“I Never Knew You”

Alan C. Miner

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]

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