A curious reading of Alma 12:8-18


Note: This post is based on some emails I wrote to a few people last year and contains a fuller expression of ideas that have already been expounded upon and published on this blog in the past.  In other words, you will need to have read some of my earlier writings to understand some of the concepts I talk about here.  I apologize to all the new readers who may be confused by it.

Here is how I read and interpreted the text of Alma 12:8-18 back in March of 2013:

The reading

and zeezrom began to inquire of them diligently

that he might know more concerning the kingdom of God

and he said unto alma (Alma 12:8)

[Zeezrom's question]

what does this mean

which amulek hath spoken concerning the resurrection of the dead

that all shall rise from the dead

both the just and the unjust

and are brought to stand before god

to be judged according to their works (Alma 12:8)

[Alma answers in terms of knowledge of God's mysteries or portions of God's word given, according to heed and diligence we give to God]

and now alma began to expound these things unto him

saying

it is given unto many to know the mysteries of god

nevertheless

they are laid under a strict command

that they shall not impart

only according to the portion of his word

which he doth grant unto the children of men

according to the heed and diligence

which they give unto him (Alma 12:9)

[Lesser portion of God's word given to those who give less heed and diligence to God]

and therefore

he that will harden his heart

the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word (Alma 12:10)

[Greater portion of God's word given to those who give greater heed and diligence to God]

and he that will not harden his heart

to him is given the greater portion of the word (Alma 12:10)

[Later, knowledge of God's mysteries is eventually given to those who give greater heed and diligence to God]

until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of god (Alma 12:10)

[Later, full knowledge of God’s mysteries is eventually given to those who give greater heed and diligence to God]

until he know them in full (Alma 12:10)

[Lesser portion of God's word given to those who give less heed and diligence to God]

and they that will harden their hearts

to them is given the lesser portion of the word (Alma 12:11)

[Later, those who give lesser heed and diligence to God eventually know nothing concerning God's mysteries]

until they know nothing concerning his mysteries (Alma 12:11)

[Later, those who know nothing concerning God's mysteries are captivated, led and destroyed by the devil through the chains of hell]

and then they are taken captive by the devil

and led by his will down to destruction

now this is what is meant by the chains of hell (Alma 12:11)

[Amulek's temporal death doctrine]

and amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death (Alma 12:12)

[Amulek's resurrection doctrine]

and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality (Alma 12:12)

[Amulek's judgment doctrine]

and being brought before the bar of God

to be judged according to our works (Alma 12:12)

[Those who have no portion of God's word in them (who are the sons of perdition)...]

then if our hearts have been hardened

yea

if we have hardened our hearts against the word

insomuch that it has not been found in us (Alma 12:13)

[...(sons of perdition) will be in an awful state...]

then will our state be awful (Alma 12:13)

[...(sons of perdition) will be condemned by words, works...]

for then we shall be condemned

for our words will condemn us

yea

all our works will condemn us (Alma 12:13-14)

[…(sons of perdition) will be found filthy still…]

we shall not be found spotless (Alma 12:14)

[…(sons of perdition) will be condemned by thoughts…]

and our thoughts will also condemn us (Alma 12:14)

[…(sons of perdition) will not dare to look up to God…]

and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our god (Alma 12:14)

[…(sons of perdition) will desire to be hidden from God’s presence…]

and we would fain be glad

if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us

to hide us from his presence (Alma 12:14)

[…(sons of perdition) must stand before God and his power, might, majesty and dominion…]

but this cannot be

we must come forth

and stand before him in his glory

and in his power

and in his might

majesty

and dominion (Alma 12:15)

[…(sons of perdition) must acknowledge His just judgments and works and His mercy and His omnipotent power to save all believers that bring forth fruit…]

and acknowledge to our everlasting shame

that all his judgments are just

that he is just in all his works

and that he is merciful unto the children of men

and that he has all power to save every man

that believeth on his name

and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance (Alma 12:15)

[After all that happens then there will be a second death (a spiritual death)]

and now behold

i say unto you

then cometh a death

even a second death

which is a spiritual death (Alma 12:16)

[At that time, all those (sons of perdition) who die (present tense—dieth, not past tense) in their sins; in other words, all those (sons of perdition) who experience a temporal death after the resurrection of the dead, meaning a second temporal death…]

then is a time

that whosoever dieth in his sins

as to a temporal death (Alma 12:16)

[...(sons of perdition) will also die a spiritual death...]

 shall also die a spiritual death (Alma 12:16)

[...(sons of perdition) will die as to things pertaining to righteousness...]

yea

he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness (Alma 12:16)

[...(sons of perdition) will have fire and brimstone torments...]

then is the time

when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone

whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever (Alma 12:17)

[...(sons of perdition) will then be chained down by the devil to everlasting destruction...]

