on Mark 9 :49
For every one shall be salted with fire - Every one of those who shall live and die in sin: but there is great difficulty in this verse. The Codex Bezae, and some other MSS., have omitted the first clause; and several MSS. keep the first, and omit the last clause - and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. There appears to be an allusion to Isaiah 66:24. It is generally supposed that our Lord means, that as salt preserves the flesh with which it is connected from corruption, so this everlasting fire, το πυρ το ασβεστον, this inconsumable fire, will have the property, not only of assimilating all things cast into it to its own nature, but of making them inconsumable like itself.
Scaliger supposes, that instead of πας πυρι, πασα πυρια, every sacrifice (of flour) should be read, "Every sacrifice (of flour) shall be salted, and every burnt offering shall be salted." This, I fear, is taking the text by storm. Some take the whole in a good sense, as referring to the influence of the Spirit of God in the hearts of believers, which shall answer the same end to the soul, in preserving it from the contagion that is in the world, as salt did in the sacrifices offered to God to preserve them from putrefaction. Old Trapp's note on the place pleases me as much as any I have seen: - "The Spirit, as salt, must dry up those bad humours in us which breed the never-dying worm; and, as fire, must waste our corruptions, which else will carry us on to the unquenchable fire." Perhaps the whole is an allusion to the purification of vessels, and especially such metallic vessels as were employed in the service of the sanctuary. Probably the following may be considered as a parallel text: - Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shalt make go through the fire, and it shall be clean; and all that abideth not the fire, ye shall make go through the water, Numbers 31:23. Ye, disciples, are the Lord's sacrifice; ye shall go through much tribulation, in order to enter into my kingdom: but ye are salted, ye are influenced by the Spirit of God, and are immortal till your work is done; and should ye be offered up, martyred, this shall be a means of establishing more fully the glad tidings of the kingdom: and this Spirit shall preserve all who believe on me from the corruption of sin, and from eternal perdition. That converts to God are represented as his offering, see Isaiah 66:20, the very place which our Lord appears to have here in view.
If this passage be taken according to the common meaning, it is awful indeed! Here may be seen the greatness, multiplicity, and eternity, of the pains of the damned. They suffer without being able to die; they are burned without being consumed; they are sacrificed without being sanctified - are salted with the fire of hell, as eternal victims of the Divine Justice. We must of necessity be sacrificed to God, after one way or other, in eternity; and we have now the choice either of the unquenchable fire of his justice, or of the everlasting flame of his love. Quesnel.
on Mark 9 :49
Every one shall be salted with fire - Perhaps no passage in the New Testament has given more perplexity to commentators than this, and it may be impossible now to fix its precise meaning. The common idea affixed to it has been, that as salt preserves from putrefaction, so fire, applied to the wicked in hell, will have the property of preserving them in existence, or they will "be" preserved amid the sprinkling of fire, to be continually in their sufferings a sacrifice to the justice of God; but this meaning is not quite satisfactory. Another opinion has been, that as salt was sprinkled on the victim preparatory to its being devoted to God (see Leviticus 2:13), so would "the apostles," by trials, calamities, etc., represented here by "fire," be prepared as a sacrifice and offering to God. Probably the passage has no reference at all to future punishment; and the difficulty of interpreting it has arisen from supposing it to be connected with the 48th verse, or given as a "reason" for what is said in "that" verse, rather than considering it as designed to illustrate the "general design" of the passage. The main scope of the passage was not to discourse of future punishment; that is brought in incidentally. The chief object of the passage was -
1. To teach the apostles that "other men," not "with them," might be true Christians, Mark 9:38-39.
2. That they ought to be disposed to look favorably upon the slightest evidence that they "might be true believers," Mark 9:41.
3. That they ought to avoid giving "offence" to such feeble and obscure Christians, Mark 9:42.
4. That "everything" calculated to give offence, or to dishonor religion, should be removed, Mark 9:43. And,
5. That everything which would endanger their salvation should be sacrificed; that they should "deny" themselves in every way in order to obtain eternal life. In this way they would be "preserved" to eternal life.
The word "fire," here, therefore denotes self-denials, sacrifices, trials, in keeping ourselves from the gratification of the flesh. As if he had said, "Look at the sacrifice on the altar. It is an offering to God, about to be presented to him. It is sprinkled with "salt, emblematic of purity, of preservation and of fitting it, therefore, for a sacrifice." So "you" are devoted to God. You are sacrifices, victims, offerings to him in his service. To make you "acceptable" offerings, every thing must be done to "preserve" you from sin and to "purify" you. Self-denials, subduing the lusts, enduring trials, removing offences, are the proper "preservatives" in the service of God. Doing this, you will be acceptable offerings and be saved; without this, you will be "unfit" for his eternal service and will be lost."
on Mark 9 :49
9:49 Every one - Who does not cut off the offending member, and consequently is cast into hell, shall be, as it were, salted with fire, preserved, not consumed thereby whereas every acceptable sacrifice shall be salted with another kind of salt, even that of Divine grace, which purifies the soul, (though frequently with pain) and preserves it from corruption.