3 Nephi 15 – Jesus announces that the law of Moses is fulfilled. He speaks of His other sheep being the Nephites and how there will be one fold and one shepherd.
VS1 – “Who remembereth these sayings and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day.”
Up until this point, Jesus had preached about His atonement, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the beatitudes, becoming perfect, prayer, working on yourself before judging others, the golden rule, service, and doing God’s will.
VS2-8 – The Law of Moses is fulfilled.
1. Background on the law
In the time of Moses the children of Israel were stiffnecked and hard of heart. As a result, they lost the privilege of living the fulness of the higher law (see Mosiah 13:29–31). Instead, along with portions of the higher law that they were still allowed to live, the law of Moses (the lesser law) was added to help them come to Christ (see D&C 84:18–27). By the time of the Savior’s mortal ministry, the law of Moses had been at the foundation of Israelite religious and social life for more than a thousand years.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained: “The modern reader should not see the Mosaic code—anciently or in modern times—as simply a tedious set of religious rituals slavishly (and sometimes militantly) followed by a stiffnecked people who did not accept the Christ and his gospel. This historic covenant, given by the hand of God himself … was … a guide to spirituality, a gateway to Christ. …It is crucial to understand that the law of Moses was overlaid upon, and thereby included, many basic parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which had existed before it. It was never intended to be something apart or separated from, and certainly not something antagonistic to, the gospel of Jesus Christ. … Its purpose was never to have been different from the higher law. Both were to bring people to Christ” (Christ and the New Covenant, 147).
2. How the Nephites followed the law
The Nephites possessed written records of the law on the Brass plates, and followed the law. However, Book of Mormon prophets such as Nephi, Jacob, and Abinadi all prepared their people to eventually accept the ending of the law of Moses. (See 2 Nephi 25:27, Mosiah 13:27)
3. How Christ fulfilled the law, but did not destroy it.
The Law of Moses has two aspects: moral and ritual
Moral aspects – In the higher law, Jesus expounded upon the 10 commandments to include the condition of the heart.
Ritual aspects – Animal sacrifice and burnt offerings helped people look forward to Christ’s atonement. Christ did away with these and required a new sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He instituted the Sacrament to remember His atonement.
VS8 – “The Covenant Is Not All Fulfilled” – What does this mean?
Jehovah made a covenant with Abraham anciently. Abraham was promised (1) eternal posterity, (2) a land that would eventually be the celestial kingdom, and (3) God’s priesthood power. These promises were also made to Abraham’s descendants (see D&C 132:30–31) and will be fulfilled in the future.
VS9-10 – “Look unto me and endure to the end”
- Thomas S Monson said: “Seek heavenly guidance one day at a time. Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day – and then one more and then one more after that – until we’ve lived a lifetime guided by the Spirit, a lifetime close to the Lord, a lifetime of good deeds and righteousness.” (Believe, Obey and Endure 2012)
- President Ezra Taft Benson said, “That man is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely approaches the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ. He is the right way, the full truth, and the abundant life” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign,Dec. 1988, 2).
VS11–13 -“This Is the Land of Your Inheritance” (speaking to His disciples)
- Each of the twelve tribes of Israel was assigned an area of land for their inheritance in the land of Canaan. In addition to what they received in the Holy Land, the descendants of Joseph were also promised the land of the Americas as part of their inheritance. The Savior told the twelve Nephite disciples that they and their people were “a remnant of the house of Joseph” (3 Nephi 15:12) and “this is the land of your inheritance” (verse 13).
- Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855–1931) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the land of inheritance as follows: “Another name for America, authorized by the Book of Mormon, is the Land of Joseph, referred to by the Patriarch Jacob in blessing his twelve sons (Gen. 49:22–26), and by the Prophet Moses in his farewell benediction upon the twelve tribes of Israel (Deut. 33:13–15). Jacob’s allusion to Joseph as ‘a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall, was fulfilled in the migration of Lehi and his companions from Asia to America over the Pacific Ocean. It is hardly necessary to add, that one of the main features of these western continents are those mighty mountain ranges, the Andes and the Rockies, well termed by the Hebrew Patriarch ‘the everlasting hills,’ nature’s depositories for ‘the precious things of the earth’—gold, silver, and other minerals—and for ‘the precious things of heaven’—the sacred records already discovered and others that are yet to come forth” (“The Book of Mormon: Historical and Prophetic Phases,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1927, 944–45).
