For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt (Mark 9:49)

What does it mean to be salted with fire?! It looks from this verse like one can be salted in one of the two possible ways: either with fire or with salt. What are the differences?

  • 1
    Some passages which may help in forming an answer: "Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt." (Leviticus 2:13) "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Matthew 3:11) On the relevance of the latter, see here.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 6:26
  • Please see my comments here, which allude not only to complete sterility, but also to a permanent state of desolation.
    – Joseph
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 16:32

6 Answers 6


When Jesus speaks the words "being salted with fire," he is probably referring back to the the verse in Leviticus 2:13 which reads,(NIV)

Season all your grain offerings with salt.do not leave the salt of your covenant of your God out of your grain offerings,add salt to your offerings.

Also In Leviticus 2:16 we read,

The Priest shall burn the memorial portion of the crushed grain and the oil,together with all the incense,as an offering made to ,the Lord by fire.

The words of Jesus,"everyone will be salted with fire" is a prophetic utterance, and in verse 50 we read,(NIV)

"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."

The words of Paul appear to tell us that he has in his mind,the above verse's spoken in Leviticus and by by Jesus, when he speaks from Romans:12-1

Therefore, i urge you,brothers, in view of Gods mercy,to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship

And then he goes on to say in verse 2,

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

and then again we read Paul speaking in Philippians 4:7,

"And the peace of God which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Looking at the above three verses, Romans 12:1-2, and Philippians 4:7 we can establish that the phrase "renewing of the mind" and "heart," will result in the believer being gifted with the "peace of God which transcends all understanding, and will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

When we read Mark:49-50 again,Jesus says,(NIV)

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

As i have stated,the scripture "everyone will be salted with fire," is a prophetic utterance by Jesus. Paul is probably unaware that he is helping to fulfil the words of Jesus and is also probably unaware of his own words,""to offer your bodies as living sacrifices," has its meaning in Leviticus 2:13. I think Paul would have mentioned these scriptures to us if he was aware of the connection.

So what we can understand about the above scriptures?

1: Renewing of the heart and mind results in peace for the believer.

2:Jesus tells us to "have salt in yourselves,and be at peace with one another".

3 Having this salt in ourselves will give us peace.

In 1:Thess 5-19,we are told,

"Do not put out the spirits fire:

A saying that informs us that the Spirit is fire.

And in Romans:8-6 it says,

"The mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace."

To have salt in ourselves must mean to preserve our minds with peace.

(I hope the connection between salt and peace is as evident to the reader as it is to me).


"being salted with fire means,"

To be preserved with the Holy Spirit

The fire being the Holy Spirit and the salt being the preservative. But there is a warning that we can lose the preservative (Salt) because it is written in Mark:9-50

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

"Do not put out the spirits fire." 1:Thess 5-19.

Leviticus 2:13= The old covenant

Mark 9:49 = The new covenant

  • This is incredibly deep and well inspired by the holy spirit I think. I am someone who is hoping the flame of God, the holy spirit, or Jesus guides me to salvation. Amen for this. I love discovering new scripture! Thess 5-19 is inspiring and flame on great news to hear :) Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 22:09

What does it mean to be salted with fire?!

Salted with fire is to be purified as gold with Calcium hypochlorite.

Compare Mal3:2-3

For He will be like a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap. 3And He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.

In your quotation, the fire πυρ is limestone. It can be a pulver very much like salt. Not quenched fire πυρί ἀσβέστῳ is caustic unslaked lime a.k.a. quicklime a.k.a. Calcium Oxide CaO that was used in cleansing of Sodom. Please see the reasoning for this translation here

When Isaiah in 4:4 talks about cleansing the sons and daughters of Sion he refers to the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, so those left will be called clean ἅγιος. Some commentators point to Isaiah 4:4 as the source for Mt 3:11. So also the quote in question must follow the same logic and semantics.

One analogy that seems to escape the interpreters is that gold can be mined mechanically by filtering/washing river sand or a bit more complicated chemically from stones using fire to turn stones into powder and Calcium hypochlorite (produced from limestone) to leach the ore practical demonstration This overlays nicely to the baptism narrative at Mt 3:11-12. Also worth noting that σῖτος usually translated as wheat is strictly speaking grain. That would be grains of gold then.

In Mt 3:9 when John says: "For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham." It seems like another reference to the gold mining process.

To further support this these compare χρῡσός - gold in Greek Étymologie: R. Χαρ > Χρυ shiny, thus anoinited - shiny from oil - Χριστός.

