There are 14 thoughts on “Were We Foreordained to the Priesthood, or Was the Standard of Worthiness Foreordained? Alma 13 Reconsidered”.

  1. Fascinating article! Not sure I agree with everything but it is certainly food for thought and further study.
    One of the reasons I believe Alma brought up the idea of forordination is that he was preaching to people who believed they had already been chosen to be saved and had no further need of repentance or a savior. He was acknowledging the fact that their priesthood was indeed foreordained but that they still needed to remain worthy to exercise that priesthood on the earth and thereby gain an eternal permanent ordination. That worthiness could only come by coming to Christ through repentance and through the atonement of Christ.
    In the gospel all of our ordinances come in progressive pairs. Baptism followed by confirmation of the gift of the Holy Ghost, sacrament of bread and water, washings and annointings, anointing and sealing for priesthood blessings, etc. As has already been pointed out we are ordained here to receive further ordainings in the next world through our righteousness and through repentance and the Atonement of Christ. So it is not unreasonable that every person has been foreordained or ordained “to become” at a later time. An ordination in the premortal world does not preclude the necessity for ordination to the Priesthood in thus world nor in the next.
    I also believe it is possible that at least part of the faith and righteousness Alma speaks of could simply refer to the fact that everyone who comes to earth “kept their first estate” and remained faithful to our Heavenly Father and completed whatever was necessary for us to come to this earth and complete the next steps. I don’t see why every spirit who comes to earth would not receive some ordination or Father’s blessing giving us keys blessings, and powers we would need to complete our foreordained missions here.
    Your main point, however, that regardless of whatever previous ordinances we have received we still need to come to the Savior in repentance and ask for His help and mercy is an important one. It is worth remembering even as Latter-day Saints that our baptism and ordinances are dependent upon our repentance still.

  2. I respectfully submit that there are considerations in your assessment of Alma 12-13 that have not been addressed in your article. Because of them, which I will address below, I’m afraid I can’t agree with what you have put forth. I have three specific points that diverge from your premises.
    First: Your commentary on Alma 13: 10 says,
    “Those who ‘become high priests’ ‘in the manner which Alma2 has explained are made high priests forever. If they became high priests by foreordination in the pre-existence and were thus ‘high priests forever,’ there would be no need for an ordination on earth. These words confirm again that the manner of ordination to which Alma2 is referring is an ordination on earth.”
    If this were true then what is written in D&C 107:40-53 would be false because it tells us that “Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests,” (v. 53) were all ordained on Earth. This was important enough that specific ages and officiators are stated (e.g. “From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years” v. 42, and so on). Now you may say that these great patriarchs hadn’t been foreordained, but I cannot imagine that they were not among the “noble and great ones” (Abr. 3:22). How could Enoch and Noah not be among the noble and great? I believe that these men were both foreordained in the pre-earth life and then ordained again on Earth. I also think it only reasonable to believe the same about Abraham, Moses, Joseph Smith and others.
    Second point: Alma 13:12; “Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.”
    “Exceedingly great many?” How does that track against, ” Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few [few!] there be that find it.” (3Ne. 14:14) “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men [“almost all men” are not “pure and spotless before God, {so that they} could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence”, but rather], as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few [again, few] are chosen.”(D&C 121:39-40)
    For a long time these contradiction bothered and confused me. If few are supposed to find the strait and narrow way and few are chosen then where did these exceedingly great many come from? Then something Joseph Smith said struck me. “The Lord takes many away even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 196-197) In other words, those who had become so “pure and spotless before God, [that they] could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence” are not required to spend time in this sinful world but are quickly “taken to the bosom of Abraham.” (Teachings p. 197) And these, according to Alma 13:9 “become high priests”.
    In other words, while those who reach maturity in this mortal sphere tend to be carnal, sensual and devilish, allowing themselves to be led by the temptations of the devil and thus forfeit the blessings and privileges they might have claimed through foreordination, those who became so pure that the very appearance of sin would be painfully abhorrent are spared that unnecessary suffering–because they have already paid a high enough price in the pre-earth life, “on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish” (Alma 13:10) to qualify for the blessings of “entering into the rest of the Lord their God” (v. 12).
    Now if you have a better explanation for this situation I am willing to listen, but I have pondered on it for a long time and this is the only way I can see to make sense of the scriptures under consideration.
    Third point: God works in patterns. He has given us, among other things, the temple ordinances to show us the some of the patterns by which He works. When we go through the temple one of the first things that happens is we have actual physical hands laid upon us and we are foreordained to an office that we will never hold in mortality but will only be able to claim “hereafter” if we live righteously. If this were only to show the “manner after which [we are] ordained” (Alma 13:3) then it would make more sense to hear a sermon on what that manner entailed so we could look forward to an actual ordination hereafter. But we are actually ordained. Now it is evident that there are those who have received such foreordination who will not “keep their second estate” (Abr. 3:26) and will therefore not receive a confirming ordination hereafter. Therefore it is only reasonable to assume that there are those who received a foreordination before mortality who will not live up to their privileges and will forfeit their potential blessings. But if patterns are to be seen here then it seems that–just as all that receive their temple endowment either for themselves or by proxy, are foreordained to a future priesthood and office–so all that come to earth (having chosen to do so in a council presided over by God, so there is a direct involvement with deity in making the choice, and God works through ordinances) would have received some sort of ordinance and ordination prior to coming. To me it makes perfect sense that God would foreordain them to the highest office that their “having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith” (Alma 13:3) would have qualified them for.
    These are my thoughts on the matter. I hope they are helpful for those who are wondering about these things.

