Having prophesied that the Book of Mormon will have power to bring the apostate Jews and Gentiles to their Messiah, Nephi now tells us how that will happen. He tells us of the religious conditions into which the Book of Mormon will come.
While this verse through verse 5 appear in our historical perspective to be most indicative of the gentiles, it may nevertheless be descriptive of the Jews. When we remember that Nephi’s use of the term “churches” is broader than our modern definitions, his “churches” very easily encompass the various divisions among the Jews as well as among the gentiles. Nephi is describing a state of general apostasy where the understanding of men, however well-intentioned, substitutes for the dictates of God.