Many readers of the Book of Mormon have an image in their minds of Nephi as a young man. However, much of the record of his life as a prophet, leader, warrior and colonizer took place during his middle to later years.
Although Nephi's youth is mentioned frequently in the early pages of the Book of Mormon, no specific age is given for him. According to a notation in Commentary on the Book of Mormon by George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Nephi may have been born about 617 B.C.A brief reference is made in the Book of Mormon to Nephi's marriage: "Nephi took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife. . . . " (1 Ne. 16:7.) A footnote places the time between 600 and 592 B.C. One may conclude, therefore, that Nephi married between the ages of 17 and 25.
If Nephi was 17 when he left Jerusalem, then he was about 25 by the end of the family's eight-year sojourn in the wilderness. (1 Ne. 17:4.)
In the account of Laman and Lemuel binding Nephi with cords is a reference indicating Nephi and his wife had children by the time Lehi's family began the sea voyage: " . . . my wife with her tears and prayers, and also my children, did not soften the hearts of my brethren that they would loose me." (1 Ne. 18:19.)
Lehi died (2 Ne. 4:12) sometime between the years of 588 and 570 B.C., when Nephi would have been between 29 and 47. In the following years, Nephi, as leader of his people, went through the rigors of colonization and warfare.
At sometime before or at least by the year 545 B.C., Nephi gave his parting testimony. (2 Ne. 33:1-15.) A short time later, Jacob stated specifically that 55 years had passed between the time Lehi left Jerusalem and Nephi commanded Jacob to preserve the small plates and continue to write the sacred record of their people. (Jacob 1:1-2.) Based on the supposition that Nephi was 17 when he left Jerusalem, one may conclude he would have been 72 at the time he turned the records over to Jacob.
Jacob then recorded: "Now Nephi began to be old, and he saw that he must soon die; wherefore, he anointed a man to be a king and a ruler of his people, . . . And it came to pass that Nephi died." (Jacob 1:9, 12.)
George Q. Cannon, a counselor to Presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow, wrote:
"We here close the life of Nephi. He has shown us how much a mortal man, who devotes himself to God and His work, can accomplish for himself and his fellow mortals, and how near, by the exercise of faith, man can draw to God." (Quoted in Commentary on the Book of Mormon, by George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, pp. 454-455.)
Applying the scriptures
Searching the scriptures a 'marvelous opportunity, blessing'
"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." (2 Ne. 31:20.)
"The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life," said President Ezra Taft Benson in his address in the priesthood session of the April 1986 general conference.
To priesthood leaders, President Benson said: " . . .immerse [yourselvesT in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles that are found therein. There are few other efforts that will bring greater dividends to your calling. There are few other ways to gain greater inspiration as you serve. . . .
[When] individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, . . . other areas of activity will automatically come. Testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will be fortified. Personal revelation will flow."
President Benson further said: "You must help the saints see that studying and searching the scriptures is not a burden laid upon them by the Lord, but a marvelous blessing and opportunity. . . ."
Book of Mormon is confirming evidence of life of the Savior
"The Book of Mormon . . . is confirming evidence of the birth, life, and crucifixion of Jesus and of His word as the Messiah and the Redeemer," said Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve in his October 1983 general conference address.
"Nephi writes about the Book of Mormon: `All ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ.' (2 Ne. 33:10.)
"Nephi and his brother Jacob join with Isaiah to constitute three powerful pre-Messianic voices proclaiming the first coming of Jesus.
"Isaiah is quoted extensively by Nephi because he is the principal Old Testament prophet who prophesied of the coming of the Messiah.
"The Book of Mormon establishes the truthfulness of the Bible. (See 1 Ne. 13:40.) It is evidence `to the world that the holy scriptures are true.' (D&C 20:11.) It foretells the establishment of the fulness of the gospel of peace and salvation. . . ."
Of the Book of Mormon's teachings "concerning the doctrine of Christ," as mentioned in 2 Ne. 31:1-2, Elder Faust said: "All scriptures are one in that they testify of Jesus. Jacob, a Book of Mormon prophet, reminds us that `none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ.' (Jacob 7:11.)
"Speaking of the scriptures, the Psalmist said, `Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.' (Ps. 119:105.)
"The Book of Mormon will encourage only righteousness. . . .
"The great worth of the Book of Mormon was declared by the Savior Himself. He said in 3 Nephi, `This is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me.' " (3 Ne. 11:32.)