The word “Savior” only appears twelve times in the Book of Mormon. This is surprising to me, since “Christ” appears 396 times, “Jesus” appears 188 times, and “Redeemer” appears 41 times. (I used the “simple searches” function on the University of Michigan website to obtain these numbers.)
I don’t know why the word doesn’t appear more frequently, but I decided to spend some time today with those twelve passages. I found three main principles associated with this title of Jesus Christ:
“The Savior of the World”
After studying the brass plates, and after sharing with his family a dream he had experienced, Lehi taught them that, 600 years later, “the Lord God” would “raise up” a “prophet” among the Jewish people, echoing a prophecy of Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19). He told his family that this prophet would be “a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world” (1 Nephi 10:4).
Shortly afterward, Lehi’s son Nephi experienced an expansive vision in which he was taught about the life of Jesus Christ, the subsequent publication of the Bible, and later, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. An angel taught him that the Book of Mormon and the Bible together would “make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved” (1 Nephi 13:40).
Nearly 500 years later, an angel told King Benjamin that the time would come when “the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (Mosiah 3:20).
So the first principle associated with the title “Savior” in the Book of Mormon is this:
The atonement of Jesus Christ is universal. He is the Savior of everyone.
“Savior and Redeemer”
Isaiah prophesied that, when the children of Israel are delivered from captivity, the event will be so miraculous that everyone in the world would know that “I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isaiah 49:26). This verse is quoted twice in the Book of Mormon, once by Nephi and once by his brother Jacob (1 Nephi 21:26, 2 Nephi 6:18).
Nephi elaborates on this passage, prophesying that the Lord in the last days will “make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations” by bringing “his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel.” So the restoration of the gospel and the gathering of Israel is the great event prophesied by Isaiah. The children of Israel will come “out of captivity,” will be gathered “to the lands of their inheritance,” and will “be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness.” As this miraculous restoration occurs, “they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel” (1 Nephi 22:11-12).
The second principle I learned today is this:
Jesus Christ saves people by revealing His gospel to them and by entering into a covenant relationship with them.
“Our Lord and Savior”
In order to trust someone to help us, we need to know that they are both capable and willing to do so. Some of the titles of Jesus Christ emphasize His power (Lord of Hosts, Mighty One of Jacob, Lord Omnipotent), while others emphasize His willingness to help us (Savior, Redeemer, Mediator). In some of the passages in the Book of Mormon, the word “Lord,” which reminds me of the supremacy of Jesus Christ, is paired with the word “Savior,” which reminds me of His readiness and even His eagerness to help us. Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni all pair these titles (2 Nephi 31:13, Mormon 3:14, Mormon 8:6).
The Apostle Peter also uses the phrase “our Lord and Saviour” (or “the Lord and Saviour”) four times in his second epistle (2 Peter 1:11, 2 Peter 2:20, 2 Peter 3:2, 18).
In a brief editorial note, Mormon uses a variant of the phrase, saying, “I have reason to bless my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, that he brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem,… and that he hath given me and my people so much knowledge unto the salvation of our souls” (3 Nephi 5:20).
The third principle I learned from my study today was this:
Jesus Christ is both willing and able to save me.
Today, I will remember these three uses of the word “Savior” in the Book of Mormon. I will remember that His salvation is universal: available to all of God’s children. I will remember that He makes this salvation available by revealing the gospel to God’s children and entering into covenants with them. I will remember that He has the power to save us, and that He is willing and even eager to do so.