Sidney B. Sperry discusses the relationship between 1 Corinthians 12-13 and Moroni 7 and 10; argues that Paul and Moroni used a common source that originated from Jesus.

Sidney B. Sperry

Sidney B. Sperry, Answers to Book of Mormon Questions (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967), 113-21

Sidney B. Sperry
Reading Public

. . .

That there is more than a casual connection between these two scriptures is apparent to everyone. To be sure, there are great differences between the two texts, but great likenesses also exist. It is but natural that critics of the Book of Mormon should call our attention to these facts, and explain them by saying that Joseph Smith simply “lifted” the ideas from the New Testament and used them to suit himself. The concept that Moroni, living on this continent about A. D. 420 (Moron) 10:1), and far removed from copies of the New Testament, would have access to Paul's writings seems unworthy of their serious consideration.

That there is a problem we grant readily enough, and we shall attempt a reasonable explanation of it. Critics of the Book of Mormon should remember that one of its premises is that the resurrected Christ came to the ancient Nephites, taught them the Gospel in person, and established His Church among them. It is inconceivable that He would fail to instruct them concerning the gifts of the Spirit. To be sure, there is no mention of spiritual gifts by the Savior in his reported sermons in 3 Nephi 11-28. But it should be kept in mind that 3 Nephi reports only “the lesser part of the things which he taught the people” (3 Nephi 26:8). Any mention of the gifts of the Spirit by the Savior might have been withheld for good and sufficient reasons. (See 3 Nephi 26:12.) That our Lord did emphasize these gifts would seem to be indicated by the following statement of Mormon's:

Yea, woe unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the Holy Ghost! (3 Nephi 29:6, italics ours.)

Moreover, Moroni exhorts us that "every good gift cometh of Christ" (Moron) 10:18). We make these points clear in order to drive home another: Moroni doubtless had immediate access to the Savior's teachings concerning the gifts of the Spirit and used them in the manner found in Moroni 10:8-17. The critic may admit that our explanation of the appearance of these teachings in this scripture is reasonable and logical enough, looking at it purely from the Book of Mormon standpoint. That is to say, the Book of Mormon is consistent within itself. However, most critics do not agree with the Book of Mormon contention that Christ did appear in person and teach on this continent. What then? We cannot, of course, force men to believe anything, whether fact or fancy. But we can point to the strong possibility that Paul was not the exclusive author of the ideas contained in I Corinthians 12:4-11 concerning spiritual gifts. Isn't it reasonable to believe that the great apostle adapted an important body of teachings common to the early Christian Church to suit his needs in dealing with the Corinthians? It would seem to the writer that Jesus was far more likely to have been the original author of the doctrines concerning spiritual gifts than was Paul. According to this view the latter simply drew on the teachings of Jesus in much the same way that Moroni did. Paul and Moroni were expositors and teachers of a gospel common to both. Moroni, like Paul, might well have said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (I Cor. 11:1.) It should be emphasized that we are attempting here to give only a reasonable answer to the problem raised; absolute proof is wanting. We cannot prove beyond doubt that Jesus preached a sermon on spiritual gifts either to the Nephites or to His Palestinian followers, records of which could be drawn on by Moroni and Paul. However, it is a very attractive and reasonable presumption that he did. In saying this we are entirely aware that many scholars in recent years have based discussions of the origin of Christianity upon the teachings of the Apostle Paul. To such critics we point out that even if Paul did not have a discourse on spiritual gifts by Jesus on which to draw, there is left the possibility that he received a revelation on the subject. Notice Paul's words:

Now brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? (I Cor. 14:6)

Revelation was not unknown to Paul. He may well have received a revelation on spiritual gifts as did Joseph Smith on one occasion. The latter's revelation is recorded in D. & C. 46:8-27 and is strikingly original, differing in many respects from I Cor. 12:4-11 and Moroni 10:8-17, though its spirit is the same. While the author recognizes the possibility that Moroni and Paul may have received their knowledge of spiritual gifts by revelation, he believes that they received instructions both from leaders of the Church and from scriptures which gave the very words of Jesus on the subject.

. . .

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.