(by Dennis B. Horne)
While putting this piece together, I at first planned to quote Ether 4:4-5 and 2 Nephi 27:10-11, but those scriptures are found in the below quotations from apostles explaining what they mean, so I suffice with this: “I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.” And: “They reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.” And lastly from Ether 3:25: “he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.”
For our purposes, the two key phrases are “all things from the foundation of the world”—the beginning of this earth—and, “all the inhabitants of the earth. . . .” This means the creation of the earth and mankind; all of the children of God assigned to this earth. So the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon contains a detailed revelation of the period that scientists would say that evolution happened.
While I find that a number of apostles and prophets have made reference to the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon in their teachings, most of those references are not detailed. As far as I can tell, Elder Bruce R. McConkie seems to have dwelt on the subject of what is written on the sealed portion of the plates the most among his apostolic associates. His views are stated in a number of quotations below, and amount to the fact that the sealed portion contains the vision of the brother of Jared in detail, including an account of the creation of the earth and all things by Jehovah, Michael, and their helpers among the noble and great spirits in the pre-mortal existence.
If the biologists-evolutionists are right and evolution is true, what this means is this hypothetically—that after his mighty vision the brother of Jared wrote something like this: “It came to pass that Jehovah assigned Michael to cause a lightening bolt (or acid) to strike a piece of mud in a swamp, and that microscopic mud became a living cell. And it came to pass that this cell did divide asunder and became two cells, and eventually did become an amoeba. And it came to pass that the amoeba divided into more cells that became tadpoles and worms and frogs and fishes. Thus was how I God created the beginning of man. And I God caused the worms to evolve into bigger worms that evolved into other animals that evolved into others, and I God saw that it was evolution caused and directed by me. Michael and the other noble and great ones therefore had nothing to do except hike and fish and roast marshmallows for 500 million years while I directed evolutionary processes to create monkeys and apes. Thus were found the ancestors of man, and I God saw that man was still evolving as I directed. And it came to pass that an ape gave birth to a man, and I called his name Adam. Or, perhaps it was to Adam’s hundredth great-grandfather and mother, and then their descendants gave birth to Adam and Eve. And now, I cannot write more, for this plate is full (of baloney).
I hope that readers can tell the difference here between this hypothetical but evolutionary account of the creation, and that of what is taught in the temple and the scriptures. Perhaps an evolutionist would write it in a different way, but it amounts to the same thing. Is this what the brother of Jared saw in vision? Did he write the story of evolution creating Adam and Eve from his vision of all these great things from the foundation of the earth? The BYU biology department professors and instructors evidently believe this very kind of nonsense and absurdity to have happened. Perhaps the same with the BYU Studies Quarterly editors and contributors. They likely have specialized theories so they don’t sound this stupid, but again, it all amounts to the same thing.
Alternatively, we have the scriptural and temple accounts. Would the vision shown to the brother of Jared reflect those instead, only much more detailed? Would Jehovah reveal one thing to Abraham and Moses and Joseph Smith and something else entirely to the brother of Jared?
Below are the main statements given in books and talks by Elder McConkie, sharing his views on what is contained in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. These are followed by some commentary from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and then some other shorter items. As far as I can determine, this material represents most of what is known in the Church about the contents of the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith was commanded not to translate. There is some repetition, but also further clues and warnings:
John the Revelator saw in the hands of the Great God a book sealed with seven seals. “It contains,” as our revelations tell us, “the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence” (D&C 77:6), each seal covering a period of one thousand years. As John saw, no one but the Lord Jesus—“the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David” (Revelation 5:5)—had the power to loose these seven seals.
This same knowledge is contained in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. For aught we know the two sealed books are one and the same. Of this much we are quite certain: When, during the Millennium, the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is translated, it will give an account of life in the premortal existence; of the creation of all things; of the Fall and the Atonement and the Second Coming; of temple ordinances, in their fulness; of the ministry and mission of translated beings; of life in the spirit world, in both paradise and hell; of the kingdoms of glory to be inhabited by resurrected beings; and many such like things.
As of now, the world is not ready to receive these truths. For one thing, these added doctrines will completely destroy the whole theory of organic evolution as it is now almost universally taught in the halls of academia. For another, they will set forth an entirely different concept and time frame of the creation, both of this earth and all forms of life and of the sidereal heavens themselves, than is postulated in all the theories of men. And sadly, there are those who, if forced to make a choice at this time, would select Darwin over Deity. . . .
As the Lord Jesus alone has power to loose the seven seals on John’s book, so the coming forth of the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon depends upon our faith and righteousness.
When we rend the damning veil of unbelief that now shuts us out from perfect communion with Gods and angels and when we gain faith like that of the brother of Jared, then we will gain the knowledge that was his. This will not occur until after the Lord comes. (See Ether 4.)
We have yet to gain that full knowledge and understanding of the doctrines of salvation and the mysteries of the kingdom that were possessed by many of the ancient Saints. O that we knew what Enoch and his people knew! Or that we had the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, as did certain of the Jaredites and Nephites! How can we ever gain these added truths until we believe in full what the Lord has already given us in the Book of Mormon, in the Doctrine and Covenants, and in the inspired changes made by Joseph Smith in the Bible? Will the Lord give us the full and revealed account of the creation as long as we believe in the theories of evolution? . . .
As long as we disagree as to the simple and easy doctrines of salvation, how can we ever have unity on the complex and endless truths yet to be revealed?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, Vol. 2:
This is perfectly illustrated by the fact that we do not have the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. That treasure-house of Holy Writ contains an account of the creation of the world, of the dealings of God with men in all ages, of the Second Coming of the Son of Man, and of the millennial era when the earth shall rest and Zion prosper to the full—all of which we are not prepared to receive. The doctrines revealed to the brother of Jared, and which are recorded in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, were had among the Jaredites; they were known to the Nephites during their Golden Era; certainly they were known and taught in Enoch's Zion; but when the Lehite people "dwindled in unbelief," Moroni was commanded to "hide them up." "They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord," Moroni says.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, Vol. 2:
The Sermon on the Mount is not an assemblage of disjointed sayings, spoken on diverse occasions, that have been combined in one place for convenience in presentation, as some uninspired commentators have speculated. It is rather selected sayings, all spoken by Jesus on one day, following the ordination of the Twelve; it is that portion of his words, spoken on that occasion, which the Spirit knew should be preserved for us and for all men who seek truth. It may well be that the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon contains more of the sermon than is now found in Third Nephi, and it may well be that future revelations—accounts of others of the apostles, for instance—will bring to light more that was said on the mountainous plain near Capernaum where Jesus spoke the Spirit-guided words to his Jewish friends.
No doubt what we receive in the future—as to this and all other scriptural expansions—will depend upon our spiritual maturity. When we exercise faith like unto the brother of Jared, we will learn by revelation what he knew, and feel by the power of the Spirit what he felt.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, vol. 4:
Jesus now did something among the Nephites that he had never done, as far as we know, among the Jews. He "expounded all the scriptures unto them which they had received." What a wondrous thing this must have been! On the Emmaus road he expounded to Cleopas and Luke "in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27.) But here to thousands upon thousands of saints who had received the gift of the Holy Ghost and were prepared to receive the mysteries of the kingdom, he expounded all that was written in their holy books. They had the brass plates, which contain the five books of Moses, and the prophecies of the prophets down to the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, including many prophecies and covenants of the Lord that have been lost from our Old Testament. They had the plates of Nephi and other records telling what the Lord had revealed to their fathers during the 634 years since Lehi left Jerusalem. And, above all, they had the Jaredite scriptures, those inspired accounts which are in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. When we think that all these things were expounded unto them by Him who gave the holy word and whose scriptures they were, it makes us feel somewhat insignificant spiritually. When we compare the small stream of revelation we have received with the mighty rivers of revealed truth that flowed to those of old, we long for the day when the Lord will come and reveal all things to us so that we will know what our counterparts of old knew in their days.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, vol. 4:
Along with the teachings given by Jesus in that day, the Nephites had also the inspired writings of the brother of Jared. These accounts had been sealed up for some two millenniums, so they would not "come unto the children of men until after" Jesus had been "lifted up upon the cross." During the golden era of Nephite worship they were opened before all the people. But when these Israelites, after some two centuries of true worship, again dwindled in unbelief, these sacred words were again sealed up and their glories withheld from men. They are now found in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, and of them Moroni said: "There never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared." And with respect to them, the Lord said:
They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.
And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.
It is with the writings of Jareditish Moriancumer even as it is with most of the Nephite teachings of Jesus. They are reserved for the faithful, they can be understood only by the power of the Spirit, and they have not been revealed as yet to us. Though the milk of the word, as found in the translated portion of the Book of Mormon, has been given to prepare us for the meat of the word, as found in the sealed portion of that holy book, it is clear that our faith is not yet great enough to enable us to receive the hidden mysteries of the kingdom. . . .
As we recount these Nephite teachings, and as we learn thereby why Jesus has withheld from the generality of men those great and wondrous things given to an elect few in days gone by, we know exactly why our New Testament friends did not record more of what happened on the mountain in Galilee. What there transpired was for those then present. Such truths as found their way into the biblical accounts were to prepare the way for the greater truths yet to come. The Lord is testing our faith. When we believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon and the other things he has revealed in our day, then will the greater things be manifest unto us.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah, chap. 54:
All things are to be revealed in the millennial day. The sealed part of the Book of Mormon will come forth; the brass plates will be translated; the writings of Adam and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and prophets without number will be revealed. We shall learn a thousand times more about the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus than we now know. We shall learn great mysteries of the kingdom that were not even known to those of old who walked and talked with the Eternal One. We shall learn the details of the creation and the origin of man and what fools mortals are to follow the fads of the evolving evolutionary nonsense that litters the textbooks of academia. Nothing in or on or over the earth will be withheld from human ken, for eventually man, if he is to be as his Maker, must know all things.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah:
Without any question, however, the scripture that is yet to come forth, which will reveal more of the mind and will and purposes of the Lord than any other, is the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. Moroni says that "there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared." All of these things are recorded in the sealed portion of the book. Of them, the Lord said to Moroni: "They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord. And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are." (Ether 4:4-7.)
Nephi spoke similarly. He said: "The book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof. Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them."
And further: "The book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof." This causes us to ask: How would the worldly-wise react if they learned from the book the falsity of their evolutionary theories and how damning their views are about the creation of the world? How would they react if they found detailed prophecies about Joseph Smith and the dispensation in which we live? What if men found in them the mysteries of the kingdom that are revealed in the temples? Would the Lord thus be casting pearls before swine? Our present revelations do, of course, have many allusions to things that are most assuredly set forth extensively and with clarity in the sealed scriptures.
It seems apparent, under all the circumstances, that the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon will not come forth until after the Lord Jesus comes. Nephi's prophetic word is: "And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth." (2 Ne. 27:7-11.)
To those who suppose they believe the Bible but who do not now believe and accept all that the Lord has given to the world, we simply quote what he has to say on the subject: "Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?" (2 Ne. 29:8.) Can men know too much of the mind and will and purposes of their God?
And to those who do not seek for added light and knowledge from on high, our sorrowful word is: From you shall be taken away even that which ye have received.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith:
Truly, there is no book like the Book of Mormon. As of now only about one-third of it has been translated. The sealed portion, which contains the deep and hidden doctrines of the kingdom, is yet to come forth, probably not, however, until the Millennial era. The portion we have received is to try our faith and prepare us for that which is to come. When we exercise faith in Christ like unto those who once rejoiced in the mysteries of the kingdom now withheld from us, then we shall receive that which they enjoyed.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, All Things: Their Creation, Fall, and Redemption:
Granted that in our day, we do not have long scriptural sermons on many of the points. Granted that we do not have the full account of the creation as found in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. Granted that our spiritual stature does not enable us to feel what some of the ancient prophets and theologians knew and felt. Yet we do have a sliver here, and a verse there, and a longer passage somewhere else, which taken together paint a picture that is beautiful to behold. We do have certain basic concepts revealed in plainness and perfection.
There are of course revealed accounts of the creation which we do not have today. For one thing the full account is in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, which the Lord is deliberately withholding from us because our weak faith and low spiritual stature does not enable us to comprehend it. When men again exercise faith like unto the Brother of Jared—which means during the Millennial era—they will again have these full accounts. This more expanded knowledge was had by some of the Jaredites and by the Nephites during the Golden Era. It was also known in the City of Holiness founded by Enoch and among the ancient patriarchs and the saints assembled with them from Adam to Noah. Abraham, Moses, Joseph Smith and a few of the spiritual giants among the true believers have also had clear and spirit-born views about all that is involved.
The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon contains a full account of the creation, which also is deliberately withheld from the world at this time, but which will be known again during the Millennium. There is no question that if it were revealed to the world, or even to the generality of church members, at this time, it would do more harm than good. Obviously it contains so much that is diametrically opposed to the accepted theories of the day, so much that those who are weak in the faith would not accept, so much meat for people who drink only milk, that it would drive the evolutionists in the Church even farther from the standard of truth than is now the case: The Lord in his infinite wisdom grants unto the children of men only that portion of truth which they are prepared to receive.
While speaking of Enoch and not the brother of Jared, President Joseph Fielding Smith felt similarly about why the Lord has withheld greater knowledge about how the earth was created and life began:
For some good purpose, I think that those who are willing to believe might have knowledge of some of these events, the Lord revealed to Enoch the history of this earth and its inhabitants from the beginning to the end, but only a part of this has come to us because of our hardness of heart and unbelief. If the Lord should reveal to us all that He taught Enoch and other prophets, there would be many members of the Church who would rebel and turn away in opposition to it. (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1970], 5.)
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Rending the Veil of Unbelief”:
After the prophet stepped through the veil to behold the Savior of the world, he was not limited in seeing the rest of what the eternal world revealed. Indeed, the Lord showed him "all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth." The staying power and source of privilege for such an extraordinary experience was once again the faith of the brother of Jared, for "the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things."
This vision of "all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be . . . even unto the ends of the earth" was similar to that given to Moses and others of the prophets. In this case, however, it was written down in detail and then sealed. Moroni, who had access to this recorded vision, wrote on his plates "the very things which the brother of Jared saw." Then he too sealed them and hid them again in the earth before his death and the destruction of the Nephite civilization. Of this vision given to the brother of Jared, Moroni wrote, "There never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared."
Those sealed plates constitute the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith did not translate. Furthermore, they will remain sealed, literally as well as figuratively, until future generations "shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations."
The full measure of this unprecedented and unexcelled vision—"never were greater things made manifest"—are yet to be made known. But consider what was made known in the course of one man's experience in receiving it, consider that the time was approximately two thousand years before Christ's birth, and consider what is not presently contained in the Old Testament canon of that period regarding Jehovah and his true characteristics.
Jehovah, the God of the pre-Christian era, was the premortal Jesus Christ, identified here by that name.
Christ has a role as both a Father and a Son in his divine relationship with the children of men.
Christ was "prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem [his] people," knowledge that had been shared before with Enoch and would later be shared with John the Revelator.
Christ had a spirit body in the premortal form of his physical body, "like unto flesh and blood," including fingers, voice, face, and all other physical features.
