II Nephi 26 Structure Intro &
II Nephi 26 is a prophecy by Nephi of the destiny of his people, both anciently and in
these latter-days as they interface with the Gentiles. The chapter heading in the
LDS scriptures reads:
"Christ shall minister to the Nephites -- Nephi foresees the destruction of his
people -- They shall speak from the dust -- The gentiles shall build up false churches and
secret combinations -- The Lord forbids men to practice priestcrafts."
The 2 Nephi 26 structure has a little bit of
everything in it, literary structure-wise, doctrine-wise, and prophecy-wise. It was
the first major structure I ever discovered and unfolded to this length. I found it
just after writing the essay, "Will the
Gentiles Also Look Beyond the Mark" (the thesis of Greater Things). It confirmed
the daring assertions of that essay. It marked the beginning of a new season in my
life in which I would end up doing hundreds of chapters of scripture in similar
fashion. Each would prove another facet of this new paradigm that was unfolding to
Structure-wise, this chapter has several chiasms of varying sizes, some overlapping
another. These are followed by a fairly large parallel
structure, in which the correlating ideas proceed in the same order rather than
inverse. The content of these parallel and chiastic forms validate the Grand
Parallel and the Grand Chiasm.
- The Grand Parallel is the primary subject
of the book, The Vision of All, Our Past,
Present, and Future as Foretold in Book of Mormon History. Briefly, it addresses
the parallel between the entire Book of Mormon history time-line and the history/prophecy
of the Lord's covenant people beginning to end (Moses through the millennium). It
focuses especially on our day -- the day of the Gentiles -- being on a parallel with a
time of general wickedness among the Nephites in the book of Helaman, when the Lamanites
(paralleling the scattered house of Israel in the latter-days) become more righteous than
the Nephites. The Grand Parallel is not limited to comparing nations to nations,
though, for these parallel the individual in his/her spiritual progression through life.
- The Grand Chiasm, following the A
first, B last, B last, A first pattern,
refers to the history of the Lord's work among his people: A the
Israelites first, followed by B the Gentiles last, anciently; then
beginning with B the Gentiles and ending with A Israel
in these latter-days. Simply put, it's Jews, Gentiles then Gentiles, Jews. The
Jews rejection of Christ anciently was the turning point of the kingdom being taken from
the Jews/Israelites and being taken to the Gentiles. The Gentiles rejection of the
work of the Lord among them in these latter-days will mark the turning point of the
kingdom being taken from them and being given back to Israel.
As you read through these various chiasms and the large parallel in II Nephi 26, bear
these two themes in mind: the Grand Parallel, which
compares the Nephites anciently and the Gentiles today; and the Grand
Chiasm which compares the Jews anciently and the Gentiles today.
"Gentiles," in this context, refers to those people who are called of God to be
his husbandmen to prepare for his coming in these latter days, but who will reject His
work as did the Jews, minus a remnant among them who will embrace the truth -- just as
there was a remnant of Jews who embraced Jesus and Christianity. This is a very
controversial thesis with far-reaching implications so far as the major world religion
based in Utah; but it is born out by the scriptures in a thousand different ways.
There are no shortage of validating scriptural witnesses. II Nephi 26 is one of the
more significant testaments of this polemic.
Doctrine-wise, chapter 26 touches on matters both spiritual and temporal. It
relates to individual salvation as well as to the deliverance of entire nations. It
juxtaposes righteousness and wickedness on both levels, mentioning, for example, secret
combinations (which the Gentiles -- especially including those people who call themselves
the people of God -- build up) as being a driving force behind the destruction of nations,
including the destructions that are about to come upon this proud and prosperous country
in "an instant suddenly," as II Nephi words it.
The Jews have been focused on the temporal aspects of the kingdom. The Gentiles
have been focused on the spiritual aspects. The Jews are right, it is going to be a
physical kingdom, a government of God on the earth. The Gentiles are right, it is
based on individuals whose hearts have been transformed by God. The irony is that
the Gentiles are going to get what the Jews have been looking toward -- a government of
God that will no more be thrown down -- and they as a body will reject it (building up
Satan's New World Order instead); just like the Jews got what the Gentiles are now focused
on but rejected it (building individually on the works of the arm of flesh rather than a
mighty change of heart through which the righteousness of God flows). In both cases,
it is Messiah, or Christ, who is rejected or received. He will be Lord of the
individual and King of the world -- willfully. The stone which the builders
rejected, the same is become the head stone of the corner. Out of the rejection
comes redemption for those who will receive it.
