Book of Mormon
Lesson 3
“The Vision of the Tree of Life”

Lesson Highlights

A study of this lesson will help us understand the symbols in the vision of the tree of life and the application of these symbols in our lives.

Scripture references for study:  1 Nephi 8–11; 12:16–18; 15
    Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at and will open in a new window.

Resource notes: Click on links for expanded information.

Lesson 3 Handout (PDF)

Dreams & the Tree of Life


Lehi's Dream - 1 Nephi 8

Nephi said that we should "liken" the scriptures unto ourselves for our "profit and learning" (1 Nephi 19:23-24). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, "It does not suffice to present gospel truths in an abstract and impersonal way. True principles benefit mankind only when they live in the souls of men" (The Promised Messiah, p516). As discussed above, Lehi dreamed of images from his world. As we seek to understand Lehi's dream and teach it to our families, we need to find ways to make it live, as it lived for Lehi and his family.

"And it came to pass that while my father tarried in the wilderness he spake unto us, saying: Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision. And behold, because of the thing which I have seen, I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi and also of Sam; for I have reason to suppose that they, and also many of their seed, will be saved. But behold, Laman and Lemuel, I fear exceedingly because of you; for behold, methought I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness." (1 Nephi 8:2-4)

"And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies. And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field." (1 Nephi 8:8-9)

"And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit." (1 Nephi 8:10-12)

"And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit." (1 Nephi 8:13)

"And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood. And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world." (1 Nephi 8:19-20)

"And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood. And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree. And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost. And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree." (1 Nephi 8:21-24)

Lehi saw a second group of people who entered onto the path, pressed forward holding onto the rod through the mist of darkness until they arrived at and partook of the fruit of the tree of life. After they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they looked around and "were ashamed" (1 Nephi 8:25).

"And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit." (1 Nephi 8:26-27)

Lehi saw a another group pressing forward, "continually holding fast to the rod of iron" until they came and partook of the fruit of the tree (1 Nephi 8:30).

Lehi beheld a fourth group of people, "multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building."

1 Nephi 9

Nephi kept two accounts.


1 Nephi 10

Summary of Lehi’s prophecies:

Nephi says that after he had listened to Lehi’s recitation of his vision and these prophecies that "I...was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things by the power of the Holy Ghost" (v17).

1 Nephi 11

READ 1 NEPHI 11:1.  Nephi ponders in his heart.

Nephi converses with the Spirit of the Lord.

In the remainder of this chapter, Nephi sees the mortal mission of the Messiah.

1 Nephi 15

When Nephi returned to Lehi's tent he found his brothers disputing over the things which Lehi had spoken to them.

Gospel Doctrine Notebook

Record your thoughts on Lehi's dream. What does it mean to you to hold to the iron rod? What things can you do in your life to make sure that you are holding on to the rod and to insure that you partake of the fruit of the tree of life?

Resources Used In This Lesson

An Approach To The Book of Mormon by Hugh Nibley.

BYU Speeches.

Collected Works of Hugh Nibley.

Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon by Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet.

Doctrinal New Testament Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie (DNTC).

Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon.


Studies In Scripture editied by Kent P. Jackson.

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).

The Promised Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie.

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Changes last made on:  23 November 2015