Alma 1:16 - 1:20
Alma 1:16 Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor.
Not with standing of the ignominious death of Nehor, other preachers began to appear, seeing from Nehor example, that there was money to be made in preaching whatever they wanted. Nehor was executed for murder but not for receiving money as a preacher. As a result more and more false preachers began to appear and all wanting money to preach which the people seem to be willing to pay to hear.
[Certainly a measure of the corrupted condition of the people. If they were a righteous people, these false preachers would get nowhere. Again we see that sort of thing today.]
Alma 1:17 Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief.
The one thing that these preachers had to be careful of was saying things in their sermons that were not true or making false statements. There were laws against lying or making false allegations. As long as they were preaching what they believed, there was no law against that. There were no laws telling what a person had to believe or even that they had to believe in something.
Alma 1:18 And they durst not steal, for fear of the law, for such were punished; neither durst they rob, nor murder, for he that murdered was punished unto death.
There were laws against theft of any kind and murder which was punishable by death.
Alma 1:19 But it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church of God began to persecute those that did belong to the church of God, and had taken upon them the name of Christ.
As the preachers gained more and more followers, these followers and I’m sure the preachers themselves began to persecute the members of the true church of Christ.
We see that sort of thing today. How many times has the Latter Day Saints been accused of not being “Christian?” Since we do not hold to the Niacin Creed or any other doctrine put up of other churches, we are deemed outside the true faith. I guess folks think that they can redeem us by name calling.
Alma 1:20 Yea, they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price.
The persecution took on the form of name calling. The members were humble enough to not recuperate in like manner. They turned the other cheek sort of speak. Since they did not work for each other’s benefit for money, they just tried to ignore the name callers.