  • Hi grammaplow, welcome to the site. Please be sure to take the site tour, and thanks for contributing! Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 17:16

Textual Variants

πᾶς γὰρ πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται καὶ πᾶσα θυσία ἀλὶ ἁλισθήσεται TR, 1550

πᾶς γὰρ πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται NA28

According to Constantin Tischendorf’s critical apparatus,

Novum Testamentum Graece, Apparatus Criticus, Mark 9:49

The following exegesis is based on the lengthier variant.

Exegesis of Mark 9:49

  • The conjunction γὰρ (“for”)

The conjunction γὰρ connects Mark 9:49 with the preceding verses; therefore, Mark 9:49 must be interpreted with those same verses in mind.

In The Greek New Testament, Henry Alford wrote,1

What is γάρ? It connects it with the solemn assertions in Mark 9:43-48, καλόν ἐστίν σε... (It is better for you...) and furnishes a reason why it is better for us to cut off and cast away, &c.

Exegesis of Mark 9:43-48

43 And if your hand offend you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter the life crippled rather than having two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. 44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if your foot offend you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter the life crippled rather than having two feet to be cast into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if your eye offend you, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God one-eyed rather than having two eyes to be cast into the fiery Gehenna, 48 where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

43 Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίζῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν καλόν σοι ἐστίν κυλλὸν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν ἢ τὰς δύο χεῖρας ἔχοντα ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον 44 ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ καὶ τὸ πῦρ οὐ σβέννυται 45 καὶ ἐὰν ὁ πούς σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε ἀπόκοψον αὐτόν καλόν ἐστίν σοι εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν χωλὸν ἢ τοὺς δύο πόδας ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον 46 ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ καὶ τὸ πῦρ οὐ σβέννυται 47 καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε ἔκβαλε αὐτόν καλόν σοι ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρὸς 48 ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ καὶ τὸ πῦρ οὐ σβέννυται

The Lord Jesus Christ repeately refers to Gehenna (γέεννα), the place of eternal punishment which Christianity often refers to in English by the proper name “Hell.” So severe and so abhorrent is the place and the punishment therein that he implores his listeners in this life to cut off their hand or foot, or pluck out their eye, if these body parts would cause them to sin and warrant the judgment/punishment of Gehenna.2 In Gehenna, which he describes by the attributive genitive τοῦ πυρὸς as “fiery,” there is unquenchable fire (τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον). Although this same name referred to a dump in the valley of Hinnom (pictured below), also known as Tofet (תֹּפֶת), it was later associated with the place of the eternal punishment of the wicked in the world to come.

Valley of Hinnom

In his commentary on Psa. 27:13, David Kimchi wrote,3

And I believed that I had hope in Yahveh and would see His goodness in the world to come. And this is “in the land of the living” (בארץ חיים). And he called the world to come “the land of the living.” And although the soul has no place or any dwelling on earth, yet as the goodness of the world to come is compared to Gan Eden, which is (literally) a place on earth, it was said by way of a parable for the understanding of the hearers.

האמנתי שיש לי תקוה בח”י ואראה בטובו לעולם הבא. וזהו בארץ חיים. וקרא לעולם הבא ארץ חיים, ואף על פי שאין לנשמה מקום וכל שכן ארץ. אלא לפי שנמשל טוב עולם הבא לגן עדן, שהוא מקום בארץ, להבין השומעים נאמר דרך משל.

Likewise, the judgment of the wicked is called “Gehinnam.” And it is (literally) a place on earth near Jerusalem. And it is a repulsive place, and they throw unclean things and corpses there, and there was always fire there to burn the unclean things and the bones of the corpses. Therefore, the judgment of the wicked is called “Gehinnam” (גיהנם) by way of a parable. And the reward of the righteous is called “Gan Eden,” which is the most remarkable place on earth, and it is called “the land of the living” since when a man is expelled from there, he is sentenced to death.

כמו שנקרא גם כן משפט הרשעים גיהנם והוא מקום בארץ סמוך לירושלים, והוא מקום נמאס ומשליכים שם הטומאות והנבילות, והיה שם אש תמיד לשרוף הטומאות ועצמות הנבילות, לפיכך נקרא על דרך משל משפט הרשעים גיהנם. ונקרא שכר הצדיקים גן עדן, שהוא מקום המשובח בארץ והוא נקרא ארץ חיים, כי כאשר גורש האדם משם נקנסה עליו מיתה.

