25 March, 2016

Matthew 5:13—"Ye are the Salt of the Earth"

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matt. 5:13 KJV).


Rev. Marinus Schipper

(Source: The Standard Bearer, vol. 36, issue 5, 1st December 1959)

Reverend Henry Vander Kam gives brief expositions on The Sermon on the Mount ... Commenting on Matthew 5:13-16 and particularly on the expression of Jesus: "Ye are the salt of the earth," he makes the following [erroneous] observations:

"Those whose hearts have been renewed have a very specific task to perform in this world. They are the salt of the earth. This is stated as a fact, not as something which must still be accomplished. If they should not act as a salt they are worthless. They have received all their qualifications from above and that makes them a salt. The statement: "If the salt have 'lost its savor' means that their qualifications as citizens of his Kingdom are lacking. Those who are what the Beatitudes demand are the salt of the earth. Salt is used for two purposes: to make food tasty and to preserve it. It is this latter function which Jesus has in mind when he speaks of his people as the salt of the earth. Salt was the only preservative known to the people of Jesus' day. It was, therefore, one of the most important things in their daily lives. Without salt food would spoil in a very short time. As the salt of the earth God's people prevent the decay of this sinful world. Without the presence of his people this world would fall into utter ruin. Had there been but ten righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah, these cities would have been spared. God spares the world because of the presence of his people ..."

Concerning the above quotation we remark:

1. That the Rev. Vander Kam should have known better than to give the above interpretation concerning the significance of salt. He himself tells us that "salt is used for two purposes: to make food tasty and to preserve it." Without testing the former significance, he makes the definite observation that "it is this latter function which Jesus has in mind when he speaks of his people as the salt of the earth." This is a case of poor exegesis.

2. That he is in error when he asserts that salt must be understood here in the preservative sense. He is evidently so much under the influence of the common grace doctrine that he cannot understand how God's people is the only morsel left in this corrupt and rotten world that is tasty to God. He tells us that Jesus is stating a plain fact here, but he ignores this statement of fact and wants to make it an imperative that the children of God must preserve this rotten world. I would ask him the question: What good is it to put salt with rotten and decayed meat? He knows the answer is that it serves no purpose at all. Neither do the children of God preserve this rotten world, nor is it their calling. He knows too that when the very last of God's people has been saved out of this rotten world, then the world will be destroyed as were Sodom and Gomorrah.



Rev. Erik Guichelaar

Check out the following sermon on this Scripture passage:




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