Nephi, the son of Nephi, bridged the transition to a new dispensation, one defined by the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law through the visit and ministration of the resurrected Lord and Savior, who brought the new covenant of salvation and exaltation. Nephi came through a line of faithful progenitors—an uninterrupted sequence of fathers and sons in the first century BC that included Alma the Elder, Alma the Younger, Helaman the leader of the 2,000 stripling warriors, Helaman the chief judge, and the latter’s eldest son Nephi, who was Nephi’s father. Nephi, son of Nephi and great-great-grandson of Alma the Younger, was to become the first of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus Christ during His visit to Bountiful. Nephi’s righteousness and favor with the Lord are substantiated by scriptural accounts: he heard the voice of the Lord on the eve of His birth and on a subsequent occasion , he was visited daily by angels , he raised his brother Timothy from the dead ; he performed many miracles in the name of Jesus ; and he was ministered to and chosen as chief disciple by the resurrected Lord. Nephi was “a just man... cleansed every whit from his iniquity”. His role was one of preparing the way for the coming of the Lord.
History: At the conclusion of his earthly mission, around AD 1, Nephi, son of Helaman, conferred upon his eldest son Nephi the responsibility of shepherding the sacred records and associated materials handed down from the beginning of the sojourn in the Promised Land. During that period of time, the words of the prophets concerning the birth and mortal ministry of the Messiah, including the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite, began to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, disbelievers determined to slay the believers on a certain day if the ultimate sign—a day and a night and day without darkness—should not come to pass. Nephi prayed continuously throughout the day with great fervor on behalf of the people and was favored to hear the voice of the Savior assuring him that the promise was about to be fulfilled. “Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son—of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given”.
In this manner, the ministry of Nephi began to unfold. For years he preached, expounded, exhorted, baptized, and invoked the powers of heaven to bring his fellow citizens into the Master’s fold. Although peace and prosperity followed, they were countered by the influences of secret conspirators. Nevertheless, Nephi received the blessings of heaven to stand as an advocate for the gospel cause, and it was “not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily”.
With his fellow Saints, Nephi lived through the upheavals following the Lord’s Crucifixion and Atonement. When the resurrected Lord made His appearance in Bountiful in AD 34, Nephi was the first leader He called forth—the first one to receive the power to baptize. Nephi was also the first of the twelve disciples of Jesus to be mentioned by Mormon. When Nephi was baptized as part of the new dispensation, he then baptized all the others who had been chosen. Thereafter the Holy Ghost fell upon them and angels ministered unto them. Then Jesus Himself appeared again and ministered unto them.
In a miraculous outpouring of spiritual blessings, the Savior personally organized His Church and guided the new leadership in priesthood administration and service. In all of these proceedings, Nephi was a central participant. He was, in effect, the Peter of the American Church. He lived to enjoy the universal peace and tranquility that followed in the wake of the Savior’s visit and ministry. “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people”. By the time the first century AD had ended, “the disciples of Jesus, whom he had chosen, had all gone to the paradise of God, save it were the three who should tarry” —and thus Nephi had died with the passing of “the first generation from Christ”.