“The Bible Went Forth in Purity but Plain and Precious Things Were Lost”

Monte S. Nyman

When the book “proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew, it contained the fulness of the gospel of Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record … according to the truth and which is in the Lamb of God.” This describes the New Testament gospels. Jesus Christ is the “Spirit of truth … even of all truth” (D&C 93:26). Therefore, the New Testament contained the pure, and the fulness of the gospel of the Lord (vv. 24–25). The gospels are traditionally dated as having been written between A.D. 65 and 95. However, “after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles, from the Jews unto the Gentiles,” the great and abominable church took away many plain and precious parts (v. 26). From this statement we learn that the gospels were written before they were taken to the Gentiles. The apostles were commanded by Jesus after he was resurrection to take the gospel to all nations (the Gentiles), but they were to “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued [endowed] with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The endowment of power came fifty days after the Passover, or after the crucifixion.

1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. [Acts 2:1–4]

Peter was later given the revelation to take the gospel to the Gentiles. An angel appeared to Cornelieus, a Gentile, and told him to send men to Joppa to see Peter. In the meantime, Peter had a vision of meats that were unclean according to the law of Moses. He was commanded to eat them because God had cleansed them. After the men sent by Cornelieus came to Joppa and found Peter, he willingly returned with them to Caesarea (see Acts 10:1–33). After meeting Cornelieus, Peter interpreted his vision to mean that the gospel was now to go to the Gentiles.

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. [Acts 10:34–35]

This revelation to Peter came as early as A.D. 35, but no later than A.D. 43. Paul’s first missionary journey to the Gentiles traditionally took place in the mid A.D. 40’s. Therefore the account of the twelve apostles bearing record of Christ (the gospels) were written before the traditional dates mentioned above.

Plain and precious parts were taken from the gospel of the Lamb (New Testament), and also many covenants (Old Testament) (v. 26). The Prophet Joseph Smith observed: “From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled” (TPJS, 9–10). These revelations would include but not be limited to, “the fullness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed” (D&C 93:6), the things that “were all written in the book of Enoch, and are to be testified of in due time” (D&C 107:57). The Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham, already restored in the Pearl of Great Price, give further support to the loss of plain and precious things. A few other examples will illustrate the errors or deletions in the texts. A comparison of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), and the same sermon given to the Nephites (3 Nephi 12:1–15), or a comparison of the discourse of the signs of his coming (Matthew 24) with the JST, Matthew 24 in the Pearl of Great Price and D&C 45 each show some of the losses in the New Testament. The covenants lost from the Old Testament are verified in the Book of Mormon where Lehi quotes some of the great covenants made to Joseph (2 Nephi 3). Also a more complete account of the covenant made to Abraham is found in the Book of Abraham 2:8–11 than is found in Genesis 12:2–3.

The reason the devil’s church took away these truths was to “pervert the ways of the Lord,” and to “blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” (v. 27). Perverting the ways of the Lord can be seen as a continuation of the war in heaven between “Michael and his angels” and “the dragon and his angels” (Revelation 12:7). The losses to the text were part of the blinding of the eyes and the hardening of the hearts of men (v. 27). When the book went through the hands of the great and abominable church of the devil it lost its original purity (v. 28). This was the apostasy in the early centuries A.D. It was not the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church actually preserved the many truths that remained in the book. Despite keeping the lay people in ignorance the Catholic Church housed and preserved copies of the manuscripts. The monks tediously copied the manuscripts. Copying the texts, of course, left room for other omissions or copying errors. The Prophet Joseph declared: “I believe the Bible as it read when it came forth from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (TPJS, 327). Thus, there were the errors of man that crept in, plus the work of the devil, that created the need for the eighth Article of Faith: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” “Wherefore an exceeding great many do stumble [over the loss of plain and precious things from the Bible], yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them” (v. 29). However, to paraphrase Nephi, A Bible! A Bible! What thank they the Catholics for the Bible that they preserved for the Gentiles (cp. 2 Nephi 29:3–4).

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record