The first chiasm in II Nephi 26:1-9 meant a great deal
to me as I first discovered it in 1992 shortly after finishing the essay, "Will the Gentiles Also Look Beyond the Mark?"
It gave strong scriptural credence to what was a very controversial thesis. There in
the focal point was wording very similar to the very scripture I had selected as the theme
scripture of the essay:
"The stone which the builders
rejected [Jews first Gentiles last], the same is become the head of
the corner [Gentiles first, Jews last]. This is the Lord's doing;
and it is marvelous in our eyes. ...Whosoever [Jews] shall fall on the stone [Christ] shall
be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall [Gentiles], it will grind him to powder [e.g. they shall be
trodden under feet]." (Matt. 21:42-44; Luke 20:18; Ps. 118:22-24.
[bracketed comments borne out in JST Matt. 21:47-56])
The focal point, D, of the chiasm in II Nephi 26:1-9
mentions "buildings," which matches "builders." It also uses the
word "fall;" and it uses the phrase "grind them to powder," which is
virtually verbatim to Matthew 21.
D v5 and buildings
shall fall upon them and crush them to
D' and grind
them to powder.
There are only three verses in all the Bible and Book of Mormon and other Standard
Works of scripture that use the word "grind" and "powder:" Matt.
21:44, Luke 20:18, and II Nephi 26:5. This usage of such rare wording placed at the
focal point of this first chiasm in II Nephi 26 spotlights this pivotal scripture of the Grand Chiasm. It makes it very clear that the Lord is not
just talking about the Nephites here, but something far beyond that. He intends
these lessons to be compared and applied to us in these latter days, for our warning and
edification -- warning if we are wicked (which all have been to a degree), and edification
for the righteous to bolster them in their faith in that which is to come so that they
might hold out strong, notwithstanding the persecutions.
The wording in B and B', leading up to this focal point and coming away from it, use
definite Malachi 4:1 language. "Shall burn them as stubble;" and "the
day that cometh shall burn them up," is explicit Malachi wording. The
purposeful usage of this eschatological wording in reference to the Nephites (in reference
to their "end times" as it were) becomes a very strong validation of the Grand Parallel between the Nephites then and the Gentiles now.
This linkage is further validated in the close similarity of word usage in C and C', in
reference to the Nephites, compared to II Nephi 27:1,2 in reference to the Gentiles.
Though the people and times are different, the wording is nearly identical.
Though separate, they are parallel.
C v5 And they that kill the
prophets, and the saints, the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the
Lord of Hosts; and mountains shall cover them, and whirlwinds shall carry them
away, [Compare 2 Ne. 27:2-b]
. . .
C' v6 And they shall be visited with thunderings, and
lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions [Compare 2 Ne. 27:2-a.]
As noted in the brackets, compare that wording with 2 Nephi 27:2. Verse one
states unequivocally that the prophecy refers to the time of the Gentiles -- which is now.
1 But, behold, in the last days, or in the days of the
Gentiles--yea, behold all the nations of the Gentiles and also the Jews, both
those who shall come upon this land and those who shall be upon other lands, yea, even
upon all the lands of the earth, behold, they will be drunken with iniquity and all manner
2 And when that day shall come they shall be
visited of the Lord of Hosts, with thunder and with earthquake, and with a
great noise, and with storm, and with tempest, and with the flame of devouring fire.
The phrase "shall be visited" is used but five times in scripture (one worth
particular note is Alma 9:18 (chapter arranged in a chiasm). This very obvious
repeating of rare word usage, first in reference to the Nephites (chapter 26), and then in
reference to us in these latter days (chapter 27), unequivocally proves a parallel between
the two -- the Grand Parallel.
The focal point of the second chiasm, which covers verses
10-12, matches spiritual destruction (being "cast down to hell") with
. . . . . . . . D-1 for, for the reward of their pride
. . . . . . . . D-2 and their foolishness
. . . . . . . . D-3 they shall reap destruction;
. . . . . . . . D-1 for because they yield unto the devil
. . . . . . . . D-2 and choose works of darkness rather than light,
. . . . . . . . D-3 therefore they must go down to hell.
