Alma 1: Alma and Nehor

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 97–98

Alma was the chief judge of Zarahemla and the leader of the Church. One of his first challenges was to sit in judgment of a man named Nehor who set up a rival church, taught false doctrine, and killed a faithful Nephite. Many people today believe and teach the same false doctrines that Nehor taught. As you read Alma 1, think about what is wrong with Nehor’s doctrine and why Alma said it was dangerous.

Understanding the Scriptures

Alma 1

Obliged (v. 1)Required
Bearing down against (v. 3)Taking a strong stand against
Popular (v. 3)Admired by the people, approved
Costly apparel (vv. 6, 27)Expensive clothes
Admonishing (v. 7)Correcting, warning
Stricken (v. 9)Bowed down
Endeavored (v. 12)Tried
Vengeance (v. 13)Punishment
Ignominious (v. 15)Disgraceful, shameful
Impart (v. 20)Give, teach
Contend (v. 22)Argue, fight
Blotted out (v. 24)Removed, erased
Comely (v. 27)Attractive
Indulge themselves (v. 32)Give in to their desires
Babblings (v. 32)Pointless arguments, idle talk
Durst (v. 33)Dared

Alma 1:12—What Is Priestcraft? What Was Nehor Teaching That Was So Popular?

As defined by Nephi, “priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion” (2 Nephi 26:29). According to that definition, what Nehor taught was priestcraft.

  • He criticized the Church and taught that priests and teachers should become popular with the people (see Alma 1:3). This shows us that he wanted the people to praise and follow him rather than God.

  • He taught that all priests and teachers (like himself) should be paid for preaching rather than also working to support themselves (see v. 3). This shows that his desire was to get gain and prosper from the labor of others.

  • In order to get paid for preaching, Nehor, like all false teachers, taught what the people wanted to hear. He taught that “all mankind should be saved at the last day” (v. 4). That doctrine would be very pleasing to the disobedient. How much easier and comforting it is to hear that everyone will be saved instead of being taught that such principles as faith, repentance, and obedience are necessary for salvation. This shows that Nehor was more interested in his own welfare than in helping the people grow in righteousness and in the welfare of Zion.


Nehor was executed for murdering Gideon, but that did not end the popularity of his teachings. As you continue your study of the Book of Mormon, you will periodically meet people (such as the Amlicites, Amalekites, Amulonites, and Ammonihahites) who followed the teachings of Nehor.

Studying the Scriptures

Do one of the following activities (A–C) as you study Alma 1.

Activity A iconCorrect the Doctrine

Nehor was guilty of priestcraft and murder.

  1. 1.

    To help you understand Nehor’s doctrine and the dangers of priestcraft, draw a table in your notebook, like the one shown here.







  2. 2.

    In the first column, list the three elements of Nehor’s doctrine from Alma 1:3–4.

  3. 3.

    In the second column, explain how each false doctrine he taught qualifies as priestcraft as described in 2 Nephi 26:29 (see the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for Alma 1:12 for help if needed).

  4. 4.

    In the third column, correct each false idea with an explanation of what a true priesthood holder would teach.

Activity B iconIs There a Wrong Way to Defend the Truth?

In Alma 1:19–20 you read about the persecution the members of the Church faced.

  1. 1.

    How did some of the members of the Church respond to that persecution? (see vv. 21–22).

  2. 2.

    What effect did their response to persecution have on the rest of the Church and on themselves? (see vv. 22–24).

  3. 3.

    How was the response to opposition by those members similar to Nehor’s response found in Alma 1:7–9?

  4. 4.

    Explain what this chapter teaches us about responding to persecution and why that is the best way.

Activity C iconA Day in the Life of a Nephite Teenager

Review Alma 1:25–33, which describes what life was like in the Church in Alma’s day, and then complete one of the following assignments.

  1. 1.

    Suppose you were a teenager in Alma’s day. Describe what a typical day might be like for you in that blessed society. Be creative and describe your family, getting ready for school, what you wear, how others treat you and how you treat others, and what your relationship is to nonbelievers.

  2. 2.

    Compare your community and the one described in Alma 1:25–33. How are they similar? How are they different? What could you do to make yourself and your community more like the one Alma described?