Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, May 19

Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 6 of 6” by grego

Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 6 of 6”
by grego
(c) 2005-2009

Ether 12:27–“Weakness” or “WeaknessES”?


Part 1

Part 5

It is not only possible, or probable, but certain, that a prophet of God is a man not only capable of human mistakes and frailties, but that he commits them. There is no need for anyone to ask, for example, “How could Joseph Smith, an imperfect man, have been a prophet?!?”

I believe one of the biggest stumbling blocks the Gentiles have is the belief that a prophet must be perfect. It is not true, and very importantly, it has *never* been true. There has only been and there will only be one perfect person, and that was Jesus Christ. All others are perfected through Him, through his grace and their faith, repentance, and obedience.

Prophets are holy men, but they are not perfect; however godly they might be, they are still mortal, and being mortal, they are subject to all mortality. Unless they have been given very special powers from God to overcome the mortal sphere while still in it—such as the Three Nephites—they will always be subject to what everyone else is subject to.

The Book of Mormon prophet-king Benjamin sums it up quite well:
Mosiah 2:9 And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, YOU THAT CAN HEAR MY WORDS WHICH I SHALL SPEAK UNTO YOU THIS DAY; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should HEARKEN UNTO ME, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds THAT THE MYSTERIES OF GOD MAY BE UNFOLDED TO YOUR VIEW.
Mosiah 2:10 I have NOT COMMANDED YOU to come up hither that ye should fear me, or THAT YE SHOULD THINK THAT I OF MYSELF AM MORE THAN A MORTAL MAN.
Mosiah 2:11 But I AM LIKE AS YOURSELVED, SUBJECT TO ALL MANNER OF INFIRMITIES IN BODY AND MIND; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was SUFFERED BY THE HAND OF THE LORD that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been KEPT AND PRESERVED BY HIS MATCHLESS POWER, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.
Mosiah 2:26 And I, EVEN I, whom YE CALL YOUR KING, AM NO BETTER THAN YE YOURSELVES ARE; for I am also of the dust. And ye behold that I am old, and am about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth.
Mosiah 2:27 Therefore, as I said unto you that I had served you, walking with a CLEAR CONSCIENCE BEFORE GOD, even so I at this time have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I MIGHT BE FOUND BLAMELESS, and that your blood should not come upon me, when I SHALL STAND TO BE JUDGED OF GOD OF THE THINGS WHEREOF HE HATH COMMANDED ME CONCERNING YOU.
Mosiah 2:30 For even at this time, my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you; but the LORD GOD DOTH SUPPORT ME, and hath SUFFERED ME THAT I SHOULD SPEAK UNTO YOU, and hath commanded me that I should declare unto you this day, that my son Mosiah is a king and a ruler over you.

LDS need to leave behind the current typical interpretation of Ether 12:27 and use the one the writers had in mind, which places emphasis on our weakness of being mortals and the need of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We will be reminded that the weak things (mortals) will be made strong (first men and women of God, and then gods).


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Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 5 of 6” by grego

Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 5 of 6”
by grego
(c) 2005-2009

Ether 12:27–“Weakness” or “WeaknessES”?


Start at Part 1

Part 4

The Book of Mormon is not the only book to speak like this. The Doctrine and Covenants is also full of this language, and similar meaning instead of the typical Ether 12:27 interpretation:

Doctrine and Covenants 1:24: Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given to my servants in THEIR WEAKNESS, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

Doctrine and Covenants 35:17 And I have sent fort the fulness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Jospeh; and in WEAKNESS have I blessed him…
Doctrine and Covenants 35:19 wherefore, WATCH OVER HIM THAT HIS FAITH FAIL NOT…

Doctrine and Covenants 38:13 And now I show unto you a mystery, a thing which is had in secret chambers, to bring to pass even your destruction in process of time, and ye knew it not;
Doctrine and Covenants 38:14 But now I tell it unto you, and ye are blessed, NOT BECAUSE OF YOUR INIQUITY, NEITHER YOUR HEARTS OF UNBELIEF; for verily SOME OF YOU ARE GUILTY BEFORE ME, but I will be merciful unto your WEAKNESS.
Doctrine and Covenants 38:15 Therefore, be ye STRONG from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours.

Doctrine and Covenants 50:16 (40, 41 fear not, little children) Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves: nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is WEAK among you hereafter shall be made STRONG.