  • πᾶς...πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται (“all/every one shall be salted with fire”)

Commentaries differ on their understanding of the word πᾶς, meaning “all.” For example, in Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae, John Lightfoot wrote,4

πᾶς, all, is not to be understood of every man, but of every one of them "whose worm dieth not," &c.

However, in The Greek New Testament,5 Henry Alford wrote,

πᾶς then is every one, absolutely: referring back both to the σε, and the αὐτῶν above.

In other words, “everyone shall be salted with fire” must refer to, not only the preceding σε (“you”) in v. 43, 45, and 47 where the Lord Jesus Christ implores his audience to cut off their hand, foot, or pluck out their eye if any of those body parts “offend you” (σκανδαλίζῃ σε) — these people undoubtedly being righteous — but also to αὐτῶν (“their”) which refers to the unrighteous whose worm does not die in v. 44, 46, and 48.

Alford further remarked,6

πᾶσα θυσία (“every sacrifice”) is...parallel with πᾶς, and καί equivalent to just as.

In other words, πᾶς πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται (“everyone shall be salted with fire”) is equivalent to πᾶσα θυσία ἀλὶ ἁλισθήσεται (“every sacrifice shall be salted with salt”).

If Alford is correct in that the two clauses are parallel, and that πᾶς means everyone absolutely (i.e., righteous and unrighteous), then:

  • πᾶς (“everyone”) = πᾶσα θυσία (“every sacrifice”)

Both the righteous and the unrighteous are sacrifices.

  • πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται (“shall be salted with fire”) = πᾶσα θυσία ἀλὶ ἁλισθήσεται (“shall be salted with salt”)

If fire destroys, yet salt preserves, how can the two clauses be parallel? Like salt,7 fire also signifies cleansing and purification.8 Like fire,9 salt may also signify destruction.10

Alford continues,11

Fire is the symbol of the divine purity and presence:—our God is a consuming fire, not only to his foes, but to his people: but in them, the fire shall only burn up what is impure and requires purifying out, 1 Cor. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:7, 4:12, 4:17. This very fire shall be to them as a preserving salt.

Alford notes Isa. 33:14-15,12 in which it is written,

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? 15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; KJV

Isaiah does not say that no one will dwell with the consuming/devouring fire (אֵשׁ אֹוכֵלָה) and everlasting burnings. Rather, he positively answers that the righteous will. On the other hand, “the sinners in Zion are afraid.”13

Accordingly, in Mark 9:49, the righteous are purified from sin when salted with fire, while the unrighteous are devoured when salted with fire. However, lest one believe that the fire permanently destroys the unrighteous, “their worm does not die” — that is, they are eternally “tormented in this flame.”14 Everyone will be salted with fire; fire will react differently according to one’s righteousness. The righteous will be purified, while the unrighteous will be tormented, just as salt may be used to signify either preservation/purification or destruction.


Alford, Henry. The Greek Testament. Vol. 1. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1878.

Kimchi, David (דוד קמחי). Peirush al Sefer Tehillim (פירוש על ספר תהלים). Jerusalem: 2004.

Lightfoot, John. Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae: Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations. Trans. Gandell, Robert. Vol. 2. Oxford: UP of Oxford, 1859.


1 Vol. 1, p. 380
2 Matt. 23:33
3 p. 83-84
4 Vol. 2, p. 425
5 Vol. 1, p. 380
6 ibid
7 cp. Eze. 16:4; 2 Kings 2:20-21
8 cp. Mal. 3:2-4; Zec. 13:9
9 cp. Deu. 9:3
10 cp. Jdg. 9:45
11 Vol. 1, p. 380
12 ibid
13 Isa. 33:33
14 Luke 16:24


The verse "(For) everyone will be salted by fire" does not stand alone even though it is written in the NIV as if it should. It is part of a teaching session Jesus had with his disciples that continues, "Salt is good, but if it loses it saltiness how can you make it salty again. Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."

This teaching from verse 43 to 50 is about being at peace or in loving harmony with other Christian disciples in a way that Jesus describes as having saltiness. Just as a little salt can flavour bland food so Christians should "salt" the society we live and work in by the loving care such "saltiness" shows to others.

In verses 43 to 47 Jesus uses graphic illustrations of self-mutilation to prevent ourselves reacting to temptations by sinning. He does not specify the sort of sins but the context of this whole passage would suggest they are sins that would damage close personal relationships such as harmful criticism, envy, jealousy, lust etc. In verse 47 ""It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where "their worm, does not die and the fire is not quenched.""

