In Nephi 13:34, 13 words from the end of the chapter is the word ‘much’ of my gospel. Can you shed any light on the use of this word please?
This passage references the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the truths it would (and did) bring forth at the time of it’s translation. Placed in a simpler context this can be more clear:
And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb. (1 Nephi 13:34) (emphasis added)
In the Church, we teach and believe that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, why would the Lord refer to the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon as ‘much’ of His gospel, rather than the fulness of His gospel?
In the Church, there are two usages for the phrase ‘the gospel of Jesus Christ’:
1) The combination of principles and ordinances required to enter into salvation, made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ. The exact principles and ordinances required are: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end.
2) The culmination of all gospel knowledge.
In the Church, when we teach and learn lessons about the ‘gospel of Jesus Christ’, we use and apply definition one. This is also what was used in preparing the 4th Article of Faith. Because it contains the doctrines outlined in the first definition, the Bible, on it’s own, can also be said to contain the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That said, in our common vernacular in the Church, we do not often differentiate between the two definitions. Generally we speak and think in a way so as to include all true doctrines combined as being the gospel of Jesus Christ, therefore using the more inclusive definition two.
In the case of the quoted passage from 1st Nephi, the Lord is using definition two when referencing bringing forth ‘much’ of His gospel through the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. In another passage, he uses definition one:
. . . the Book of Mormon; Which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also;
(D&C 20:8-9) emphasis added
The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel according to the first definition, but not the second. President Ezra Taft Benson, in consideration of this understanding, stated the following:
“The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That does not mean it contains every teaching, every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation”
In addition to these references, consider the fact that we know that there are other scriptural writings we do not have. Additionally, 116 pages of even the Book of Mormon itself were lost, and there yet remains a sealed portion which will be brought forth by the Lord at a later time. The Lord has revealed to us what he needs for us to have at this time, and will reveal more as needed. Perhaps this is best summed up by the 9th Article of Faith, which indicates to us that the Lord is continually revealing truth.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
(Articles of Faith 1: 9)
Whatever truth is now or will yet be revealed, would also be considered a part of His gospel. We have received much, and have much yet to receive.