Doctrine and Covenants 62:1 Behold, and hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the WEAKNESS of MAN, and HOW TO SUCCOR THEM WHO ARE TEMPTED.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:106 And if any man among you be STRONG in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is WEAK, that he may be EDIFIED IN ALL MEEKNESS, that he may become STRONG also.

Perhaps the best fit from the Bible is this passage:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR THEE: FOR MY STRENGTH IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN AM I STRONG.” (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

Part 6

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Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 4 of 6” by grego

Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 4 of 6”
by grego
(c) 2005-2009

Ether 12:27–“Weakness” or “WeaknessES”?


Start at Part 1

Part 3

Here is another place that shows that great faith help the weak ones to overcome their weakness, not weaknesses, and be made strong in the Lord:
“Behold, now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked round about again on the multitude, and he said unto them: Behold, my time is at hand” (3 Nephi 17:1).
“I perceive that YE ARE WEAK, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time” (3 Nephi 17:2).
“Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again” (3 Nephi 17:3).

And yet, these people received truly unspeakable blessings a few moments later, and Jesus says this about their faith:
3 Nephi 17:8 For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that YOUR FAITH IS SUFFICIENT that I should heal you.
3 Nephi 17:20 And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: BLESSED ARE YE BECAUSE OF YOUR FAITH. And now behold, my joy is full.

Nephi writes of his shortcomings and his need for God:
2 Nephi 4:16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
2 Nephi 4:17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
2 Nephi 4:18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
2 Nephi 4:19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
2 Nephi 4:20 My God hath been my support…

Nephi comments on his own writing:
“AND now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1) …
“But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry” (2 Nephi 33:3)
“And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in WEAKNESS will be made STRONG unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal” (2 Nephi 33:4)

Reminders by Mormon and Moroni (note that these all came before Ether 12):
Title Page: 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.
Mormon 8:17 And IF THERE BE FAULTS THEY BE THE FAULTS OF A MAN. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemneth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire.
Mormon 8:12 And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of THE IMPERFECTIONS WHICH ARE IN IT, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I WOULD MAKE ALL THINGS KNOWN UNTO YOU.
Mormon 9:31 CONDEMN ME NOT BECAUSE OF MINE IMPERFECTION (not “imperfectionS”), neither MY FATHER, BECAUSE OF HIS IMPERFECTION (not “imperfectionS”), neither THEM WHO HAVE WRITTEN BEFORE HIM; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.

And then this: Ether 12:40 “And only a few have I written, because of my WEAKNESS in writing”.

Yet Moroni understands, through seeking and finding Jesus, we receive grace:
Ether 12:41 “And now, I would commend you to SEEK THIS JESUS of whom the prophets and apostles have written, THAT THE GRACE OF GOD the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, MAY BE AND ABIDE IN YOU FOREVER. Amen”.

The story of Nephi the third great prophet is interesting. He has such great faith that he constantly works miracles:
3 Nephi 7:18 And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were 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… and HE DID ALSO DO MANY MORE MIRACLES, in the sight of the people, IN THE NAME OF JESUS (author’s note: not of himself, a mortal man, but by and through God and His power!).

And more about him here:
3 Nephi 8:1 AND now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record–for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity–

and yet, in just the next verse, we read:
3 Nephi 8:2 And now it came to pass, if there was no mistake made by this man in the reckoning of our time, the thirty and third year had passed away;

In other words, though Nephi “was a just man”, “cleansed every whit from his iniquity”—through the atonement of Jesus Christ, that is—and had performed “many miracles” (note the so-very-important “in the name of Jesus” here!), Nephi might have made a simple human mistake in keeping track of the time! (Gives ADDer’s great hope, huh?)

When Jesus comes, the first matter of business is to chastize the people for having disputations and contentions regarding the ordinance of baptism and other doctrines–something that Nephi, as prophet, should have been taking care of:
3 Nephi 11:22 And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you…
3 Nephi 11:27 And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one.
3 Nephi 11:28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
3 Nephi 11:29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
3 Nephi 11:30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

Later, Jesus checks the records, and finds that Nephi didn’t record the fulfillment of an important prophecy—it seems he had forgotten:
3 Nephi 23:8 And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before him, he cast his eyes upon them and said:
3 Nephi 23:9 Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?
3 Nephi 23:10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.
3 Nephi 23:11 And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?
3 Nephi 23:12And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.

Part 5

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Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 3 of 6” by grego

Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 3 of 6”
by grego
(c) 2005-2009

Ether 12:27–“Weakness” or “WeaknessES”?


