3 Nephi 14

 

Covenant Obedience Brings Peace -

 3 Nephi 11 -- Mormon 7      Disobedience Brings Destruction


 

3 Nephi 14:6 Give Not That Which Is Holy unto the Dogs:

 

     To "give not that which is holy unto the dogs" (3 Nephi 14:6) is a very troubling passage for many. What does it mean to "cast not your pearls before the swine?" What on earth is this text talking about? According to John Welch, these phrases make good sense in a temple context. The clue couldn't be more obvious, it is the word "holy." Jesus is talking about a covenant and an obligation of secrecy at this point. There are certain things that are not to be divulged. Interestingly, we also encounter a covenant penalty. If you do cast "your pearls before swine," they will "turn again and rend you" and trample [the covenants] under their feet" (3 Nephi 14:6). Those are common curses that you will see referred to in the Old Testament, reserved for those people who violate the covenant. [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 143]

 

  3 Nephi 14:9 If a Son Ask Bread, Will [His Father] Give Him a Stone?:

 

     In 3 Nephi 14:9 we find, "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." John Welch notes that there is a three-fold petition here. If one asks properly who will be there to open unto you? The Father. He will give you "good things," for what father is there if his son asks for bread "will give him a stone?" (3 Nephi 14:9) [In a righteous covenant manner] if you are asking for the Bread of Life, are you going to be stoned to death? If you ask for a fish, an obvious symbol of Christ, will you be given a serpent, an obvious symbol of Satan? You will be given a "gift," which is another word for endowment. [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 143]

 

3 Nephi 14:17 Every Good Tree Bringeth Forth Good Fruit:

 

     According to John Welch, when Jesus points to the imagery of the tree: "Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit" (3 Nephi 14:17), echoes of temple and eschatological imagery are discernible in his words. First, Jesus speaks of eternal trees, symbolic of the final state of one's eternal character. . . . Second, these good trees are trees of life. One only lives forever by partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life (see Genesis 3:22). Accordingly, the tree is an important feature in the landscape of all temple literature. . . . Third, Jesus equates individual people with the Tree, or by planting the seed of life in oneself, each disciple grows up into a tree of life, as the prophet Alma describes in Alma 32:41-42. . . . Fourth, another temple echo may be heard in the possibility that the cross is also, ironically, a symbol of a Tree of Life (see 1 Peter 2:24). Each person who is raised up in the form of the tree will have eternal life. Ritually, the early Christians prayed in the "cruciform" position, with their hands raised, "stretched out towards the Lord." This "extension," they said, "is the upright cross." Originally this signified the passion of Christ and was a gesture used in confessing Christ at baptism; it imitated the cross, death, and a mystic unification and life with Christ.12 [John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, pp. 75-77]

 

3 Nephi 14:23 I Never Knew You:

 

     Jesus declared:

           Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (3 Nephi 14:21-23)

 

     One might ask, What is it that these people lack that Jesus will have to turn away and say, "I never knew you" (3 Nephi 14:23). According to John Welch to know the Lord is a common expression in Amos and elsewhere in the Old Testament. Amos 3:2 is a good example. To know the Lord means to enter into a covenant with the Lord. The Hebrew word for know is yada. It has a broad range of meanings, but certainly one of them is covenantal. "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." In what sense has God only known Israel? By means of the covenant. [John W. Welch, "Christ at the Nephite Temple," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 144] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 1:3; 3:7; 5:2; 5:5; 2 Nephi 33:4]

 

     According to McConkie, Millet, and Top, it is interesting to note that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Galilean sermon renders the phrase I never knew you (3 Nephi 14:23) as, "Ye never knew me" (JST, Matthew 7:33). This meaning is confirmed by the words of the Lord through Alma the elder:

           For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand. And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me. And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed. And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Mosiah 26:24-27)

 

[Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Brent L. Top, "Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. IV, p. 97] [See the commentary on Mosiah 26:24-27]