“Behold the Ax Is Laid at the Root of the Tree”

D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner

As with most metaphors in scripture, trees represent people. The root of the tree is the essential core, the source and supplier for the body of the tree, which should bear fruit. The fruit represents “works of righteousness” (Alma 5:36). “If the root be holy, so are the branches” (Romans 11:16), but if the root system becomes corrupted by absorbing poisonous elements from its environment, then “the ax is laid at the root of the tree,” and it will have to be cut down and cast into the fire. The fire into which the wicked “trees” are cast is the fire of hell—remorse and regret—which is unquenchable, not able to be put out (see also Luke 3:9; Jacob 5:46; 3 Nephi 14:19; D&C 97:7). Those who are cast into the fire are described in Alma 5:53–56.

Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon: Vol. 1