Paul vs Nephi (Ephesians 3:1-7 vs 1 Nephi 10:11-14)

Wow… I’m completely stunned by the absolute contradiction I just read in the Book of Mormon compared with the Bible. Ephesians 3:1-7 vs 1 Nephi 10:11-14.  A good friend of mine, who is a LDS member encouraged me to read through the BoM to see if it is as they claim, the Word of God in addition to the Bible.

I’ve read the Quran as well in the past because I am interested in what others have to say including Muslims and Latter Day Saints.  After all, both groups have very big differences in their teachings on God and Jesus.

Read what Paul writes in Ephesians 3:1-7. Specfically, “…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery… which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel…”

The fact that the Gentiles were to be included as fellow heirs with the Jews was hidden until after Christ’s ministry on the Earth. It was revealed to Paul and the other Apostles. Paul says that truth was “not made known” until then.

So for Nephi’s father Lehi to have prophecied this truth 600 years before Christ and the Apostles in 1 Nephi 10:11-14, that goes directly against what Paul says.

It sounds like Lehi is quoting directly from the Gospels and Romans. Or should we say Joseph Smith is quoting directing from the Gospels and Romans.  The similiarities in language are very precise.

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20 Responses to Paul vs Nephi (Ephesians 3:1-7 vs 1 Nephi 10:11-14)

  1. shematwater says:

    Just a thought:

    First, when Paul speaks of the Mystery does this mean the fact that the Gentiles would receive the Gospel, or could it be a reference to how they were to receive the gospel.
    After all, up until this point the primary recipients were the house of Israel, and few exceptions were made as to membership in God’s kingdom (such exceptions being known as proselytes). Even with these exceptions there was no great missionary work done among any nation. The very idea of people going “two by two” to preach the gospel originated with Peter and the original Apostles.
    So, when Paul speaks to the mystery is it not possible that he is referring to this great missionary endeavor that would commence at the time of Christ (or the Dispensation of the Grace of God)?

    Just a few Old Testament References:
    Isaiah 11: 10 “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”

    Isaiah 42: 6 “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a blight of the Gentiles;”

    Isaiah 19 “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”

    It seems to me that Isaiah new the Gentiles would receive the gospel at the time of Christ and after. He just doesn’t give any indication as to the method that will be used to teach them.

  2. Daniel says:

    In response I would say this.

    I don’t think the mystery is either of those, that they would receive the Gospel or how they would receive it.

    The mystery revealed to Paul and the Apostles is clear in verse 6 of Ephesians 3, “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel”

    This is the mystery: that the Gentiles would be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promises in Christ.

    From the Old Testament, those texts you point out very much show that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles and that they would seek Him. No doubts about that. But… not to what extent they would be included into the family of God. I’m not sure of the “Isaiah 19” reference you included.

    In summary, the Christ would be a light to the Gentiles and they would seek Him, but the prophets were not told the extent to which they would be included. That was revealed to Paul and the rest of the Apostles.

    So for Nephi to have received the truth about the Gentiles and the indepth inclusion with the Jews as heirs 600 years before Christ, contradicts that Paul says it was not revealed to the “sons of men” previously.

  3. Daniel says:

    Thanks for the thought!

  4. shematwater says:

    I would then say that Lehi and Nephi do not declare that the Gentiles would be “fellow heirs” with Israel. In truth, I see much the opposite when I read these words. I have heard others say as much.
    Yes, the gospel would be preached unto the Gentiles, but the focus is still on Israel and nowhere does it indicate the gentiles are made equal to them. In truth, it seems that they are still regarded as second class to the House of Israel.

    Again, I see no contradiction, as what Nephi is saying is essentially the same as what Isaiah said.

  5. Daniel says:

    The issue is specifically with v12-14 where he says that the Gentiles and Jews would be one olive tree, Jewish branches grafted in with the Gentile branches making one tree. Hence revealing the truth of the Gentiles and Jews being one tree together. Lehi’s prophecy is quite clear.

    I do see what you are saying, and I appreciate the thoughts.

    In Romans 11:17-24, Paul uses the illustration of the olive tree as well, in case you wanted to read it.

    I’ll continue reading the Book of Mormon as well.

  6. shematwater says:

    If it is the Olive Tree that you are basing this on I might suggest skipping ahead to Jacob chapter 5 as it gives the entire Parable of the Olive Tree.

    I understand what you are saying, but I think you are misunderstanding the Parable. I also think that few understood the full implications of this parable when it was first given (few understand it now).
    The parable was given, but the understanding of the parable was not necessarily had.

  7. Daniel says:

    I’ll check it out.

  8. shematwater says:

    I have actually done a bit of studying on this, since it is the first time I have heard the idea. While I stand by what I have said concerning many people not understanding the true meaning of the Parable of the Olive Tree, I have also found something rather intriguing.

    In Ephesians 3: 5 we read “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;”

    Notice who it was not revealed to in times past. The secret was held not from the Prophets, but from the sons of men. This term (the sons of men) refers only to the unfaithful of the world (usually Gentiles, but also unfaithful Israel).
    So, what Paul is saying is that the unfaithful were not given to understand this mystery, and that the gentiles (who were always at odds with Israel over their “chosen by God” mentality) would not understand the full impact of Christ’s atonement.
    It does not say that the Prophets and the Faithful followers (called sons of God, or Saints) were not given this knowledge, but that the unfaithful and the Gentile were not.

  9. Daniel says:

    That is an interesting point about the “sons of men” that should be considered.

    Let me pose a question.

    If the mystery is “now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” would that mean it hadn’t been revealed to the prophets prior to Paul’s time?

