In 3 Nephi 20:24 Jesus Christ teaches the inhabitants of America about the covenant that God made with their fathers which will be fulfilled. He teaches that he is the prophet of whom Moses and all the prophets since Samuel testified of.

3 Nephi 20

23 Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.

24 Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.

Why does he mention Samuel specifically?

  • 1
    I'm not sure, but the Nephites forgot to write down the prophecies of Samuel (the Lamanite). Perhaps he's gently reminding them about Samuel, since they seem to have mostly forgot him. Jul 1, 2017 at 11:57

3 Answers 3


Let's start with 3 Nephi 1:4-5.

And it came to pass that in the commencement of the ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people. But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.

The narrative of this time period establishes Samuel the Lamanite as an important figure on everybody's minds. It was Samuel the Lamanite's prophecies, not OT Samuel's that had everybody up in arms.

Samuel (sometimes suffixed "the Lamanite") is referred to subsequently in 3 Nephi 1:6,9; 3 Nephi 8:3; 3 Nephi 20:24; and 3 Nephi 23:9-10.

Taken out of context, 3 Nephi 20:24 begs the question, "which Samuel are we talking about?" However, in context of the entire story and sermon, it's obvious that Samuel the Lamanite is the only Samuel being discussed --- and he would be the only Samuel on anyone's mind. It makes sense that the Lord would refer to the ancient prophet everyone reveres and the latest prophet everyone's having trouble believing.

  • I would go with that, except that it seems to me that Jesus is emphasizing that all the prophets from Samuel testified of Him. It's true that the Book of Mormon hints at a number of prophets not specifically mentioned in the extant text during the approximate 40 years between Samuel the Lamanite's testimony/prophecy and His own advent in the Americas, and there are several specifically mentioned. But I think He is evoking the scope of His ministry, which extends back to Adam, here. Not that it makes any difference, doctrinally, but the Savior seems to be echoing Peter's words, as well.
    – Joel Rees
    Jul 1, 2017 at 23:39
  • I see your point, but the reason I disagree is that nobody at the time of 3 Nephi is worrying about what OT Samuel taught about them 1,000 years previously (which was nothing other than to generally testify of Christ) while S. the L. spoke specifically of signs they would be seeing before Christ's arrival. Further, considering the number of prophets who taught of Jesus between Moses and Jesus all over the world, it's odd that He would limit the date range to (at best) 1,500 B.C. and 930 B.C. and prophets only in the old country when the relevance is between 1,500 B.C. and 34 A.D.
    – JBH
    Jul 1, 2017 at 23:46
  • Thank you for pointing out that Samuel the Lamanite's relatively recent prophecies is what would be on people's minds. It is great to be able to read the scriptures from the perspective of those present.
    – Hans Vonn
    Jul 2, 2017 at 1:37
  • I agree that Samuel, the Lamanite, was of great importance to the Nephites. - Hel 13:2 - First mention - Hel 16:1 - Nephites that believe are baptized - 3 Nep 1:5 - Plan of wicked to destroy believers - 3 Nep 8:3 - Nephites look for sign of 3-day darkness - 3 Nep 20:24 - All prophets from Samuel? - 3 Nep 23:9 - Jesus corrects records - Mor 1:19 - Prophesies fulfilled - Mor 2:10 - Prophesies fulfilled
    – Hans Vonn
    Jul 2, 2017 at 10:11
  • You are right that Samuel the Lamanite is the prophet being discussed. Samuel from the Old Testament is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Thank you for your input.
    – Hans Vonn
    Jul 2, 2017 at 10:18

Do you know of a prophet in the Old Testament between Moses and Samuel?

Joshua is the only one from whom we have much of a prophetic record, and in that record he seems to pretty much limit himself to what Moses taught. So Jesus, having explained that Moses testified about His coming and His teaching, moves on to Samuel, I would guess.

Elsewhere, such as in Jacob 7: 11, we are told that everyone from Adam down prophesied about Jesus. You can read some of those prophecies in the Pearl of Great Price.

If you are wondering, a significant part of the early Book of Mormon narrative concerns Lehi obtaining an early copy of what would be close to the Hebrew scriptures extant ca. 600 BC. So we see a bit of discussion of Moses and Isaiah and others of the Old Testament prophets in the Book of Mormon.

