Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel


Book of Mormon, Nephi, grace

Document Type



A Book of Mormon verse that has led to immense discussion and scrutiny is 2 Nephi 25:23: “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” It is particularly the last part of the verse, “after all we can do,” that has garnered the most attention since it seems to qualify the statement on grace and leads interpreters to define what grace means in LDS belief and consequently what role our efforts or works play in relation to grace. A significant article dealing with this verse, and to which this article is responding and nuancing, was written by Joseph Spencer in 2014.1 Spencer’s excellent analysis of this verse reinforces the importance of focusing on the context of this verse, particularly the grammatical subjects within the verse, in order to pull the meaning out of the last phrase. Yet unlike Spencer’s article, which is a theological reading of the scripture, this piece will try to focus more on Nephi’s historical situation in an effort to better understand what Nephi’s words meant in their initial context (something Spencer cursorily alludes to in a later section of his paper). Too often the last half of the verse is touted as an overarching statement of LDS the law of Moses. It is similar to what Abinadi would later teach the priests of King Noah when he responded to his own question directed to them: Does salvation come by the law of Moses? (see Mosiah 12:31). He stated, “And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that ye should keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses. And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses” (Mosiah 13:27–28; emphasis added).