This confirms the major premise of the essay, "The Law and the Word of the Lord"
which discusses the parallel between the gospel and the government of God, and our duty as
saints toward both. The one pertains to individual salvation, and the other to temporal.
Though separate, like man and wife, they are intended to be as one. We cannot think
that ignoring principles of rectitude when it comes to nations will have any less
deleterious effect on our soul than doing so in our individual lives. The day of
judgement for nations, of which all are a part, is manifest physically. The day of
judgement of individuals is manifest spiritually. This chiasm aligns the physical
and the spiritual as being parallel.
The beginning and ending of this chiasm, A and A', provide yet further validation of
these pivotal themes. Element A is the first chiasm, covering verses 1-9, which
address the Lehites and their need to come to Christ or be cut off in the day of judgement
(the day of truth coming to bear). Element A' at the end of this 26:10-12 chiasm is
the focal point of the chiasm covering verses 10-18, which speaks of the "convincing
of the Jews and the Gentiles that Jesus is the very Christ." Hence the three
major groups being considered here are linked together: the Nephites, the Jews, and
the Gentiles -- being on a parallel. The Grand Parallel,
temporal and spiritual, and the Grand Chiasm are both
Another validating highlight of the II Nephi 26 structure is the focal point of the II Nephi 26:10-18 Chiasm. This one addresses the Grand Chiasm again, which, as just mentioned, parallels the Jews
and the Gentiles.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . G-1 v14 And as I spake concerning the convincing of the JEWS,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . G-2 that Jesus is the very
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . G-1 it must needs be that the GENTILES
be convinced also
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . G-2 that Jesus is the Christ,
the Eternal God;
There again at the focal point is a comparison of Jew and Gentile, with the explicit
statement that just as the Jews need to be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, so also do
the the Gentiles need to be convinced. The unspoken message (born out very plainly
elsewhere) that can be insinuated here by this focal-point placement of Jews parallel to
Gentiles, is that just as the Jews rejected the stone upon which they might build, so also
will the Gentiles reject that stone. Yet in the perfect plan of God this rejection
turns to redemption for all who will receive it. The stone which the builders
reject, the same becomes the head of their corner. He will be their God, and they
will be His people, Jew and Gentile.
The focal point of the last chiasm of
II Nephi 26 (26:13-20 chiasm) and the points leading up
to it look toward the promised redemption of the offspring of Israel according to the
covenant of God. The center point refers to the role that the Book of Mormon will
play in accomplishing that miracle. The power inherent in the words of scripture,
such as is illustrated by these chiasms and parallels, will win many souls.
Before we discuss the last structure of this chapter, it would be good to make an
observation about the general form of the chiasms and parallel in this chapter. Note
that they do not come in separate pieces, but each one is tied to the previous as well as
the one that follows. 26:1-9 is element A of 26:10-12, which overlaps 26:10-18,
which overlaps 26:13-20, which overlaps the parallel at the end which covers 26:20-33.
I believe this overlapping represents the interconnectivity of these ideas.
Thought the actual text is moving from one subject of prophecy to another, the overlapping
poetic structures show the parallel nature of the peoples being spoken of: the
Nephites, the Jews, and the Gentiles.
The closing match in the parallel that ends the chapter
draws focus again to the theme of Jew and Gentile Grand Chiasm,
ending on the positive note of the redemption that is provided (by virtue of the
rejection) and offered to all.
II Nephi 26
II Nephi 26
||(v27) but all men are privileged
||(v33) and all
||the one like
unto the other,
||are alike unto God
||and none are
||both Jew and
Hence we now understand the grand paradox spoken most concisely by Paul.
"God hath concluded them all [Jew and Gentile] in unbelief that he
might have mercy upon all." (Rom. 11:32.) Through the blindness of the
Jews came spiritual redemption for all mankind -- as many as will. Likewise, through
the blindness of the Gentiles will come temporal redemption for all mankind -- as many as
This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
by Sterling D. Allan; Mapleton, Utah; December 5, 1998