As always, use the official Gospel Doctrine Lesson Manual in your preparation. Here are some supplemental ideas that I hope might be helpful:
Mosiah 12 – Abinadi is imprisoned and questioned by the wicked priests of King Noah
1 – “Abinadi came among them in disguise” Two years after Abinadi first preached to the people, he returned, this time in disguise. Many have pointed out the Abinadi “blew his cover” when the told the people, “the Lord commanded my, saying – Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people…” Perhaps Abinadi used a disguise to gain access to the place where the most people could hear his message, then he let them know who he was.
2-3 – “this generation…shall be brought into bondage” Abinadi prophecies that the people will be brought into bondage, a consequence of not heeding his warnings two years earlier, and that the king’s life will be “valued as a garment in a hot furnace,” which may mean he will not have the honor of a burial, but will be burned to death.
8 – “They shall leave a record behind them” McConkie and Millet have written, “The testimony of history is most eloquent in warning against wickedness. Within the Book of Mormon we have the testimony of three civilizations – Jaredites, Mulekites, and Nephites-that God will indeed destroy the wicked from off the face of the earth. Such is just a prelude to the destruction that will precede the great millennial day. (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 2:206.)
10 – “he…prophesieth evil concerning thy life” The people were looking for some reason to condemn Abinadi – they were trying to accuse him of false prophesying, condemned by the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 18:20: “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.”
14 – “thou, O King, has not sinned…” It is as if these people are living in opposite world – a result of their spiritual eyes being “blinded” as mentioned in Mosiah 11:29. Here they are, condemning the righteous Abinadi, and defending wicked King Noah! Well, shucks, can you imagine a world where those who are trying to defend the right are condemned, and those who are trying to promote sin are defended? For a very insightful presentation on this topic, get “King Noah Blindness and the Vision of Seers” by S. Michael Wilcox.
19 – “they began to question him that they might cross him” These were not honest questions intended to learn truth, but trick questions with the goal of finding an accusation. Jesus’ enemies did the same thing – notice the footnote to John 8:6.
20-21 – “the feet of him…that publisheth peace” The wicked priests try to stump him with an Isaiah question. Many have suggested that the priests were contrasting Isaiah’s words, about prophets who publish peace and good tidings, with Abinadi’s message of condemnation and pending bondage. Prophets are inspired to adjust their message to their audience, sometimes preaching the word which “healeth the wounded soul” and other times preaching warnings or condemnation (See Jacob 2:8-9).
27-28 – “What teach ye this people?” The questioned prophet becomes the questioner, as Abinadi asks the priests what they are teaching. When they say they teach the law of Moses, Abinadi responds, “why do ye not keep it?”
31 – “Doth salvation come by the law of Moses?” Perhaps Abinadi’s most important question is this – what is the source of salvation? For what purpose was the law of Moses given? The answers are forthcoming as Abinadi’s discourse continues.
Mosiah 13 – Abinadi is protected by divine power, he teaches the ten commandments, and also teaches that salvation does not come by the law alone. God himself will make an atonement for his people.
4 – “ye are angry with me” Telling the truth makes the wicked angry. Sounds like Joseph Smith, Jesus, and many others.
9 – “it matters now whither I go” Perhaps Abinadi suspected that he would not make it out of there alive.
11 – “studied and taught iniquity” Imagine actually studying iniquity, instead of studying and teaching righteousness
25-26 – “Have ye taught this people?” The failure of the “priests” to teach the people is why the Lord sent a true prophet to warn the wicked. God is merciful, and sends a messenger to give the people a chance to repent and avoid the consequences of sin.
28-30 – “salvation doth not come by the law alone” Although Abinadi chastised the wicked priests for not keeping the law of Moses, he also knew that salvation comes because of a Savior. These verses offer a wonderful explanation of the “why” behind the law of Moses.
31 – “all these things were types of things to come” My favorite description of the Law of Moses is this: “The law of Moses was as one grand prophecy of Christ inasmuch as it testified of the salvation to be obtained in and through his atoning blood. Jesus was the fulfillment of that prophecy.” (Millet & McConkie, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 3:250, emphasis added).
