Mark 9:50
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltiness, with which will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(50) Salt is good.—See Note on Matthew 5:13. There, however, the primary reference of the words is to the visible community of believers, the Church of Christ, as preserving the world from corruption. Here the words speak primarily of the inward grace, of which the salt is the symbol, and which alone makes the Church what it ought to be, as “the salt of the earth.”

Have salt in yourselves.—The words that follow, “have peace in yourselves,” seem to refer to the contention in Mark 9:33, with which this portion of our Lord’s teaching had begun. The purity from selfish aims, which was symbolised by the “salt,” was the chief or only preservative of peace.



Mark 9:50

In the context ‘salt’ is employed to express the preserving, purifying, divine energy which is otherwise spoken of as ‘fire.’ The two emblems produce the same result. They both salt-that is, they cleanse and keep. And if in the one we recognise the quick energy of the Divine Spirit as the central idea, no less are we to see the same typified under a slightly different aspect in the other. The fire transforms into its own substance and burns away all the grosser particles. The salt arrests corruption, keeps off destruction, and diffuses its sanative influence through all the particles of the substance with which it comes in contact. And in both metaphors it is the operation of God’s cleansing Spirit, in its most general form, that is set forth, including all the manifold ways by which God deals with us to purge us from our iniquity, to free us from the death which treads close on the heels of wrongdoing, the decomposition and dissolution which surely follow on corruption.

This the disciples are exhorted to have in themselves that they may be at peace one with another. Perhaps we shall best discover the whole force of this saying by dealing-

I. With the symbol itself and the ideas derived from it.

The salt cleanses, arrests corruption which impends over the dead masses, sweetens and purifies, and so preserves from decay and dissolution. It works by contact, and within the mass. It thus stands as an emblem of the cleansing which God brings, both in respect {a} to that on which it operates, {b} to the purpose of its application, and {c} to the manner in which it produces its effects.

{a} That on which it operates.

There is implied here a view of human nature, not flattering but true. It is compared with a dead thing, in which the causes that bring about corruption are already at work, with the sure issue of destruction. This in its individual application comes to the assertion of sinful tendency and actual sin as having its seat and root in all our souls, so that the present condition is corruption, and the future issue is destruction. The consequent ideas are that any power which is to cleanse must come from without, not from within; that purity is not to be won by our own efforts, and that there is no disposition in human nature to make these efforts. There is no recuperative power in human nature. True, there may be outward reformation of habits, etc., but, if we grasp the thought that the taproot of sin is selfishness, this impotence becomes clearer, and it is seen that sin affects all our being, and that therefore the healing must come from beyond us.

{b} The purpose-namely, cleansing.

In salt we may include the whole divine energy; the Word, the Christ, the Spirit. So the intention of the Gospel is mainly to make clean. Preservation is a consequence of that.

{c} The manner of its application.

Inward, penetrating, by contact; but mainly the great peculiarity of Christian ethics is that the inner life is dealt with first, the will and the heart, and afterwards the outward conduct.

II. The part which we have to take in this cleansing process.

‘Have salt’ is a command; and this implies that while all the cleansing energy comes from God, the working of it on our souls depends on ourselves.

{a} Its original reception depends on our faith.

The ‘salt’ is here, but our contact with it is established by our acceptance of it. There is no magical cleansing; but it must be received within if we would share in its operation.

{b} Its continuous energy is not secured without our effort.

Let us just recall the principle already referred to, that the ‘salt’ implies the whole cleansing divine energies, and ask what are these? The Bible variously speaks of men as being cleansed by the ‘blood of Christ,’ by the ‘truth,’ by the ‘Spirit.’ Now, it is not difficult to bring all these into one focus, viz., that the Spirit of God cleanses us by bringing the truth concerning Christ to bear on our understandings and hearts.

We are sanctified in proportion as we are coming under the influence of Christian truth, which, believed by our understandings and our hearts, supplies motives to our wills which lead us to holiness by copying the example of Christ.

