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Matthew 5:13 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty [again]? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt hath lost its savor, with what shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot by men.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— *Ye* are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have become insipid, wherewith shall it be salted? It is no longer fit for anything but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot by men.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Ye, are the salt of the earth; but, if the salt become tasteless, wherewith shall it be salted? it is good, for nothing, any more, save, being cast out, to be trampled on by men.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— 'Ye are the salt of the land, but if the salt may lose savour, in what shall it be salted? for nothing is it good henceforth, except to be cast without, and to be trodden down by men.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Yee are the salt of the earth: But if the salt haue lost his sauour, wherewith shall it bee salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be troden vnder foote of men.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— You are the salt of the earth: but if it happen that salt become tasteless, with what shall it be seasoned? It goeth for nothing but to be thrown without and trodden down by men.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— Ye are the salt of the earth! But if the salt become insipid, with what shall it be seasoned? It is fit for nothing; but to be thrown out, and be trodden under foot by men.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Ye 5210
{5210} Prime
ὑμεῖς
humeis
{hoo-mice'}
Irregular plural of G4771; you (as subject of verb).
are 2075
{2075} Prime
ἐστέ
este
{es-teh'}
Second person plural present indicative of G1510; ye are.
z5748
<5748> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - No Voice Stated (See G5799)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 1612
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
salt 217
{0217} Prime
ἅλας
halas
{hal'-as}
From G0251; salt; figuratively prudence.
of the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
earth: 1093
{1093} Prime
γῆ
ge
{ghay}
Contracted from a primary word; soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application).
but 1161
{1161} Prime
δέ
de
{deh}
A primary particle (adversative or continuative); but, and, etc.
if 1437
{1437} Prime
ἐάν
ean
{eh-an'}
From G1487 and G0302; a conditional particle; in case that, provided, etc.; often used in connection with other particles to denote indefiniteness or uncertainty.
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
salt 217
{0217} Prime
ἅλας
halas
{hal'-as}
From G0251; salt; figuratively prudence.
have lost his savour, 3471
{3471} Prime
μωραίνω
moraino
{mo-rah'-ee-no}
From G3474; to become insipid; figuratively to make (passively act) as a simpleton.
z5686
<5686> Grammar
Tense - Aorist (See G5777)
Voice - Passive (See G5786)
Mood - Subjunctive (See G5792)
Count - 219
wherewith 1722
{1722} Prime
ἐν
en
{en}
A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), that is, a relation of rest (intermediate between G1519 and G1537); 'in', at, (up-) on, by, etc.
5101
{5101} Prime
τίς
tis
{tis}
Probably emphatic of G5100; an interrogitive pronoun, who, which or what (in direct or indirect questions).
shall it be salted? 233
{0233} Prime
ἁλίζω
halizo
{hal-id'-zo}
From G0251; to salt.
z5701
<5701> Grammar
Tense - Future (See G5776)
Voice - Passive (See G5786)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 251
it is thenceforth 2089
{2089} Prime
ἔτι
eti
{et'-ee}
Perhaps akin to G2094; 'yet', still (of time or degree).
good 2480
{2480} Prime
ἰσχύω
ischuo
{is-khoo'-o}
From G2479; to have (or exercise) force (literally or figuratively).
z5719
<5719> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 3019
for 1519
{1519} Prime
εἰς
eis
{ice}
A primary preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.); also in adverbial phrases.
nothing, 3762
{3762} Prime
οὐδείς
oudeis
{oo-dice'}
From G3761 and G1520; not even one (man, woman or thing), that is, none, nobody, nothing.
but 1508
{1508} Prime
εἴ μή
ei me
{i may}
From G1487 and G3361; if not.
to be cast 906
{0906} Prime
βάλλω
ballo
{bal'-lo}
A primary verb; to throw (in various applications, more or less violent or intense).
z5683
<5683> Grammar
Tense - Aorist (See G5777)
Voice - Passive (See G5786)
Mood - Infinitive (See G5795)
Count - 159
out, 1854
{1854} Prime
ἔξω
exo
{ex'-o}
Adverb from G1537; out (side, of doors), literally or figuratively.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
καί
kai
{kahee}
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
to be trodden under foot 2662
{2662} Prime
καταπατέω
katapateo
{kat-ap-at-eh'-o}
From G2596 and G3961; to trample down; figuratively to reject with disdain.
z5745
<5745> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Passive (See G5786)
Mood - Infinitive (See G5795)
Count - 105
of 5259
{5259} Prime
ὑπό
hupo
{hoop-o'}
A primary preposition; under, that is, (with the genitive) of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through); (with the accusative) of place (whither [underneath] or where [below]) or time (when [at]).
men. 444
{0444} Prime
ἄνθρωπος
anthropos
{anth'-ro-pos}
From G0435 and ὤψ [[ops]] (the countenance; from G3700); manfaced, that is, a human being.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Matthew 5:13

