.
The resolving of the problem raised here is of great importance, theologically speaking, for if it can be shown that the Spirit that talked to Nephi was the Holy Ghost in person, we may regard 1 Nephi 11:1–11 as the one classical passage in all scripture which testifies of the Holy Ghost as a male personage with whom man may speak face to face… .
From 1 Nephi 10:17 we learn that Nephi was so highly impressed with the vision of his father Lehi that he was desirous also to “see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Italics mine.) Notice that Nephi wanted to know by the power of the Holy Ghost. He continues with a discussion about the Holy Ghost (1 Nephi 10:17–21) and ends by saying, “And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.” (1 Nephi 10:22)

Since the entire context is dealing with the Holy Ghost it seems evident that this personage is the Holy Ghost, however, the final answer will come when the Lord is ready to reveal it.

By analyzing the mysteries of God that were revealed to Nephi it will become evident that it is important to share them with the troubled world. Further, it should be more evident of our individual need to obtain the power of the Holy Ghost in our individual lives.

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record