and then is the time

that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction

according to the power and captivity of satan

he having subjected them according to his will (Alma 12:17)

[…(sons of perdition) will then be as if there were no redemption made, (in other words, as if the atonement and resurrection of Christ never occurred, they being dead temporally and also spiritually)…]

then

i say unto you

they shall be as though there had been no redemption made (Alma 12:18)

[...(sons of perdition) will not be able to be redeemed, (in other words, the atonement and resurrection of Christ has no claim on them and thus cannot reclaim them a second time...]

for they cannot be redeemed

according to god’s justice (Alma 12:18)

[...and (the sons of perdition) will not be able to die.]

and they cannot die

seeing there is no more corruption  (Alma 12:18)

My interpretation and some exposition

The sons of perdition commit spiritual suicide while still in mortality,  suffering a spiritual death.  They then die a physical death (mortal or  temporal death).  They are then “unclean spirits” under Satan’s total  control.  At their resurrection, their spirits and physical bodies are  reunited, becoming alive again (a physical or temporal resurrection).   Coming into the glorious presence of the Lord, although still attached to the chains of hell and the veil of unbelief, Satan (temporarily) loses his “mind control” over them and they “wake up” from their sleep of hell, coming back into existence, meaning that they are spiritually resurrected.  However,  they find themselves in quite the predicament, for all spirits and bodies are organized by covenantal relationships.  This spiritual and temporal resurrection, brought about by the resurrection and judgment of Christ, causes all the elements of their physical bodies to be “inseparably connected” to the corresponding spirits that make up their spirit bodies, according to the scripture which says:

For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.  (D&C 93:33-34)

Nevertheless, the inseparable connection that the resurrection of Christ brings to pass only refers to the bonding of the spirit to the element.  It does not refer to the everlasting covenant that exists between the Steward spirit and the other (Concern) spirits that make up the rest of the spirit body.

Now I suppose that at the beginning, we, as the Nothing, were spirit inside element, spirit being a balloon-like, highly deformable substance and element being an incredibly dense, non-deformable, hard ball of stuff. The element is dark, whereas the spirit has potential to glow bright, but as the spirit was at first on the inside, it could not shine, thus everything that is in outer darkness, from whence we came, is continually dark. So, at the creation, God split our beings by extracting the spirit part of us from the physical part of us. This is the “opposition in all things” that God does at the beginning.

Now our spirit was organized with other spirits, through everlasting covenantal relationships, forming spirit bodies.   (“I, Abraham, saw the intelligences which were organized…” etc.)  Spirit bodies are organized with a Steward spirit (the “rulers” that were great and good which Abraham saw) and with Concern spirits.  Thus everyone on earth is a Steward spirit in charge of the entire spiritual organization. These spirits “push around” the elements, can be enlarged, etc.

Mortality is when a spirit body—composed of a Steward spirit and a
bunch of Concern spirits, organized by an everlasting covenant, all Concern spirits taking orders from the Steward spirit—has a corresponding organization of element (the physical body) to push around.  Upon death, the element returns to the earth but the organized spirit body retains its everlasting covenantal bonds.

During the resurrection of the dead, spirit and element are “inseparably connected,” which, as I understand it, means that God puts the element INSIDE the spirit (the exact opposite as how it was in outer darkness). The spirit can still move and shine and now feels satisfied “or full.”  Each bit of spirit now has a corresponding bit of element inside of it and there still exists the everlasting covenantal relationship between all the Concern spirits and the Steward spirit.

Unfortunately, the sons of perdition—when brought before the Lord in resurrected bodies, even though they, as Steward spirits, are now inseparably connected to a bit of dark element, the element being inside their spirit bit—have broken the “everlasting covenant” which allows them to stay connected to the Concern spirits.  The sons of perdition Steward spirits are also “filthy still” or dark.  In other words, they don’t shine, therefore, although their spirits encase their elements, they still appear as dark as the Nothing.

Therefore, they die a second death, not in the sense that their spirit and element becomes separated again—for it cannot be separated again, for it is “inseparably connected” and thus, it cannot die, there being “no more corruption”—but in the sense that all these “unwise Steward” spirits lose their everlasting covenantal power to remain with the organized, resurrected body of Concern spirits and elements. In other words, they become separated from the rest of their body and from the Lord and from all of creation, having no everlasting coventantal power to remain (for they broke the everlasting covenant).  Thus, they become separated from the rest of the resurrected elemental body (contained within the Concern spirits), suffering a temporal death, and from the Concern spirits, suffering a spiritual death, yet they, the unjust Steward spirits, cannot die in the sense that their spirits cannot be separated from their element again. They lose all power because, having chosen not to be enlarged, the element completely fills them up so that they become a rigid, solid-like substance, even an ever “hard heart.”  Instead of obtaining a fulness of joy, they obtain a fulness of misery.  All others who are resurrected have been enlarged to some degree, allowing their spirits to be able to be deformed and move about, giving them agency according to how much enlargement they chose.

