The Book of Mormon and Second Corinthians


Joseph Smith did not make as extensive use of the book of Second Corinthians as he did of First Corinthians. However, an analysis of these quotes reveals another important principle which we will see from time to time: Smith seemed to have some favourite phrases, which he used over an over again.

The Judgement Seat of Christ

The final day of Judgement is a major theme of the Book of Mormon. In developing this theme, Smith made use of a number of sources. His major source, as we will see later, was the Book of Revelations. However, a certain verse from II Corinthians seems to have stuck in the Prophet's mind.

II Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. I Nephi 10:21 ...then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God...
II Nephi 9:15 ...they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel...
Mosiah 3:24 ...they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.
Mosiah 16:10 be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil...
Alma 3:26 ...that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad...
III Nephi 26:4 ...shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil...
III Nephi 27:14 stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil...
III Nephi 28:31 ...when all people must surely stand before the judgment-seat of Christ...
Mormon 3:20 ...that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ...and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil...
Mormon 3:22 ...prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.
Mormon 6:21 ...and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works...

All Things New

Paul's famous phrase in II Corinthians 5:17 also inspired a number of Book of Mormon quotes.

II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Mosiah 27:26 And thus they become new creatures...
III Nephi 12:47 Old things are done away, and all things have become new.
III Nephi 15:2,3 ...for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new...Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.
Ether 13:9 ...the old have passed away, and all things have become new.

The Day of Salvation

II Corinthians 6:2: ...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation... Alma 34:31 ...for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation...

Abounding in Good Works

II Corinthians 9:8 ...always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work... Alma 7:24 ...and then ye will always abound in good works.
Ether 12:4 ...always abounding in good works...

In the Body or Out of the Body

II Corinthians 12 contains an account of Paul's experience of Heaven (some have speculated that Paul is here relating his own near-death experience, as recorded in Acts 14:19). This passage also seemed to make an impression on Joseph Smith.

II Corinthians 12:2-4 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. III Nephi 26:18 And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.
III Nephi 28:13-15 And behold, the heavens were opened, and they were caught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things. And it was forbidden them that they should utter...And whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell...

Significantly, the Book of Mormon uses the phrase 'caught up' only twice - both in III Nephi 28. The word 'unspeakable' is used only three times in the Book of Mormon - Helaman 5:44, III Nephi 26:18 and III Nephi 28:13. In each case, it is found in a quote from the King James Bible.

The Book of Mormon also references verse 9 of II Corinthians 12.

II Corinthians 12:9 ...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness... Ether 12:26 ...and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness...
Moroni 10:32 ...then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ...

Touch Not the Unclean Thing

II Corinthians 6:17 contains a paraphrase of an Old Testament verse.

II Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. Isaiah 52:11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord. Alma 5:57 ...come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things...

The Book of Mormon, however, quotes the New Testament paraphrase. Note that Alma is supposed to date from before the New Testament.

The Beguiling Serpent

II Nephi 9:9 is a reference to Satan.

II Corinthians 11:3,14 the serpent beguiled Eve...for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. II Nephi 9:9 ...that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light...
Mosiah 16:3 ...even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents...
Ether 8:25 ...even that same liar who beguiled our first parents...

Again, it is instructive to note that the word 'beguile' is used only three times in the Book of Mormon - every time in the same sense as II Corinthians 11:3.

The word 'transform' is used only once in the Book of Mormon - in II Nephi 9:9.


The closing words of II Corinthians can also be found in the Book of Mormon.

II Corinthians 13:14: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. Ether 12:41 ...that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.


There are two things evident from this study that we will see again. First, the prophet evidently had his favourite phrases, which he used over and over again. Second, on several occasions the Book of Mormon quotes a New Testament paraphrase of an Old Testament passage, instead of quoting the Old Testament passage itself. We saw this phenomenon with Alma 5:57, which quotes II Corinthians 6:17. We will see the same thing happening with Acts and Hebrews.

Contents Copyright 1997 Curt van den Heuvel

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