33 – “God should redeem his people” Prophets, “all the prophets,” since the beginning of time, have taught about the coming Messiah. Moses is also mentioned in Hel 8:13-14. See also the footnotes below to Jacob 4:4, and Jacob 7:11.
Mosiah 14 – Abinadi quotes Isaiah 53, perhaps the most “Messianic” chapter of Isaiah. Interestingly, the name Isaiah means “Jehovah is salvation,” or, in bumper sticker language, “Jesus Saves.” Isaiah’s name may indicate something of his mission – to teach that Jehovah, who will be known as Jesus, is the source of salvation. Remember that Nephi said he quoted the words of Isaiah to his people in order to “more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their redeemer” (1 Nephi 19:23). Mosiah 14/Isaiah 53 is only twelve verses long, but it is rich in information about the Savior’s life and mission.
Here is a commentary on Mosiah 14 excerpted from my book, Isaiah for Airheads:
Mosiah 14:1. “Who hath believed our report?” In other words, who listens to the prophets? Who believes what they report? The translators use the word report in this sentence. It’s not what the prophets think, not what they speculate on, but what they report. Isaiah knows his testimony is true. He has seen these things, and he reports as factual what he has learned through his prophetic visions.
Mosiah 14:2. “He shall grow up before him” Jesus shall grow up before the Father, or, these two pronouns could both refer to Jesus in different roles: “He (the Mortal Messiah) shall grow up before him” (Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel).
Mosiah 14:2. “A tender plant” Jesus was not born in a palace, surrounded by comfort, wealth, and security. Instead, he was born in a cattle stall, with a manger for a bed. Jesus began His life on this earth as “a tender plant,” helpless and vulnerable, in contrast to the majesty he had achieved in the premortal realms.
Mosiah 14:2. “Out of dry ground” Instead of in moist, fertile ground, Jesus was raised in a land that was both geographically and spiritually dry and barren.
Mosiah 14:2. “No form nor comeliness . . .” Some scholars suggest that these phrases do not refer to Jesus’ ordinary physical appearance but to the humble circumstances of his birth. He came to earth without fanfare and without glory, which was contrary to the way many expected the Messiah to arrive. Others suggest that Jesus would have looked like an ordinary man and would therefore have not been recognized as the Son of God through his appearance alone.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” There is no mystique, no dynamic appearance, no halo around his head, thunders do not roll and lightnings do not flash at his appearance. He is the Son of the Highest, but he walks and appears as the offspring of the lowest. He is a man among men, appearing, speaking, dressing, seeming in all outward respects as they are. — The Promised Messiah, p. 478.
Mosiah 14:3. “Despised and rejected of men” When Jesus returned to his hometown and announced his true identity, those who heard his bold declaration were outraged and tried to throw him off the “brow of a hill” (see Luke 4:16–32). Throughout his ministry, he was accused of being mad or of having “a devil.” Ultimately, he was betrayed, tortured, and executed. In the end, even his disciples “forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56). His rejection continues to this day as some accept or “esteem” him as a great “moral teacher” but not as the promised Messiah.
Verses 4–6: The Mission of the Messiah
Mosiah 14:4. “Borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” Not only did Jesus take upon himself our sins, but also our griefs, sorrows, pains, afflictions, sicknesses, and “temptations of every kind” (see Alma 7:11). There is nothing that we experience that He hasn’t already experienced. Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “He felt our very pains and afflictions before we did and knows how to succor us” (If Thou Endure It Well, 52).
Mosiah 14:5. “The chastisement of our peace” Another translation renders this verse, “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him” (Holy Bible, New International Version). The word peace is translated from the Hebrew “shalom,” which also implies “wholeness.” Through Christ’s suffering, we can be made whole (see Book of Mormon Reference Companion, 394).
Mosiah 14:5. “With his stripes” this probably refers to the marks on his skin, the result of the whipping and scourging (see also 1 Peter 2:24).
Mosiah 14:6. “All we . . .” All of us, that is, every single one of us, is in a desperate situation and in need of a Savior. Amulek taught, “All are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made” (Alma 34:9).
