“Thou Wouldst Tell Us the Name Whereby We Shall Call This Church”

Brant Gardner

The connection between verses 1 and 2 is their prayer offered to the Father in Jesus’s name. The point is significant because, as already mentioned (see commentary accompanying 3 Nephi 13:7), ancient societies imbued the name with power, and folk religion viewed a name as capturing or invoking the essence of the person or thing named. Benjamin understood the importance of a name when he gave a new name to his people. When they made the new covenant, they became one. At that time, rather than Nephites, Mulekites, or even Zarahemlaites, he named them “children of Christ” (Mosiah 5:7).

Thus, in Mormon’s symbolically charged view, Jesus appears at the moment the twelve call upon the Father in Jesus’s name. It should not be interpreted as magical; Jesus was not compelled to appear by the enunciation of his name. Rather, he honored the faith the twelve showed and his covenant relationship with them when they approached the Father by using the form he had instituted, including his own name. Mormon simply underlines the event.

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