Start at Part 1

Part 2

While all people have many different weaknesses, we all have the same one weakness: we are mortal, and subject to all the essence of mortality; we come short of perfection, we have sinned, we are capable of and will sin, we lack something of light, something of truth, something of God, we have not yet fully overcome.

The story of the brother of Jared seeing Jesus fits in well here:
Ether 3:1 “And it came to pass that the brother of Jared… cried again unto the Lord, saying:”
Ether 3:2 “O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his WEAKNESS BEFORE THEE; for we know that THOU ART HOLY AND DWELLEST IN THE HEAVENS, and that WE ARE UNWORTHY BEFORE THEE; BECAUSE OF THE FALL OUR NATURES HAVE BECOME EVIL CONTINUALLY; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires”.
Ether 3:3 “Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us BECAUSE OF OUR INIQUITY, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, THOU HAST BEEN MERCIFUL UNTO US. O Lord, look upon me in PITY, and TURN AWAY THINE ANGER FROM THIS THY PEOPLE, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock”.
Ether 3:4 “And I know, O LORD, THAT THOU HAST ALL POWER, AND CAN DO WHATSOEVER THOU WILT FOR THE BENEFIT OF MAN; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea”.
Ether 3:5 Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that THOU ART ABLE to show forth GREAT POWER, which LOOKS SMALL unto the UNDERSTANDING OF MEN.
Ether 3:6 And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear…
Ether 3:9 And the Lord said unto him: BECAUSE OF THEY FAITH thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and NEVER HAS MAN COME BEFORE ME WITH SUCH EXCEEDING FAITH AS THOU HAST; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?
Ether 3:10 And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.
Ether 3:11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
Ether 3:12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.
Ether 3:13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things YE ARE REDEEMED FROM THE FALL; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

Wow! The brother of Jared admits the difference between God and man (including himself, especially after Ether 2:14, where the Lord chastened the brother of Jared for three hours for not “calling upon the name of the Lord”. )—weakness—says that God’s things seem “small” to man, yet He has power to do all things; and then sees God because of his great exceeding faith, and is redeemed from the state of weakness, or the Fall!

There are other places in the Book of Mormon, and other scriptures, that speak like this, too. Jacob writes:
“Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name…” (Jacob 4:5)
“Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and OUR FAITH BECOMETH UNSHAKEN, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea” (Jacob 4:6).
“Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us OUR WEAKNESS that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things” (Jacob 4:7)

So, his and their faith is unshaken—not even an inkling of wavering here. They can command nature, as can God, which made the apostles in Jerusalem marvel. Yet, the early Nephites still have a weakness—seemingly a group weakness, here. This use doesn’t seem to fit in with the standard explanation of Ether 12:27, either. Jacob doesn’t say what the weakness is, but from looking at what he said previously, and his explanation afterwards, he seems to be saying that by seeing their weakness (whatever it is), they learn that God’s grace and condescensions give them the power, by their faith, to act as Jesus. Faith is not lacking, nor is the lack of faith their weakness; yet, the weakness remains. Once more, I believe that the interpretation that while man may want to be like God, and attempt to be like God, and sometimes might even be like God in some ways, he is still man, not God.

Right after this, Jacob seems to strengthen this by saying:
“Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God” (Jacob 4:8).

Is Jacob telling us something more about “weakness?” Is there something between the relationship of “weakness” and not being able to understand God and His purposes, even to the point of despising His communications with man?

There are other places. Joseph of Egypt prophesied:
2 Nephi 3:8 And I will give unto him a commandment that he shall do none other work, save the work which I shall command him. And I will make him great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work.
2 Nephi 3:9 And he shall be great like unto Moses, whom I have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver my people, O house of Israel.
2 Nephi 3:10 And Moses will I raise up, to deliver thy people out of the land of Egypt.
2 Nephi 3:11 But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins–and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.
2 Nephi 3:13 And out of weakness he shall be made strong, in that day when my work shall commence among all my people, unto the restoring thee, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.
2 Nephi 3:14 And thus prophesied Joseph, saying: Behold, that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded…
2 Nephi 3:15 …And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.
2 Nephi 3:17 And the Lord hath said: I will raise up a Moses; and I will give power unto him in a rod; and I will give judgment unto him in writing. Yet I will not loose his tongue, that he shall speak much, for I will not make him mighty in speaking. But I will write unto him my law, by the finger of mine own hand; and I will make a spokesman for him…
“And the words which he shall write shall be the words which are expedient in my wisdom should go forth unto the fruit of thy loins. And it shall be as if the fruit of thy loins had cried unto them from the dust; FOR I KNOW THEIR FAITH” (2 Nephi 3:19)
“And they shall cry from the dust; yea, even repentance unto their brethren, even after many generations have gone by them. And it shall come to pass that their cry shall go, even according to the SIMPLENESS of their words” (2 Nephi 3:20)
“Because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto their brethren who are the fruit of thy loins; and THE WEAKNESS OF THEIR WORDS WILL I MAKE STRONG IN THEIR FAITH, UNTO THE REMEMBERING OF MY COVENANT WHICH I MADE UNTO THY FATHERS” (2 Nephi 3:21).

