“I Come Unto My Own to Do the Will, Both of the Father and of the Son”

Brant Gardner

The terminology in this verse is significant. As has been discussed in this commentary, the Nephite understanding of God was that God was Jehovah, and that it was Jehovah would literally come to this earth as the Messiah. This verse continues to demonstrate this theme and understanding. Nephi is praying to God, and God responds with the very personal “I.” Furthermore, the Nephite understanding of the relationship between Father and Son is not as complete as the modern revealed doctrine. Thus we have another statement of the Father/Son relationship in which both Father and Son reside in the same person: “the Father because of me” is an indication of the Father in the heavenly role, and “the Son because of my flesh” indicates the earthly role. Of course there are distinctions to be made between the Father and the Son, but there is a sense in which the Nephites understood Jehovah as the Father, and the Messiah as the Son. Since both Jehovah and the Messiah are the same person, that is the pre-mortal and the mortal Jesus, their understanding is, in this particular point, completely correct. What the Nephites did not clearly understand was the relationship of Jehovah, as the pre-moral Christ, to the God the Father, as the ultimate director of all creation. Of course the fact that Jesus-as-Jehovah was lead in the creative effort makes for an even closer association between Jehovah and the Father, a clarification that is available through modern scriptures. Talmage explains:

“We claim scriptural authority for the assertion that Jesus Christ was and is God the Creator, the God who revealed Himself to Adam, Enoch, and all the antediluvial patriarchs and prophets down to Noah; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God of Israel as a united people, and the God of Ephraim and Judah after the disruption of the Hebrew nation; the God who made Himself known to the prophets from Moses to Malachi; the God of the Old Testament record; and the God of the Nephites. We affirm that Jesus Christ was and is Jehovah, the Eternal One.

The scriptures specify three personages in the Godhead: (1) God the Eternal Father, (2) His Son Jesus Christ, and (3) the Holy Ghost. These constitute the Holy Trinity, comprising three physically separate and distinct individuals, who together constitute the presiding council of the heavens. At least two of these appear as directing participants in the work of creation; this fact is instanced by the plurality expressed in Genesis: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”; and later, in the course of consultation concerning Adam’s act of transgression, “the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us. ”From the words of Moses, as revealed anew in the present dispensation, we learn more fully of the Gods who were actively engaged in the creation of this earth: “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Then, further, with regard to the condition of Adam after the fall: “I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten: Behold, the man is become as one of us. ”In the account of the creation recorded by Abraham, “the Gods” are repeatedly mentioned.

As heretofore shown in another connection, the Father operated in the work of creation through the Son, who thus became the executive through whom the will, commandment, or word of the Father was put into effect. It is with incisive appropriateness therefore, that the Son, Jesus Christ, is designated by the apostle John as the Word; or as declared by the Father “the word of my power. The part taken by Jesus Christ in the creation, a part so prominent as to justify our calling Him the Creator, is set forth in many scriptures. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews refers in this wise distinctively to the Father and the Son as separate though associated Beings: ”God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. “Paul is even more explicit in his letter to the Colossians, wherein, speaking of Jesus the Son, he says: ”For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. “And here let be repeated the testimony of John, that by the Word, who was with God, and who was God even in the beginning, all things were made; ”and without him was not anything made that was made."

That the Christ who was to come was in reality God the Creator was revealed in plainness to the prophets on the western hemisphere. Samuel, the converted Lamanite, in preaching to the unbelieving Nephites justified his testimony as follows: “And also that ye might know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things, from the beginning; and that ye might know of the signs of his coming, to the intent that ye might believe on his name.”  (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to Holy Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1970], 32-33

The Nephites clearly have the correct understanding of Jehovah. His role as creator had been revealed. His role as Messiah had been revealed. All of this is absolutely correct. What they did not understand as fully as modern revelation has given us, is the relationship of Jehovah to his Father. It is at this point that Nephite religious rhetoric meshes the concepts of Father into the person of the Messiah.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon