“The Joy of the Saints”

Alan C. Miner

While some have viewed Enos as being wayward before his episode of repentance while in the woods to hunt, one can also view his statements to mean that he was young, and that in his youthful ways he hadn't viewed life from as mature of perspective as his heritage dictated. Enos said that he knew that his father was a just man because he taught him in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Enos 1:1). Enos also said that he had "often heard [his] father speak concerning eternal life and the joy of the saints" (Enos 1:3) and that one day these words finally "sunk deep in [his] heart," which inspired him to make supplications before the Lord. A similar scenario occurred in the life of a 14 year-old boy named Joseph Smith. If Joseph was only 14 when he received his calling, then Enos could very well have been near the same age, and some 6-7 years away from receiving the plates, just like Joseph. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


According to Cleon Skousen, the reader should note that the word "saints" is used throughout the Old Testament (and not merely the New Testament) to describe the members of God's Church (see for example Daniel 7:18-27; Deuteronomy 33:3; Zechariah 14:5). The word denotes those who have consecrated their lives to God under a solemn covenant. (see Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 14, pp. 352-353). [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, p. 2006]

Enos 1:4 All the day long I did cry unto him ([Illustration]): Enos Praying [Steven Lloyd Neal, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 5]

Enos 1:4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker ([Illustration]): Enos Praying. "And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer." Artist: Robert T. Barrett. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 174]

Enos 1:4 I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer ([Illustration]): Enos Praying. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #305]

“Eternal Life and the Joy of the Saints”

Enos relates that he had often heard his father Jacob speak "concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints" (Enos 1:3). David Seely notes that in the writings of Jacob, Jacob refers to "life eternal" and "eternal life" three times, always in the context of the need for repentance: "Remember to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal" (2 Nephi 9:39; see also 2 Nephi 10:23) "O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life" (Jacob 6:11).

While the phrase "joy of the saints" does not occur in the teachings of Jacob, synonymous phrases do occur. The occurrence that is most likely an antecedent for the language of Enos is a combination of both "joy" and "saints" in 2 Nephi 9:18: "But, behold, the righteous saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever." This verse gives us a good definition of a saint. It also explains "the joy of the saints". It is worthy of note that the word joy occurs six times in Jacob's writings, twice in the words of Isaiah (2 Nephi 8:3, 11), once in the context of the hoped-for effects of receiving the words (Jacob 4:3), and three times in the allegory of the olive trees (Jacob 5:60, 71, 75). In light of Enos' concern for his brethren and his lifelong efforts to convert them to the gospel, it may be significant that joy is explicitly related to missionary work in the Lord's invitation: "If ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself" (Jacob 5:75).

That "the joy of the saints" is closely related to the idea of eternal life is further supported by Lehi's statement in his vision of the tree of life when he said, "the fruit thereof . . . filled my soul with exceedingly great joy" (1 Nephi 8:12). [David R. Seely, "Enos and the Words concerning Eternal Life" in The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy, pp. 242-243]

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