_ _ Matthew 5:13-16. We have here the practical application of the foregoing principles to those disciples who sat listening to them, and to their successors in all time. Our Lord, though He began by pronouncing certain characters to be blessed — without express reference to any of His hearers — does not close the beatitudes without intimating that such characters were in existence, and that already they were before Him. Accordingly, from characters He comes to persons possessing them, saying, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you,” etc. (Matthew 5:11). And now, continuing this mode of direct personal address, He startles those humble, unknown men by pronouncing them the exalted benefactors of their whole species.

_ _ Ye are the salt of the earth — to preserve it from corruption, to season its insipidity, to freshen and sweeten it. The value of salt for these purposes is abundantly referred to by classical writers as well as in Scripture; and hence its symbolical significance in the religious offerings as well of those without as of those within the pale of revealed religion. In Scripture, mankind, under the unrestrained workings of their own evil nature, are represented as entirely corrupt. Thus, before the flood (Genesis 6:11, Genesis 6:12); after the flood (Genesis 8:21); in the days of David (Psalms 14:2, Psalms 14:3); in the days of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:5, Isaiah 1:6); and in the days of Paul (Ephesians 2:1-3; see also Job 14:4; Job 15:15, Job 15:16; John 3:6; compared with Romans 8:8; Titus 3:2, Titus 3:3). The remedy for this, says our Lord here, is the active presence of His disciples among their fellows. The character and principles of Christians, brought into close contact with it, are designed to arrest the festering corruption of humanity and season its insipidity. But how, it may be asked, are Christians to do this office for their fellow men, if their righteousness only exasperate them, and recoil, in every form of persecution, upon themselves? The answer is: That is but the first and partial effect of their Christianity upon the world: though the great proportion would dislike and reject the truth, a small but noble band would receive and hold it fast; and in the struggle that would ensue, one and another even of the opposing party would come over to His ranks, and at length the Gospel would carry all before it.

_ _ but if the salt have lost his savour — “become unsavory” or “insipid”; losing its saline or salting property. The meaning is: If that Christianity on which the health of the world depends, does in any age, region, or individual, exist only in name, or if it contain not those saving elements for want of which the world languishes,

_ _ wherewith shall it be salted? — How shall the salting qualities be restored to it? (Compare Mark 9:50). Whether salt ever does lose its saline property — about which there is a difference of opinion — is a question of no moment here. The point of the case lies in the supposition — that if it should lose it, the consequence would be as here described. So with Christians. The question is not: Can, or do, the saints ever totally lose that grace which makes them a blessing to their fellow men? But, What is to be the issue of that Christianity which is found wanting in those elements which can alone stay the corruption and season the tastelessness of an all-pervading carnality? The restoration or non-restoration of grace, or true living Christianity, to those who have lost it, has, in our judgment, nothing at all to do here. The question is not, If a man lose his grace, how shall that grace be restored to him? but, Since living Christianity is the only “salt of the earth,” if men lose that, what else can supply its place? What follows is the appalling answer to this question.

_ _ it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out — a figurative expression of indignant exclusion from the kingdom of God (compare Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; John 6:37; John 9:34).

_ _ and to be trodden under foot of men — expressive of contempt and scorn. It is not the mere want of a certain character, but the want of it in those whose profession and appearance were fitted to beget expectation of finding it.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Matthew 5:13-16

_ _ Christ had lately called his disciples, and told them that they should be fishers of men; here he tells them further what he designed them to be — the salt of the earth, and lights of the world, that they might be indeed what it was expected they should be.

