I’ve been re-reading the Book of Mormon and I noticed for the first time that in Helaman it says that Nephi and others were preaching the Gospel and performing baptisms. Later, in III Nephi, the Lord appears to Nephi and calls him and 11 other men to be his disciples. At that time, he gave them the power to baptize. It doesn’t say that he gave them the power to confirm or to baptize by fire, just baptize. Did they have the power to baptize before the Lord’s appearance, or would those baptisms have to be performed again?
We find several references to the receipt of the Holy Ghost or Baptism of Fire, recorded in the Book of Mormon prior to Christ appearing in 3 Nephi. For example in 2 Nephi 31 starting with the 13th verse, Nephi is telling the people why Christ was to be baptized and that men must follow Christ and be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end to be saved.(stated in the chapter heading) “13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall afollow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no bhypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real cintent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are dwilling to take upon you the ename of Christ, by fbaptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the gbaptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the htongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.”
The Chapter heading in 3 Nephi 19 states that the Twelve Disciples pray for the Holy Ghost–They are baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. Then beginning in verse 9: “9 And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the aHoly Ghost should be given unto them. 10 And when they had thus prayed they went down unto the water’s edge, and the multitude followed them. 11 And it came to pass that Nephi went down ainto the water and was bbaptized. 12 And he came up out of the water and began to baptize. And he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen. 13 And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come aup out of the water, the bHoly Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire. ”
In the History of the Church, Volume 6, page 316, the Prophet Joseph Smith stated : “The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use; they are necessarily and insearably connected.” In the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 181, he indicates: “All the prophets held the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” Both of the Prophets Nephi would have held the Melchizedek Priesthood and would have had the authority to give the Gift of the Holy Ghost, as would have all the Prophets in the Book of Mormon as well as in the Bible.