Being Unlearned (2 Nephi 27)

by | Dec 14, 2016 | Scripture Study | 0 comments


A portion of 2 Nephi 27 references a prophecy in Isaiah 29 regarding a learned (educated) man and an unlearned (uneducated) man trying to read a book. The book being referenced is the original manuscript of The Book of Mormon as inscribed on the plates.

According to these verses, the learned man would say that he cannot read the book because it is “sealed” (unreadable) and the unlearned man would say that he cannot read the book because he is unlearned. An actual episode similar to what is described in these verses occurred when Joseph Smith (an unlearned man) brought the plates to a university professor (a learned man) and the same basic dialogue occurred.

God’s statement to the unlearned man regarding the words of this book appear in 2 Nephi 27:20: “The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.” Or, another way of putting it is that since the unlearned man knew he was not capable of reading the words himself, he would have to rely on God and just be an instrument to do God’s work.

Who would we rather be today — the one who thinks he’s “educated enough” to figure things out for himself or the one who admits to needing the Lord’s guidance to make proper decisions in life?

I, of course, need to insert here that education is a very good thing to pursue and is very helpful in living a fruitful life. I count myself blessed to have been able to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree, which provided me with sufficient education to have a successful career.

However, let’s be careful to learn the right things from the right people. Just because someone has Ph.D. (or any other letters) after his name hardly qualifies him to teach you about God. You may be able to learn a lot about computers (or other subjects) from him, but rely on the Word of God (and those who live by the Word of God) to teach you the important lessons about serving the Lord.

If I were to evaluate myself as to how learned of a man I am, I would have to admit that I have failed to learn many lessons that apparently “everybody else” is aware of. For example, I have yet to learn that:

  • You can’t take the Bible literally (lots of people who don’t read the Bible will assure you that it’s just made-up stories to teach moral lessons)
  • God didn’t really create the world (Darwin and today’s school system tell us how it was really done)
  • Any lifestyle is acceptable (lots of famous people say this, so it must be so)
  • Expressing your faith publicly is offensive (it only takes one person in your town to establish that)
  • Attending church is a waste of time (many people will say you can serve God without going to church — how many of them do you think actually do?)
  • You can’t depend on God, only on yourself (people who don’t know the Lord are positive this is true)

As I look at the list above, it becomes obvious to me that I am an unlearned man. I haven’t yet “advanced” to the point where I know enough to depend on myself more than God or to discount or disbelieve the Word of God. How about you — can you be content being unlearned in this way?

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.


  • Brother Jerry Valenti

    Brother Jerry lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with wife Sister Pat and daughter Maria.


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