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Latter-day Saints (LDS)

by Robert Bennett

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 115:4) sees itself as a restoration of the original Church of Jesus Christ "of Former-day Saints." (See Restoration of the Gospel home page) Members of the Church in the time of Christ are often referred to as "saints." Actually, the word "saint" predates Christ, and it is used thirty-six times in the Old Testament. It appears sixty-two times in the New Testament. The term "Christian" appears only three times in the New Testament, used by others to identify the followers of Christ. At the time of Christ and the Apostles, the term "saint" was accepted as a proper name for anyone who was a member of the Church, and was not used as a term of special sanctity as in earlier and later traditions. The phrase "latter days" designates the period leading to the last days and the series of events that will culminate in the reappearance of Christ to all the world. (See The Second Coming of Jesus Christ home page) By referring to themselves as Latter-day Saints, members of the Church reaffirm their historical tie to original Christians (the Former-day Saints of the New Testament) but differentiate the two time periods. Also, they are striving to become sanctified through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

The name unites three themes: (1) the restoration theme, since the term has a New Testament origin; (2) the preparation theme, since the Saints in the latter days anticipate the coming of Christ; and (3) the revelation theme, since the name was received by revelation and recorded in Doctrine and Covenants, section 115.

It is interesting to some that the people of the dead sea scrolls also called themselves Latter-day Saints. These individuals believed themselves tied to the prophets and the covenant (hence the name Saint) and anticipated the imminent coming of the messiah (hence the term Latter-day).

(See Frequently Asked Questions home page)


Nelson, Russell M. "Thus Shall My Church Be Called." Ensign 5 (May 1990):16-18.

Cross, Frank M., Jr. The Ancient Library of Qumran. New York, 1961.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, Latter-day Saints

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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