VS16-24 – “Other Sheep I Have”
We learn in verses 14-15 that Heavenly Father did not command Jesus to tell the Israelites about those living in the Americas or about the other tribes of Israel who had been led away. We find out in verse 20 that this is because of their iniquity that they didn’t know of their brethren and that their brethren were separated from them.
When Christ told them he had other sheep which were not of this fold (see John 10:14-16), they did not understand because of their stiffneckedness and unbelief. They thought Christ was talking of the Gentiles because they didn’t understand that the Gentiles would only be converted by Christ’s followers and the Holy Ghost, not Himself. (See 1 Nephi 10:11)
Christ said the Nephites were among His other sheep.
VS17 – “One Fold and One Shepherd”
1. Jesus Christ is often called the Good Shepherd (see D&C 50:44; John 10:7–18; Alma 5:38–60; Helaman 7:18). The metaphor of the shepherd and his relationship to his sheep connotes personal care and concern. One modern commentator spoke of the personal care involved in the work of the shepherd:
“By day and by night the shepherd is always with his sheep. … This was necessary on account of the exposed nature of the land, and the presence of danger from wild animals and robbers. One of the most familiar and beautiful sights of the East is that of the shepherd leading his sheep to the pasture. … He depends upon the sheep to follow, and they in turn expect him never to leave them. …
“… As he is always with them, and so deeply interested in them, the shepherd comes to know his sheep very intimately. … One day a missionary, meeting a shepherd on one of the wildest parts of the Lebanon, asked him various questions about his sheep, and among others if he counted them every night. On answering that he did not, he was asked how he knew if they were all there or not. His reply was, ‘Master, if you were to put a cloth over my eyes, and bring me any sheep and only let me put my hands on its face, I could tell in a moment if it was mine or not’” (George M. Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs [n.d.], 33, 35).
3 Nephi 16 – Jesus has other sheep – the lost tribes of Israel – that he will visit. In the latter days the gospel will go to the Gentiles and then to the Jews.
- Verses 1–3 of 3 Nephi 16 make it clear that there are “other sheep” besides the Nephites and that the Savior planned to visit them. We are told in 3 Nephi 17:4that these other sheep are the “lost tribes of Israel.” The Good Shepherd watches over all His flocks, caring for them as needed.
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Did not Jesus visit them [other tribes of Israel] after he ministered among the Nephites? Answer: Of course he did, in one or many places as suited his purposes. He assembled them together then in exactly the same way he gathered the Nephites in the land Bountiful so that they too could hear his voice and feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet. Of this there can be no question” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 216; italics in original).
VS3–13– The Gathering of Israel
a. Who Is the House of Israel?
“The house of Israel” generally refers to the descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel in the Old Testament (see Genesis 32:27–28). In the Book of Mormon the Savior expanded this definition to include not only the literal descendants of Israel (see 3 Nephi 20:25–27) but also all Gentiles who repent, are baptized, and come unto Christ (see 3 Nephi 21:6).
b. Israel Will Be Gathered in Fulfillment of Covenant
The gathering of Israel in the last days is a fulfillment of the covenant Jehovah made with prophets of the Old Testament (see Isaiah 11:12; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:12; 1 Nephi 19:15–16; Abraham 2:9–11). Jesus Christ repeated this promise in 3 Nephi 20:12–13, 29, at which time He indicated that the covenant to gather Israel was first made with Abraham as part of the Abrahamic covenant (see 2 Nephi 29:14; 3 Nephi 20:25; Abraham 2:9–11).
c. The Role of the Book of Mormon in the Gathering of Israel
The Savior taught in 3 Nephi 21:1–7 that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a sign to the entire world that the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill covenants He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see also 3 Nephi 29:1; Ether 4:17).
- Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “the Book of Mormon is central to this work. It declares the doctrine of the gathering. It causes people to learn about Jesus Christ, to believe His gospel, and to join His Church. In fact, if there were no Book of Mormon, the promised gathering of Israel would not occur” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2006, 84; or Ensign, Nov. 2006, 80).
- President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained that a major purpose of the Book of Mormon is to help bring us to a knowledge of Jesus as the Christ:
“The central purpose of the Book of Mormon is its testament of Jesus Christ. Of more than 6,000 verses in the Book of Mormon, far more than half refer directly to Him.
“So, ‘we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins’ (2 Nephi 25:26)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2005, 8; orEnsign, May 2005, 8–9).
d. The Gathering of Israel Is Both Spiritual and Physical
The spiritual gathering of Israel occurs when someone accepts the gospel of Jesus Christ and is baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of the spiritual gathering when he stated: “The spiritual gathering takes precedence over the temporal. … Men can be saved wherever they live, but they cannot be saved, regardless of their abode, unless they accept the gospel and come unto Christ” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 567).
Jesus Christ taught that there would eventually be two centers of gathering—the New Jerusalem and the Old Jerusalem (see 3 Nephi 20:21–22, 29). As Church membership expanded into other lands, President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught that the gathering place today is wherever someone lives: “The gathering of Israel for Mexicans is in Mexico; in Scandinavia, for those of the northern countries; the gathering place for the Germans is in Germany; and the Polynesians, in the islands; for the Brazilians, in Brazil; for the Argentines, in Argentina” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 4; or Ensign, May 1975, 4).
e. Our Responsibility to Help Gather Israel
“Those of non-Israelite lineage, commonly known as Gentiles, are adopted into the house of Israel and become heirs of the covenant and the seed of Abraham through the ordinances of the gospel (Gal. 3:26–29).Being an heir to the Abrahamic covenant does not make one a ‘chosen person’ per se, but does signify that such are chosen to responsibly carry the gospel to all the peoples of the earth” (Bible Dictionary, “Abraham, Covenant of,” 602). The promise to gather Israel is being fulfilled today as descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bear the Lord’s name, His ministry, and His priesthood to all the families of the earth, thus offering them “the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:11).
“It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81).
VS4-13 – Who Are the Gentiles?
The majority of references in the Book of Mormon to the word gentile are references to anyone who is not a Jew. A Jew was anyone who was a descendant of Judah and anyone from the land of Jerusalem—like the children of Lehi.
1. President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) explained that by this definition many Gentiles did have the blood of Israel: “In this Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, the gospel came first to the Gentiles and then is to go to the Jews. [See D&C 19:27.] However, the Gentiles who receive the gospel are in the greater part, Gentiles who have the blood of Israel in their veins” (Answers to Gospel Questions,comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:39).
2. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described this as well: “We have heretofore identified the Jews as both the nationals of the kingdom of Judah and as their lineal descendants, all this without reference to tribal affiliation. And we have said, within this usage of terms, that all other people are Gentiles, including the lost and scattered remnants of the kingdom of Israel in whose veins the precious blood of him whose name was Israel does in fact flow. Thus Joseph Smith, of the tribe of Ephraim, the chief and foremost tribe of Israel itself, was the Gentile by whose hand the Book of Mormon came forth, and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have the gospel and who are of Israel by blood descent, are the Gentiles who carry salvation to the Lamanites and to the Jews” (The Millennial Messiah, 233).
VS8–20 – The Savior Gave a Warning to People in the Latter Days
- What would lead both the Gentiles and the children of Israel to affliction?
- Gentiles – pride, rejecting the gospel… (see vs 10)
- Jews – judgments of the father, mercy of the father towards the gentiles
- What will happen to the unrepentant in the last days?
- Gentiles – trodden down by Jews
- Jews – forgotten, conquered, overrun by Gentiles
- What blessings come to those who are repentant?
- Gentiles – numbered among the House of Israel
- Jews – Jerusalem will be redeemed, they will receive the gospel, all will see eye to eye
3 Nephi 17 – Jesus asks the people to ponder His words. He heals them, prays for them, and blesses each little child.
VS1–3 – “Ponder upon the Things Which I Have Said”
- Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency said, “Reading, studying, and pondering are not the same. We read words and we may get ideas. We study and we may discover patterns and connections in scripture. But when we ponder, we invite revelation by the Spirit. Pondering, to me, is the thinking and the praying I do after reading and studying in the scriptures carefully” (“Serve with the Spirit,” Ensignor Liahona,Nov. 2010, 60).
