Sunday School Lesson 24

Lesson 24: Alma 13-16

The outline of the story in these chapters, from the Sunday School manual:

a. Alma 13. Alma gives a powerful discourse on the priesthood and the doctrine of foreordination.

b. Alma 14. Alma, Amulek, and other faithful believers are persecuted for their righteousness. The Lord delivers Alma and Amulek from prison because of their faith in Christ.

c. Alma 15. Zeezrom is healed and baptized. Many people in Sidom are baptized.

d. Alma 16. The words of Alma are fulfilled as the Lamanites destroy Ammonihah. The Lord prepares people’s hearts to receive the word preached by Alma, Amulek, and others.

I will concentrate on chapter 13

Verse 1: Alma has just concluded a sermon on repentance and the plan of salvation. Now he asks his listeners to recall when those commandments were given. Why does he ask them to look forward to that time? Why does Alma think it necessary to conclude his sermon about repentance and redemption with a lesson on priesthood? Some have argued that the “holy order” referred to here is neither the Aaronic priesthood nor the Melchizedek priesthood, but temple priesthood. Do you think that is possible? Why or why not?

Verse 2: How does the manner of ordaining priests teach people how to look forward to Christ for redemption?

Verse 3: This verse consists of one sentence, but its grammar is fairly complex. Can you decide what the sentence says? For example, does it say those ordained were called and prepared in the pre-existence because of their faith and good works? Or, does it say that they were prepared in the pre-existence and then called in this life because of their faith and good works? Are there other possible interpretations? What does it mean that their holy calling was prepared with and according to a preparatory redemption? What is a preparatory redemption?

Verse 4: What does it mean to be hard-hearted? To be blind of mind?

Verses 1-4: It seems to me that one summary of these verses might be, “The Lord God ordained priests who have become what we are blessed to become.” Is that a reasonable summary. (Certainly, it leaves things out, but does it capture an important theme in the verses?) If it is not a reasonable summary, why not?

Verse 5: If those called to be high priests were originally on the same standing as their brethren, does that mean that all were “called [to be priests] and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God” (verse 3)? If not, what does it mean?

Verse 6: Those who have this priesthood are to teach the Lord’s commandments. In what ways do they do that? What does it mean to enter into the Lord’s rest?

Verses 7-8: On the one hand the high priesthood is said to have been prepared from the foundations of the world, which seems to indicate a particular point in time. On the other hand, the verse says that the high priesthood is “without beginning.” Which of these do you think is metaphorical? Why? Notice, too, that Alma says the calling and the ordinance (of ordination?) as well as the priesthood are without beginning or end. What does that mean?

Verse 9: What does it mean to say that the Son of God is “full of grace, equity, and truth”? We often see the phrase “full of grace and truth” used to describe him. (See, for example, John 1:14; D&C 66:12 and 93:11; and Moses 1:32.) But Alma expands that phrase, here as well as in Alma 5:48 (where he says, “grace, mercy, and truth”) and Alma 9:26 (where he uses the same phrase that he uses here). How might you explain the fact that Alma expands that descriptive phrase? What might his additions teach us?

Verses 10-12: Do these verses mean that all who receive the high priesthood are sanctified? Why or why not? Who can be sanctified? How? Alma says those who have been purified cannot look on sin except with abhorrence. What does that mean? Does it have anything to do with Mosiah 5:2? If a pure person abhors sin, how does she or he feel about those in sin? Does the last part of verse 12 perhaps tell us something about what it means to enter into the Lord’s rest? (See also the end of verse 13.) Does it equate being made pure with entering into his rest? If so, why is being made pure called “rest”?

Verse 16: To what ordinances is Alma referring when he says “these ordinances” in the beginning of the verse? The only one he’s referred to recently is that of ordination. Is that what he means? We have to know what ordinances Alma is referring to in order to understand the point he is making. “These ordinances” were given so people could look forward to Christ. How do those ordinances do that? Alma says that “it” is a type of the Son of God’s order and intends that to explain how the people look forward to Christ. To what does the word “it” refer? How do these things help them look forward to a remission of sins?

Verses 17-19: If Melchizedek was such a great spiritual leader, why do the scriptures say so little about him? Even with modern-day revelation, we know relatively little about him. What lesson might we learn about our own lives from this?

Verses 20: Against what is Alma warning them in this verse?

Verse 21: What is the day of salvation? When is it? In what sense or senses is it drawing nigh?

Verse 22: What does it mean that the day of salvation was being declared to all nations by angels when Alma was speaking? How is the announcement of the day of salvation something to be greeted with joy rather than fear?

Verse 23: What does it mean that the glad tidings of the Lord are made known to us in “plain terms”? We’ve seen a number of relatively difficult passages in the Book of Mormon, including some in this chapter.

Verse 25: Though the Savior has already come, do we need to prepare people’s hearts to receive the news of his coming? If so, how do we do that?

Verse 27: Do you think Alma has entered into the Lord’s rest? If so, how is it that he can still feel pain and anxiety? How are those compatible with rest? (Does the Lord feel pain and anxiety?)

Verses 28-29: Instead of procrastinating the day of our repentance, we should:

humble ourselves
watch and pray continually not be tempted beyond our capacity
be led by the Holy Spirit
be humble, meek (gentle), submissive, patient, full of love and long-suffering
have faith on the Lord
have hope for eternal life
have the love of God in our hearts

How do we humble ourselves? What does it mean that we should pray not to be tempted beyond our power to resist? I thought we couldn’t be tempted beyond that power. How are we led by the Spirit? How do we show the attributes in the list (humility, meekness, etc.)? How do we show our faith or trust in the Lord? Why do we have to have a hope for eternal life? What does it mean to have that hope? How do we have God’s love in our hearts? What shows that we do?

5 comments for “Sunday School Lesson 24

  1. Jack
    June 21, 2004 at 1:19 am

    r.e. verse 2: Is Alma referring to the actual ordination or “rite” involved in receiving the office of High Priest? Or is he suggesting that the position itself is analoguos to the Savior as the great High Priest?

  2. June 21, 2004 at 1:41 am

    Jack, I think that is a GREAT question. Thanks.

  3. June 21, 2004 at 10:02 am

    Critics have charged that Alma 13 was plagiarized from the writings of Paul. I have a lengthy discussion of the issue at The page itself is “The Book of Mormon: Stolen from Modern Writings?” (this is one of my Mormon Answers pages). Some of the material presented in that section my also be helpful to appreciating the issues that are raised in that powerful chapter.

  4. June 21, 2004 at 5:11 pm

    Jeff, thanks for this reference. I hope that others will feel free to post additional comments to help anyone interested study the chapters in question and prepare lessons one them.

  5. Jack
    June 21, 2004 at 5:42 pm

    Why all this talk of Melchizedek? These folks were apostates of the worst kind. They knew Alma was the High Priest over the church but refused to follow him claiming that he had no authority over them as he had just relinquished his political position of Chief Judge. I wonder if Alma is using Melchizedek’s story as an example of why it would be important to look to, or submit to the High Priest (he who stands in the place of the Savior having authority to dispense the priesthood) in order to receive all things necessary for salvation. i.e., ordinances, covenants, etc.

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