“But There Is a God, and He Is Christ”

Brant Gardner

These verses must be read as a single passage, or the unusual negative argument in verse 6 may be confusing. Its reversal in verse 7, however, shows that the negations significantly underline the positive declaration; “but there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.”

Nephi’s equation of God and Christ reflects his understanding that Yahweh, Israel’s creator and God, will become the Atoning Messiah. Latter-day Saints accept this concept easily, since they identify Jehovah (Yahweh) as Jesus’s premortal name and role. Nephi does not (at least, at this point) complete what we would consider the full organization of the Godhead by defining the Father as separate from Yahweh. Nevertheless, he would have understood this Father as El. (See1 Nephi, Part 1: Context, Chapter 1, “The Historical Setting of 1 Nephi” and “Excursus: The Nephite Understanding of God,” following 1 Nephi 11.) Nephi understands from his vision that the Messiah will be resurrected and therefore sees him in his eternal, not temporal role. According to Nephi’s visionary understanding, the resurrected and triumphant Messiah already occupies a position of glory.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2