    • Thank you Tom, for these thoughtful comments. Before I respond to the specifics, I want to reiterate the core message from my article. I do not deny that there was foreordination to Priesthood office in the pre-existence. Indeed, I referenced more specific authority for that doctrine in the article. My point was that Alma 13 is regularly referenced as a primary source for that doctrine in LDS discussion when it is better understood as teaching that the principle of worthiness before ordination to priesthood office was foreordained in the pre-existence. Now to your specific points. One – I read the passage you have referenced in D&C 107 as a history of the ordination of these patriarchs to the Priesthood here on earth. You say that I say they had not been foreordained. I did not say that. TPJS p 365 confirms that everyone with a significant mission to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, was foreordained. I confirm that in the article. But I do think that section 107 is documenting the time of the earthly ordinations of these ancient patriarchs. Point two – I have also loved this passage you have quoted from TPJS 196-7. For me it has always underscored what it cost the Saviour to come to earth to work out and complete the atonement. He would surely have been counted among those who were too pure to have any need of mortal testing and honing. But He came anyway – for us. As to it invalidating my suggestion that the principle of worthiness was foreordained? I don’t think it touches the issue. If God foreknew that these special ones needed nothing more than a physical body from their mortality, then no doubt they could also have been and were foreordained in the pre-existence. But I observe that if they received a body, they will also receive the priesthood and its ordinances in a Temple vicariously before the millenium is complete. Third point? Again, the point of my article was not to say there were not foreordinations in the pre-existence. Rather my point was to say that Alma 13 was teaching the principle of worthiness as its primary focus and that core teaching gets lost when we maintain that it teaches that those who receive the priesthood here were foreordained to it there. I accept this foreordination doctrine. I just want to show that Alma2 was teaching the people of Ammonihah about the principle of worthiness.

      • Thanks for this clarification Keith. While I didn’t have Tom’s issues with your article, I was still left thinking “well couldn’t it be both?” Your response to his comment helps clarify that.
        I think the problem here is that many of us as we read the article thought that by looking at Alma’s message here in a new way, that it was undermining the idea of foreordination. When in fact, you weren’t arguing that at all. I appreciate this insight and alternate way of looking at it. The traditional reading does seem somewhat strange to me. It’s like Alma’s saying “you were foreordained, or you weren’t.” Which gives it a “predestination” tenor, and wouldn’t seem valuable in helping the people of Ammonihah to exercise their agency by choosing to follow God. If, instead, he’s asserting his own authority from God, and offering “the holy order”/”high priesthood” to them, if they repent; then it makes much more sense that he’s explaining how sacred and special this ordination/order/priesthood is, by teaching that it extends beyond the history of humans on the earth, and the earth itself.