Continue to Part 4

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2009, May 18

Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 2 of 6” by grego

Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 2 of 6”
by grego
(c) 2005-2009

Ether 12:27–“Weakness” or “WeaknessES”?


Part 1

The second interpretation is about “weakness” vs. “weaknesses”. Right before this section, Moroni talks about faith and hope, and how miracles and promises from the Lord are obtained through faith. He makes a list of some of the miracles, mostly from the Book of Mormon, that happened to men because of their faith (Ether 12).

It is interesting to note that Moroni himself has obtained, through his faith, almost all the things that he mentions in the lives of these other people: he has an anchor for his soul, he is sure and steadfast, he abounds in good works, and glorifies God; he has been delivered from his enemies; he has seen Christ, after He had risen from the dead; he partakes of the gift; he was called after the holy order of God; he knows of the law of Moses, and the fulfillment of the law by Christ; he has seen miracles; he has seen the three disciples; and whether he saw what the brother of Jared saw, or not, at least by writing the things that the brother of Jared saw, he knows them, too. This is what he writes:
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).

“Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith” (Ether 12:9).

“For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith” (Ether 12:12).

“And it is by faith that my fathers have obtained the promise that these things should come unto their brethren through the Gentiles; therefore the Lord hath commanded me, yea, even Jesus Christ” (Ether 12:22).

It is at this point that Moroni writes this:
“And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of OUR WEAKNESS in writing; for Lord thou hast made us *mighty in word* *by faith*, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;” (Ether 12:23)
“And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them” (Ether 12:24).
“Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold OUR WEAKNESS, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words” (Ether 12:25).

It seems that Moroni does not feel that he or the other Nephites are/ were up to the call of fulfilling the Lord’s promises made to his fathers, and his reading the Jaredite plates just makes him feel this failing further. Then comes this:
“And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of YOUR WEAKNESS;” (Ether 12:26).

And then, the main scripture:
“And if MEN come unto me I will show unto them THEIR WEAKNESS. I give unto MEN WEAKNESS that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for ALL MEN that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

The Lord continues:
“Behold, I will show unto the gentiles their WEAKNESS, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me–the fountain of all righteousness” (Ether 12:28).

Here, in three verses, the Lord says that three groups each have a “weakness”: Moroni and the other writers of the Book of Mormon; all men; and the Gentiles. The Lord does not say, “weaknesses.”

Is there a difference? If we were to hold to the typical LDS interpretation of Ether 12:27, in light of Moroni’s great faith, we would assume that the Lord would make his writing much better, to perhaps even surpass his speech. But the Lord does not say, “Your writing will improve so much, it will become a strength to you, and you will be able to write even greater than the brother of Jared.” He says, “…because thou hast seen THY WEAKNESS thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.”

What does Moroni’s seeing his weakness in writing have to do with his gaining eternal life? If one interprets the verse in the usual way—nothing. In fact, after this dialogue with the Lord, Moroni still writes: “And only a few have I written, because of my WEAKNESS in writing” (Ether 12:40). Do we assume that his faith wasn’t strong enough to overcome his weakness? But we have already seen that Moroni’s faith was great enough to attain almost every miracle that any other person has ever attained. So, was Moroni’s faith weak only in this one thing—which meant that his weakness was to remain, yet he would have eternal life because of it?; or do these scriptures mean something else instead?

If we keep reading, we see that Moroni actually draws faith from these words, then draws further faith from the record he has just read:
“And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted, and said: O Lord, thy righteous will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith;” (Ether 12:29)
“And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men” (Ether 12:33).
“And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father” (Ether 12:34).
“Wherefore, I know by this thing which thou hast said, that if the Gentiles have not charity, because of OUR WEAKNESS, that thou wilt prove them, and take away their talent, yea, even that which they have received, and give unto them who shall have more abundantly” (Ether 12:35).

