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Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty [again]? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

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      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," &c. (Mt 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 (Ge 6:11, 12); after the flood (Ge 8:21); in the days of David (Ps 14:2, 3); in the days of Isaiah (Isa 1:5, 6); and in the days of Paul (Eph 2:1-3; see also Job 14:4; 15:15, 16; Joh 3:6; compared with Ro 8:8; Tit 3:2, 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 Mr 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 Mt 8:12; 22:13; Joh 6:37; 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.

JFB.


Questions Related to this Verse

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Matthew Images and Notes

The Book of Matthew

Matthew 2:2 - Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Matthew 18:3 - And Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew in The New Testament - A Brief Overview

Matthew by Rembrandt
Painting of St. Matthew with Angel by Rembrandt

Introduction to The Gospel of Matthew

The Word Gospel. The first book of the English Bible that most of us read from is the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew is the first of the four gospel writings, yet there is only one gospel about Jesus Christ and there are four different writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The word "Gospel" means "good news", and the good news is about Jesus Christ dying on the cross and then 3 days later conquering death and rising from the dead, offering salvation to all mankind, this is the Gospel.

Summary of the Book of Matthew

Brief Summary. Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the long awaited Messiah King of he Jews as foretold by the ancient Jewish prophets. He came to reveal how to enter the "Kingdom of Heaven."

Purpose. It is very obvious that the Gospel of Matthew was written for the purpose of revealing that the man Jesus of Nazareth was actually the King of the Jews, the long awaited Messiah, the sovereign Lord Jehovah who came from heaven to this world revealing to mankind the "kingdom of heaven". The King of the Jews, the Messiah Jesus fulfilled every prophecy that was spoken about Him in the ancient Jewish Scriptures, in the Old Testament. The prophecies that spoke of the "Kingdom" that the Messiah would bring would be a spiritual Kingdom that would never be destroyed.

Map of Israel in the Time of Matthew

Audience. When reading the book of Matthew it becomes clear that the writer was speaking to a Jewish audience. One of the obvious reasons is that the "Kingdom of Heaven" is mentioned over 30 times and never the Kingdom of God. This is because the Jews do not speak the name of God and this could be the very reason that Matthew used this phrase. There are many times while reading the book that an event happens and a prophecy is cited. The event is mentioned as the direct fulfillment of a promise made to the Jews by one of their Jewish prophets, and the fulfillment of the prophecy was happening before their very eyes. It is clear that the audience of people are the Jews, they were awaiting their King, and Matthew records that the King had come and they rejected their King.

Authorship. Early Christian writings and traditions have attributed the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew to the apostle Matthew. Many scholars question whether or not Matthew was the true author of the first Gospel, but there is no way at this current time to be absolutely positive based on historical evidence. Most agree that Matthew was the author. The Bible reveals that Matthew, or Levi, as he was sometimes called, collected taxes for the Romans. One day Jesus passed by and called Matthew to come and follow him, and Matthew did so. The Bible also records that Matthew held a banquet at his house with several of his tax collector friends and Jesus being invited to the banquet was the guest of honor (Mark 2:14-15). The Bible also provides a list of the 12 apostles and Matthew was named among them.

Date. There is no way to determine with absolute certainty the date that the book of Matthew was written. Most scholars agree that the book of Matthew was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., this is because Jesus spoke of many events as though they had not happened yet. A large number of scholars do not believe in the miracle of prophecy and therefore insist that the Gospel of Matthew was written after the fall of Jerusalem because of the accuracy of the predicted events.

Language. There are many references among the books in the history of the early church that state that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written by Matthew in the biblical Hebrew language, and he was writing to an audience of  Jews throughout the world who had become followers of Jesus. Unfortunately there is no evidence whatsoever of a Hebrew or Aramaic manuscript, so many scholars have agreed that the Gospel of Matthew is not actually a translation from Hebrew into Greek, but was actually written in Greek. The whole subject of the Gospel of Matthew being written in Hebrew must remain speculation rather than fact.

Outline of the Book of Matthew

The King Comes and His Kingdom is Rejected - Matthew 1-12
The Rejection of the King's Teaching and Ministry - Matthew 13-25
The King's Trial and Crucifixion - Matthew 26-27
The King's Victory and Resurrection - Matthew 28
The King's Commissioning of His Apostles - Matthew 28

Matthew - Interesting Notes

Study Bible Icon Matthew mentions four women in his genealogy which is not typical for Jewish genealogical records: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheeba who were all associated with some sort of immorality. Tamar (incest), Rahab (harlotry), Ruth (a descendant of Moab who committed incest) and Bathsheba (adultery). Christ's greatness was in Himself not his genealogy.

Study Bible Icon There are many intimations for the word "King" in Matthew if one takes the time to look. For example in chapter one there is a royal genealogy mentioning king David at the start. Chapter two reveals the kingly gifts of the Magi. Chapter three calls John the Baptist a "herald" which is a cultural term that represents a herald for a king. Etc. 

Study Bible Icon There are similarities with the number four. The four colors in the veil of the Temple were purple, scarlet, white, and blue. The four faces of the cherubim are the lion, ox, man, eagle. The four Gospel accounts are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. 

Quick Reference Maps - Matthew

Israel in New Testament Times

The Kingdom of Herod the Great

The Divisions of Herod's Kingdom

The Flight into Egypt

The Baptism of Jesus

The Beginning of Christ's Ministry

Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee

Jesus Ministers in Galilee

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem

Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus

Jesus Journeys from Nazareth to Jerusalem

The Final Journey of Jesus to Jerusalem

 

Jesus written in Hebrew
The Name Jesus In Ancient Hebrew Text
"Yeshua" in First Century Hebrew Text. This is how the name "Jesus" would have been written in ancient Hebrew documents. The four letters or consonants from right to left are Yod, Shin, Vav, Ayin (Y, SH, OO, A). Jesus is the Greek name for the Hebrew name Joshua or Y'shua which means "The LORD or Yahweh is Salvation".

Matthew Resources

Outline of the Life of Jesus in Harmony
Simple Map of First Century Israel
Topographical Map of First Century Israel
Map of the Ministry of Jesus
Map of the Roads in Ancient Israel
Map of the Roman Empire