_ _ I. Ye are the salt of the earth. This would encourage and support them under their sufferings, that, though they should be treated with contempt, yet they should really be blessings to the world, and the more so for their suffering thus. The prophets, who went before them, were the salt of the land of Canaan; but the apostles were the salt of the whole earth, for they must go into all the world to preach the gospel. It was a discouragement to them that they were so few and so weak. What could they do in so large a province as the whole earth? Nothing, if they were to work by force of arms and dint of sword; but, being to work silent as salt, one handful of that salt would diffuse its savour far and wide; would go a great way, and work insensibly and irresistibly as leaven, Matthew 13:33. The doctrine of the gospel is as salt; it is penetrating, quick, and powerful (Hebrews 4:12); it reaches the heart Acts 2:37. It is cleansing, it is relishing, and preserves from putrefaction. We read of the savour of the knowledge of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14); for all other learning is insipid without that. An everlasting covenant is called a covenant of salt (Numbers 18:19); and the gospel is an everlasting gospel. Salt was required in all the sacrifices (Leviticus 2:13), in Ezekiel's mystical temple, Ezekiel 43:24. Now Christ's disciples having themselves learned the doctrine of the gospel, and being employed to teach it to others, were as salt. Note, Christians, and especially ministers, are the salt of the earth.

_ _ 1. If they be as they should be they are as good salt, white, and small, and broken into many grains, but very useful and necessary. Pliny says, Sine sale, vita humana non potest degere — Without salt human life cannot be sustained. See in this, (1.) What they are to be in themselves — seasoned with the gospel, with the salt of grace; thoughts and affections, words and actions, all seasoned with grace, Colossians 4:6. Have salt in yourselves, else you cannot diffuse it among others, Mark 9:50. (2.) What they are to be to others; they must not only be good but do good, must insinuate themselves into the minds of the people, not to serve any secular interest of their own, but that they might transform them into the taste and relish of the gospel. (3.) What great blessings they are to the world. Mankind, lying in ignorance and wickedness, were a vast heap of unsavoury stuff, ready to putrefy; but Christ sent forth his disciples, by their lives and doctrines, to season it with knowledge and grace, and so to render it acceptable to God, to the angels, and to all that relish divine things. (4.) How they must expect to be disposed of. They must not be laid on a heap, must not continue always together at Jerusalem, but must be scattered as salt upon the meat, here a grain and there a grain; as the Levites were dispersed in Israel, that, wherever they live, they may communicate their savour. Some have observed, that whereas it is foolishly called an ill omen to have the salt fall towards us, it is really an ill omen to have the salt fall from us.

_ _ 2. If they be not, they are as salt that has lost its savour. If you, who should season others, are yourselves unsavoury, void of spiritual life, relish, and vigour; if a Christian be so, especially if a minister be so, his condition is very sad; for, (1.) He is irrecoverable: Wherewith shall it be salted? Salt is a remedy for unsavoury meat, but there is no remedy for unsavoury salt. Christianity will give a man a relish; but if a man can take up and continue the profession of it, and yet remain flat and foolish, and graceless and insipid, no other doctrine, no other means, can be applied, to make him savoury. If Christianity do not do it, nothing will. (2.) He is unprofitable: It is thenceforth good for nothing; what use can it be put to, in which it will not do more hurt than good? As a man without reason, so is a Christian without grace. A wicked man is the worst of creatures; a wicked Christian is the worst of men; and a wicked minister is the worst of Christians. (3.) He is doomed to ruin and rejection; He shall be cast out — expelled the church and the communion of the faithful, to which he is a blot and a burden; and he shall be trodden under foot of men. Let God be glorified in the shame and rejection of those by whom he has been reproached, and who have made themselves fit for nothing but to be trampled upon.

_ _ II. Ye are the light of the world, Matthew 5:14. This also bespeaks them useful, as the former (Sole et sale nihil utilius — Nothing more useful than the sun and salt), but more glorious. All Christians are light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:8), and must shine as lights (Philippians 2:15), but ministers in a special manner. Christ call himself the Light of the world (John 8:12), and they are workers together with him, and have some of his honour put upon them. Truly the light is sweet, it is welcome; the light of the first day of the world was so, when it shone out of darkness; so is the morning light of every day; so is the gospel, and those that spread it, to all sensible people. The world sat in darkness, Christ raised up his disciples to shine in it; and, that they may do so, from him they borrow and derive their light.

_ _ This similitude is here explained in two things:

_ _ 1. As the lights of the world, they are illustrious and conspicuous, and have many eyes upon them. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. The disciples of Christ, especially those who are forward and zealous in his service, become remarkable, and are taken notice of as beacons. They are for signs (Isaiah 7:18), men wondered at (Zechariah 3:8); all their neighbours have any eye upon them. Some admire them, commend them, rejoice in them, and study to imitate them; others envy them, hate them, censure them, and study to blast them. They are concerned therefore to walk circumspectly, because of their observers; they are as spectacles to the world, and must take heed of every thing that looks ill, because they are so much looked at. The disciples of Christ were obscure men before he called them, but the character he put upon them dignified them, and as preachers of the gospel they made a figure; and though they were reproached for it by some, they were respected for it by others, advanced to thrones, and made judges (Luke 22:30); for Christ will honour those that honour him.

