“We Know Our Record to Be True”

Brant Gardner

Text: This chapter is one of the most important in all of Mormon’s text, as it will describe the appearance of the resurrected Messiah in the New World. There can be no greater moment in history than when human beings come face to face with their God, and it happens in this chapter. Because of this chapter’s importance, Mormon begins with a testimony, specifically confirming: “We know our record to be true.” This significant event is a matter of record, created by a “just man.” Mormon also testifies to the testifier. As documented in the previous chapter, Nephi performed miracles, and “there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity.” Mormon is proclaiming that Nephi is a true recorder of a true event.

As Mormon has done before, he explains that the record of Nephi is his source (3 Ne. 5–10), a record originally separate from the large-plate tradition. The reason for Mormon’s chapter break is obvious. He has been leading up to the Messiah’s arrival; now that climactic moment has come. Mormon begins this chapter by linking it to the prophet and miracles that ended his previous chapter, to assert that righteousness also continued.

Mormon’s portrait of Nephite society is a sharp before-and-after contrast. The “before” picture shows a tribal society, one without a central government, filled with hardened unbelievers who reject even the greatest of miracles. Yet there are also, among these unbelievers, men of faith sufficient to perform these miracles. The results are an equally stark contrast: the destruction of the wicked and the blessing of the righteous. Mormon has brought both segments of society to the moment of this transforming event.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5