Fourth Book of Nephi

by Rex C. Reeve, Jr.

Abridged by Mormon, this brief work contains the writings of four Nephite prophets (A.D. 34-320): Nephi 4, son of Nephi 3, who was a disciple of the risen Jesus; Amos, son of Nephi4; and Amos and Ammaron, two sons of Amos. The first section of 4 Nephi briefly summarizes four generations of peace, righteousness, and equality that resulted from the conversion of the people to the gospel of Jesus Christ after the visit of the resurrected Savior. In contrast, the last section foreshadows the later destruction of the Nephite nation that followed a gradual and conscious rejection of the gospel message.

Fourth Nephi narrates an unparalleled epoch in human society when all the people followed the teachings of Christ for nearly two centuries. The book is best known for its account of the social and religious power of the love of God that overcame contention and other social and political ills (4 Ne. 1:15-16). The people experienced urban renewal, stable family life, unity in the Church, and social and economic equality, as well as divine miracles (1:3-13, 15-17). "Surely there could not [have been] a happier people…created by the hand of God" (1:16).

The book also previews the ensuing apostasy of most of the population from the teachings of Christ, introducing a state of wickedness and chaos that eventually led to total destruction. According to the account the individual and collective decline was gradual and sequential, with the loss of social and religious order manifested in contention, pride in prosperity, class distinctions with widening social divisions, rejection of Christ and his gospel, and persecution of the Church (1:24-46).

Bibliography

Skinner, Andrew C. "The Course of Peace and Apostasy." In Studies in Scripture, ed. K. Jackson, Vol. 8. Salt Lake City, 1988.

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