From the Beginning of the Book of 1 Nephi:
“An account of Lehi and his wife Sariah, and his four sons, being called, (beginning at the eldest) Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. The Lord warns Lehi to depart out of the land of Jerusalem, because he prophesieth unto the people concerning their iniquity and they seek to destroy his life. He taketh three days’ journey into the wilderness with his family. Nephi taketh his brethren and returneth to the land of Jerusalem after the record of the Jews. The account of their sufferings. They take the daughters of Ishmael to wife. They take their families and depart into the wilderness. Their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness. The course of their travels. They come to the large waters. Nephi’s brethren rebel against him. He confoundeth them, and buildeth a ship. They call the name of the place Bountiful. They cross the large waters into the promised land, and so forth. This is according to the account of Nephi; or in other words, I, Nephi, wrote this record.” (1 Nephi: Introduction)
Nephi makes a record of his people; “…in the language of my father [Lehi], which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians… I make it according to my knowledge.” (1 Nephi 1:2-3) He makes this record during the first year of the reign of King Zedekiah, who was ruler of Judah. Nephi opens this book with his own introduction;
“I, NEPHI, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been favored of the Lord in all my days; yea having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.” (1 Nephi 1:1)
Nephi proceeds to tell how his father, Lehi, prayed to God on behalf of his brethren in Jerusalem where he is overcome with what the Lord tells him.
“…being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God… it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven… he also saw twelve others following him… And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.” (1 Nephi 1:8-11)
Lehi read the book and was filled with the Spirit of the Lord, and because of this he was saddened because of the abominations he had seen in Jerusalem, exclaiming; “…Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations!” (1 Nephi 1:13)
Nephi explains that his father read many things concerning Jerusalem, mainly that it should be destroyed for their wickedness. Nephi made it clear that although Lehi wrote many things, he would not make a full record of those things in his writings. Nephi did say that his father “…had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thypower, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!” (1 Nephi 1:14)
Nephi explains that his purpose for writing is to abridge the records of his father and then to continue to write his own record in his own time; “…I shall make an account of my proceedings in my days. Behold, I make an abridgment of the record of my father, uponplates which I have made with mine own hands; wherefore, after I have abridged the record of my father then will I make an account of mine own life.” (1 Nephi 1:17)
Nephi explains that Lehi (his father) preached these words to the Jews, but they rejected him because of the things he testified of.