So all those (Steward spirits) who die a temporal death after the resurrection, being cut off from the rest of their body, because of their breaking the everlasting covenant, will also die a spiritual death, yet they “cannot die” because their element is on the inside.

Once cut off from (the rest of) their body and from the presence of the Lord, they are “re-chained” by the chains of hell and are dragged down by the devil, and are cast out with Satan and his angels, into the lake of fire and brimstone, entering outer darkness, where they have no agency, yet experience indescribable suffering. They are different from the Nothing around them (which has the spirit on the inside, not the element on the inside like they do) but are just as powerless, for they have no light to shine forth in the darkness.

Using Samuel the Lamanite’s language to describe the same thing

Samuel the Lamanite prophet taught:

Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual.  (Hel. 14:16)

So, according to Samuel, spiritual deaths encompass both things temporal and things spiritual.

Therefore, there’s a “first death,” which is both a spiritual and a temporal death (which Samuel terms as a first spiritual death), then there’s a spiritual and a temporal resurrection (which might be lumped together as a spiritual resurrection, using Samuel’s pattern) and then the sons of perdition receive another temporal and spiritual death (which would be a second spiritual death, in both Samuel’s view and also the view of the Lord),

…wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual…  (D&C 29:34)

yet after all this, the sons of perdition can’t die:

[...and (the sons of perdition) will not be able to die.]

and they cannot die

seeing there is no more corruption  (Alma 12:18)

Recap and further exposition

This reading gives two possible temporal deaths and two possible spiritual deaths, but does not allow a third death because of the fixed state of the souls after the resurrection, there being no more corruption.

The first temporal death is the mortal death, mentioned by Amulek.

The first spiritual death are the chains of hell.

Then there is the resurrection of the dead which causes the spirit intelligences that make up the spirit body to become inseparably connected to the element intelligences that make up the physical body, so that they can no longer be separated from each other again.  The resurrected soul, then, is a conglomerate or confederation of individual, resurrected souls (resurrected intelligences), which are held together in the form or shape of man by an everlasting covenant, all of which follow the lead of a Steward intelligence.  Because of the oneness of all the intelligences involved in the makeup of the resurrected soul, all acting under the leadership of the Steward, the Steward intelligence is spoken of as the owner of the rest.

The second temporal death is the death that comes after the resurrection, which is a breaking of the everlasting covenant, which covenant holds all the intelligences that make up the soul together as an organized spirit and body, so that the Steward intelligence is decoupled from the other intelligences, resulting in a separation of the resurrected Steward intelligence from the rest of the resurrected souls that make up the whole soul.  This happens because of a loss of faith, both on the part of the Steward and on that of the Concern intelligences.  Thus, in this death we see a literal fulfillment of these scriptures:

(JST Mark 9:40-48)

Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or if thy brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell.

For it is better for thee to enter into life without thy brother, than for thee and thy brother to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

And again, if thy foot offend thee, cut it off; for he that is thy standard, by whom thou walkest, if he become a transgressor, he shall be cut off.

It is better for thee, to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched.

Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another.

Seek unto my Father, and it shall be done in that very moment what ye shall ask, if ye ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive.

And if thine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out.

It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

For it is better that thyself should be saved, than to be cast into hell with thy brother, where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched.

(Matthew 18:8-9)

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

(Matthew 5:29-30)

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Thus, every Steward intelligence that becomes an unwise, unjust steward, shall, at the last day, be cut off from its own body and spirit, suffering a second temporal death, because the Concern spirits and elements, that make up the resurrected body, will not desire to go into the lake of fire and brimstone with the steward intelligence, and so the everlasting covenant will be broken, so that only the resurrected Steward goes in, and not the rest of his body.  Thus, the resurrected body of these wicked Stewards will enter the kingdom of God “maimed,” with one eye or with one hand or with one foot, meaning that they no longer have a Steward intelligence attached to them by covenant, but the Lord will then “heal” these Stewardless, resurrected souls, giving them a fulness of joy, for they have been ever obedient to the Lord in obeying the Steward, and will not inherit the damnation that the Steward will receive.

The second spiritual death is the death that comes after the resurrection, in which the resurrected Steward intelligence has no more power to remain in the kingdom of God but must return to outer darkness, entering the lake of fire and brimstone again.

The typical reading of the text

I have typically read the text by rewinding the time backwards in verse 16, so that I forcefully made it refer to the mortal temporal death, as if Alma was speaking of that past event as if it were a present event, and then I applied the “whosoever” to only the people he was speaking of in the previous verses (who were the sons of perdition.)  Using these mental gymnastics, in which I changed the chronological order of the text, rewinding it back to before the resurrection, I got this interpretation out of this part of verse 16:

[Those who have no portion of God’s word in them (the sons of perdition)…who died (past tense) in their sins (during mortality, which is a temporal death)…]

then is a time

that whosoever dieth in his sins

as to a temporal death

and then I fast-forwarded the chronology back to after the resurrection for the rest of the verse and all the following verses.

