“Meet” Enough?

“Meet” Enough?

Sometimes a scriptural phrase will catch my attention and I can’t let it go, and before I know it I’m off on a tangent.  So it is again.  This time it’s a phrase that Alma was fond of using: meet for repentance. As Alma scurried about the cities of the Nephite nation trying to fortify the church, he used this phrase repeatedly. This phrase is unique to Alma in the Book of Mormon. [i]

In all 4 of Ama’s uses of ‘meet for repentance’, he tells the saints that they need to bring forth works (Alma 5:54Alma 9:30) or fruit (Alma 12:15Alma 13:13) that live up to a high standard.  At first blush, it appears to be another example of a scriptural theme that turns up the shame coefficient by forcing us to realize that we’re not doing enough to earn our keep. [ii] With further study, though, I’m not sure my initial impressions were correct. 
The word meet is used here in an archaic way.[iii]  A number of Hebrew words translated as meet in the KJV fit roughtly in the context of Alma’s usage. [iv]  Yashar means ‘what is right or what it due’ and ‘asah means ‘to do, fashion, accomplish or produce’. Finally, the Greek word axios means ‘befitting, corresponding to, or congruous‘.  Alma’s request to bring forth works and fruits meet for repentance can be restated as bring forth works and fruit that accomplish or produce repentance, or do things that are congruous and befitting of repentance.
As I read through the passages again, I’m impressed with a couple of things:

Alma 9:27, 30
27 And behold, he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized unto repentance, through faith on his name.
30 . . . [therefore] ye ought to bring forth works that are meet for repentance . . . 
  • we tend to think of repentance leading to baptism, but here baptism is the gate that enables repentance and redemption

Alma 12:15, 33-34

15 . . . 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.
 33 . . .  If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son;
 34 Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.
  • Christ, in his mercy, saves all who believe in his name and bring forth fruit that produces repentance
  • Having repented we lay claim on this mercy for remission of sin and eternal rest

Alma 13:10-11, 13

10 . . . 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.
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.
  • For those high priests which Alma held as an example to the Nephites, it was faith and repentance that led to righteousness. Works of righteousness followed, and they were sanctified and redeemed
  • Alma instructs the Nephite saints to therefore follow this example and do likewise
For my world, the perspective of the passage in Alma 5:54 is critical.  The saints in Zarahemla, having embraced the gospel and implemented its principles, were sanctified by the Spirit, and continued the process of repentance.  From Alma’s perspective they were all set, even though their struggles in life were ongoing. In Alma’s words: ‘they do bring forth works meet for repentance’. It seems to me that it is the repentance that is essential element, and that the fruit and works are a means unto an end.

[i] Moroni expounds on the same theme but uses his own style in Moroni 6:1; D&C tends to use meet for the kingdom (D&C 84:58D&C 88:24D&C 101:100); the KJV-NT uses the phrase in Matthew 3:8 and Acts 26:20.
[ii] This is a theme I’ve considered for years; I have a couple of related posts: Profit vs. Loss and It’s All About Who You Know.
[iii] Although translated directly into English, the Book of Mormon was revealed to Joseph Smith, Jr in the default scriptural language of the KJV.  On occasion, I therefore find it useful to look at the Hebrew (and sometimes Greek) meaning of archaic KJV-style words that appear in the Book of Mormon. Scholars have used these Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon as a further witness to its veracity. 
[iv] I love the online version of Blue Letter Bible which has a free concordance and study tools that will allow you to see the original Hebrew and Greek words for the English word that appears in the KJV. 

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