Alma 5:33-62

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Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 4-7 > Chapter 5 > Verses 5:33-62
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This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 5:44: Called to speak. Those who hold the calling of high priest are expressly required to teach and warn the people (see Alma 13:2,6).
In this chapter Alma warns the people of Zarahemla of the punishment that is to come for the sinner and tells the people that they can be saved through repentance through Jesus Christ. In verse 44 Alma tells the people that he is commanded to testify of the things which are to come. By "things which are to come" it seems that Alma is principally referring to the punishment of the sinner (e.g. verses 36 and 52) and the coming of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins (see verse 48).
  • Alma 5:49-50: Expanding Audience for Sermon. Commeting on these verses on page 122 of Feasting Upon the Word (a book, not this wiki), Richard Dilworth Rust says the following about Alma's specification of his intended audience:
“In a message frequently personalized by reference to ‘you,’ Alma also amplifies his audience from ‘my beloved brethren’ to everyone in the land—from ‘you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation’ to ‘all the ends of the earth’ (Alma 5: 49 – 50). The effect is the one achieved in essentially every Book of Mormon sermon—an immediate application to the modern-day reader.”
  • Alma 5:59-60: Destroy Satan's Wolves. Implicit in these verses is a parallel betweeen a divine being (Christ) who shepherds a flock of sheep (Christians) and a diabolical being (Satan) who commands a pack of wolves (anti-Christs). Implicit, too, is a justification of Alma's execution of Nehor. Nehor was undoubtedly one of Satan's wolves. Alma, the earthly shepherd of this church flock, has used the power of the state that was at his command to destroy the wolf that threatened his flock. Politically, Alma quite clearly did not do the right thing (see exegesis on Alma 1). Morally, the issue is more ambiguous. It is sometimes better that one man perish than that an entire nation dwindle and perish in unbelief. But that principle can be applied both justly (1 Nephi 4:15) and unjustly (John 11:50). Mormon certainly thinks that Alma was justified in eliminating Nehor as he did, and given his general uprightness, it is quite likely that Alma was morally justified in acting as he did. But we probably should be troubled by that episode and this talk about destroying the wolves who are, after all, fellow children of God, however misguided.

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 5:33: Is it significant that the Lord offers an invitation rather than a demand? Why do we have to repent in order for him to receive us?
  • Alma 5:33: What are the "arms of mercy"? What does it mean for them to be extended towards us?
  • Alma 5:34: From where do the images that Alma uses in these verses come? What do those scriptures have to do with Alma’s message?
  • Alma 5:34: We are often told that the tree of life is Jesus Christ. Is this verse talking about how we should partake of the "fruit" of Christ, or in other words, the scriptures? What is it talking about here?
  • Alma 5:38: What does it mean that Christ calls us in his own name? It doesn't seem the same as saying that Christ calls us by his own name. Is Christ calling on us in Christ's own name related to how we call on God in Christ's name?
  • Alma 5:40-41: What does it mean to be a child of the devil? Does that tell us anything about what it means to be a child of God and the Good Shepherd?
  • Alma 5:42: The scriptures sometimes speak, as Alma does here, of the wages of sin. (See, for example, Rom 6:23.) Why don’t they speak of the wages of righteousness?
  • Alma 5:43-44: Does v. 44 tell us what it means to speak plainly—to testify—or does Alma speak plainly because he has been called to testify?
  • Alma 5:46: To what does the phrase “these things” here and v. 45 refer? Is their antecedent in v. 44? How does Alma’s testimony that he has fasted and prayed many days to know these things square with the story of his conversion (see Mosiah 27:8-32 and Alma 36:6-23), in which he seems to have gained a testimony quickly and without fasting and prayer?
  • Alma 5:47: What particular words of the fathers does Alma have in mind? Does the context answer that question?
  • Alma 5:53-55: What are the sins of the people of Zarahemla? Are our sins today the same, or do we have different problems?
  • Alma 5:54: What is meant by works meet for repentance? Alms uses this phrase a couple more times over the next few chapters when preaching to the wicked parts of the Nephites. One time he uses the phrase 'fruits meet for repentance'. Again, what is meant by this?
  • Alma 5:57: How do we come out from the wicked? How do we avoid touching their unclean things? Does coming out from among them and not touching their unclean things mean that we dissociate ourselves from them? If so, how can we do missionary work among them? If not, how do we separate ourselves?


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  • Alma 5:39: Child of the devil. See this article by John Tvedtnes on the possible origins of the phrase "child of the devil."


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

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