  10. shematwater says:

    Not necessarily. It does not specify that this is the first time that this mystery was revealed, only that it was revealed at this time.

    In many ways this could be seen as a restoration of Knowledge, a concept that seems unique to LDS doctrine.
    Consider this: At the time of Isaiah the prophets seem to have know a great deal about the first coming of the Savior, the taking of the Gospel to the gentiles, and the second coming of the Savior.
    However, by the time of Christ and the Apostles most people believed in only one coming of Christ in which the gentile nations would be destroyed and God would free the Israelites and rule among them. Even the twelve apostles believed this until after the resurrection.
    So, is Paul saying this is the first time this mystery was revealed, or is he just saying that the truth of the mystery has once again been revealed as it had been lost.

  11. Daniel says:

    I would have to go with the “first time” the mystery was revealed mainly because of what the text specifically says. We see the following:

    1) The information was not made known in other ages.
    2) The information was revealed to Paul and the other Apostles in their time by the Holy Spirit.

    So lets examine the idea of the “sons of men.” I think you bring up a good question of who this term is referring to.

    It could be one of these:

    A) all children of Adam and Eve in general
    B) the unbelieving children of Adam and Eve

    If the mystery/information had already been revealed to the prophets/believers before Christ, why would Paul say #1 and #2 at all? If it had been revealed, then Paul’s points would be untrue. Remember he is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    The idea of revelation is that something hidden has been made known. If it was hidden to the prophets previously, then it wouldn’t have needed to be revealed. And the idea that it might have been lost has no Biblical evidence to support that.

    So in this case, I believe choice A would be appropriate for the definition of the term “sons of men.” So the mystery/information had not been made known to Jew or Gentile.

  12. shematwater says:

    I would disagree that the term “sons of men” has ever been used to reference the entire human race (speaking of biblical usage). I know of no such reference. When speaking of the entire human race the phrase “all men” is what is used.

    So, give a reference that uses your first definition if you don’t mind.

    As to Biblical evidence to support the loosing of truth, there is no place that proves the idea wrong. While one may not be able to support this idea (though I disagree) one cannot refute it either.

    My point is not that this is the only meaning of Paul’s words, but that it is a possible meaning, and because it is a possible meaning the idea of a contradiction between Paul and the Book of Mormon is not mandated by this passage.

  13. Daniel says:

    I would have to say that the Biblical writers have used a number of different terms to refer to humanity as a race. So I don’t think it would be appropriate to say that Paul couldn’t use the term to refer to the whole of humanity.

    Jesus was referred to as the Son of God and the Son of Man. So I don’t have an issue with humanity being called “sons of men.”

    The Greek here seems to point more toward referring to humanity in general.

    Check these Greek references:

    “sons of”:


    Well we could speculate that truth might have been lost, but that is all it is without Biblical evidence saying it was lost. It can’t be proven either way. I would imagine and speculate Paul might have written this passage differently, if this had been given before.

    I would say with confidence that there was nothing important lost that God wanted the people to have. The Old Testament, the revelation to the prophets, was recorded and passed down with careful diligence. I trust that we have everything God intended for the receiving generations to have. The textual evidence is quite clear.

    I do understand your point in this, but I think we need to carefully consider the clear meaning of the text. Paul is quite plain with what he is writing here concerning this mystery.

    I will, of course, continue reading the Book of Mormon. 1 Nephi 10 will probably not be the only passage that runs into this issue with Paul in Ephesians 3.

  14. shematwater says:

    I just disagree that things are as plain as you claim.

    I would also say that I do not judge the possibility of things on the Bible, but on the Spirit. Not that I want to debate the idea, but just letting you know that I do not think the bible is the final authority.

    I hope you enjoy reading.

  15. Daniel says:

    I understand.

    If you are a Latter Day Saint, from all my LDS friends I have talked to, they would agree with you that the Bible is not the final authority. Which is a necessary conclusion believing in additional revelation such as the Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

    As a Biblical Christian, I believe that the Bible is the canon (measure) by which we test everything else. I believe it is the final authority because we know that the Bible is truly the Word of God. It is the anchor of all scripture.

  16. shematwater says:

    “It is the anchor of all scripture.”

    I would agree with this, actually. The Bible is the first (known), and arguably the greatest book of scripture ever written.

  17. Daniel says:

    1 Nephi 14:2 makes the contradiction even more clear.

    “…they [The Gentiles] shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity…”

    I can see why you do not think the Bible is the final authority according to 1 Nephi 13. Very interesting.

  18. shematwater says:

    Actually, I base my opinion on the Bible itself. I had the discussion before with someone else concerning Galatians 1: 8. It is on this that I say that the Bible is not the final authority.

  19. Daniel says:

    Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”

    How does that text in any way show that the Bible is not the final authority?

    If anything, it shows us that the Bible is the measure by which to test all things. Paul affirmed and confirmed what he taught to the Galatians in person through his letter to them. And of course, with the other writings of the Apostles, we have the solid foundation of what they taught in person in writing.

    Since Joseph Smith taught a different god and a different Jesus among other things, I would say what Paul’s statement there applies to him.

  20. shematwater says:

    Well, notice the “we” in this verse. He is including himself in the possible deception. Yes he is reaffirming the what he has taught, but he is also including himself in the warning. I just find that interesting.

    He doesn’t say “if anyone else” but “if we.” Even his word is not to trusted, nor is the word of the other Apostles. Of course, neither is an angel from Heaven. None of these sources are to be trusted.
    As the Bible is the record of their word and their visions it cannot be what he was talking about.

    It is just interesting, and not the only scripture that I would pass this on. It is just the most commonly used.

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