Hence the main principle is that the cleansing energy operates on us in proportion as we are influenced by the truths of the Gospel.

Again, it works in proportion as we seek for, and submit to, the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit.

In proportion as we are living in communion with Christ.

In proportion as we seek to deny ourselves and put away those evil things which ‘quench the Spirit.’

This great grace, then, is not ours without our own effort. No original endowment is enough to keep us right. There must be the daily contact with, and constant renewing of the Holy Ghost. Hence arises a solemn appeal to all Christians.

Note the independence of the Christian character.

‘In yourselves.’ ‘The water that I shall give him shall be in him a fountain,’ etc. Not, therefore, derived from the world, nor at second-hand from other men, but you have access to it for yourselves. See that you use the gift. ‘Hold fast that which thou hast,’ for there are enemies to withstand-carelessness, slothfulness, and self-confidence, etc.

III. The relation to one another of those who possess this energy.

In proportion as Christians have salt in themselves, they will be at peace with one another. Remember that all sin is selfishness; therefore if we are cleansed from it, that which leads to war, alienation, and coldness will be removed. Even in this world there will be an anticipatory picture of the perfect peace which will abound when all are holy. Even now this great hope should make our mutual Christian relations very sweet and helpful.

Thus emerges the great principle that the foundation of the only real love among men must be laid in holiness of heart and life. Where the Spirit of God is working on a heart, there the seeds of evil passions are stricken out. The causes of enmity and disturbance are being removed. Men quarrel with each other because their pride is offended, or because their passionate desires after earthly things are crossed by a successful rival, or because they deem themselves not sufficiently respected by others. The root of all strife is self-love. It is the root of all sin. The cleansing which takes away the root removes in the same proportion the strife which grows from it. We should not be so ready to stand on our rights if we remembered how we come to have any hopes at all. We should not be so ready to take offence if we thought more of Him who is not soon angry. All the train of alienations, suspicions, earthly passions, which exist in our minds and are sure to issue in quarrels or bad blood, will be put down if we have ‘salt in ourselves.’

This makes a very solemn appeal to Christian men. The Church is the garden where this peace should flourish. The disgrace of the Church is its envyings, jealousies, ill-natured scandal, idle gossip, love of preeminence, willingness to impute the worst possible motives to one another, sharp eyes for our brother’s failings and none for our own. I am not pleading for any mawkish sentimentality, but for a manly peacefulness which comes from holiness. The holiest natures are always the most generous.

What a contrast the Church ought to present to the prevailing tone in the world! Does it? Why not? Because we do not possess the ‘salt.’ The dove flees from the cawing of rooks and the squabbling of kites and hawks.

The same principle applies to all our human affections. Our loves of all sorts are safe only when they are pure. Contrast the society based on common possession of the one Spirit with the companionships which repose on sin, or only on custom or neighbourhood. In all these there are possibilities of moral peril.

The same principle intensified gives us a picture of heaven and of hell. In the one are the ‘solemn troops and sweet societies’; in the other, no peace, no confidence, no bonds, only isolation, because sin which is selfishness lies at the foundation of the awful condition.

Friends, without that salt our souls are dead and rotting. Here is the great cure. Make it your own. So purified, you will be preserved, but, on the other hand, unchecked sin leads to quick destruction.

The dead, putrefying carcass-what a picture of a soul abandoned to evil and fit only for Gehenna!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.Lost its saltness ... - See the notes at Matthew 5:13.

Have salt in yourselves - Have the preserving, purifying principle always; the principles of denying yourselves, of suppressing pride, ambition, contention, etc., and thus you will be an acceptable offering to God.

Have peace - Avoid contention and quarrelling, struggling for places, honors, and office, and seek each other's welfare, and religion will be honored and preserved in the world.

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 [1470]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.

