“Many Nations and Kingdoms”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

The angel first shows him the Gentile nations and governments, as they existed, probably, at the time when the Roman Catholic church began to become a world power, after the end of the western Roman empire. This is generally regarded as having come in 476 A.D., when Romulus Augustus was deprived of his office as the representative of the Emperor Zenis, who resided in Constantinople, and Odoager assumed the place of ruler over Italy. That was one of the great epochs in history. For the removal of the imperial power from Rome paved the way for the assumption of worldly sovereignty by the popes, as the Apostle Paul says would happen: "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed." (2 Thess. 2-7, 8) It came about gradually. In 607 Pope Boniface III was recognized as the spiritual ruler of the world, by Emperor Phocas. Later the ruling descendants of Charles Martel and the popes exchanged courtesies and gifts. The popes bestowed divine blessings and titles on the Carolingians, and these gave the popes large sections of Italy, which really were not theirs to give. Finally, in the year 800 A.D., Pope Leo III put a crown on the head of Charlemagne and proclaimed him the emperor of a new holy Roman empire, a proclamation which must have been in the nature of high treason, since the actual emperor still lived in Constantinople.

Gibbon says of these times: "The world beheld for the first time a Christian bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince: the choice of magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes and the wealth of the palace of Ravenna."

Nephi saw the condition of the gentile nations and governments during this critical time of history.

The kingdoms of the world being spread out, in this vision, as a map, before the eyes of the prophet, he sees a great and abominable church taking form. Its characteristics are given.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1