Some people see the Lord having died on the cross as a weakness, especially in light of “survival of the fittest.” In fact, the main theme of one modern and fast-growing church (by both number of members and influence) is just that: because Jesus Christ died, He failed to fulfill his mission. Yet, we know and understand that Jesus’ death was according to the fulfillment of God’s plan. It is not the Lord, then, who is judged by God as weak; but we humans are judged by how we look at and understand his death. Some Jews believed in Jesus’ death as the last and ultimate weakness and sign that he was not the Messiah (Matthew 27:39-43).

In fact, by dying, Jesus Christ (among other things) testified to and proved his charity, which then led to His being able to inherit His Father’s kingdom and allowing all men the opportunity to do so also. Moroni then directly relates this to his and the other Nephites writing the Book of Mormon and the way that the Gentiles would judge their words:
“And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity” (Ether 12:36).
“And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because THOU HAST SEEN THY WEAKNESS thou shalt be MADE STRONG, even unto the SITTING DOWN IN THE PLACE WHICH I HAVE PREPARED IN THE MANSIONS OF MY FATHER” (Ether 12:37).

Here we see that being made strong does not mean to overcome a mortal weakness while still in the flesh, such as a weakness in writing, but to be able to return to the presence of God. So moving backwards, what does “weakness” mean, and is it the same for all three groups previously mentioned?

(Folks, this is Part 2 of a 6-part series! :) )

Part 3

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Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 1 of 6” by grego

Book of Mormon Article: “Ether 12:27–‘Weakness’ or ‘WeaknessES?’ Part 1 of 6”
by grego
(c) 2005-2009

Ether 12:27–“Weakness” or “WeaknessES”?


Ether 12:27 reads:

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their WEAKNESS. I give unto men WEAKNESS that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make WEAK THINGS become strong unto them” (caps added).

In every explanation of Ether 12:27 I have ever read or heard in any LDS Church class, “weakness,” which occurs twice in the singular, is interpreted and used as if it were in the plural, “weaknesses.” This interpretation is then justified because of the “then will I make weak THINGS become strong unto them” part of the verse, and because of the references to faith in previous verses in the chapter.

So, this verse is then interpreted like this: “weaknesses” are things that make us have to rely on the Lord to overcome, especially our shortcomings and sins; and that by relying on the Lord, He will help us overcome them, and in fact, these weaknesses will become our strengths.

For example, if I am out of shape, and I try but can’t be otherwise, if I rely more on the Lord, he will help me get in shape, so much so that I might be in the best shape ever, and better than others. I have overcome my problem, and now it is one of the least of my problems; in fact, it has become my strength. I just needed more faith in the Lord, and it finally happened.

While this explanation sounds nice, and *is* true some of the time, I believe that by changing “weakness” to “weaknesses,” we wrest an incorrect meaning—a meaning that was not the original intention of the verse—and in addition, this misinterpretation forms the basis of incorrect interpretation of other scriptures, and brings further problems.

Perhaps this typical interpretation lends to why some Saints believe that admitting a mistake is the same as repentance–isn’t their sin because of a weakness, and didn’t the Lord forgive Moroni for his weakness, when Moroni acknowledged his weakness and felt sorrow for it? For others, the result of incorrect interpretation might be despair—“Why doesn’t the Lord cure me?” “Why can’t I overcome this weakness?” etc. This “thorn in [the] flesh” (Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10) becomes a thorn in the side of their faith. “And Moroni says that despair cometh from iniquity, so the reason I’m not overcoming this problem is because… I’m evil.” So they keep working harder and harder to repent of… what? Having a weakness? An imperfection?? Which is what the Lord said they had anyway, right?

So what is the correct interpretation of Ether 12:27? I believe there are two levels higher than the usual interpretation. The best is that the person the Lord is speaking about is not Moroni, but those who read his writing. We are confused because the Lord speaks to Moroni about Moroni’s weakness in the preceding verse: “And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of YOUR WEAKNESS;” (Ether 12:26). So, we assume that the Lord continues speaking to him about this weakness in the next verse:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” However, the Lord is not speaking about Moroni and his weakness, but about those who read Moroni’s words. The weakness in verse 27 is a different kind of weakness than that of verse 26.

This means, then, that “weak things” in verse 27 are the writings of Moroni.

Continue to Part 2

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