Powers of Angels

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(This is an excerpt from the book Angels: Agents of Light, Love, and Power by Donald W. Parry.)

Jesus promised the Three Nephites extraordinary powers: “For ye shall never taste of death. . . . And ye shall never endure the pains of death. . . . And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world” (3 Nephi 28:7–9). The phrases “ye shall never taste of death” and “ye shall never endure the pains of death” specify that they will never die because of diseases, illnesses, plagues, pestilence, accidents, weapons, calamities or disasters, natural causes, aging, or a thousand other things that mortals die of. The phrase “ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh” indicates that they will not suffer from such painful human conditions as injuries, sicknesses, diseases, aches, sores, wounds, cuts, broken bones, and more. As Joseph Smith explained, “Translation obtains deliverance from the tortures and sufferings of the body, but their existence will prolong as to the labors and toils of the ministry, before they can enter into so great a rest and glory.”

Mormon explained the change in the Three Nephites’ mortal condition so that they would “not taste of death”: “I have inquired of the Lord, and he hath made it manifest unto me . . . that they might not taste of death there was a change wrought upon their bodies, that they might not suffer pain nor sorrow save it were for the sins of the world. Now this change was not equal to that which shall take place at the last day; but there was a change wrought upon them, insomuch that Satan could have no power over them, that he could not tempt them; and they were sanctified in the flesh, that they were holy, and that the powers of the earth could not hold them” (3 Nephi 28:37–39).

Mormon described additional powers of the Three Nephites: “They were cast into prison by them who did not belong to the church. And the prisons could not hold them, for they were rent in twain. And they were cast down into the earth; but they did smite the earth with the word of God, insomuch that by his power they were delivered out of the depths of the earth; and therefore they could not dig pits sufficient to hold them. And thrice they were cast into a furnace and received no harm. And twice were they cast into a den of wild beasts; and behold they did play with the beasts as a child with a suckling lamb, and received no harm” (3 Nephi 28:19–22).

In sum, the Three Nephites demonstrated authority over earthly powers and elements: Prison walls could not hold them, earth’s pits and depths were no threat to them, fiery furnaces had no power to destroy them, and even wild beasts could not harm them.

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