“He Shall Rise from the Dead, with Healing in His Wings”

Brant Gardner

Narrative: The “new” prophecy repeats the information that the Messiah will be crucified, as reported in 1 Nephi 11:33–34 (1 Ne. 11:33 states that the Messiah “was lifted up upon the cross”). The reference to “healing in his wings” reprises the theme of healing in 1 Nephi 11:31. Nephi notes that “all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” In the earlier recounting of this vision, he had noted that the Messiah was “slain for the sins of the world” (1 Ne. 11:33). Nephi understood that atonement for sin and salvation in the kingdom are related concepts.

Reference: Our text tells us that Jesus will “rise… with healing in his wings.” This is a literary reference to Malachi 4:2: “the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” Because Malachi postdates the departure of Lehi’s family from the Old World, however, it cannot be a direct quotation. (See commentary accompanying 1 Nephi 22:15 for more information on the use of Malachi in the Book of Mormon.) The concept of the Messiah rising with “wings” would be appropriate to Nephi’s time, as indicated by Isaiah’s winged seraphs in 2 Nephi 16:2 (Isa. 6:2). The wings were indicative of a being who belonged in the heavens, which certainly describes the risen Christ. The “healing” is perhaps a reference to the function of the king who controls access to the tree of life’s healing power.

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