“What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be”

Church Educational System

Elder John M. Madsen of the Seventy focused particularly on the word ought in the Lord’s teachings to become as He is. Elder Madsen described the Lord’s words as more than an invitation, but a requirement of our covenants:

“To receive Him and know Him, we and all mankind must, as Moroni exhorts, ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him’ (Moroni 10:32; italics added). In other words, we must come unto Christ and strive to ‘become’ like Him (see Dallin H. Oaks, in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 40–44; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32–34).
“Said the risen Lord: ‘What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am’ (3 Nephi 27:27). The meaning of the word ought, as used in His question ‘What manner of men ought ye to be?’ is crucial to understanding His answer, ‘Even as I am.’ The word ought means ‘to be necessary’ or ‘to be held or bound in duty or moral obligation’ (Noah Webster’s First Edition of an American Dictionary of the English Language, 7th ed. [1993], ‘ought’; see also Luke 24:26), suggesting—and the holy scriptures, ancient and modern, confirm—that it is ‘necessary,’ and that we are ‘bound,’ as by covenant, ‘to be,’ as He declared, ‘even as I am’ (3 Nephi 27:27; see also 3 Nephi 12:48; Matthew 5:48; 1 John 3:2; Moroni 7:48)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 93; or Ensign, May 2002, 79).

Book of Mormon Student Manual (2009 Edition)