All through the scriptures, I see the phrase children of men. What does this mean?
Thank you for asking this question. It is my privilege to make the attempt to answer it for you.
The simple answer is this: children of men = anyone born here on earth starting from Adam and Eve to the present day and anyone else up-to and including the end of the millennium, and before the final judgement.
The more elaborate answer is this:
Spiritually speaking, our DNA is one generation away from our Heavenly Parents.
In the 2003 April General Conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
Never forget, my dear young friends, that you really are a child of God who has inherited something of His divine nature, one whom He loves and desires to help and bless. I pray that our Heavenly Father will bless you. May He smile with favor upon you. May you walk in His paths and follow His teachings. May you never speak the evil language that boys and girls are inclined to speak at school. May you ever be prayerful unto Him, praying always in the name of His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. May each of us resolve to always follow Him in faith. May life be kind to you, for you are indeed a child of God, worthy and deserving of His love and blessing…
We are literal children of Heavenly Parents in spirit. We come from Heaven where God, even Elohim, who is our Father in Heaven is the Father of us all. He offered everyone of His children a plan where by we could all grow up and develop Godly qualities according to our desires, wishes and moral agency.
Anytime we read in the scriptures about “The Children of Men” it is to describe those same spirits whom have descended from Heaven, to be endowed with an earthly physical tabernacle.
If we could trace back in time to our earlier ancestors, we could draw a line directly to Adam and Eve whom are our first earthly parents.
Our Fallen Condition
As descendants of Adam and Eve, we inherit a fallen condition during mortality (see Alma 42:5–9, 14). We are separated from the presence of the Lord and subject to physical death. We are also placed in a state of opposition, in which we are tested by the difficulties of life and the temptations of the adversary (see 2 Nephi 2:11–14; Doctrine and Covenants 29:39; Moses 6:48–49).
In this fallen condition, we have a conflict within us. We are spirit children of God, with the potential to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). However, “we are unworthy before [God]; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually” (Ether 3:2). We need to strive continually to overcome unrighteous passions and desires.
Repeating the words of an angel, King Benjamin said, “The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam.” King Benjamin warned that in this natural, or fallen, state, each person will be an enemy to God forever “unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
Now, going a step further, I’ll share with you a set of scriptures that illustrate how we (as children of men) will be saved and redeemed through and only through Jesus Christ.
Mosiah described this quite eloquently (Mosiah 3:5-10)
5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.
10 And he shall arise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.
To summarize what I’ve shared: we are children of men in the flesh, and as we work and walk with an obedient heart and faith towards our Heavenly Parents, we’ll become, Children Of God!