“That He May Draw All Men Unto Him”

Brant Gardner

This verse follows the declaration that “God worketh not in darkness,” but is not a continuation of the theme, but rather a contrast. Implicit in Nephi’s text is the conjunction “God worketh not in darkness, but rather he doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world.”

To this point, this is simply a statement of the love of Christ for the world. The next phrase is rather problematic, however, for it reverses the positive declaration into a declaration of a negation. The clear statement of what the Messiah does not is followed with a statement of what he does not do. He does not command anyone “that they shall not partake of his salvation.” This gives us an odd use of the negative in a sentence. Why doesn’t Nephi state that the Lord commands all to partake in his salvation? Why doesn’t Nephi use the more positive assertion?

The literary reason is that Nephi is emphasizing something that should not be done. However, with the continued examples of this literary negation in the following verses, it may also have reference to a situation that Nephi understands to have been done - perhaps only prophetically, perhaps in his own history.

In the context of the secret combinations, Nephi is arguing against secret gospels. He is arguing against either a philosophy or a community which would exclude (and condemn) those who did not have the “secrets” of the community.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon