Victory Over Death in the Book of Mormon
Jesus Christ gives us victory over death and hell. Often, we quote New Testament passages to proclaim this victory. The Book of Mormon takes us a step deeper into the original meaning of the Hebrew Old Testament to make the same proclamation as the Apostle Paul. By understanding the source language, we gain a greater understanding of prophecy and appreciation for the ancient authorship of the Book of Mormon text.
"…they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it." (Alma 27:28)
In the Book of Mormon account, Ammon once led a group of Lamanites called the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to a place of safety and inheritance. He did this for their protection after they converted from a lifestyle of war and bloodshed. Their conversion and repentance was so tangible they did not fear death.
A surface reading of Alma suggests the author simply quotes 1 Cor. 15:54 where Paul declares a victory over death in Christ. However, Paul is quoting a passage from Isaiah 25:8, "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it."
The word "victory" from Isaiah is "netsach" in Hebrew, meaning glory, victory, leadership, long lasting, and perpetual. A messianic prophecy confirmed by Paul, Isaiah foretells Christ’s victory, leadership, and everlasting victory over death. Jesus Christ won the battle over sin and death forever.
The Book of Mormon references this passage in Isaiah two additional times:
"But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ." (Mosiah 16:8)
"…he (Jesus Christ) breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…" (Alma 22:14)
The Nephites understood prophecies concerning Jesus Christ. They quoted Isaiah with full understanding of the Hebrew word "netsach." In Isaiah, the leader swallows up death victoriously and gloriously forever. The Book of Mormon captures each part of the meaning of the word "netsach."
Abinadi (Mosiah 16:8) references Isaiah and proclaims death swallowed up in Jesus Christ as the leader (netsach). Aaron (Alma 22:14) references Isaiah and proclaims death as swallowed up in the hope of glory (netsach). Mormon, likely quoting Ammon, references Isaiah and proclaims death swallowed up in the perpetual victory (netsach) of Christ.
The Book of Mormon quotes Isaiah many times. The ancient authors not only had the brass plates, which contained Isaiah, but used them with a deep understanding of the original language. The phrase "swallowed up" in connection to "netsach" provided a pivotal prophecy for the Nephites' hope in Jesus Christ. The source of that hope comes from a small word in Isaiah, but the fulfillment of that hope also rang true for the Apostle Paul. May that hope still ring true for us today. Death is swallowed up in Jesus Christ victoriously and gloriously forever. Amen.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.