The Book of Mormon Defines Latter-Day Saints as Gentiles - Book of Mormon Isaiah

The Book of Mormon Defines Latter-Day Saints as Gentiles

Nowhere does the Book of Mormon identify Latter-day Saints as the house of Israel. Though its prophets have seen our day, they call members of the church “the Gentiles.” The title “house of Israel” is at all times reserved for the Jews, Israel’s Ten Tribes, and the Nephites/Lamanites.

The Book of Mormon, in other words, groups Latter-day Saints with the other Gentiles who migrate from the old world to the new. Their relationship to house of Israel peoples, however, takes a turn sometime after they have smitten and scattered them, when only remnants remain.

1 Nephi 13:14–16
I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten. And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance. . . . And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.

When Jesus’ second coming grows imminent, certain kings and queens arise among the Gentiles “who have care for the house of Israel” and “realize and know from whence their blessings come” (Mormon 5:10). These soften their hearts and act “like a father to them” (2 Nephi 10:18).

It is on these Gentiles that Book of Mormon prophets pin their hopes for their descendants’ end-time restoration. Having seen in vision their dwindling in unbelief over many years, their prayers are answered when these Gentiles fulfill Ephraim’s birthright role of saving his sibling tribes.

2 Nephi 10:8–9
It shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance. Yea, the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles.

These kings and queens of the Gentiles are not the political kings and queens of the world, who care little for the house of Israel. Rather, they are spiritual kings and queens who serve as saviors to the house of Israel by teaching them the gospel and gathering them to lands of inheritance.

The history of these kings and queens of the Gentiles goes back to Jacob’s blessing on the head of Joseph’s son Ephraim, on whom he bestowed the birthright. In his patriarchal blessing, Jacob predicted that the tribe of Ephraim would become the “fulness” or “culmination” of the Gentiles.

Genesis 48:17–18
When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than him, and his seed shall become the fulness of the Gentiles (melo’ hagoyim).

Jacob’s prophecy about Ephraim’s descendants’ becoming the “fulness” or “culmination” of the Gentiles began to be fulfilled as the tribe of Ephraim “mixed” or “assimilated” (hitbolel) into other nations, so that today they are part Gentile and part Israelite, as was Ephraim himself.

Hosea 7:8
Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned.

As in Jacob’s blessing, when we define Ephraim’s descendants as “the fulness of the Gentiles,” Paul’s quoting Zenos’ olive tree allegory becomes clearer. The wild branches—the Gentiles—keep the olive tree alive until the house of Israel is grafted back in and again bears good fruit.

Romans 11:24–25
If thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in.

Paul is cautioning the Gentiles who have received the gospel, knowing that their blessings come not of themselves but from God’s covenants with the house of Israel—in this case, the Jews. He predicts that as soon as Ephraim’s descendants are gathered, the Jews’ blindness will disappear.

The expression “fulness of the Gentiles”—signifying Ephraim’s descendants—appears twice in the Book of Mormon, each in connection with the house of Israel’s end-time restoration. They refer to Ephraimite Gentiles who minister to house of Israel peoples spiritually and temporally.

1 Nephi 15:13
The thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed.

3 Nephi 16:4
I command you that . . . these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.

That end-time mission of the Ephraimite Gentiles towards the house of Israel—Jews, Ten Tribes, and Lamanites—fulfills God’s ancient covenants with their ancestors. As no one else is destined to fulfill this end-time role, that puts Latter-day Saints on the spot to measure up to their task.

3 Nephi 16:5–7
And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel. And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them.

The idea of a “fulness” or “culmination” (melo’) of the Gentiles additionally alludes to the prophesied end of the Gentiles themselves. As the Gentiles’ spiritual kings and queens fulfill their end-time ministry of restoring the house of Israel, they become “numbered” among them.

3 Nephi 21:5–6
When these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles, unto your seed which shall dwindle in unbelief because of iniquity; For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.

After a great division between those Gentiles who repent and those who harden their hearts, the term Gentiles no longer applies as before. The repentant Gentiles are now known as “saints” or sanctified ones, while the rest identify with the great and abominable church (1 Nephi 14:7–10). 

That division among the Gentiles forms an integral part of God’s great and marvelous work, it too being an end-time event. It involves the immediate destruction of those Gentiles who harden their hearts and fight against Zion and God’s empowerment of his saints and covenant people.

1 Nephi 14:14–15
I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth.

Those now called “saints”—in very deed, not in name only—consist of those same spiritual kings and queens of the Gentiles who minister to the house of Israel. Their restoration of the house of Israel fulfills God’s covenants at the very time God destroys the wicked of the world.

1 Nephi 14:17
And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.

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