Mark 9:49 For every one shall be salted with fire

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Everyone, consequently,  is going to be gathered by fire.
Everyone, consequently, is going to be preserved in fire.

KJV : 

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

What is Lost in Translation: 

The Greek source we use today is much shorter than the Greek source used by the KJV translators (see this article for an explanation of differences). The difference between the two could reflect the desire, first in the Latin Vulgate and later in St. Jerome's Greek version, to explain this verse. The meaning of this phrase in the original Greek is determined by one uncommon verb, that can mean either "be gathered together" or "be salted." The connection may have been that salt preserved things that were gathered together. However, the form of the word "fire" also leaves its meaning in this phrase open to question.

"Salted" also has the sense of preserving. Before reading this post, you may want to read this earlier post on the meaning of salt in Christ's time.

The word "fire" can also have two meanings. It can be the fire of the trash dumb, that destroy useless material things. Or it can be the fire of sacrifice, that hurts the flesh but strengthens the spirit.

So this short verse could mean many seemingly contradictory things:

Everyone, consequently,  is going to be gathered by fire.
Everyone, consequently, is going to be preserved in sacrifice.
Everyone, consequently, is going to be preserve with material destruction.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

In the verses previous to this, Jesus has been talking about wasting our lives, literally, putting them on the trash heap where they rot, getting filled with worms, and burn.  The worm of ego, tied to our specific lives here and now, can only die in this world because the fires can only destroy it in this world. But but in the eternal world of spirit, everything is preserved both good (sacrifices) and bad (rotten).

Continuing this discussion about the nature of fire, Christ here draws the parallel between the purifying fires of Gehenna and the fires of sacrifice. The difference is that sacrifices are still valuable when they are burnt   while the rubbish of Gehenna is rotten, filled with worms.

In our world, fire is the gateway to the eternal because it removes things from this world. Fire erases its physical form. The spirit is unchanged, even the spirit of the first itself. Fire consume material things in the same way that our temporal life is consumed by time.

Spiritual fire doesn't destroy. The spiritual world is eternal and unchanging. It is the concept of light and heat and change but without the ability to change.

Christ uses the symbol of fire in Mat 13:30 to represent the baking of bread in a very subtle way.  In that parable, weed and grain are allowed to grow together so that at harvest time, the weeds can provide fuel to bake the bread. This is another way of expressing the productive value of fire. In that version, the weeds instead of destroying the grain are actually useful in transforming them. Without the choice evil in the world, we could reach our spiritual potential.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

πᾶς ( adj sg masc nom ) "Everyone" is pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether."

γὰρ (partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question, it means "why" and "what."

πυρὶ ( noun sg neut dat ) "Fire" is pyr (pur), which means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", "hearth-fire", "lightning", "the light of torches," and "heat of fever."

ἁλισθήσεται.[uncommon]( verb 3rd sg fut ind pass ) "Shall be salted" is from halizo, a word that has two meanings. Its primary meaning is "to gather together", in the passive, "be gathered together," "assemble' (of military forces), "collect" of fragments, and "amassing into a globe."  Its second meaning is "to salt", in the passive,  "to be salted", "to provide salt," and "to salt food."

KJV Analysis: 

For --The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause". 

every one -- The word translated as "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." Here, the form is singular, masculine, so "everyone."

shall -- Here, this reflect the future tense of the verb, but "shall" is also commonly used to translate verbs that are not the future tense.

be -- This comes from the passve form of the verb.

salted --  The word translated as "salted" is a play on words, and, one that only works in Greek. The Greek verb means "to salt" as in salting food, but it is also means "to gather together" and, in the future passive, as it is here, "going to be gathered together" or "going to be salted."

with -- This word comes from the dative case of the following word( that requires the addition of a preposition in English: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, and an "in" for area of affect. In the KJV, the translation makes fire an instrument, but it could also be a location, so "in a fire" or a purpose "as a fire."

fire, -- "Fire" is a noun that means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", and so on, but Jesus only uses this word to describe the fire of a trash dump. He usually uses it with the word that is translated as "hell" but which was the name of the burning trash dump outside of Jerusalem. Judeans, however, also heard this as the fire of sacrifice, which explains the later additions to this verse.

and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.  -- The Greek source for these words does not exist in today's source.

Front Page Date: 

Sep 26 2019