Mosiah 14:6. “like sheep, have gone astray” There is no middle ground. We either follow the good shepherd or the evil shepherd. Some have apostatized, thinking they are independent of all this religion, but there are no independent sheep with no shepherd. Alma declared (in pretty strong language): “And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil” (Alma 5:39).
Mosiah 14:6. “Every one to his own way” “Every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world” (D&C 1:16).
Fred H.Wight: It is very important that sheep should not be allowed to stray away from the flock, because when by themselves they are utterly helpless. In such a condition, they become bewildered, for they have no sense at all of locality. And if they do stray away, they must be brought back. (Manners and Customs of Bible Lands, 158)
Verses 7–9: The Judgment, Suffering, and Death of the Messiah
Mosiah 14:7. “Opened not his mouth” This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus was taken before the chief priests, Pilate, and Herod Antipas for interrogation but “answered [them] nothing” (Luke 23:9).
Mosiah 14:8. “Taken from prison and from judgment” In other words, “he was taken by force and without justice” (Parry, Understanding Isaiah, 476).
Mosiah 14:8. “Who shall declare his generation?” Another translation renders this verse, “Who can speak of his descendants?” (Holy Bible, New International Version). Isaiah continues, “for he was cut off out of the land of the living.” Isaiah answers the question later in verse 10, where he declares that after his death, “he shall see his seed.”
Mosiah 14:9. “His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death” We remember that Jesus was crucified between two thieves and was laid to rest in the borrowed tomb of a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea (see John 19:38–42).
Verses 10–12: The Results of the Messiah’s Atoning Mission
Mosiah 14:10. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him” Pleased seems a strange way to describe the Father’s feelings about Christ’s suffering, as some modern translations attest. We do know that it was part of the Father’s plan that an atonement should be made and that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Another possible interpretation: “The Lord” and “him” in this verse may be referring to the same being— Jehovah, in His different roles, that is, the Lord Jehovah offered himself, the mortal Jesus, willingly in our behalf. “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent” (D&C 19:16).
Mosiah 14:10. “He shall see his seed” Though it is true that we are all spiritually begotten children of our Heavenly Father, when we are baptized and born again, we also become the “children of Christ,” or his seed (Mosiah 5:7). Abinadi taught that the prophets, and all who have hearkened unto their words, are Christ’s seed. “For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?” (Mosiah 15:12).
Mosiah 14:10. “Prolong his days” Jesus will be resurrected and exalted forever.
Mosiah 14:11. “Travail of his soul” The word travail is often used to describe a woman in labor. In this case, Jesus’ travail, or his painful work in our behalf, will give him joy in righteous children.
Mosiah 14:12. “The great, and . . . the strong” This may refer to those who have come to Christ and become joint heirs with him, thus sharing the spoil, or the rewards, of eternal life.
1-4 – “God himself shall come down” Abinadi is talking about Christ, who will “redeem his people.” These verses should be understood to be explaining “How Christ is both the Father and the Son” as the italicized synopsis before the chapter suggests. Jesus Christ is referred to as the Father because of his role as the Creator, (“Father of heaven and earth”), also as Father of our spiritual rebirth (We become the children of Christ), and when he acts and speaks as the Father by divine investiture of authority. For a lengthier explanation, see McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 2:225-230.
7 – “he shall be led, crucified and slain” Some have asked how the Nephites knew about crucifixion since it was a Roman practice.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary reports: Crucifixion was in used among the Egyptians, Genesis 40:19; the Carthaginians, the Persians, Esther 7:10; the Assyrians, Scythains, Indians, Germans, and from the earliest times among the Greeks and Romans.
11-13 – “whoseover has heard the words of the prophets” Here Abinadi explains how we become his seed, or his “generation.”
14-18 – “These are they who have published peace” Abinadi testified of the Messiah and his mission, but here he answers the question the wicked priests posed to him in Mosiah 12:21. Abinadi taught that those who “shall hereafter publish peace” are also his seed, as many modern missionaries have done and continue to do.
Mosiah 16 – Abinadi continues to teach about the atonement, the redemption of man and the resurrection of endless life or endless damnation.