- Moroni listed pondering as one of the essential features in gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon(see Moroni 10:3). Nephi told his readers, “My soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard” (2 Nephi 4:16).
VS4 – Scattered Israel Is Not Lost unto the Father
- Although the scattered tribes of Israel are lost to the knowledge of man, they are not lost to God. He knows where they are, “for he knoweth whither he hath taken them” (3 Nephi 17:4). His knowledge of them and the Savior’s visit to the lost tribes of Israel suggests the possibility that we will someday have access to other accounts of Jesus’s visits to His sheep.
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed: “Lost books are among the treasures yet to come forth. Over twenty of these are mentioned in the existing scriptures. Perhaps most startling and voluminous will be the records of the lost tribes of Israel (see 2 Nephi 29:13). We would not even know of the impending third witness for Christ except through the precious Book of Mormon, the second witness for Christ! This third set of sacred records will thus complete a triad of truth. Then, just as the Perfect Shepherd has said, ‘My word also shall be gathered in one’ (verse 14). There will be ‘one fold and one shepherd’ (1 Nephi 22:25) in a welding together of all the Christian dispensations of human history (see D&C 128:18)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 70; or Ensign,Nov. 1986, 52).
- 2Ne 29:13 – 13 And it shall come to pass that the aJews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the blost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
VS5–10 – Jesus Healed and Blessed the People
- These passages show Christ’s character – how He discerned the people’s desires, had compassion on them, and was merciful to their afflictions. He stayed with them and healed them because he knew they had the faith to be healed.
- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland focused on the power of this spiritual moment: “Calling for the sick and the blind, the halt and the maimed, the leprous and the withered, those that were ‘afflicted in any manner,’ Christ asked that they be brought forward that he might heal them. … Sensing with divine insight that these people desired to behold the miracles he had performed for their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, and recognizing instantly that their faith was sufficient for them to be healed, Christ responded to each need within the multitude, ‘and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.’ In response to such an outpouring of compassion and mercy, all of the congregation, the healed as well as the whole, did ‘bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come … did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.’ [3 Nephi 17:5–7, 9–10.]” (Christ and the New Covenant, 268–69).
VS11–24 – “Behold Your Little Ones”
- Christ asked that the little ones be brought to Him. He stood in the midst of them and asked the multitude to kneel. He began to pray, first expressing He was troubled because of the wickedness of the house of Israel. Then he prayed words so great and marvelous they could not be written. He arose, but the multitude was so full of joy, they couldn’t stand. He asked them to rise, blessed them for their faith, and then wept because His was full. He blessed each child one by one and prayed for each of them. He wept again, and said “Behold your little ones.” Then angels came out of heaven and encircled the little ones, as if with fire, and ministered to them.
- Sister Michaelene P. Grassli said, “Let us not underestimate the capacity and potential power of today’s children to perpetuate righteousness. No group of people in the Church is as receptive to the truth” (“Behold Your Little Ones,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 92–94).
- Church members in Chile had a similar experience when President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) visited them: “One of the greatest expressions of love for children that I have seen occurred when I was serving as a stake president in Chile. President Spencer W. Kimball visited Chile for an area conference. Members of the Church from four countries met together in a stadium that held about fifteen thousand people. We asked President Kimball what he would like to do after the conference. His eyes full of tears, he said, ‘I would like to see the children.’ One of the priesthood leaders announced over the microphone that President Kimball would like to shake the hands or bless each of the children in the stadium. The people were astounded—there was a great silence. President Kimball greeted about two thousand children one by one, crying as he shook their hands or kissed them or put his hands on their heads and blessed them. The children were very reverent and looked at him and cried too. He said he’d never felt this kind of spirit in his life. It was a tremendous moment in the lives of all the Church members there” (Janet Peterson and Eduardo Ayala, “Friend to Friend,” Friend,Mar. 1996, 6–7).