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What does it mean to have "salt among yourselves and be at peace with each other" in Mark 9:49-50

“Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other”

I have read that the preceeding verses about "being salted with fire" is a reference to Israels sacrifices in Leviticus and how salt is used symbolically as a "preserver" and "flavourer" which makes the world "palatable" to God. But the following verses to have "salt among yourselves" doesn't seem to necessarily directly align with this.

Can anyone offer an insight as to the meaning of this specific phrase ?

5 Answers 5

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Mark 9:49-50:

Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other”

Everyone will be salted with fire; everyone will be preserved after having successfully gone through fiery trials. After that salting procedure, you have salt on you and in you. You will be at peace with people who have been salted likewise.

1 Peter 4:

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Fiery ordeals are to be expected by every Christian. A group of Christians is united by the salting procedure. We are seasoned with salt by fiery trials.

What does it mean to "have salt amongst yourselves"?

Let's see the parallelism:

Have salt               among yourselves, 
and be at peace         with each other

Salt is the preservative of peace among salted Christians. On us and in us, salt binds us together in peace. Jesus encourages us not to shy away from fiery trials but see them as a purification process that applies to all of us. After that, we can live at peace with fellow salted Christians.

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Mark 9:49-50

According to Cranfield1 and Evans2, the two verses - Mark 9:49-50 - are most probably independent sayings that were placed there due to the word "fire" present in the preceding passage. Nevertheless, in my opinion, due to their presence in this passage, both v.49 and v.50 must be interpreted in context.

49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

50 Salt is good, 
    but 
        if it loses its saltiness, 
        how can you make it salty again?

   Have salt 
           in yourselves, and 
   be at peace 
           with each other.

Salt: one word; different meanings

v49: Salted with Fire

Although verses 49 and 50 go together, the word "salt" in these two verses don't necessarily mean the same thing.

Verse 49 - "Everyone will be salted with fire" - could possibly have a positive meaning — such as being purified through "fiery" trials and persecution, as suggested by R.H. Stein.3 However, its close association with the "fire" of hell in the preceding verses gives me the impression that the connotation is negative. It could well be a continuation of Jesus' description of hell, where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. (9:48).

Verse 50a: The Flavor of Salt

"Salt is good!" This declaration reminds us of Jesus' statement regarding his disciples, "You are the salt of the earth."4 How can salt be without saltiness. According to Stein, who agrees with Hooker,

In Palestine “saltless [ἄναλον, analon] salt,” often a mixture of salt and impurities such as gypsum, was mined from the Dead Sea and frequently appeared as perfectly good salt. 5

Verse 50b: Have Salt in yourselves

The concluding statement is a good example of parallelism in which the second part explains or amplifies the first part. To "have salt in yourselves" is to "be at peace with each other."

Context is king!

The meaning of being "at peace with each other" is best understood in the light of the literary context of 9:33 to 9:48.

  1. Be free from strife stemming from personal ambition (9:33-37): When Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Capernaum, the disciples were discussing among themselves as to who was greatest among them. Jesus promptly addressed that issue after they arrived in Capernaum.

  2. Be at peace with other groups that use Jesus' Name (9: 38-40): In other words, do not claim a monopoly over Jesus' name. John reported to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us." (9:38) Jesus corrected John's outlook. He taught his disciples to be at peace with anyone who was not against them. "For whoever is not against us is for us." (9:40)

  3. Do not cause others to sin: "If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone tied around his neck and to be thrown into the sea." (9:42)

  4. Do all you can to resist sin (9:43-48): A three-fold repetition of Jesus' warning to stay out of hell and to enter "life" or the "kingdom of God" shows us how important it is to resist sin. The command to remove one's offending eye/hand/foot is certainly not to be taken literally. "No sin is worth going to hell for."6

Therefore, to "have salt in yourselves" means to be at peace with all Christians and with oneself, free from sin and offense.


1 C.E.B. Cranfield, The Gospel according to Saint Mark. Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959. p. 315.

2 C. A. Evans, Mark 8:27–16:20. Word Biblical Commentary 34B. Nashville: Nelson, 2001. p.72.

3 Robert H. Stein, Mark, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 2008. p. 450.

4 Matthew 5:13.

5 M. D. Hooker, The Gospel according to Saint Mark. Black’s New Testament Commentary. London: Black. 1991. Cited by Stein, Mark, 2008. p. 450.

6 Stein, Mark, 2008. p. 449.

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Although I appreciate the answer of Toni Chan, I would like to add another aspect.

Salt, in former times (more than today although it is still quite the same), is an essence that cannot be replaced.

What is this essence that cannot be replaced?

It is our faith in God. It is our faith in Good. The faith on the teachings of Jesus and the prophets who preceded him.

