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Lesson Plan for the Introductory Pages of the Book of Mormon


The scriptures and the prophets often use a carrot-and-stick approach to get us to do things that will bring us closer to Jesus Christ. This takes the form of "if you will do _____ the Lord promises ______". As we begin our study of The Book of Mormon, let's look at a few such promises prophets, seers, and revelators have given regarding a faithful study of the book.

President Nelson recently taught:

"My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions." (1)

 President Hinckley once promised:

"Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God." (2)

President Marion G. Romney once promised:

"I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness." (3)

In the world in which we live today, who wouldn't want these promised blessings individually and for our families? In another recent General Conference talk, President Romney is quoted as promising "If [we] would read the Book of Mormon to [our] children every day, [we] would not lose them" (see here). As we begin our study, I would beg you to let these promises work inside you to make a commitment to immerse yourself and your family in the Book of Mormon this year. 


The Title Page of The Book of Mormon was the last item Moroni wrote in the entire record. Joseph Smith said that "the Title Page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side..." (2). If the title page was originally written, per se, by Nephi or Lehi we would not have it as it would have been lost when the 116 pages of the manuscript were lost by Martin Harris. For this reason, it is written as the last thing, it is sort of prophetic on Moroni's part. Understanding that it came last contextualizes it a bit as well. For instance, Moroni writes it while he has been on the run for decades as the last surviving Nephite. Some scholars, like Grant Hardy and John W. Welch, have noted the literary masterpiece that this title page is as it uses poetic parallelism and triads (3). You lose the balanced and intricate structure that exists in it by looking at the format we have in our current edition of the scriptures. Therefore, while Moroni is on the run and all alone he took the time to write us a powerful message in a masterful way. John W. Welch states:

"Moroni likely pondered and prayed over this text, especially as he wandered widely and kept himself out of harm’s way during the twenty-one years after he had finished his work on the book of Ether. With this final one-page text in place, Moroni could rest assured that he had honorably completed the sacred assignment that his father Mormon had entrusted to him... the words and phrases of the Title Page have been carefully chosen and arranged. The Title Page clearly articulates the essentials of the Book of Mormon. It states the who, the what, the when, the why, the whence, and the wherefore of the sacred volume that it now introduces, or—as one may also state—that it was written to conclude. Certainly, producing this concluding summation took considerable time, keen deliberation, and intimate familiarity with the entire volume." (4)




Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ."


What power do you find in Moroni's concluding statement? How might understanding Moroni's utter aloneness inform how we read this?

According to Moroni, what purpose does The Book of Mormon Serve?

There appears to be a threefold purpose in which all three are very heavily related:

1. To show the remnant of the House of Israel the great things the Lord had done for their fathers.

2. To bring a knowledge of the covenants of the Lord unto the remnant House of Israel.

3. To convince Jew and Gentile (all people) that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, and that he manifests himself unto all nations.

One Latter-Day Saint scholar, Scott Woodward, puts these three purposes into a metaphor that can help us in our study of The Book of Mormon. He compares them to a three-speaker surround sound system, with a left speaker, a right speaker, and a rich sound bar in the middle. If you have ever dealt with a surround sound system, you can really tell when one speaker goes out or is not turned on. We still get very rich sound from other areas, but one area of our peripheral hearing is going completely unused and, therefore, it is less immersive. Scott Woodward suggests that if we consciously read The Book of Mormon with all three speakers in our mind, all the sudden parts that we saw with little applicability for us before open up to us. (5) Frankly, we might begin to get a glimpse of what Isaiah is talking about and how Nephi and others use him in the book. We have been training ourselves for the past two years with our deep study of the Old and New Testament to understand these things better.

Speaking of the ancient covenants made to the House of Israel, President Nelson has explained:

"The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a tangible sign to the entire world that the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill covenants that He made to father Abraham, repeated to Isaac and to Jacob. We not only teach this concept, but we get to participate in it. We get to do so as we help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil... The great promise that all nations would be blessed by the posterity of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has yet to be fulfilled... The people of the other parts of the world — Africa, Asia and the islands of the sea — are just as precious as is this land. And so we go about our duty. The promise of the gathering is woven through the fabric of the scriptures. It will be fulfilled just as surely as were the prophecies concerning the scattering of Israel... We are all reminded that the gathering of Israel is not an ultimate endpoint; it is a beginning." (6)

Too many, myself included, read The Book of Mormon with one or two of those speakers shut off in our minds. It is my opinion that this might be why President Nelson lamented recently, "Whenever I hear anyone, including myself, say, “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” I want to exclaim, “That’s nice, but it is not enough!"" (7) 

I personally find comfort in a paradigm shift in the last line of the title page. The Book of Mormon never claims to be infallible. Joseph Smith never claimed it either, but he did once say that it is "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (8).