Final tidbits

Alma says the following about the desires of the sons of perdition when they are brought forth in the resurrection to stand before God in the day of judgment, having just become alive again, both spiritually and temporally:

[…(sons of perdition) will desire to be hidden from God’s presence…]

and we would fain be glad

if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us

to hide us from his presence (Alma 12:14)

Although they cannot stop the judgment and their arraignment before God from happening, God will nonetheless be merciful to them, and grant to them according to the desires of their hardened hearts, and so as they will have desired to be hidden from Him, they will be cast out into outer darkness.  Their expulsion from the kingdom will be both according to God’s justice and His mercy, and also according to the desires of their hearts.

Also, in this verse, Alma says:

[…(sons of perdition) will be condemned by thoughts…]

and our thoughts will also condemn us (Alma 12:14)

My understanding is that the condemning thoughts of the sons of perdition will not just be the thoughts of the past, which they had during the time of their mortality, but also the thoughts that they will have while in His presence in the day of judgment, for they will still be entirely sinful and filthy, including their thoughts, which will cause them to shrink in shame.

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7 Comments

  1. In re: to the latter part of verse 16, I’d said:

    notice all the “then”s:

    and now behold
    I say unto you

    then
    cometh a death
    even a second death
    which is a spiritual death
    then is a time
    that whosoever dieth in his sins
    as to a temporal death
    shall also die a spiritual death
    yea
    he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness
    then is the time
    when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone
    whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever
    and then is the time
    that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction
    according to the power and captivity of satan
    he having subjected them according to his will
    then

    I say unto you

    they shall be as though there had been no redemption made
    for they cannot be redeemed according to god’s justice
    and they cannot die
    seeing there is no more corruption

    I think these “then”s are for emphasis, a restating of the same thing in different ways — rather than a chronology.

    Looking at verse 16, the “then is a time” is referring to the time of the “second death, which is a spiritual death” — thus he is saying that when the time of the second death comes, anyone who has died in their sins when it came to their temporal death will also die this second, spiritual death.

    Moving on to verse 17 and the sons of perdition get re-chained
    and cast into the lake of fire. Verse 18 throws another loop.
    Alma says,

    and they cannot die
    seeing there is no more corruption

    So, if verse 16 is talking about a temporal death [followed by a
    spiritual death] that happens after the resurrection, what does
    Alma mean when he says that they cannot die? Aren’t they already
    spiritually and temporally dead (twice each, now!)?

    So, the two “then is the time”s in verse 17 are all describing the time at which the sons of perdition, who have died in their sins, suffer the second death [a spiritual death].

    The “time”, in every case here, seems to be referring to the ONE time of suffering the second death [which is the spiritual death, damnation, or full-captivity by the devil], which is taking place after the resurrection and after they’ve acknowledged that God’s judgment of them is proper/fitting [or "is just"].

  2. This should have been in quotes, like this:

    Moving on to verse 17 and the sons of perdition get re-chained and cast into the lake of fire. Verse 18 throws another loop. Alma says,
    and they cannot die
    seeing there is no more corruption

    So, if verse 16 is talking about a temporal death [followed by a spiritual death] that happens after the resurrection, what does Alma mean when he says that they cannot die? Aren’t they already spiritually and temporally dead (twice each, now!)?

    You want me to fix that or did you mean to write it like that?

  3. Slip sliding away….Paul simon

  4. Yeah that’s how I meant to format it — was the blockquote not closed or something?

  5. I’m not sure, but I fixed it.

  6. The spiritual elements which make up Satan’s being must stay organized only in obedience to HF’s will. Just as this earth groans under all the wickedness for which we use her, so, too, must the spiritual elements groan under their assignment when asked to provide substance for the dark side.

    Of all intelligence, these intelligences likely call the loudest for Justice.

    There’s justice in the idea that at some point they will be released from their assignment and be de-coupled from evil.

  7. This whole discussion helps more technically back up a thought that I have had from time to time for a number of years which is namely this:

    If HF in the power only present in the Celestial Kingdom is everlasting and grows in creations as he continually brings order to “matter unorganized”, it has always sort of made sense to me at an intuitive level that Satan & the son’s of Perdition would “deorganize” within the confines of Outer Darkness. I don’t believe they will cease to exist but it makes sense to me that they will exist in a state of chaos and spirit matter unorganized as an antithesis to the Father whose house is a house of order and whose glory is intelligence.

    New comer to this blog but glad I have found it. Nice to see others thinking about and discussing things outside of Gospel Essentials class and nice to see others who see the same hypocrisy in certain things within the Church as I.


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