|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:41-50 It is repeatedly said of the wicked, Their worm dieth not, as well as, The fire is never quenched. Doubtless, remorse of conscience and keen self-reflection are this never-dying worm. Surely it is beyond compare better to undergo all possible pain, hardship, and self-denial here, and to be happy for ever hereafter, than to enjoy all kinds of worldly pleasure for a season, and to be miserable for ever. Like the sacrifices, we must be salted with salt; our corrupt affections must be subdued and mortified by the Holy Spirit. Those that have the salt of grace, must show they have a living principle of grace in their hearts, which works out corrupt dispositions in the soul that would offend God, or our own consciences.
Verse 50. - Salt is good; that is, it is useful and beneficial. This is true of the literal salt. Its wholesome antiseptic properties are universally recognized. But our Lord has before his mind in this whole passage the spiritual meaning. He is thinking of the salt of Divine grace, of the salt of a spirit informed and influenced by the Holy Spirit. He had already told his disciples that they were "the salt of the earth." Not, indeed, that they could deliver the earth from corruption - that was beyond their power. But when Christ had delivered it by his mighty sacrifice and the gift of his Spirit, it was their business, as it is the duty of all Christians, to keep it in a healthy state; so that by their wisdom and purity, their holy lives and holy teaching, they might season the whole world. But if the salt have lost its saltness (ἐὰν τὸ ἅλας ἄναλον γένηται), wherewith will ye season it? This insipid, tasteless condition of salt is familiar to travelers in the East Examples are to be found of largo masses of salt which "has lost its savor." Our Lord here applies this in a spiritual sense to his disciples. "If ye, my disciples, who are the salt of the earth, - if ye lose the true properties of salt; if your Christianity loses its heart, its quickening, stimulating influence; so that on account of the love of the world, or the fear of man, or through lust or ambition, you fall away from the heavenly doctrine and life; - who shall restore you to your former spiritual health and vigor? With what can salt itself be seasoned when its own chemical energies are lost?" Our Lord plays upon this figure of salt, and cautions his disciples, lest by any means they should lose the qualities of this mystic salt. Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another. This sentence fitly winds up the whole. Have the salt of wisdom and purity, and of a Christian life, namely, humility, charity, contempt of the world, and especially peace. Do not be idly contending about place or position, as not long ago you were disputing (ver. 33). Our Lord foresaw that this kind of contention, these rivalries, and these ambitious aims, would prove a great scandal and a great hindranee to the progress of his Church in the future ages of the world. But he also knew that if his disciples in every ago would endeavor to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," their influence would be irresistible, and they would draw all men to them and to himself, the great Centre of attraction, and "the confidence of all the ends of the earth" (Psalm 65:5).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Salt is good,.... To make meat savoury, and keep flesh from corrupting; and so is the grace of God, to season men's hearts, make their discourse savoury, and preserve them from the corruption of sin: and so men made partakers of the grace of God; they are good and useful to others, both by their words and actions, and especially ministers of the Gospel, who are "the salt of the earth"; see Gill on Matthew 5:13; and here Christ may chiefly intend his apostles:
but if the salt hath lost its saltness, wherewith will ye season it? there is no recovering it, it becomes good for nothing; See Gill on Matthew 5:13;
have salt in yourselves; the doctrine of grace, and word of Christ, prudence in talk and conversation, and holiness of heart and life, so as to behave wisely towards them that are without;
and have peace one with another; which the God of peace calls unto, the Gospel of peace requires, and the grace of God teaches. Salt is an emblem of firm union, concord, and agreement: hence the covenant of peace is called a covenant of salt, Numbers 18:19, compared with Numbers 25:12. This exhortation, very appropriately follows upon the making mention of salt in different senses; especially, this exhortation was the more necessary to the disciples at this time, since they had been very lately warmly disputing the point among themselves, who should be greatest in the kingdom of the Messiah; and which had occasioned this discourse of Christ's.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
50. Salt is good; but if the salt have lost his saltness—its power to season what it is brought into contact with.
wherewith will ye season it?—How is this property to be restored? See on Mt 5:13.
Have salt in yourselves—See to it that ye retain in yourselves those precious qualities that will make you a blessing to one another, and to all around you.
and—with respect to the miserable strife out of which all this discourse has sprung, in one concluding word.
have peace one with another—This is repeated in 1Th 5:13.
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