“It Must Needs Be Expedient That Christ”

Alan C. Miner

In speaking of the coming of the Messiah, Jacob said "Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ--for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name--should come among the Jews . . ." (2 Nephi 10:3). According to Robert Millet, it is difficult to know exactly what Jacob had in mind here. Did he mean that this was the first occasion when he came to know that the name of the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah, would be Christ? Did he mean that the angel had simply confirmed in his mind the specific name of the Messiah, something the Nephites already knew? The question is largely one of language: we know the Lord Jehovah as Jesus Christ, names that mean literally "the Lord is salvation" and "the Messiah or anointed one," respectively. The exact name by which Christ was known to other peoples of the past (and of different languages)--including the Nephites--is unknown to us. The complete name-title Jesus Christ is given for the first time by Nephi in 2 Nephi 25:19. For a more detailed discussion of this matter, see Theodore M. Burton, God's Greatest Gift (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 153-55. [Robert L. Millet, "Redemption Through the Holy Messiah," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 129]


Critics claim that the revelation of "Christ" to Jacob in 2 Nephi 10:3 is redundant, since the name "Jesus Christ" appears in the Original Manuscript and Printers Manuscript as being revealed to Nephi in what is now 1 Nephi 12:18. However, according to Matt Roper, here in 2 Nephi, Jacob never claimed that his information on Christ's name was unique, merely that an angel had reaffirmed that this was his name. Nephi, who inserted these teachings into his record on the small plates, explained that he quoted from his brother Jacob's writings not because they were unique but because they offered another witness that his own teachings and revelations were true. Thus, Nephi says, "And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him [Christ]; wherefore I will send their [Jacob and Isaiah's] words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true" (2 Nephi 11:3). [Matt Roper, "A More Perfect Priority?," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, Num. 1, pp. 366-367]

Note* We find a similar situation in King Benjamin's discourse at a still future place in the text of the Book of Mormon. Benjamin declares that "the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God" (Mosiah 3:2) He then proceeds to say that "the time cometh . . . that . . . the Lord Omnipotent . . . shall . . . dwell in a tabernacle of clay . . . And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning" (Mosiah 3:5, 8). Benjamin makes no claim that the name "Christ" is new, just that it was especially revealed to him, (making him a special witness of Christ). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 12:18; Mosiah 3:2,8]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary