3 Nephi 15–18

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 224–230


Jesus Christ is “the law, and the light” (3 Nephi 15:9). He taught that all people must look to Him to receive eternal life. In chapters 15–18 we witness His compassion. When He perceived that many did not understand His words concerning the law of Moses, He took the time to give further explanation. When the people looked upon Him with tears, desiring that He tarry longer, He stayed and ministered to them. He healed their sick, prayed for them, and instituted the sacrament among them.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • Jesus Christ gave the law of Moses to ancient Israel. God’s laws are given to help lead people to the Savior (see 3 Nephi 15:2–10).

  • Christ’s “sheep” are those people who hear His voice and follow Him (see 3 Nephi 15:12–16:3; see also John 10:14–16, 25–27).

  • Because the Jews rejected the Savior, in the latter days the gospel will go first to the Gentiles. Those Gentiles who repent and accept the gospel will be numbered among the house of Israel and receive the same blessings (see 3 Nephi 16:6–13).

  • Pondering and prayer can lead to revelation and understanding (see 3 Nephi 17:1–3; see also Helaman 10:1–3; D&C 138:1–2, 11).

  • Spiritual experiences are real, even though human language sometimes cannot describe them (see 3 Nephi 17:15–18; see also 3 Nephi 19:31–34).

  • Taking the sacrament helps us remember the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we partake worthily and keep our covenants, God has promised that we will always have His Spirit to be with us (see 3 Nephi 18:1–11; see also 3 Nephi 20:3–9).

  • Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. We hold up His light to others when we keep His commandments (see 3 Nephi 18:24–25).

  • The Lord has commanded us not to take the sacrament unworthily (see 3 Nephi 18:27–30).

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 120–22.

Suggestions for Teaching

video iconBook of Mormon Video presentation 18, “My Joy Is Full” (4:00), can be used in teaching 3 Nephi 17 (see Book of Mormon Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

3 Nephi 15:1–10. Jesus Christ gave the law of Moses to ancient Israel. God’s laws are given to help lead people to the Savior. (20–25 minutes)

Select a student who has a skill such as juggling or playing a musical instrument. Give the student two minutes to demonstrate the skill and to teach the rest of the class how to do it. Discuss the following questions:

  • What do you think makes teaching this skill difficult?

  • How can you tell if people you are trying to teach are actually learning?

  • What would you do if the people did not understand what you were teaching?

Have students read 3 Nephi 15:1–10, and ask:

  • What teaching of the Savior did the people have difficulty understanding?

  • What did the Savior do when He perceived that the people did not understand His teachings about the law of Moses?

Explain that behold means “look” or “pay attention.” Ask:

  • How many times does the word behold appear in these verses?

  • What do you think this implies about the importance of what Christ was teaching?

Write the following four points on the board:

1. The law of Moses was given by Jesus Christ.

2. Jesus Christ fulfilled or completed the law of Moses. Parts of the law were “done away” in Christ (3 Nephi 12:47), and people were no longer obligated to live them.

3. The fulfillment of the law of Moses did not do away with other parts of the law or with other teachings, doctrines, and prophecies in the Old Testament (for example the Ten Commandments, the law of tithing, and the gathering of Israel).

4. The law of Moses pointed to and testified of Jesus Christ.

Ask students to carefully read 3 Nephi 15:3–10 and look for words or phrases that teach these points. Discuss their findings, and answer any questions that may arise in your discussion. As needed, refer to the commentaries for 3 Nephi 15:1–10 and 3 Nephi 15:9 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 120).

Share the following statement by President Harold B. Lee, then a member of the First Presidency:

“Keep in mind that the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are divine. Nobody changes the principles and doctrines of the Church except the Lord by revelation. But methods change as the inspired direction comes to those who preside at a given time” (“God’s Kingdom—A Kingdom of Order,” Ensign, Jan. 1971, 10).

Have students reread 3 Nephi 15:9–10, and ask:

  • What laws are you required to live today?

  • In what ways can looking to Christ help us endure to the end?

  • What blessings does the Lord promise to those who keep His commandments?

3 Nephi 15:12–16:3. Christ’s “sheep” are those people who hear His voice and follow Him. Jesus had followers at Jerusalem, in the Americas, and among other members of the house of Israel. (30–35 minutes)

Tell the class that you are going to send them on a treasure hunt. Group students in pairs. Give each pair the first clue from the accompanying chart. Have them search the scripture looking for the answer to the question. When they find it, have them bring it to you to check. If it is correct, give them the next clue, and continue until they have found the answers to all the clues.

Treasure Hunt Clues

1. What animal is spoken of in John 10:14?

2. According to John 10:27, who are Christ’s sheep?

3. What does John 10:16 call an enclosure for sheep? Where was this enclosure located?

4. According to 3 Nephi 15:16–17, 21, 24, where was another of the Savior’s folds?

5. Why didn’t the Lord tell the Jews about the fold in the Americas? (see 3 Nephi 15:11–14, 18–19).

6. What fold does 3 Nephi 15:15, 20–21; 16:1–2 refer to?

7. According to 3 Nephi 16:3; 17:4, what did the Savior do for the other sheep of Israel?

At the end of the search discuss what students learned. Ask them how the information they found could be considered valuable or like a treasure. Tell students that John 10:16 and 3 Nephi 15:21 are often used by missionaries to help those they teach understand that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.

Invite one of the pairs of students to come to the front of the class. Have them play the role of missionaries teaching you as a nonmember. Ask them: Is there any scripture in the Bible that talks about the Book of Mormon? Invite other class members also to respond. Testify that the Book of Mormon is truly a record of God’s other sheep. Discuss the following questions:

  • In what ways could we be considered the Savior’s sheep?

  • What responsibilities do we have as members of His fold or Church?

  • How can we know that we are in the sheepfold today?

3 Nephi 16:4–20. Because the Jews rejected the Savior, in the latter days the gospel will go first to the Gentiles. Those Gentiles who repent and accept the gospel will be numbered among the house of Israel and receive the same blessings. (20–25 minutes)

Show students a picture of two missionaries (for example Gospel Art Picture Kit, no. 612). Ask:

  • What do you think it would be like to contact people as a missionary?

  • What are some reactions people might have to missionaries who contact them?

  • Do you believe it is easy for missionaries to tell the difference between people who are ready to receive the gospel and people who are not? Why or why not?

  • Why would it be important to keep a positive attitude, even if people did not accept your message?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 29:1–2, 4, 7 and ask:

  • What do these verses have to do with missionary work?

  • How can missionary work be compared to gathering things?

  • Who listens to and accepts the missionaries’ message?

Tell students that 3 Nephi 16:4–20 teaches about the latter-day gathering of converts among the Gentiles and the house of Israel. These verses speak of times when members of each of these groups will accept the gospel and of other times when they will reject it. Write the following chart on the board. Read the references and quickly complete the chart as a class.

3 Nephi 16

Gentiles’ Reaction to the Gospel

Israel’s Reaction to the Gospel

vv. 5–7

vv. 10–12

vv. 13–14

Have students read 3 Nephi 16:7, 10, and ask:

  • What are some of the reasons that both the Gentiles and the house of Israel would reject the gospel?

  • Read verses 8–9, 15. What consequences would come to those who reject the gospel?

  • Read verses 11–13. On what condition is the Lord willing to forgive those who reject the gospel?

  • Read verse 16. What does He promise the house of Israel for their faithfulness?

Testify that the latter-day gathering has begun. Encourage students to prepare to serve full-time missions to help in this gathering.

3 Nephi 17:1–3. Pondering and prayer can lead to revelation and understanding. (15–20 minutes)

Before class write the following words and phrases on the board and cover each with a separate piece of paper: dinner, soccer game, math test, date with a friend, school, mission call, temple marriage, taking the sacrament, receiving revelation.

As the lesson begins, write on the board Preparation precedes power. Ask students: What do you think this statement means? Ask them if they believe it is true.

Tell them that under each piece of paper on the board is written an event. Explain that you are going to uncover the events one at a time, and that as you do, they should think of the most important thing they can do to prepare for that event. Uncover the events one by one (do not uncover the last event, receiving revelation). Have students call out their answers, and write some of them under the events.

Uncover receiving revelation, and discuss the following questions:

  • Why is it important to receive revelation?

  • How do you prepare to receive revelation?

  • What might happen if you don’t prepare?

Ask students to read 3 Nephi 17:1–2 and look for the concern the Savior had for the Nephites. Read verse 3 and ask:

  • What four instructions did the Savior give the Nephites?

  • Why do you think being “home,” away from distractions, is helpful preparation?

  • What does it mean to “ponder”? How can it help?

  • Why do you think prayer is an important part of this process?

  • How can you prepare your mind to receive revelation and understanding?

Invite students to read Joseph Smith—History 1:8–14 looking for similarities between what the Savior asked the Nephites to do and what Joseph Smith did prior to receiving the First Vision. Discuss the students’ findings.

Encourage them to follow this pattern in their lives. Urge them to pray and study the scriptures daily and to continually seek the Lord’s guidance. Consider the following statement by Sister Anne G. Wirthlin, then a member of the Primary general presidency:

“The Savior has given us a pattern to follow as we study the scriptures. We hear the word, we ponder upon its meaning, we ask our Heavenly Father to help us understand, and then our minds and hearts are prepared to receive the promised blessings. Pondering is more than reading words; it is searching for meanings that will help us as we relate to one another and as we make choices in our lives. It is allowing the word to move from our minds to our hearts. The Spirit bears witness to our hearts as we prayerfully seek to know the things of our Heavenly Father. When we have that witness and knowledge, we think and live and relate to each other in more Christlike ways” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 10; or Ensign, May 1998, 10).

weekly icon3 Nephi 17; 18:36–39. The Savior showed compassion for the Nephites as He ministered to them. (40–50 minutes)

Ask students to think of someone they admire because of the way that person treats others. Invite several students to share who they chose. Ask them:

  • How has this person been a positive influence in the Church, school, or community?

  • Why do you think treating others compassionately is so important?

Invite students to think of a time someone showed them kindness and compassion. Ask: How did that experience impact your life? Have them think of a time someone mistreated or ignored them, and ask: How did the feelings you had during these two experiences differ?

Have students imagine being in a large meeting with the prophet. Ask: How might you feel if he took time to visit with you individually, shake your hand, and express his love for you? Have them imagine that the Savior came to the class today. Ask: How might you feel if He took the time to visit with you personally?

Tell students that 3 Nephi 17; 18:36–39 contains a beautiful account of the Savior ministering among the Nephites. Read these sections together as a class, and ask students to look for the compassion the Savior showed to the people individually as He ministered to them. Ask:

  • What do you imagine it was like to see the Savior at this time?

  • What do you learn about the Savior’s love and compassion from this account?

  • Which verse is most impressive to you? Why?

  • What evidence is there of the sacred nature of this experience?

Have the students answer the following three essay questions on a piece of paper:

  • What impressions did you have as you studied 3 Nephi 17; 18:36–39?

  • If your family had never read these chapters before, what part would you most like to tell them about? Why?

  • What did you learn from the Savior’s actions that you most want to apply in your life?

Invite a few students who are willing to read their answers to the class to do so.

weekly icon3 Nephi 18:1–12, 26–32. Taking the sacrament helps us remember the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we partake worthily and keep our covenants, God has promised that we will always have His Spirit to be with us. (40–45 minutes)

Write on the board the following statement by Elder David B. Haight, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The weekly opportunity of partaking of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is one of the most sacred ordinances of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is further indication of His love for all of us. Associated with the partaking of the sacrament are principles that are fundamental to man’s advancement and exaltation in the kingdom of God and the shaping of one’s spiritual character” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 16; or Ensign, May 1983, 14).

Ask students: What do you believe is the most precious possession we can have in mortality? Discuss their answers. Share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks: “To have the continuous companionship of the Holy Ghost is the most precious possession we can have in mortality” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 50; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 38).

  • Why is the gift of the Holy Ghost such a precious possession?

  • How does that gift bless your life?

  • What can you do to receive that gift in greater abundance?

Tell students that 3 Nephi 18 contains instructions from the Savior that can help us better understand the relationship between taking the sacrament and receiving the Holy Ghost. Remind students that in chapter 17 the Savior was about to leave the Nephites but decided to stay longer out of compassion for them. Knowing this can help students recognize the value of the Savior’s additional teachings in chapter 18 and how those teachings can strengthen us when the Savior is not in our midst.

Read 3 Nephi 18:1–3, 8 and ask what ordinance the Savior performed. Read verses 4, 9 and discuss the following questions:

  • What happened when the disciples ate the bread and drank the wine? (They were filled.)

  • Read 3 Nephi 20:8–9. According to these verses, what were the people filled with?

  • How can the sacrament help us be filled with the Spirit?

Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“The close relationship between partaking of the sacrament and the companionship of the Holy Ghost is explained in the revealed prayer on the sacrament. In partaking of the bread, we witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and always remember Him and keep His commandments. When we do so, we have the promise that we will always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). …

“Not one of you … and not one of your leaders has lived without sin since his baptism. Without some provision for further cleansing after our baptism, each of us is lost to things spiritual. We cannot have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and at the final judgment we would be bound to be ‘cast off forever’ (1 Nephi 10:21). How grateful we are that the Lord has provided a process for each baptized member of His Church to be periodically cleansed from the soil of sin. The sacrament is an essential part of that process.

“We are commanded to repent of our sins and to come to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and partake of the sacrament in compliance with its covenants. When we renew our baptismal covenants in this way, the Lord renews the cleansing effect of our baptism. In this way we are made clean and can always have His Spirit to be with us. The importance of this is evident in the Lord’s commandment that we partake of the sacrament each week (see D&C 59:8–9)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 49–50; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 38).

Have students read 3 Nephi 18:7, 10–14; Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79 and tell what they learn about the sacrament. Discuss some of the following questions:

  • What promises do we make when we take the sacrament?

  • What do the bread and water represent?

  • What can we do to make the sacrament more sacred and spiritual?

Read 3 Nephi 18:26–34 and ask:

  • What does the Savior warn against in these verses?

  • Why do you think it is important that we not take the sacrament unworthily?

Share the following statement by Elder Oaks to help students understand how we can take the sacrament worthily:

“I plead with all members of the Church, young and old, to attend sacrament meeting each Sabbath day and to partake of the sacrament with the repentant attitude described as ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit’ (3 Nephi 9:20). I pray that we will do so with the reverence and worship of our Savior that will signify a serious covenant to ‘always remember him’ (D&C 20:77). The Savior himself has said that we should partake ‘with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins’ (D&C 27:2).

“I pray that we will also partake of the sacrament with the submissive manner that will help us accept and serve in Church callings in order to comply with our solemn covenant to take His name and His work upon us. I also plead for us to comply with our solemn covenant to keep His commandments” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 81–82; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 61).

Read 3 Nephi 18:5–6 and ask: What did the Lord promise He would give power to do? Invite an Aaronic Priesthood holder to explain his responsibilities in administering the sacrament. Ask the young men: How does it make you feel to perform this sacred duty? Ask the class:

  • What can you do to make sure the ordinance is performed in a way that is pleasing to the Savior?

  • What feelings should we have toward the young men who perform these priesthood duties? (see D&C 84:35–38).

Read the first two paragraphs in the following statement by Elder Oaks, and then assign several young men to each read one of the paragraphs that follow. After each paragraph, pause to ask the young man who read to share why he thinks that point is important, and invite the class to share their thoughts as well.

“Those who officiate in the priesthood act in behalf of the Lord (see D&C 1:38; 36:2). …

“The principle I suggest to govern those officiating in the sacrament—whether preparing, administering, or passing—is that they should not do anything that would distract any member from his or her worship and renewal of covenants. This principle of nondistraction suggests some companion principles.