In some manner Christ assisted in creating man, a creation ultimately performed by the Father. In that process the bodies of the human family were like unto "the body of [Christ's] spirit."
With a spirit body and the divinity of his calling, the premortal Christ spoke audibly, in words and language that could be understood by mortals.
Christ is a God, acting for and with his Father, who is also a God.
Christ reveals truths to some that are to be kept from others until an appointed time (his "own due time").
Christ uses a variety of tools and techniques in revelation, including the interpreting power of "two stones" such as those used in the Urim and Thummim.
Christ had past knowledge of all the inhabitants of the earth who had been and foreknowledge of all who would be, showing all these to the brother of Jared.
Christ's later atoning, redeeming role was clearly stated even before it had been realized in his mortal life. Furthermore, in a most blessed way for the brother of Jared, it was immediately efficacious: "I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people," Christ said. "In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters."
Then the brother of Jared had his redemption pronounced, as though the Atonement had already been carried out: "Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall," Christ promised him, "therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you."
This last statement underscores the eternal nature of the Atonement, its impact reaching out to all who lived before the Savior's birth as well as all who lived after it. All those in Old Testament times who were baptized in Christ's name had the same claim upon eternal life that the brother of Jared had, even though Christ had not yet even been born. In the infinite and eternal matters of the Atonement, as in all other eternal covenants, "time only is measured unto men" and prophets could speak of events yet to be "as though they had already come."
Moroni, in recording the experience of the brother of Jared, added these additional insights and revelations from the same encounter:
Future disciples would need to be sanctified in Christ to receive all his revelations.
Those who reject the vision of the brother of Jared will be shown "no greater things" by Christ.
At Christ's command "the heavens are opened and are shut," "the earth shall shake," and "the inhabitants thereof shall pass away, even so as by fire."
Believers in the vision of the brother of Jared will be given manifestations of Christ's spirit. Because of such spiritual experience, belief will turn to knowledge, and they will "know that these things are true."
"Whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good" is of Christ. Good comes of none except Christ.
Those who do not believe Christ's words would not believe him personally.
Those who do not believe Christ would not believe God the Father who sent him.
Christ is the light, the life, and the truth of the world.
Christ will reveal "greater things," "great and marvelous things," knowledge hidden "from the foundation of the world" to those who rend the veil of unbelief and come unto him.
Believers are to call upon the Father in the name of Christ "with a broken heart and a contrite spirit" if they are to "know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made" unto the house of Israel.
Christ's revelations to John the Revelator will be "unfolded in the eyes of all the people" in the last days, even as they are about to be fulfilled.
Christ commands all the ends of the earth to come unto him, believe in his gospel, and be baptized in his name.
Signs will follow those who believe in Christ's name.
Those faithful to Christ's name at the last day will be "lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for [them] from the foundation of the world."
In the glow of this revelation comes an appeal to all who will one day receive it. Asking the latter-day reader to pierce the limits of shallow faith, Christ cries:
"Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.
"Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.
"Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel."
Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6:
Touch them not. Moroni addresses this admonition to future translators. They must leave the sealed portion alone, until otherwise directed by the Lord. There must be some strong reason for this precaution. Our surmise is that the exceedingly glorious manifestations of God on Mount Shelem, translated into imperfect human language, would have been incomprehensible to the world at the time of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and that ignorance and bigotry at that time would have martyred the Prophet Joseph long before the completion of his mission on Earth if these visions had been put into print.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, But for a Small Moment:
The sealed portion yet to come forth will be very valuable. (3 Nephi 26:10-11.) In fact, this sweeping portion will contain "a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof" (2 Nephi 27:7, 10-11). Such a cumulative record yet to be revealed is something to be awaited with "anxious expectation" in that "time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld," as the Prophet Joseph was promised in the prison-temple (D&C 121:27-28).
For more on the Sealed Portion and Book of Mormon, see President Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Report, April 1928.