User:Matthewfaulconer/Sandbox Alma 13:1-5
- 1 Questions
- 2 Lexical notes
- 3 Exegesis
- 3.1 Verses 1-12
- 3.2 Verse 1
- 3.3 Verse 3
- 3.4 Verse 5
- 4 Related links
- In chapter 12 and the end of chapter 13, Alma preaches on the plan of salvation and repentance. Why does does Alma discuss the priesthood (comprising verse 1-20) in the middle of his sermon on repentance?
- Why does Alma say "cite your minds forward" when he is referring back to the time when the Lord God gave commandments to the children of men?
- To what does the "holy order" refer? Is it the Aaronic priesthood or the Melchizedek priesthood? Or does it instead refer to temple priesthood?
- In verse 2 Alma tells us that the Lord God ordained priests in a way that the people would know how to look forward to his Son for redemption. Verse 3 begins "this is the manner after which they were ordained" and then proceeds to tell us the manner. How would that manner have helped the people know how to look forward to Jesus Christ for redemption?
- Alma tells us that the Lord God ordained priests after a "manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption." Is the manner of ordination today still a mirror or symbol of the Savior and the redemption we can receive through Him?
- Alma tells us that those called have "chosen good." Is this a reference to good choices in pre-mortality or is this good choices in mortality known to God through his foreknowledge?
- What does it mean that the holy calling was prepared with and according to a preparatory redemption? What is a preparatory redemption?
- Alma states that men are called as high priests because of their "exceeding faith and good works." Are the criteria for calling high priests the same today?
Lexical notes 
"Cite your minds forward." In the Hebrew concept of time, the past is before us. See related links.
Why talk about the priesthood here?
Alma's exposition on the priesthood (comprising verses 1-20) may seem out of place in the middle of a longer sermon by Alma on repentance. Assuming it is out of place, there are several ways we might explain its inclusion here:
- It could be that Alma simply saw a need to pause and provide compelling doctrinal support for his own calling as a high priest. This would make sense from a rhetorical standpoint by demonstrating Alma's authority to preach to the people of Ammonihah and explaining his motivation for doing so.
- It could be the case that during the editing process Mormon selected only highlights of a what was originally a much longer discourse on multiple themes. We know from verse 31 that much of Alma's original discourse is not included in the Book of Mormon.
Alternatively, it may be that though this passage at first seems out of place, it is, in fact, integral to Alma's sermon on repentance. There are reasons to suggest this:
Reasons to see this section as integral to Alma's sermon on repentance
In Alma 11:32-36 Zeezrom questions Alma about Christ's coming and the salvation that he brings. When Alma responds, Zeezrom says Alma speaks "as though he had authority to command God." Zeezrom doesn't understand (or at a minimum pretends not to understand) how one person can say what another will do, unless one is in a position to dictate what the other person will do--unless one has authority over him or her. One way to read these verses is as a response to this concern--a way to explain how before Christ came the people can have an understanding of what Christ would do when he came. Verse 2 is pivitol to this interpretation.
Verse 2 tells us that the ordination to the priesthood was done in a manner that the people might know how to look forward to Christ for redemption. In this way Alma draws a connection between the manner the priesthood was given and salvation through repentance and redemption.
Also, it may be that a reason Alma chooses to explain repentance by talking about the priesthood is because the priesthood was so much a part of Israelite culture.
Finally, note that Verses 11-12 connects the manner of their calling ("called after his holy order") to sanctification and purification from sin and obtaining the final goal of entering into the "rest of the Lord."
Interpretations consistent with treating this section as integral
There are several ways to interpret these verses which is consistent with the idea that these verses are integral to Alma's sermon on the plan of salvation and repentance. As is generally the case with scriptural interpretations, these interpretations are not all mutually exclusive.
- Alma may discuss the priesthood as part of his sermon on the plan of salvation in order to show, by using high priests as examples, the wonderful blessings that come to those who show faith and repent. Under this interpretation we might summarize the first part of Alma 13 as saying that God ordained priests who have become what we are blessed to become if we repent. [[[Alma 13:10|Verses 10-12]] support this view. Verse 10 tells us that it is through faith and repentance that people become high priests. Verse 11 tells us that as a result these people were redeemed of their sins. Then verse 12 tells of the ultimately blessing in the plan of salvation--entering into the rest of the Lord. Finally, verse 13 concludes the discussion the priesthood with a call to repentance. In this reading the purpose of this section is to lead up to this call to repentance.
- As noted above, verse 2 tells us that the manner of priesthood ordination can be used to help people know how to look forward to Christ for redemption. Consider two ways the manner of ordination may have helped people know how to look forward to Christ for redemption:
- It may be that the ordination process included signs that would help people understand how Jesus Christ would be nailed to the cross. This would then be a way for them to identify Christ and his wounds when he appeared after the resurrection (3 Ne 11:14-15).