“Deacons, teachers, and priests should always be clean in appearance and reverent in the manner in which they perform their solemn and sacred responsibilities. Teachers’ special assignments in preparing the sacrament are the least visible but should still be done with dignity, quietly and reverently. Teachers should always remember that the emblems they are preparing represent the body and blood of our Lord.

“To avoid distracting from the sacred occasion, priests should speak the sacrament prayers clearly and distinctly. Prayers that are rattled off swiftly or mumbled inaudibly will not do. All present should be helped to understand an ordinance and covenants so important that the Lord prescribed the exact words to be uttered. All should be helped to focus on those sacred words as they renew their covenants by partaking.

“… Brethren, remember the significance of those sacred prayers. You are praying as a servant of the Lord in behalf of the entire congregation. Speak to be heard and understood, and say it like you mean it.

“Deacons should pass the sacrament in a reverent and orderly manner, with no needless motions or expressions that call attention to themselves. In all their actions they should avoid distracting any member of the congregation from worship and covenant making.

“All who officiate in the sacrament—in preparing, administering, or passing—should be well groomed and modestly dressed, with nothing about their personal appearance that calls special attention to themselves. In appearance as well as actions, they should avoid distracting anyone present from full attention to the worship and covenant making that are the purpose of this sacred ordinance.

“This principle of nondistraction applies to things unseen as well as seen. If someone officiating in this sacred ordinance is unworthy to participate, and this is known to anyone present, their participation is a serious distraction to that person. Young men, if any of you is unworthy, talk to your bishop without delay. Obtain his direction on what you should do to qualify yourself to participate in your priesthood duties worthily and appropriately.

“I have a final suggestion. With the single exception of those priests occupied breaking the bread, all who hold the Aaronic Priesthood should join in singing the sacrament hymn by which we worship and prepare to partake. No one needs that spiritual preparation more than the priesthood holders who will officiate in it. My young brethren, it is important that you sing the sacrament hymn. Please do so” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 51–52; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 39–40).

3 Nephi 18:13–25. Sincere prayer can help us resist temptation. (20–25 minutes)

Invite a student to come to the front of class and put on a coat and hold an umbrella and a shield. (You could make a shield from paper or cardboard.) Ask the class what a coat, an umbrella, and a shield have in common. (They can all be used for protection.) Read 3 Nephi 18:15–19 and look for something the Savior taught that also offers protection. Ask:

  • How can prayer protect us?

  • What experiences have you had in which the Lord protected you because of your prayers?

Invite four students to each read one of the following statements. Elder Bernard P. Brockbank, who was then an Assistant to the Twelve, said:

“Proper sincere prayer to a living Father in heaven, through a living Savior and Mediator, is essential for protection from the power and evil influence of the devil” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 166; or Ensign, May 1974, 115).

Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said of his upbringing:

“We were dressed in our home each morning, not only with hats and raincoats and boots to protect us from physical storm, but even more carefully our parents dressed us each day in the armor of God. As we would kneel in family prayer and listen to our father, a bearer of the priesthood, pour out his soul to the Lord for the protection of his family against the fiery darts of the wicked, one more layer was added to our shield of faith” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 140–41; or Ensign, May 1974, 98).

Elder Joe J. Christensen, then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, said:

“Sending children out of your home without the spiritual protection of prayer is like sending them out into a blizzard without sufficient clothing” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 14; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 12).

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“I like to compare the home evening, family prayer, and other associated activities of the Church for the saving of the family, when they are conscientiously carried out, with an umbrella. If the umbrella is not opened up, it is little more than a cane and can give little protection from the storms of nature. Likewise, God-given plans are of little value unless they are used” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1969, 23).

Read 3 Nephi 18:20–25 as a class. Ask students to think of another object (besides a coat, umbrella, or shield) that prayer can be likened to. Invite several students to share the object they thought of, and discuss how that object reminds them of prayer. Encourage students to seek Heavenly Father’s protection through daily personal prayer.