      • “Rather my point was to say that Alma 13 was teaching the principle of worthiness as its primary focus”
        Is this true? For me the primary focus of Alma 13 is helping people enter into the rest of the Lord. I see vs. 1-12 as being the doctrine, 14-20 as using Melchizedek as an example of the doctrine, and 13, 21-30 as Alma applying the doctrine to his hearers.
        Melchizedek
        1. There are people who are in need of humility and repentance v. 17
        2. Priesthood holders, such as Melchizedek, are called to preach humility and repentance v. 18
        3. The people repent v. 18
        4. The people enter into the rest of the Lord v. 18 (viz. Alma 40:12 where entering into a state of rest is equated with entering into a state of peace and notice that Melchizedek has established peace in his land and is the prince of peace).
        Abraham
        1. Like everyone, humility and repentance are required of Abraham
        2. Presumably Abraham’s priesthood leader was Melchizedek
        3. Abraham humbled himself and brought forth fruit meet for repentance, even the tithe of all he possessed v. 13, 15
        4. Abraham enters in the the rest of the Lord, v. 13
        Alma listeners
        1. They are in need of humility and repentance v. 13, 21, 27
        2. The scriptures, the voice of the Lord, angels, the Holy Ghost, priesthood holders are sent to preach humility and repentance v. 20, 21, 22-28
        3. They need to cast off their sins, repent, pray continually, become humble, meek, etc. v. 27-28
        4. If they humble themselves and repent they will have hope in receiving eternal life and enter into the rest of the Lord v. 13
        Jesus Christ
        1. There are people in need of humility and repentance v. 16
        2. The people need to look forward on the Son of God for a remission of their sins v. 16
        3. They repent v. 16
        4. They enter into the rest of the Lord (the Lord is the prince of peace) v. 16
        The doctrine
        v. 1 Why are the priests ordained? To teach repentance to the people (see Alma 5:49-50; priests are called after the order of Jesus Christ to preach repentance that the people might inherit the kingdom of heaven)
        v. 2 The priests were ordained after the order of the Son that the people might look forward to the Son for redemption
        v. 3-5 a parenthetical aside on priesthood holders being called and prepared
        v. 6 The priests are ordained to teach the commandments that the people might enter into the rest of the Lord
        v. 7-9 Another aside, the high priesthood, the holy calling, the ordinance, and the Son are without beginning of days or end of years
        v. 10-12 Priesthood holders are called, ordained, sanctified, their garments are made white, and enter in the the rest of the Lord because of their faith and repentance through the blood of the Lamb (i.e., before priesthood holders can call others to repentance so that they can enter into the rest of the Lord, they must first do the same).

  3. I am grateful to the author of this article on at least one account. As I was reading it I was struck by the number of similarities between Alma 13 and the beginning of D&C 84 (the oath and covenant of the priesthood and its introductory preamble) which I had not noticed previously. The following comment might be too long, and some of the connections noted are tenuous at best (no doubt the result of a frenzied mind), but I thought they might be of interest to others.
    Without beginning of days or end of years
    D&C 84
    17 Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.
    Alma 13
    7 This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things—
    8 Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—
    9 Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.
    Reference to priesthood ordination
    D&C 84
    33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
    Alma 13
    1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.
    2 And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
    6 And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—
    8 Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—
    10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;
    Sanctified by the Spirit
    D&C 84
    23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
    33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
    Alma 13
    11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.
    12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.
    Blessings to righteous priesthood holders
    D&C 84
    33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
    34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
    Alma 13
    10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;
    11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.
    12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.
    Enter into his rest
    D&C 84
    4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.
    5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.
    19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
    20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
    21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
    22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
    23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
    24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
    32 And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church.
    Alma 13
    6 And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—
    10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;
    11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.
    12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.
    13 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.
    16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.
    28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;
    29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.
    Reference to the work of priesthood holders to teach the children of man that they might be sanctified that they might enter into His rest
    D&C 84
    23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
    24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
    Alma 13
    1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.
    6 And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—
    Reference to Melchizedek and Abraham
    D&C 84
    14 Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah;
    Alma 13
    14 Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.
    15 And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed.
    17 Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;
    18 But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.
    19 Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention.
    Reference to preparatory/preparation
    D&C 84
    26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;
    Alma 13
    3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
    5 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—
    24 For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.
    Reference to the preparatory gospel
    D&C 84
    26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;
    27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments…
    Alma 13
    3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
    4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
    10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;
    13 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.
    16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.
    18 But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.
    21 And now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words unto them, he stretched forth his hand unto them and cried with a mighty voice, saying: Now is the time to repent, for the day of salvation draweth nigh;
    29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.
    30 And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.
    Reference to Angels
    D&C 84
    26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;
    Alma 13
    22 Yea, and the voice of the Lord, by the mouth of angels, doth declare it unto all nations; yea, doth declare it, that they may have glad tidings of great joy; yea, and he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people, yea, even to them that are scattered abroad upon the face of the earth; wherefore they have come unto us.
    24 For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.
    25 And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.
    26 And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming, that the words of our fathers may be fulfilled, according to that which they have spoken concerning him, which was according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them.
    Temple imagery
    D&C 84
    4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.
    5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.
    19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
    20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
    21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
    22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
    23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
    24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
    31 Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses—for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed—
    32 And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church.
    Alma 13
    9 Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.
    10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;
    11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.
    12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.
    Reference to wanderers in a strange land
    D&C 84
    23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
    Alma 13
    23 And they are made known unto us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored, for we have these glad tidings declared unto us in all parts of our vineyard.
    Reference to Adam
    D&C 84
    16 And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man—
    Alma 12
    Reference to eternal life
    D&C 84
    35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
    37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
    38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
    Alma 13
    28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;
    29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.
    30 And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.
    Reference to receiving righteous priesthood holders
    D&C 84
    36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
    Alma 13
    2 And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
    14 Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.
    16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.
    17 Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;
    18 But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.
    26 And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming, that the words of our fathers may be fulfilled, according to that which they have spoken concerning him, which was according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them.
    27 And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;