- It may be that Alma is trying to help the people understand how they can receive redemption from their sins despite the fact that Christ hadn't yet suffered for those sins. Under this view, Alma is saying that to understand how they could receive redemption before Christ suffered for their sins, they can look to the priesthood as a type or shadow. In like manner priests are called and prepared from the foundation of the world to their calling, so Christ was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem his people. In both cases the plans were made at the foundation of the world based on choices that God, through his foreknowledge, knew would take place (see verse 5).
In verse 1 Alma says, "And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children." The "and again" suggests that he has already cited the people's minds to this time. Looking back, we see that he did this in Alma 12:30-32. In that case "the time the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children" refers to the time right after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden when God commanded them "that they should not do evil."
Cite your minds forward
It may seem confusing to talk about citing our minds "forward" to a time in the past when God gave these commandments unto his children. Here are two possible explanations for why forward is used rather than back:
- As is suggested in the lexical notes, it may be that the Nephites were using a concept of time where they saw the past in front of them and the future behind them. We can visualize this concept of time by imagining someone going backward through time with the past visible to them and the future hidden behind them. With such a concept of time it makes sense to talk about citing minds forward to a time in the past.
- It may be that the point of reference for citing minds forward is not the time Alma is speaking but instead the time the Lord first gave commandments to the children of men in the Garden of Eden. Alma talks about that time in Alma 12:30-32. Also in those verses Alma cites their minds forward from that time to the time after the transgression when the Lord again gave them commandments. Under this reading, in verse 1, Alma takes them again to the time the Lord gives gave commandments after partaking of the forbidden fruit. Because Alma is is once again citing their minds forward from the time of the first commandments to the time he gave second commandments, it makes sense to say Alma is again citing their minds forward.
In this first verse we are told that the Lord God ordained priests "after the order of his Son." This suggests that the "Lord God" refers to the Father. This is consistent with how "God" is used at the end of Alma 12. Especially in verse 33 it seems that God refers to the Father since he explicitly talks about his "Only Begotten Son."
As noted above "these commandments" seems to refer to the second commandments after Adam and Eve's transgression. See Alma 12:32.
It isn't clear what office in the preisthood today would with what Alma calls priests here. Though in this verse Alma calls them priests, other verses tell us that these preists are ordained to a higher priesthod. Verse 6 tells us that they were ordained to the "high priesthood of the holy order of God." Alma 13:9 says they become high priests. Verse 14 gives Melchizedek as an example of one of these High Priests. This may suggest that by priest in verse 1 Alma means what we would call Elders or High Priests today. Another possible interpretation is that the ordination spoken of here corresponding to receiving temple ordinances.
Priests to teach these things
"These things" refers back to the commandments given (see 'These commandments' above). The fact that the priests are ordained to teach is an interesting departure from the picture that the Old Testament presents of the Levitical system of priests, where their primary function was to offer sacrifices. Even the mention of Melchizedek in verse 15 describes him as one who did "preach repentance." This may reflect a difference in the purpose from the Levitical priesthood and the higher priesthood spoken of here (see 'Priests' above).
This verse could be interpreted in different ways. Some possibilities are:
- These priests were called and prepared in the pre-existence because of their faith and good works in this life according to the foreknowledge of God.
- These priests were prepared in the pre-existince because of their faith and good works in this life (according to the foreknowledge of God) and then called in this life after having been left to choose good or evil and then having chosen good and exercised faith.
It may be that the preparatory redemption spoken of here is prepratory because Christ hadn't yet come and hadn't yet redeemed his people. As such actual redemption was not yet possible. That said, it isn't clear exactly how this preparatory redemption differs from the actual redemption that would come later.
Alma tells us that these priests were in the first place on the same standing with their brethren. We might wonder how they could be on the same standing as their brethren "in the first place" if they were called from the foundation of the world to a holy calling. This would be logically possible if all were called with the same holy calling. If we interpret verse 3 as suggesting that the actual calling doesn't take place until this life, then the "same standing" could refer to the fact that none of them had yet been called. Another possibility is that this "same standing" refers to the time before they were called in the pre-existence. Finally, it could be that this same standing is not a specific time but a logical precedence. God through his foreknowledge knows who will do what and therefore who to call, but logically all are on the same standing as all could choose to do good. Regardless of which interpretation we choose Alma's point seems to be that everyone was on equal footing to receive this calling.
- See James Duke's article The Literary Structure and Doctrinal Significance of Alma 13:1–9
- See a simplified reworking of the text by Steven Barton
- See an outline of Alma 13-16 here (from the Sunday School manual).
- For an explanation of Hebrew versus Greek thought, including the Hebrew thought on time noted in the lexical notes, see pages 146-147 in Appendix 2, Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions Faulconer, J.E. (1999).