Verse 50 should start with the linking word "For" as Mounce clearly shows in his interlinear Greek/English translation. Verse 49 raises two questions. What does it mean to be "salted"? How is this done by fire?

The first question can be answered by two cross references. First to Leviticus 2 verse 13 "The salt of the covenant of your God." This required obedience to God's laws which Jesus summarized in Matthew 22 v 37 to 39 as "Love the Lord your God" and "Love your neighbour as yourself." Our passage is about loving your neighbour.

How are we salted by fire? By going through the different sorts of trials James refers to in chapter 1 verse 2, "Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance." It's like the way salt can be extracted from sea water heated in an enormous pan. As the water evaporates off the salt gets increasingly concentrated until it crystallizes out and can be skimmed off.

How can salt lose it's saltiness? Domestic salt is the chemical sodium chloride that is very soluble in water and can be dissolved and washed away. It is very possible Jesus was used to salt produced by evaporating sea water on large sandy pans. As the salt dries out and is scooped up it cold well include some fine clear sand. So if such salt gets wet all that would be left would be flavourless sand.


I would like to suggest another approach to the problem of the meaning of "being salted with fire", one which many readers may consider startlingly radical, but which I urge them not to reject out of hand. It is, basically, that it is a textual corruption. I suggest that Mark wrote "all their substance will be consumed", the reading of manuscript k (omnis autem substantia consumitur). The previous verse 48 translates Isaiah. Isaiah 66.24 continues with whyw dr)wn lkwl b$r (and there will be disdainings for all flesh), i.e. the maggots of 48 will cause all their flesh to be disdained because consumed by them, hence "all their substance will be consumed". The translator correctly translated with pasa gar ousia analothesetai. A reader was familiar with the meaning "property" for ousia from its use in this sense in everyday Greek, but this made no sense to him here. so he read it as thusia (burnt offering), a word very familiar to him from its use in the Old Greek translation of the Old Testament and very appropriate to "will be consumed". This gives pasa gar thusia analothesetai (every burnt offering will be consumed). Psi reads this (with the later addition ali (with salt)). But this makes no sense in the context. Hence, thinking this would connect this verse to 50, he conjectured from Leviticus 2.13 pasa thusia ali alisthesetai (every burnt offering will be salted with salt) found, minus ali, in 12 manuscripts, with it in more than 28. But this is not appropriate in the context, hence S family 1 family 13 +, ss sa some bo, geo arm pas gar puri alisthesetai (everything will be salted with fire). Still no sense. What I say is based on my view that Mark's Gospel was written in Latin, a view I advance in my "A reconstruction of the original Latin of the Gospel of Mark, with an English translation and a textual commentary" (which is on the internet). Those who believe that Mark's Gospel was written in Greek should modify the first part of what I have written to: 'I suggest "being salted with fire" is a textual corruption, and that Mark wrote pasa gar ousia analothesetai (all their substance will be consumed). Ousia is not found in any Greek manuscript, but it has been preserved in Latin in manuscript k, in the translation substantia in omnis autem substantia consumitur'. Continue then with "A reader familiar with..."

  • Indeed a very interesting and absolutely valid perspective. Can you, please, provide a short summary to your answer. Like, what translator, according to this view, mistook, what transation was wrong (and at the same time making no sense), and what way, according to this view, is the right way of translating.
    – brilliant
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 3:04

What does “being salted with fire” mean in Mark 9:49?

What does: Being salted with the " fire " of Gehenna, mean in Mark 9:47-49

In Bible times the most effective way to destroy something was by means of the use of fire.

Deuteronomy 13:16 (NASB)

16 Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a [a]ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt.

At times Jesus also used the term "fire" in a figurative way to denote the destruction of the wicked after the angels separate them from the righteous. The wicked will be thrown into the furnace of fire. (Vs 49- 50 below) (Compare also Matthew 25:41)

Matthew 13:40-42,49-50 (NASB)

40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the [a]end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom [b]all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.49 So it will be at the [a]end of the age; the angels will come forth and [b]take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Temptations to Sin.

In the verses below 42-46, you will read that on this occasion that Jesus warns his disciples (figuratively) not to let their hand, foot, or eye cause them to sin, otherwise, they will be thrown into the Gehenna: "48 where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 “Everyone will be salted with fire." Being salted with the "fire" of Gehenna means everlasting destruction - no hope of resurrection.

Mark 9:42-49 (NABRE)

42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna,[a] into the unquenchable fire. [44 ][b] 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. [46 ] 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, 48 where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 “Everyone will be salted with fire.

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