We met with the former part of this verse:

See Poole on "Matthew 5:13". In that text he compared his disciples, whether preachers or others, to salt, because by their doctrine, and holy life and example, they as it were kept the world sweet. I do not see why we should not so understand him speaking here, understanding by salt, persons salted, seasoned with the knowledge of the doctrine of Christ, and who the fear and love of God. These are good. But if any appearing such, apostatize, or be lazy and inactive, what are they good for? Or what shall season them?

Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. Here salt is taken in a little different sense. In the former sense themselves were the salt, here they are commanded to keep salt in themselves. They could not have been salt to season others, if themselves had not first been salted with gracious habits of knowledge, faith, love, fear of God: now saith our Saviour, Keep this salt in yourselves, let not this holy fire die from the altar, take heed of losing your savour.

And have peace one with another. It is one thing in the nature of salt to unite and knit the parts of the body salted together, so as the upholding of a union and peace one with another will declare that you have salt in yourselves. By this (saith the apostle) we know we are translated from death to life, if we love the brethren. In order to which men must avoid envy, and emulation, and contests for superiority, &c.; a contest of which nature gave the first occasion of these discourses. 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.

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Mark 9:50. Καλὸνἀρτύσετε] a maxim of experience drawn from common life, in which τὸ ἅλας is to be taken literally. Then follows with ἔχετε κ.τ.λ. the application, in which the spiritual meaning of the salt (wisdom, see on Mark 9:49, and Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 1208) emerges. The connection with what precedes is: In order to experience in yourselves on the establishment of the kingdom the truth: πᾶσα θυσία ἁλὶ ἁλισθήσεται, ye must—seeing that salt, which in itself is so excellent a thing, when it has become insipid, can in no wise be restored—preserve in your hearts the salt of true wisdom[131] and withal be peaceful one with another. Against both the disciples had sinned by their dispute about precedence (Mark 9:34), from which the entire discourse of Jesus, Mark 9:35 ff., had started, and to which He now again at the close points back. This contest about precedence had been foolish (opposed to the ἅλας) and unpeaceful.

ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας ἄναλον κ.τ.λ.] Comp. on Matthew 5:13.

ΑὐΤῸ ἈΡΤΎΣΕΤΕ] wherewith shall ye restore it? so that it shall again be provided with saline efficacy (comp. on Colossians 4:6).

ἔχετε] emphatically placed first: keep, preserve, which is not done, if the analogue of the ἄναλον γίνεσθαι sets in with you.

ἘΝ ἙΑΥΤΟῖς] in yourselves, correlative to the subsequent ἐν ἀλλήλοις (reciprocally). Comp. Bengel: “prius officium respectu nostri, alterum erga alios.”

ἍΛΑ (see the critical remarks) from Ὁ ἍΛς. See Lobeck, Paralip. p. 93.

καὶ εἰρην. ἐν ἀλλ.] The annexing of this exhortation was also suggested by the conception of the salt, since the salt was symbol of a covenant. Hence the course of thought: And—whereof ye are likewise reminded by the symbolic significance of salt—live in peace one with another.

[131] Comp. Ignat. ad Magnes. 10 : ἁλίσθητε ἐν αὐτῳ (Χριστῷ), ἵνα μὴ διαφθαρῇ τις ἐν ὑμῖν.Mark 9:50 sets forth the other great truth: salting in the form of self-discipline indispensable.—καλὸν τὸ ἅλας, an excellent thing is salt; a most seasonable truth just then. What follows seems less so, as it stands in Mk.’s text. As spoken by Jesus, if we may assume that it was spoken on this occasion, it might come in quite naturally. The three thoughts in this verse: salt good, care must be taken that it lose not its virtue, have salt in yourselves, may be merely themes packed together in a single sentence, on which Jesus discoursed at length.—ἄναλον, ἄπ. λεγ. in N. T., used in later Greek; μωρανθῇ in Mt. and Lk.—ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἅλα, have salt in yourselves. In the two former clauses disciples are thought of, as in Matthew 5:13, as themselves salt for the world. Here they are viewed as the subject of the salting process. They must be salted in order to be salt to the world, their ulterior vocation. Meantime a more immediate effect of their being salted is pointed out in the closing words.—εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἀλλήλοις: be at peace with one another; which they were not. The cause of dispeace was ambition. The salting would consist in getting rid of that evil spirit at whatever cost.—εἰρηνεύετε: a Pauline word, remarks Holtz. (H. C.). True, but why not also a word of Jesus? certainly very apposite to the occasion.

