This phrase, as rendered, does not make sense. Yet, it is repeated in verse 11 with little variation, If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God. A close examination of these phrases doesn’t clear up the inconsistency. To paraphrase this statement, the angel seems to be saying, “If you want to die, stop persecuting the church.” But is this what the angel really said?
The Mosiah version of the story sheds some light on this awkward phrase. In that version, the words of the angel are rendered, seek to destroy the church no more…and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off (Mosiah 27:16, emphasis added). Now, the meaning is clear. To paraphrase again, “even if you would rather be destroyed by the power of God, you are commanded to stop persecuting the church.”
Alma was frightened by these words. His mind caught hold upon the concept of his own destruction. Alma understood that the angel was powerful enough to kill him for his disobedience, although the angel’s words did not really threaten him directly. Nevertheless, he knew that he must repent or be destroyed, and the immortality of youth now seemed threatened. His response was the natural instinct of self-preservation, I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed (v. 11).