How might we reconcile Joseph's statement with Moroni's statement about faults and mistakes perhaps being found in the Book of Mormon? How can that inform our understanding of how God works among people like ourselves?

It could be that The Book of Mormon itself is a symbol and/or microcosm of what Christ meant when he said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (see 2 Corinthians 12:9)


In all, there were 12 official witnesses to the gold plates (Joseph Smith, the three witnesses, and then the eight witnesses). That is an interesting number given the quorum of the twelve was not officially called until 5 years after The Book of Mormon was originally published. For this lesson, we will focus on the testimony of the three witnesses due to the more spiritual and revelatory nature of their experience.



Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery

David Whitmer

Martin Harris"

The Three witnesses saw more than just the plates and an angel. In a revelation given to the eventual three witnesses, the Lord told them the following:

READ D&C 17:1-5

"1 Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea.

2 And it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.

3 And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God;

4 And this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work.

5 And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith."

According to D&C 17, they were shown many other Nephite artifacts. For application purposes, it is worth pointing out that all three of these men were excommunicated from the Church later in life (Martin Harris does return later). As far as we know, none of them recanted their testimonies but did quite the opposite even within their excommunicated state. Martin Harris is worth singling out here because just a few months to a year earlier he lost the 116-page manuscript. In a short period, we have the Lord comparing Martin's faith to prophets of old. It might show us how quick repentance can work in our lives, especially for those like Martin who feel like they "have lost their soul". (9)


What can the lives of these three witnesses teach us about spiritual privileges, repentance, and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon?

As a side note, and only review this if time permits, it is worth pointing out the strong relationship all the artifacts the three witnesses beheld with ancient Israel's Ark of the Covenant. Scripture Central summarized the findings of Latter-Day Saint scholar, Don Bradly, in the chart below: (10)

Nephite Relics

Israelite Relics


Hill Cumorah

Jerusalem Temple Mount

There is evidence that early Latter-day Saints associated the Hill Cumorah (where Joseph Smith located the Nephite artifacts) with a temple site. Likewise, the Ark of the Covenant was a central feature of the temple mount architecture of Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem.5

Stone Box

Gold Ark


The Book of Mormon was written on golden tablets and placed in a stone box. In an inverse parallel, the Ten Commandments were written on stone tablets and placed in a gold box (see Exodus 37:1–2).6

Gold Plates

Stone Tablets

Gold Head Plate

Both the Book of Mormon and the Ten Commandments are permanent, engraved documents containing the words and laws of God. In addition, the high priest in ancient Israel wore a gold head plate engraved with sacred words (see Exodus 39:2–3, 30; Leviticus 8:9). This is the only place in the Hebrew Bible that specifically describes engraving text onto gold.7


Urim and Thummim

There is biblical evidence that the high priestly ephod (a high priestly garment associated with the Urim and Thummim and Breastplate of Judgment) was contained in the Tabernacle (see 1 Samuel 21:9). Moreover, the Nephite interpreters and the biblical Urim and Thummim have a number of similarities. Both have been associated with gemstones, a breastplate, light, illuminating letters, and a lively mode of prophetic revelation.8



Breastplate of Judgment

The Nephite breastplate appears to have been linked to the interpreters (they were apparently made to be connected by a rod), just as the biblical Urim and Thummum was associated with the ephod and Breastplate of Judgment (Leviticus 8:9).9 Interestingly, both the Israelite breastplate and the Nephite breastplate may have had a pocket or pouch that was specifically designed to keep the interpreters or Urim and Thummum.10


Pot of Manna

Aaron’s Rod

Brazen Serpent

Urim and Thummim

The functionality and symbolism of the Liahona overlaps with several relics associated with the Ark of the Covenant. Like the Israelite Manna, the Liahona was discovered on the ground, was round in shape, and helped provide sustenance. A pot of Manna was stored in the Ark for remembrance, just like the Liahona was stored with other Nephite relics in a stone box. Like Aaron’s rod, the Liahona’s rod-like pointers (as well as its writings) served as a type of divinely approved divination instrument. Like the Brazen Serpent, those who looked upon the Liahona were saved, and both items were made of brass or bronze (which have essentially the same meaning in the KJV). Finally, much like the Urim and Thummim, the Liahona served as a revelatory device that communicated specific instructions from the Lord.11

Sword of Laban

Sword of Goliath

The Sword of Goliath was kept in the tabernacle near the ephod (see 1 Samuel 21:9), just as the Sword of Laban was kept with the Nephite relics. Further parallels have been noted by Brett Holbrook:12

  1. Each sword was originally wielded by a man of might.
  2. Each sword’s owner had his head cut off with his own sword by a faithful youth.
  3. Each sword was finely crafted for its time and was unique.
  4. Each sword was revered by the people.
  5. Each sword was used to lead people.
  6. Each sword was a symbol of authority and kingship.