  4. This is an interesting thesis, but I must admit I’m not convinced. I don’t see why it can’t be both ways. Three men are foreordained to the priesthood in pre mortality based on their faith and and good works. In mortality one receives the priesthood. Another of the three was perhaps born into the church but due to agency makes choices that results in him never receiving the priesthood. The third is born into circumstances that preclude his receiving the priesthood (wrong tribe in ancient Israel, black pre-1970s, born in a time and place where the gospel was unknown, etc.) but he later receives the priesthood through Temple ordinances for the dead.

  5. “the reference two verses previously in Alma 12:36 to “the first provocation,” suggest Alma was referring to the ordination of Israelite priests in the wilderness”
    What is your basis for reading the first provocation as referring to the Israelites? Reading Alma 12:14-18, 30-37 it would seem that Alma is referring to the first commandments given to Adam and Eve and the first provocation/transgression/judgement/death that resulted from the fall. The second commandments, second/last provocation, second/final judgement, second death, etc. would refer to the state we find ourselves in during the probationary state where “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” Compare D&C 29:41, D&C 76:36-39, Helaman 14:15-19, and Jacob 3:11.

  6. I think this is an excellent effort to check our assumptions and probe our founding scriptures more carefully. Like another commentator (David Richards), and in spite of my own earlier readings, I have lately been interpreting these passages in a way that is similar to what is outlined in the article, or as David put it: “that Alma 13:3’s reference to ‘their exceeding faith and good works’ is likely not a reference to the pre-mortal life.” I think the key is that God had foreknowledge of the faith and good works that they themselves would choose to do on earth, instead of this being a matter of predestination before birth based on behavior in the preexistence (indeed, if it was just based on merit in the preexistence why then would it need to be “according to the foreknowledge of God”?) I am still thinking over some of the other details here, but I have a couple of thoughts off the cuff. 1. Alma’s discourse on the Priesthood here does not seem to me to be a digression. Instead I think it is part of the answer to the question posed in Alma 11:21 “What does the scripture mean, which saith that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden…And thus we see that there was no possible chance that they should live forever.” The priesthood is a natural part of these themes in question here. 2. It seems curious to me that the author would interpret Alma 13:1 to refer to the ordination of priests under the Law of Moses, given that the context here is about priests under the order of Melchizedek. I buy that those priests under the Law of Moses could be included in the example since they are subsumed under that priesthood, but it seems to me that the more immediate referents here for the terms “these commandments” and “ordained priests” of verse 1 are the commandments given after the Fall and the early priests after the order of Melchizedek before the Law. See the context in Alma 12 that discusses the very early giving of commandments etc. after the Fall. The provocation in Alma 12:36 in this case could simply be the eating of the fruit. I think this fits the overall context better.

    • I agree. It’s one of the things I’ve elaborated on elsewhere, but I suspect “first provocation” in Alma 12:36 is very likely to be a reference to the fall. In addition to the reasons you’ve pointed out, you have the distinction between the “first commandments” in v.31 given pre-fall and the “second commandments” in v.37.
      I think some might be swayed by the close similarity of some of the wording (and especially the quotation of 12:33-35) to Psalm 95:8-11//Hebrews 3:8-11 and Jacob 1:7, all of which definitely are referring to the Exodus. But none of those refer to “the first provocation”.

    • I accept the suggestion that it is difficult to be completely certain what Alma intended by his phrase, ‘the first provocation’. This was a matter of some discussion during peer review of this article because one of the anonymous reviewers was insistent that ‘the first provocation’ meant the golden calf incident – hence the final state of the article as published.

  7. I agree (indeed I’ve thought this for a while) that Alma 13:3’s reference to “their exceeding faith and good works” is likely not a reference to the pre-mortal life.
    On the other hand, I think there is a clear reference to foreordination here, and that references to God’s foreknowledge and what that is in reference to had not been adequately accounted for. I think some of Alma’s rhetorical purpose has been missed, and the priesthood context of the Church in Alma’s era (in which only a small minority were priests) also not fully accounted for. I elaborate on this in my own blog.

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