2 – “they would not hearken” “Would not” is different than “could not.” These are those who heard the message, but chose not to hearken.
4 – “all mankind were lost.” All men, even if they keep the law, have previously fallen. The law isn’t sufficient, we need a Savior.
5 – “persists in his own carnal nature” Since all of us have sinned, all of us have given in to our carnal nature at some point, but an enemy to God is one who persists in his own carnal nature. See Mosiah 3:19
11 – “if they be good … resurrection of … happiness” Notice footnote to John 5:28-29. Also, remember that in D&C 19:6-12, the Lord revealed that “endless” is his name, and that the punishment which comes from his hand is therefore called “endless.” But this does not mean the punishment will have no end (D&C 19:6). A wonderful revelation!
12 – “they would not” These are sad words. Not “could not,” but “would not.” The Lord honors our agency, or our power to choose and act according to our will. The arms of mercy were extended toward them, and they “would not.” They chose their own destiny.
14-15 – “Therefore…” I believe that Mosiah 16 (and much of Abinadi’s entire message) can be summarized in these concluding verses. Yes, keep the law of Moses, but redemption comes in and through Christ, who is the whole point of the Law of Moses.
2 – “whose name was Alma” Here we are introduced to Alma the elder, who was a “young man” at the time. Dr. John Welch has suggested that perhaps Alma was the youngest judge, and as such (by rules in ancient Jewish law which the Nephites may have continued to follow), he was supposed to speak first, so that his testimony would not be tainted or influenced by the elder judges. We can determine Alma’s exact age by using clues later in the book of Mosiah. In Mosiah 29:45, we are told that Alma the Younger’s father (Alma the elder) died at 82 years of age, in approximately 91 BC. Alma defended Abinadi in 148 B.C. How many years between these two events? 57. Since he died at age 82, and this event took place 57 years earlier, we can surmise that Alma the Elder was about 25 years old when he defended Abinadi.
11 – “Noah was about to release him” Here, King Noah begins to doubt himself, as the testimony of Abinadi pierces his heart. We are reminded of Pilate who tried to release Jesus. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has pointed out many parallels between Abinadi and Christ:
15-19 – “O God, receive my soul” These were Abinadi’s last words. Abinadi’s discourse was powerfully and doctrinally rich. We also learn from Abinadi’s life story that it’s possible to do everything you’re supposed to do and still suffer. Abinadi was not saved from the flames as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were. He suffered an awful death. But he was not bitter, his last utterance was an appeal to God to receive his soul. Did Abinadi fail as a missionary? Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin observed:
Another example of the far-reaching effects of an inspired testimony is that of the prophet Abinadi. The testimony he bore as he called an apostate king, Noah, and his priests to repentance is one of the most significant doctrinal discourses in the Book of Mormon. The king and his priests, except one, rejected Abinadi’s teachings and had him put to death. That one was Alma. Abinadi may have felt that he failed as a missionary because he had only one convert, so far as the record shows. – Ensign, May 1989, p. 10.
Did Abinadi fail? No. In fact, the religious life of the Nephites was impacted for more than five centuries, because of Abinadi’s testimony, and because a “young man,” Alma the elder, stood up for what he believed. Below is a chart outlining those who kept the Nephite records and passed them on, illustrating Abinadi’s lasting impact:
▪Alma the Elder (148 B.C.)
▪Alma the Younger
▪Helaman (leader of 2000 warriors)
▪Helaman (Record Keeper, Chief Judge)
▪Nephi (Missionary with brother Lehi)
▪Nephi (Disciple of Jesus)
▪Amos (Son of Nephi)
▪Amos (Son of Amos)
▪Ammoron (Brother of Amos)
▪Mormon (Ten years old when commissioned by Ammoron)
▪Moroni (Buries the record, 421 A.D.)
Most of us are familiar with the series of Book of Mormon paintings by Arnold Friberg. You might be interested to know that Walter Rane has also done a series of paintings on the Book of Mormon. His depiction of King Noah, Alma and Abinadi is one of my favorites (you may be surprised by Walter Rane’s depiction of Abinadi, but remember – we don’t know how old Abinadi was!) Here’s a link.