Given its strong relationship, it might be correct to say that the three witnesses beheld the Nephite Ark that they kept within their own temples.  It does highlight that The Book of Mormon draws heavily on ancient teachings about temples. It might be another study tip to consider as we venture into the book this year to see the temple in it that we perhaps have not seen before. Said another way, it could be that a large part of those covenants made with the fathers spoken of on the title page are those same covenants we make in the temple which, according to President Nelson, "are [also] ancient." (11)

Elder Neal Maxwell once eloquently wrote of The Book of Mormon:

"For me, towers, courtyards, and wings await inspection. My tour of it has never been completed. Some rooms I have yet to enter, and there are more flaming fireplaces waiting to warm me. Even the rooms I have glimpsed contain further furnishings and rich detail yet to be savored. There are panels inlaid with incredible insights and design and decor dating from Eden. There are also sumptuous banquet tables painstakingly prepared by predecessors which await all of us. Yet, we as Church members sometimes behave like hurried tourists, scarcely venturing beyond the entry hall to the mansion.

May we come to feel as a whole people beckoned beyond the entry hall. May we go inside far enough to hear clearly the whispered truths from those who have “slumbered,” which whisperings will awaken in us individually the life of discipleship as never before." (12)


For this portion of the lesson, I have asked 4 members of my ward to share in a minute or two a personal study tip or a powerful lesson they have learned from the Book of Mormon.

If time permits, here are some more tips from me in addition to the ones I shared earlier in the lesson:

1. Keep Christ at the forefront and see him within the two other purposes of The Book of Mormon, as stated earlier. Let's not just try to learn about His atonement, but look for anything and everything the book will teach you about Him.

2. Refashion in your mind what it means to "liken the scriptures unto [yourself]" (see 1 Nephi 19:23). It is wholly appropriate and recommended to seek personal counsel in your life from scripture, but also keep in mind what Nephi and other prophets do when they "liken." In short, and I credit Joseph Spencer for this insight, when Nephi is likening the scriptures he is exclusively quoting Isaiah and interpreting the visions and revelations through the covenants God has made with his and our fathers. This tip is highly related to the speaker metaphor, but I find it worth pointing out that Nephi's likening means seeing ourselves, families, gentiles, and others within the covenantal context that has, again, ancient origins. We risk blinding ourselves due to our good intentions if we can't listen to all three speakers in the Book of Mormon. For more information on this idea, see here.

3. The gospel is simple and the message of The Book of Mormon is simple. We don't want to risk overcomplicating things, but we also don't want to let the pendulum swing so far that we oversimplify and, as a result, misinterpret or misunderstand things. We might even choose not to understand something and, therefore, tacitly admit that we think scripture and the Lord are filled with 'idle words'. For example, Nephi often uses the term 'plain' in his writings. When we understand that he describes Isaiah as 'plain' it should force us to rethink our expectations of the text. Nephi goes on to describe that 'plainness' has everything to do with the spirit of revelation and the spirit of prophecy (see 2 Nephi 25:4). He uses the term in such a way that goes against the grain a bit in our modern understanding. To put this succinctly, I borrow a line from Oliver Wendell Holmes, "I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." (13) If we are to take the Lord's command seriously to treasure up the Book of Mormon (see D&C 84:56-57), that implies a full excavation of the book, like Elder Maxwell says above. It will result in mature simplicity. It will result in us truly having given all our hearts, minds, and strength in our discipleship.

4. Don't fall for the trap that you think you know enough about the Book of Mormon so that it doesn't have many hidden treasures to teach you! A wonderful article from this months Liahona covers that well. It was written by a student of one of my favorite Latter-day Saint Scholars, Joseph Spencer: What More Could I Learn from the Book of Mormon? A Lot!

5. The last recommendation is to use the plethora of tools at our disposal to help make sense of The Book of Mormon. A good starter list of these tools is listed on the Church's website, see here. The Scripture Citation Index comes in app form and is a great and quick way to pull the way scripture has been used in General Conference. Book of Mormon Central is the gold standard when it comes to providing easily digestible items to help deepen your scripture study. BYU Religious Studies Center also has a very wide range of free articles that can be pulled to learn more about a particular theme or idea we find in the Book of Mormon.


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