Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue, and People

In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John repeatedly uses four words to convey the expansiveness of God’s saving work:

  1. He sees heavenly beings worshipping Jesus Christ and acknowledging that He has redeemed them “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
  2. He later sees a huge crowd, “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,” gathered before the throne of the Savior, wearing white robes and holding palm branches (Revelation 7:9).
  3. He prophesies of an angel, who will carry the everlasting gospel to “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).

Here are some alternate definitions of these terms, based on the original Greek:

  • nation = ethnos (ἔθνος) – ethnicity, race. Often used to refer to Gentiles (people with an unfamiliar culture or customs).
  • kindred = phulé (φυλή) – tribe, people who descend of a common ancestor
  • tongue = glóssa (γλῶσσα) – people who speak the same language
  • people = laos (λαός) – a community, a crowd

The Testimony of Three Witnesses and the Testimony of Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon are both addressed to “all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come.”

The prophet Lehi testified that the brass plates containing the words of ancient prophets would “go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed” (1 Nephi 5:18). An angel revealed to his son, Nephi, that the Book of Mormon would complement the Bible, “[making] known to all kindreds, tongues, and people” that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world” (1 Nephi 13:40).

King Benjamin, Abinadi, Alma, and Mormon all used this phrase to emphasize that the gospel is for everyone (Mosiah 3:13, 20, Mosiah 15:28, Mosiah 16:1, Mosiah 27:25, 3 Nephi 28:29).

When the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, he said that God had a work for Joseph to do and that his name would be spoken among all nations, kindreds, and tongues (Joseph Smith—History 1:33).

The phrase appears 10 times in the Doctrine and Covenants, including a commandment in section 42 (the law of the church) to share the scriptures with everyone, “for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:58).

Last Fall, Elder Gerrit W. Gong reminded us of the miraculous growth of the church:

Brothers and sisters, across the world, each of us participating in this October 2020 general conference is among the nations, kindreds, and tongues spoken of.

Today, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live in 196 nations and territories…. We represent both geographic breadth and centers of strength.

In 1823, who would have imagined that in the year 2020 there would be three countries each with more than a million members of this Church—the United States, Mexico, and Brazil?

All Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues,” General Conference, October 2020

And two weeks ago, Elder Gong emphasized that, with this global growth, we have a responsibility to be inclusive in order to welcome new people into the Savior’s church:

God loves His children in our different backgrounds and circumstances, in every nation, kindred, and tongue, with room for all in His Inn.

Over the past 40 years, Church members have become increasingly international. Since 1998, more Church members have lived outside than inside the United States and Canada. By 2025, we anticipate as many Church members may live in Latin America as in the United States and Canada….

As we create room in His Inn, welcoming all, our Good Samaritan can heal us on our dusty mortal roads.

Room in the Inn,” General Conference, April 2021

Today, I will remember that all people are children of God and that His gospel is for everyone. I will do my part to help all feel welcomed and appreciated.

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