“May the Peace of God Rest Upon You”

Brant Gardner

Alma blesses the people. Much more than a casual polite or formulaic ending, it is best seen as a formal declaration. In the modern church, this might be termed an apostolic blessing. Note the contrast between this conclusion and the conclusion of Alma’s sermon in Zarahemla:

And now I, Alma, do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me, that ye observe to do the words which I have spoken unto you.
I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life. (Alma 5:61–62)

In Zarahemla, Alma pronounced no blessing. Instead, he issued a very firm call to repentance. It seems reasonable to suppose that he did not casually or routinely pronounce such blessings. In Gideon, Alma proclaimed the people’s faithfulness from his opening remarks; now he closes his address with an appropriate blessing for that faithfulness.

The blessing is for the “peace of God.” As it rapidly becomes clear, the “peace of God” is not political peace. Wars are coming; trials are coming. Nevertheless, for the Gideonites, as well as for all of the righteous, God’s peace is internal and transcendent. It will arch over the conflicts of the world and tap into heaven, bringing a taste of that eternal realm into the hearts of individuals and families.

When Alma blesses Gideon, he does not bless a city. He blesses families. “Upon your house” is addressed to the head of the household (not to the physical building). He blesses the lands and flocks required to support that family.

Text: This verse ends a chapter in the 1830 edition. This chapter break follows Mormon’s standard process of creating a new chapter after the end of an inserted sermon. (See Mosiah, Part 1: Context, Chapter 2, “Mormon’s Structural Editing: Chapters and Books.”)

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4