“He Did Expound All Things Unto Them”

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

Some dozen times in Mormon’s account of the Savior’s visit to His Saints in the New World the words expound or expounded, teach or taught are used concerning the Savior’s ministry among the people. He truly instructs them in a masterful way concerning the plan of salvation and the kind of life they should lead in order to gain salvation and eternal life. Elder Bruce R. McConkie states:

Who has seen such marvelous things as Jesus did among the Nephites? And who has heard such wondrous words of divine wisdom as fell from his lips on the American continent? … Jesus “did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory” [3 Nephi 26:3.]… . In the providences of the Lord, we have slivers and fragments of what Jesus gave the Nephites. Sections 29, 45, 63, 76, 77, 88, 93, 101, 107, 132, 133, and 138 in the Doctrine and Covenants, and the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, all contain truths of transcendent worth about the doings of Deity from the beginning to the end. (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979–1981], 4:368–369)

It is clearly the purpose of the Lord to teach the people with such clarity and thoroughness that they can understand all things from the beginning to the end. The fulness of the Restoration will lead to “a time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld” (D&C 121:28). The Savior’s visit to the ancient American Saints provided a foretaste of that glorious promise as He “did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth” (3 Nephi 26:3). One of the greatest blessings of God to mankind is the endowment of truth and knowledge He bestows on His faithful and devout followers. As Alma taught: “and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full” (Alma 12:10).

We are to emulate the Savior in the process of expounding the scriptures. Elder John A. Widtsoe said the following concerning “the duty of the members after they are received by baptism… . The Elders or Priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the Church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the Sacrament and being confirmed by the laying on of hands of the Elders, so that all things may be done in order.—D&C 20:68” (Priesthood and Church Government [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939], 352). The word expound comes from a Latin word exponere, meaning to place outside of, or away from. Thus the Lord here transfers truths from within Himself and outward into the sphere of His listeners so that they could absorb and inculcate these principles into their lives. We learn from modern revelation that “the scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect” (D&C 35:20). This is the process the Savior uses in “expounding” saving truths for His people—from His bosom into theirs.

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2