_ _ 2. As the lights of the world, they are intended to illuminate and give light to others (Matthew 5:15), and therefore, (1.) They shall be set up as lights. Christ has lighted these candles, they shall not be put under a bushel, not confined always, as they are now, to the cities of Galilee, or the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but they shall be sent into all the world. The churches are the candlesticks, the golden candlesticks, in which these lights are placed, that they light may be diffused; and the gospel is so strong a light, and carries with it so much of its own evidence, that, like a city on a hill, it cannot be hid, it cannot but appear to be from God, to all those who do not wilfully shut their eyes against it. It will give light to all that are in the house, to all that will draw near to it, and come where it is. Those to whom it does not give light, must thank themselves; they will not be in the house with it; will not make a diligent and impartial enquiry into it, but are prejudiced against it. (2.) They must shine as lights, [1.] By their good preaching. The knowledge they have, they must communicate for the good of others; not put it under a bushel, but spread it. The talent must not be buried in a napkin, but traded with. The disciples of Christ must not muffle themselves up in privacy and obscurity, under pretence of contemplation, modesty, or self-preservation, but, as they have received the gift, must minister the same, Luke 12:3. [2.] By their good living. They must be burning and shining lights (John 5:35); must evidence, in their whole conversation, that they are indeed followers of Christ, James 3:13. They must be to others for instruction, direction, quickening, and comfort, Job 29:11.

_ _ See here, First, How our light must shine — by doing such good works as men may see, and may approve of; such works as are of good report among them that are without, and as will therefore give them cause to think well of Christianity. We must do good works that may be seen to the edification of others, but not that they may be seen to our own ostentation; we are bid to pray in secret, and what lies between God and our souls, must be kept to ourselves; but that which is of itself open and obvious to the sight of men, we must study to make congruous to our profession, and praiseworthy, Philippians 4:8. Those about us must not only hear our good words, but see our good works; that they may be convinced that religion is more than a bare name, and that we do not only make a profession of it, but abide under the power of it.

_ _ Secondly, For what end our light must shine — “That those who see your good works may be brought, not to glorify you (which was the things the Pharisees aimed at, and it spoiled all their performances), but to glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Note, The glory of God is the great thing we must aim at in every thing we do in religion, 1 Peter 4:11. In this centre the lines of all our actions must meet. We must not only endeavor to glorify God ourselves, but we must do all we can to bring others to glorify him. The sight of our good works will do this, by furnishing them, 1. With matter for praise. “Let them see your good works, that they may see the power of God's grace in you, and may thank him for it, and give him the glory of it, who has given such power unto men.” 2. With motives of piety. “Let them see your good works, that they may be convinced of the truth and excellency of the Christian religion, may be provoked by a holy emulation to imitate your good works, and so may glorify God.” Note, The holy, regular, and exemplary conversation of the saints, may do much towards the conversion of sinners; those who are unacquainted with religion, may hereby be brought to know what it is. Examples teach. And those who are prejudiced against it, may hereby by brought in love with it, and thus there is a winning virtue in a godly conversation.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Matthew 5:13

Ye — Not the apostles, not ministers only; but all ye who are thus holy, are the salt of the earth — Are to season others. Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Matthew 5:13

Ye (2) are the salt of the (d) earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be (e) salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

(2) The ministers of the word especially (unless they will be the most cowardly of all) must lead others both by word and deed to this greatest joy and happiness.

(d) Your doctrine must be very sound and good, for if it is not so, it will be not regarded and cast away as a thing unsavoury and vain.

(e) What will you have to salt with? And so are fools in the Latin tongue called "saltless", as you would say, men that have no salt or savour and taste in them.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
the salt:

Leviticus 2:13 And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

if:

Mark 9:49-50 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. ... 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.
Luke 14:34-35 Salt [is] good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? ... It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; [but] men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Hebrews 6:4-6 For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, ... If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.
2 Peter 2:20-21 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. ... For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
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Lv 2:13. Mk 9:49. Lk 14:34. Col 4:6. He 6:4. 2P 2:20.

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