One of the most powerful scripture study tools I utilize is a Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. I have a free app version on my iPhone (sorry Android users, I don’t think there is one quite yet, but you can use this site) that I use practically every time I’m in the scriptures.
I’ve been studying Alma 5 quite a bit and seeking to unlock its many treasures. I took just four verses, 12, 13, 14 and 15 and began to define keywords and I’ll share with you some of these definition excerpts for you to ponder.
12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.
14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
MIGHTY – 1. Very strong; valiant; bold; 6. Vehement; rushing with violence; as a mighty wind or tempest.
VEHEMENT – 1. Violent; acting with great force; furious; 2. …very eager or urgent;
CHANGE – 1. To cause to turn or pass from one state to another; to alter, or make different; 3. To quit one thing or state for another;
WROUGHT – 1. Worked. Formed by work or labor.
HEART – 1. The inner part of any thing; the middle part or interior; 4. The seat of the affections and passions, as of love, joy, grief, enmity, courage, pleasure etc. 6. The seat of the understanding; 7. The seat of the will; hence, secret purposes, intentions or designs.
TRUST – Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person. 2. He or that which is the ground of confidence.
SPIRITUALLY – discerned, known, not by carnal reason, but by the peculiar illumination of the Holy Spirit.
BORN – 1. To be born is to be produced or brought into life. 2. To be born or born again, is to be regenerated and renewed; to receive spiritual life.
REGENERATE – 2. In theology, to renew the heart by a change of affections; to change the heart and affections from natural enmity to the love of God; to implant holy affections in the heart.
AFFECTION – A bent of mind towards a particular object, holding a middle place between disposition, which is natural, and passion, which is excited by the presence of its exciting object. affection is a permanent bent of the mind, formed by the presence of an object, or by some act of another person, and existing without the presence of its object. 4. love or zealous attachment;
IMAGE – 1. A representation or similitude of any person or thing, formed of a material substance; 6. Semblance; show; appearance.
COUNTENANCE – …the outline and extent which constitutes the whole figure or external appearance. Appropriately, the human face;
EXERCISE – 2. Practice; performance; as the exercise of religion.
REDEMPTION – 1. Repurchase of captured goods or prisoners; the act of procuring the deliverance of persons or things from the possession and power of captors by the payment of an equivalent; ransom; release;
LOOK – 1. To direct the eye towards an object, with the intention of seeing it.
EYE – 1. The organ of sight or vision; 8. View of the mind; opinion formed by observation or contemplation.
This a simple study method that I use consistently to gain greater insights into the power behind the words we see in the scriptures. A modern dictionary can help too, but I have found that in too many cases that the meanings behind words have changed dramatically since the time of the restoration.
The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary was a contemporary of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, so naturally, using a dictionary from that time will better help you understand documents from that time. I find it to be an indispensable study companion to the King James Bible as well though personally, I prefer to read and reference simultaneous modern translations like the NASB, NIV, and others.
Feel free to explore more on your own.