The Sermon on the Mount Repeated

Church Educational System
The Sermon on the Mount is the Lord’s blueprint for perfection. Of this sermon Elder Harold B. Lee said:

“Christ came not only into the world to make an atonement for the sins of mankind but to set an example before the world of the standard of perfection of God’s law and of obedience to the Father. In his Sermon on the Mount the Master has given us somewhat of a revelation of his own character, which was perfect, or what might be said to be ‘an autobiography, every syllable of which he had written down in deeds, ’ and in so doing has given us a blueprint for our own lives”

(Decisions for Successful Living, pp. 55–56).

There are several additions or changes in the Book of Mormon sermon which add a great deal of light and knowledge about the teachings found therein. Book of Mormon critics often ask, “If Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates thousands of years old, how come they use the identical language of the King James Version, which was written in 1611?” Hugh Nibley answered that question in the following manner:

“As to the ‘passages lifted bodily from the King James Version, ’ we first ask, ‘How else does one quote scripture if not “bodily?”’ And why should anyone quoting the Bible to American readers of 1830 not follow the only version of the Bible known to them?

“Actually the Bible passages quoted in the Book of Mormon often differ from the King James Version, but where the latter is correct there is every reason why it should be followed. When Jesus and the Apostles and, for that matter, the Angel Gabriel quote the Scriptures in the New Testament do they recite from some mysterious Urtext? Do they quote the prophets of old in the ultimate original? Or do they give their own inspired translations? No, they do not. They quote the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Old Testament prepared in the 3rd CenturyB.C. Why so? Because that happened to be the received standard version of the Bible accepted by the readers of the Greek New Testament.

“When ‘holy men of God’ quote the scriptures it is always the received standard version of the people they are addressing.

“We do not claim that the King James Version [or] the Septuagint are the original scriptures—in fact nobody on earth today knows where the original scriptures are or what they say. Inspired men have in every age been content to accept the received version of the people among whom they labored, with the Spirit giving correction where correction was necessary.

“Since the Book of Mormon is a translation, … into English for English-speaking people whose fathers for generations had known no other scriptures but the standard English Bible, it would be both pointless and confusing to present the scriptures to them in any other form so far as their teachings were correct”

(“Literary Style Used in Book of Mormon Insured Accurate Translation,” Church News, 29 July 1961, p. 10).

Insights From the Book of Mormon Sermon

The following items help illustrate insights gained from the Book of Mormon sermon:

  1. “The salt of the earth” (3 Nephi 12:13). The Bible account reads, “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). The Book of Mormon account indicates that to be “the salt of the earth” is a goal for which members of the Church should strive. In the Mosaic sacrificial ritual, salt was a token of covenants with God (see Numbers 18:19, 2 Chronicles 13:5). In a similar sense, Saints should be tokens or symbols of the Christlike life. Doctrine and Covenants 101:39–40 indicates what one must do to be accounted as the “salt of the earth.”
  2. “Whosoever is angry with his brother” (3 Nephi 12:22). The New Testament account of the Savior’s teachings is, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:22). The Savior’s teachings on this subject in the Book of Mormon are the same except that the phrase “without a cause” is deleted.
  3. “If ye shall come unto me” (3 Nephi 12:23). The Bible says, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar” (Matthew 5:23). The Book of Mormon clarifies this by stating that we cannot come unto Christ and at the same time have harsh feelings toward our fellowmen.
  4. “Suffer none of these things to enter into your heart” (3 Nephi 12:29). The Book of Mormon account completely drops the biblical command, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out… . If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off” (Matthew 5:29–30). These verses in the New Testament, which are obviously symbolical admonitions, have raised many questions among Bible readers. The Book of Mormon account clarifies the intended meaning of how one avoids lust: “Suffer none of these things to enter into your heart; … deny yourselves of these things” (3 Nephi 12:29–30). The Savior’s statement can also better be understood through Book of Mormon examples of how a true saint accepts persecution (see Helaman 3:33–35, 3 Nephi 6:13). We are to accept suffering and persecution patiently, prayerfully, and humbly.
  5. “I would that ye should be perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith commented on this perfection:
  6. “Vain repetitions” (3 Nephi 13:7). The word vain means empty, hollow, deceiving, lacking genuineness. Vain repetitions in prayer can refer to words or phrases that are used without real thought, feeling, or meaning. It can also refer to set prayers that are repeated over and over. An example is the Zoramites’ rote prayer from the Rameumptom, which was thoughtlessly repeated each week (see Alma 31:14–22). For additional insight into what constitutes vain prayers, see Alma 34:28.
  7. The Lord’s Prayer (see 3 Nephi 13:9–13). The prayer Jesus offered here drops the phrase, “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). The reason may be that Jesus established his church and, therefore, the kingdom had come.
  8. “Take … no thought for the morrow” (3 Nephi 13:34). The Book of Mormon clarifies the meaning of Matthew 6:25–32 by indicating that Jesus was speaking to his chosen Twelve for this portion of the sermon (see 3 Nephi 13:25–34). The Book of Mormon further clarifies this point by saying that after Jesus delivered this charge to the Twelve, he then turned and began to speak to the multitude again (see 3 Nephi 14:1).

Book of Mormon Student Manual (1996 Edition)