ESV - 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.
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The larger teaching, of which the verse cited in the question (Mark 9:50) is the conclusion, began in Mark 9:33, and was prompted by a discussion or argument among the apostles (which they had unsuccessfully tried to conceal from Jesus) over which of them was the greatest. In my opinion, Jesus was using salt as a metaphor for purity, with reference to the way in which actual salt was used to season meat and preserve its freshness. Jesus was saying that the internal absorption and incorporation of His teaching, and of His example of humility and selfless service, by the apostles would make them suitable for the evangelizing work to which they (and, in a larger sense, all Christians) had/have been called. If the apostles were to lose that orientation through such elements as the love of the world, the fear of man, or their own selfish ambition (such as the apostles had displayed in their argument), it would not be possible to once again restore them to being effective conveyors of the spiritual message of the gospel.
“Salt is good but if the salt has lost its flavor how will you make it salty again?” (Mark 9:50) Some have criticized Jesus’ words here because salt can't lose its saltiness under normal conditions. So, how could it ever lose its flavor? It could because there is another way salt can lose its saltiness and that is by becoming contaminated. Because salt is so plentiful in our society today, we may assume that was also the case in Jesus day. Even so that, in my opinion, is a mistaken view. Salt was highly prized for both its disinfecting properties and flavor enhancement. In the past, salt was actually used as a barter item. In fact, the word “salary” derives from the Latin root “sal” meaning “salt.” You may have heard someone say, “He’s not worth his salt.” Roman soldiers were sometimes given actual salt or a salt allowance as a part of their wages. So, the above term literally means, “he is not worth his pay.” What is the point? Salt was precious. You didn’t waste it. However, when used as part of a meal, some may be scattered on the table or rug. When this happened, the scatterings would be carefully retrieved along with a certain amount of contamination such as minute food particles or even dust. Over time, the contamination would reduce its saltiness to the point where it would have to be thrown out. Interestingly, it couldn’t be thrown out just anywhere because of the harm it causes to the productivity of the soil. So, it was generally thrown out where people walk like a path or street. (Matthew 5:13) With this understanding, we can see why Jesus referred to his disciples as being the “salt of the earth.” They were to hold the highest and most responsible positions in the Kingdom of God. If, however, they engaged in pointless bickering and the sort, they were in danger of becoming useless like contaminated salt. In hearing this, his disciples knew exactly what Jesus meant.
Mark 9:50 (see also Matthew 5:13) Matthew 5 speaks of being the salt of the earth, which means in life we are to be like natural salt:- seasoning, preserving, disinfecting. Only the genuine born-again person is salt and can help to meet the needs of the world. Salt adds flavoring, acts as a preservative. Melts coldness and heals wounds. It is therefore a very appropriate description of the believer in his relationship to the world and a distinctive quality that marks the person devoted to God. As believers we salt something that is dead or not living, that is, we bring life to those who are dead or dying from sin; as salt we are called to keep others from falling apart and as salt part of our job is to keep society from rotting; that is why we are placed in the midst of trouble.
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