It is interesting that Jesus chose to teach a principle that Peter taught (See Acts 3: 22 - 26.), and that Joseph Smith's translation of Jesus' words here seems to follow Peter's words really closely.

Some people worry about this, thinking it must be evidence of plagiarism or something. If we assume that Joseph Smith was a charlatan, we might think so.

On the other hand, God doesn't seem to worry about His prophets plagiarizing each other. Prophets quote each other quite liberally.

So it can really only confirm the assumptions you start with, for Joseph Smith to have Jesus apparently quoting Peter. He was teaching the same principle Peter was teaching in Jerusalem about the same time.

For the reasons it so closely parallels the King James version of the Bible, Joseph Smith's formal education was limited to three years of what we now call elementary school. Beyond that, the Bible formed the basis of the bulk of his education in English and philosophy, at minimum.

Having done some translation myself, between English and Japanese, I know that, when I go out of my way to use vocabulary and phrasing I'm not familiar with, not only is it hard, but I tend to produce things that don't match existing idiom -- they sound strange, and they tend not to make much sense.

So I find myself both consciously and subconsciously resorting to idioms I have heard, and that means I often quote scriptures near verbatim when what I am translating is material that is scriptural and it happens to be scriptures that I remember.

For these reasons, among others, it does not surprise me that the Book of Mormon quotations from the Bible so closely parallel the KJT.


PyRulez brings it to my attention that I let the overall focus of my response shift too much.

Here is a discussion on the Church website of the concept that all the prophets from the beginning have testified about Jesus Christ's coming and the work He would do:


From that article, I would particularly note 1st Nephi chs. 8, 11-14, the prophetic dreams which Lehi and Nephi saw.

Also, Samuel the Lamanite, mentioned by PyRulez and others, is recorded in Helaman 8, ca. verses 16 and 18, to have talked about a number of prophets from Abraham down who prophesied of Jesus and of the redemption. If this is the Samuel that the Savior was mentioning, per your question and JBH's and PyRulz's comments, I would say that it is not just because Samuel taught the concept that all the prophets testified of Him, but because Samuel testified in great detail about the Savior's coming. Very definitely worth reading.

And, as I mentioned, many verses in the Pearl of Great Price, esp. the Book of Moses, two of which may be of particular interest:

Moses being told his ministry would symbolize the ministry of Jesus in Moses 1: 6.

And Enoch prophesying of Jesus Christ before the flood in (among other places) Moses 6: 51, 52. In this particular scripture, Enoch is explaining that Adam himself was taught, not only of the coming of a Savior who would redeem men from their sins, but of the name of the Savior.

(end afterthought)

  • Oh huh. I never really payed that close attention, but I had always assumed that that verse was talking about Samuel the Lamanite. I guess Samuel from the OT would make more sense though. Jul 1, 2017 at 13:03
  • And I wouldn't rule that possibility out.
    – Joel Rees
    Jul 1, 2017 at 13:04
  • 3
    I think the main point Jesus was trying to make was that all the prophets foretold His coming anyways, and was just trying to get them to appreciate the scope of it with some names they would be familiar with. Jul 1, 2017 at 13:10
  • @PyRulez And I lost that focus in the process of exploring one possible reason for mentioning Samuel specifically. Maybe I should edit?
    – Joel Rees
    Jul 1, 2017 at 22:43
  • 1
    Actually, the Lord most likely was speaking of Samuel the Lamanite in 3 Ne 20:24. See His continued statements in 3 Ne 23:9 where he speaks of Samuel the Lamanite by name. Referring to the OT Samuel would mean he was referring to two people, both of which pre-dated the people He's talking to by 1,000 years and more. It makes more sense that He's bracketing time until (metaphorically) yesterday.
    – JBH
    Jul 1, 2017 at 23:10

Following Moses, whatever prophets were present in Israel in the period of the Judges did not leave much writing to speak of. Samuel of David's day was likely considered the greatest prophet since Moses. All the rest of prophetic literature available to the Nephites comes after him, so Christ's reference is an apt summary of the Israelite corpus available to the Nephites. Isaiah was the favorite, but other prophets were known and cited. Christ may have also been referring to the prophets of the Nephite tradition since Lehi, who were often plainer and more explicit in their prophecies of Christ than any in the Old Testament. Samuel the Lamanite was comparatively recent.

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