Note.—Salting of disciples imports suffering pain, but is not to be confounded with the cross-bearing of faithful disciples (Mark 8:34). The former is the discipline of self-denial necessary to make a man a follower of Christ worthy of the name. The latter is the tribulation that comes on all who follow closely in the footsteps of Christ. The one is needful to make us holy, the other overtakes us when and because we are holy.50. Salt is good] in its kind and its effect, as preserving from corruption.

have lost] “It was the belief of the Jews that salt would by exposure to the air lose its virtue (Matthew 5:13) and become saltless. The same fact is implied in the expressions of Pliny sal iners, sal tabescere, and Maundrell asserts that he found the surface of a salt rock in this condition.”

his saltness] Observe his here, where we should now use its. This is frequently the case in the Bible, and indeed the word its does not occur at all in the English Version of 1611.

Have salt in yourselves] In the common life of Orientals, salt was a sign of sacred covenant engagements and obligations (Leviticus 2:13; 2 Chronicles 13:5). To eat salt together, meant to make peace, and enter into covenant with each other. Hence the connection here between the disciples having salt in themselves and being at peace one with another, which our Lord further enforced during this “brief period of tranquillity and seclusion” by speaking of the duty not only of avoiding all grounds of offence, but also of cultivating a spirit of gentleness and forgiveness (Matthew 18:15-20), which He illustrated by the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12-14), and the Debtor who owed Ten Thousand Talents (Matthew 18:21-35).Mark 9:50. Καλὸν, good) Salt. For all other foods are seasoned by it.—ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας, but if the salt) In this passage the disciples themselves are called “the salt,” inasmuch as being imbued [endued] with the salt themselves, and salting the world.—ἄναλον, saltless [insipid]) so as to have no pungency. Pride [referring to Mark 9:33-34, the dispute about who should be greatest] most especially makes men saltless [savourless].—αὐτὸ, itself [the very salt]) having lost its primary quality.—ἔχετε, have ye) To have ‘fire,’ is not within human ability: therefore it is not said, have fire. But he who is imbued with the fire is desired to have salt.—ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, in yourselves) In antithesis to, among one another, ἐν ἀλλήλοις. The former duty is in regard to ourselves; the second, towards others.—ἅλας) The singular, or else the plural from ἅλς. The salt is that of self-mortification, whereby pride is destroyed.—καὶ εἰρηνευετε, and have peace) or else, ye shall have: comp. Mark 9:34 : viz. by removing a puffed up spirit, which is the source of quarrels [Mark 9:33-34].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).

Have lost its saltness (ἄναλον γένηται)

Lit., may have become saltless. Compare on Matthew 5:13.

Will ye season (ἀρτύσετε)

Lit., will ye restore. Compare Colossians 4:5.

Mark 9:50 Interlinear
Mark 9:50 Parallel Texts

Mark 9:50 NIV
Mark 9:50 NLT
Mark 9:50 ESV
Mark 9:50 NASB
Mark 9:50 KJV

Mark 9:50 Bible Apps
Mark 9:50 Parallel
Mark 9:50 Biblia Paralela
Mark 9:50 Chinese Bible
Mark 9:50 French Bible
Mark 9:50 German Bible

Bible Hub

Mark 9:49
Top of Page
Top of Page