The fire is the flame that burns in us to do His Will, the desire to be one with Him and to do good.

If you lose faith, what can replace it?

How can we get faith if not from the Holy Spirit, making us eager to follow His Will?

Elucidations come from the "Fifth Gospel", the Gospel of Thomas, with unknown origin but an intact likelihood to relate authentic sayings.

Th 10

Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes."

Th 82

Jesus said, "He who is near Me is near the fire, and he who is far from Me is far from the Kingdom."

The first saying connotes positively to the fire. It fits well to the interpretation of the Holy Spirit.

The second saying points out that the fire is a danger, but a danger we have to face to reach the Kingdom of God. The translator wrote "Me" with a capital letter, interpreting the sentence as prophetic speech, "Me" is God. This points out that the path to follow is no way easy without challenges.

Salt does not burn. It is the symbol for persistence.

Fire is the symbol of transformation.

They are not the same but complementary; both sides of the coin.

What does jesus want to say with this:

Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other

Mt 15:20

For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.

John 13:34

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

It means: Share your problems and your effort, keep together in love. This will make you gain persistence.

Of course, this is only a personal reception I share with you.

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What does it mean to "have salt amongst yourselves"?

Note the following information from the topic "Salt" in the Insight on the Scriptures:

Figurative Use. Salt is often used in the Bible figuratively. Jesus told his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth,” a preserving influence on others, preventing spiritual putrefaction and moral decay. The good news they carried would preserve life. However, he went on to say to them: “But if the salt loses its strength, how will its saltness be restored? It is no longer usable for anything but to be thrown outside to be trampled on by men.” (Mt 5:13; Mr 9:50; Lu 14:34, 35) One Bible commentator remarks on Matthew 5:13: “The salt used in this country [United States] is a chemical compound​—muriate of soda—​and if the saltness were lost, or it were to lose its savour, there would be nothing remaining. It enters into the very nature of the substance. In eastern countries, however, the salt used was impure, mingled with vegetable and earthy substances; so that it might lose the whole of its saltness, and a considerable quantity of earthy matter remain. This was good for nothing, except that it was used, as it is said, to place in paths, or walks, as we use gravel. This kind of salt is common still in that country. It is found in the earth in veins or layers, and when exposed to the sun and rain, loses its saltness entirely.”​—Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, 1974.

MacLaren's Expositions provides a similar explanation:

In the context ‘salt’ is employed to express the preserving, purifying, divine energy which is otherwise spoken of as ‘fire.’ The two emblems produce the same result. They both salt-that is, they cleanse and keep. And if in the one we recognise the quick energy of the Divine Spirit as the central idea, no less are we to see the same typified under a slightly different aspect in the other. The fire transforms into its own substance and burns away all the grosser particles. The salt arrests corruption, keeps off destruction, and diffuses its sanative influence through all the particles of the substance with which it comes in contact. And in both metaphors it is the operation of God’s cleansing Spirit, in its most general form, that is set forth, including all the manifold ways by which God deals with us to purge us from our iniquity, to free us from the death which treads close on the heels of wrongdoing, the decomposition and dissolution which surely follow on corruption.

So for an individual to "have salt amongst" themselves is not only to be palatable but also to preserve that which the Bible teaches us and to share that with others as Jesus commanded. (Matthew 28:19, 20)

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]

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What does it mean to "have salt amongst yourselves" Mark 9:49-50

Mark 9:49-50 NET

49 Everyone will be salted with fire.[a] 50 Salt[b] is good, but if it loses its saltiness,[c] how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

"Everyone will be salted with fire"

If the expression is connected with the previous verses 43-48 noted below, then anyone allowing their hands, eyes, foot, or allow others to stumble them into unfaithfulness would be salted by being thrown into Gehenna, which means everlasting destruction.

If the expression is connected with verse 50, the footnotes of the NET bible state the following;"2 Christians who experience suffering in this world because of their attachment to Christ; (3) any person who experiences suffering in a way appropriate to their relationship to Jesus. For believers, this means the suffering of purification,

Mark 9:43-48 NET

43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life crippled than to have[a] two hands and go into hell,[b] to the unquenchable fire.[c] 45 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better to enter life lame than to have[d] two feet and be thrown into hell.[e] 47 If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out![f] It is better to enter into the kingdom of God[g] with one eye than to have[h] two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched.

"Have salt in yourselves;"

Salt then and today is used as a" preserver" and "flavourer" which makes the world "palatable". This must refer to the quality of the faith [salt] of a Christian , if a Christian is considerate [flavourer], in what he says [preaches] and does, this tends towards preserving the life of others and also creates peace with each other.

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