Verse 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 Isa. lxvi. 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, to pur to asbeston, 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 pav puri, pasa puria, 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, Num. xxxi. 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 Isa. lxvi. 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.
Verse 50. "If the salt have lost his saltness" - See on Matt. v. 13.
"Have salt in yourselves" - See that ye have at all times the preserving principle of Divine grace in your hearts, and give that proof of it which will satisfy your own minds, and convince or silence the world: live in brotherly kindness and peace with each other: thus shall all men see that you are free from ambition, (see ver. 34,) and that you are my disciples indeed. That it is possible for the salt to lose its savour, and yet retain its appearance in the most perfect manner, see proved on the note on Matthew v. 13.