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Before we begin, let me say that there are a number of commentators who believe that Mark 9:49-50 are the most difficult in the New Testament. For that reason alone, we do well to tread softly as we seek to understand the meaning and also to avoid being dogmatic. The KJV rendering of Mark 9:49 reads, “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” Because the latter half is omitted in many versions, including the RV, NASB, NIV, and the ASV, I will confine my remarks to the first half only.

I believe there are three possible interpretations for the words, “For everyone shall be salted with fire,” but before I list them it will be necessary to quote Mark 9:47-50, which says, “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, that having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

In the 1st interpretation the word “everyone” refers to “unbelievers” who will enter into the lake of fire. The word “fire” in verses 47-48 clearly refers to “hell,” which is the “lake of fire.” This interpretation fits the context of verses 43-48 and the word “For” at the beginning of verse 49 seems to connect the verse with the verses that precede it.  So the only question in this interpretation would be, “What does the word “salted” refer to?  Salt in Biblical times was used for “preserving food from corruption,” so this word is often used in Scripture to speak of anything being “preserved from corruption.” Thus “salted with fire” would speak of a sinner’s body and soul being preserved throughout eternity for eternal punishment.

In the 2nd interpretation the word “everyone” refers to “believers” who are preserved from sin and the corruption of this world by God’s allowing “fiery trials” in their lives. The apostle Peter referred to this in 1st Peter 1:7, which reads, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” In this interpretation we would link verse 49 with verse 50, for in that verse the word “salt” is clearly speaking of believers who are, as we read in Matthew 5:13, “…the salt of the earth.” That is, we who are saved are the only ones preserving this world from utter corruption. Yet verse 50 goes on to say, “But if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it?” This is a warning to believers that if we don’t maintain our communion with the Lord and allow Him to produce righteous lives in us, our testimony to the world will fail; we will not be used to preserve the world around us from corruption.

The possible 3rd interpretation would simply include BOTH of the interpretations above, with the word “fire” linking with verses 43-48 and the word “saltness” justifying the link to verse 50. In this case it would be a warning that a soul will either be with the unsaved experiencing everlasting fire in bodies that are preserved for eternal judgment, or a soul will be in the company of the saved and will experience God’s fiery trials in our present lives in order to preserve us from the corruption of this evil world.  (131.3)  (DO)