3 Nephi 16: 13-14

“But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.  And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.”

Here Gentiles are given hope. Although as a group, they will fall away and reject the fullness, if there are any among them who “repent and return” they may still be numbered among those who are the Lord’s people. Those whom He calls “my people.”  Those dear to Him by covenant and promise.

The few who do will be required to “repent and return.” Why do they need to “repent?” Why do they need to “return?” What have they been doing that will require this “repentance” and “return?”  

Does it mean they will not remain in the way, but will have been led out of it? Will they necessarily have to abandon the abominations, or false beliefs, which have become part of their religious traditions?

Where did these false religious ideas arise?  If the Gentiles inherit the fullness of the Gospel, then reject the fullness, what did they first receive? What did they do with what they received?

How can some few still persist and be numbered among the house of Israel?  What must those who “repent and return” accomplish?  How will they be able to accomplish this?

Nephi had described these “few” earlier in a prophecy about our day in 2 Nephi 28: 14They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.”

What does it mean to have “all gone astray?” Does “all” truly mean “all?” How can a “few, who are the humble followers of Christ” exist? Do these “few” “nevertheless err?”

What causes the “few” to err? What does it mean that they are “led, that in many instances they do err?” What does it mean to be “taught by the precepts of men?” Wasn’t that the very problem that provoked the Restoration in the first place? Weren’t men teaching for doctrines the commandments of men? Did that produce only a form of godliness, which had no power?  (JS-H 1: 19.)

Those who “repent and return” will be spared from being trodden down and torn up. Others of the Gentiles, who do not “repent and return” are destined, like the original inhabitants of this land, to be trodden down and torn up. Their inheritance here is probationary. If they fail the probation, they will be swept away. The Gentiles will be gone, just as the earlier civilizations are gone. It will be the Father’s doing.

11 thoughts on “3 Nephi 16: 13-14

  1. I thought that once someone is baptized into the church they are adopted into the House of Israel. Could someone help me understand, why then, the members of the church are referred to as Gentiles and are not considered part of the House of Israel.


  2. Also, if someone is an Emprhaimite, why are they not considered part of the House of Israel? Their grandfather is Jacob just as the descendants of Manasseh.

  3. I don’t feel inclined to speculate on how current Church leaders may or may not be leading members astray. But maybe some of the “repent and return” has to do with one’s desires and thoughts. A cursory glance around my Relief Society shows me women who are far more excited about Twilights than Nephites and Lamanites. More focused on boob jobs than the trials of Job. Their conversations revolve around clothing sales, money, cars and trips. Their thoughts dwell on their petty family “crises” and how they’re going to survive until school starts again.

    I don’t know… maybe it’s where our thoughts are?

  4. If we read D & C 132:7 it might help give us an answer to the House of Israel question above. Here are talking about the New and Everlasting Covenant here:

    “And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”

    Basically, unless the covenants we make are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, it may not matter if we’ve been physically baptized or not.

    If I understand it correctly being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is having your calling and election made sure and receiving the Second Comforter. (http://www.bhporter.com/Porter%20PDF%20Files/the%20Holy%20Spirit%20of%20Promise.pdf)

    I’ve got a ways to go.

  5. So we see from 2 Nephi 28: 14 quoted in the post above: “… they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.”

    Just because all but a few have gone astray and some of the few who haven’t are still erring, that doesn’t mean that whopping tons of them all can’t repent and return. 3 Nephi 16 never puts a limit on the number who can or will repent and return. The parable of the 10 virgins still gives us hope for several million people. That’s no small number.

    Then we can’t discount whoever from the U.S. who aren’t LDS now who might be willing to repent and come unto Christ and even enter into His rest if we will teach them with the loving power from on High that is available to us (as Nephi and Lehi, and Ammon and Aaron did).

    Notice that the first part of Aaron’s and his brothers’ mission to the Lamanites flopped. It says “as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people” (Alma 20:30). To that I say, perhaps. But it’s also possible that they didn’t deal with the Amalekites with love and power in the same way that Ammon dealt with Lamoni. Notice how Aaron’s next missionary approach to the big King of the Lamanites is an exact mimic of what Ammon did with Lamoni (Alma 22: 2-3). Aaron changed his approach to copy what he learned works a lot better. And it worked for him too!

    First we have to be among those who repent ourselves. Then, why not copy these great missionaries too and be as successful as the scriptures tell us we can be.

    Don’t forget, Nineveh repented.

  6. Ah…Jonah…I named my first son after that great Prophet. We criticize Jonah, but he shared his inadequate feelings with the Lord. We don’t have the rest of that story, for sure. The House of Israel reveres him more than Gentile Christians do. To Christians, he is a blunder, but he holds the honor of being the quintessential example of repentance in the Old Testament. Everyone in Israel would’ve ran like he did. Not many would’ve repented and actually preached the message. His life became a great type of the Savior’s sacrifice. There is likely a resolution to the fact that he didn’t appreciate that the Assyrians repented. Coudn’t we assume he accepted the teaching he was given from the Lord? Perhaps that was a personal visit from Jehovah?

  7. One more thing along these lines — I don’t understand this, but I notice in the scriptures that a surprisingly large number of people will repent if they are offered the Gospel by the power of the Spirit and in a loving way. I said in another comment that by the end of 3rd Nephi (or did I say 4th Nephi by mistake?), ALL of the people had repented. Now notice who these people included: people who threw the Disciples of Jesus into furnaces and into the dens of wild beasts, etc. In other words, murders. They all repented. This says something about the power of great and powerful missionary work. I’m not so sure that when people don’t repent it doesn’t say more about the teachers/missionaries than it does about the people not repenting.

    Not everyone will repent. We know that. But many will.

  8. My wife and I just read out of Leviticus chapter 4. Read verses 13 and 14 particularly. “And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty; …” and then it details the sin offering of a bullock. This shows the Lord knows the people can fall into such errors. The rest of the chapter talks about the high priest and the rulers of the people and details the same offering if they fall into errors as well. This is not even going into the people’s intentional sins. But, nonetheless, are we any less in need of a spiritual sacrifice for these types of sins from time to time? Even the extreme loss of valuable bulls? Return and repent, Ephraim. Perhaps the symbolisms of this type of sin offering done with a bull may help us know how to return and repent for the types of sins where the few humble followers of Christ err, being taught by the precepts of men, but not knowing they err greivously. Again, this is just a thought for that group, and not the rebellious ones. They sin openly with stiff necks. This is the first I’ve come across this in relation to this subject, so I don’t know the interpretation of the symbols yet.

  9. The last couple of posts have brought mixed feelings. First of all, I’m excited for what I’m learning and relieved that all of these years of yearning for something more have some basis. But I’m also disappointed to learn that the great apostasy referred to in the Bible is also about OUR day. I was always taught it was the dark ages, and the Restoration brought back the fullness of the Gospel until the sons of Levi… etc, etc.

    Surely there are Brethren much more spiritually in tune than I who have come to recognize this. And if that’s the case, why haven’t they sounded the trump of warning loud and clear, rather than in some veiled allusion (while I’m getting a pat on the back)? I don’t get it.


  10. Hi Doug, I’ve wondered the same thing. Here are some of my thoughts…I don’t know if they’re all relevant or not:

    Pres. Kimball tried hard to fulfill our charge to bring the Gospel to the House of Israel with his Lamanite program. Perhaps we used our Gentile methods and failed miserably. We brought took away their children and tried to make them more Gentile with schooling, etc, all in the name of preparation to hear the word, then never really gave them a chance at the fulness. The way Denver described things in his Alma 13 treatise, we should have offered the fulness first, including all these prophecies about them getting their land back. Perhaps we were too prideful to admit there would be a FULL HANDOFF. We wanted to maintain control. Pres. Kimball went to his grave even more hoarse in crying repentance. It didn’t work. Pres. Benson sounded harsh and unfeeling to most people. When he started having symptoms of senility, people probably back-tracked and thought it explained his previous “extremes” in preaching we were condemned. Again, in response to his request to take the Book of Mormon seriously, all we did was to try to prove to ourselves it was true by sending BYU cronies out to research archealogical, literary and other evidences. FAIL! It is evident we have a wide-spread lack of / loss of testimony in that book. We heap up Gentile proofs more and more instead of spiritual experience with the same experiences they had in the book. In comparison to spiritual experience, who cares about finding the name Nahom in Saudi Arabia? The name thing is cool for about 2 seconds. Then the thrill is over. They spend thousands more dollars for the next thrill.

  11. Krisi- I think there’s a lesson in the verse from 2 Nephi 28: 14, that I don’t think I considered before:

    “they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.”

    It was interesting to me that even those who err because of the precepts of men, are still referred to as “humble followers of Christ.”

    I see this as something to hope for. We don’t have to be perfect, and neither do our fellow members of the church, in order to be counted among the fold of Christ.

    Sometimes I think that as we learn more, and perhaps have more of the mysteries of the Lord opened to us, we assume that we have some kind of special standing over those around us, even assuming because they don’t know that they are destined to be damned, or miss out on exaltation.

    Verses like this pull us back from that assumption a bit, I think. Humble followers of Christ can be found even among those that err because of the precepts of men.

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