The Fourfold Gospel
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton (1914)

(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision C.
aMATT. V. 13-16.

      a13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and be trodden under foot of men. [Salt has been used from time immemorial as an agent in the preservation of meats. The multitudes which heard Jesus were familiar with its use in curing fish. "The pickled fish of Galilee were known throughout the Roman world" (G. A. Smith). It is worthy of note that the salt of Palestine gathered from the marshes is not pure. Because of the foreign substances in it, it loses its savor and becomes insipid and useless, when exposed to the sun and air, or when permitted for any considerable time to come in contact with the ground; but pure salt does not lose its savor. The verse teaches that God's people keep the world from putrefaction and corruption. There was not salt enough in the antediluvian world to save it from the flood, in Sodom to save it from fire, nor in Canaan to preserve its people from destruction. It also teaches--as does experience--that a disciple may lose those qualities which make him salt.]   14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. [As light dispels darkness and enables a man to see his way, so the Christian, by his teaching and example, removes ignorance and prejudice, and discloses the way of life. The church, reflecting the light of Christ, is of necessity a conspicuous body, so that neither its blemishes nor its beauty can be concealed. For air and for [234] protection cities were frequently built upon hills. Jerusalem and Samaria were both hill cities.]   15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel [a common measure, found in every Jewish house, and containing about a peck], but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. [Lamps were then crude affairs without chimneys, in which, for the most part, olive oil was burned. Candles were not then known. The word candle, where used in the King James version, is a mistranslation.]   16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. [The light of the Christian is to shine not ostentatiously, but naturally and unavoidably. It is to shine not only in his teaching or profession, but in such works and actions as unprejudiced men must acknowledge to be real excellencies. Moreover, it must so shine that it shall not win praise for itself, but for him who kindled it. Men do not praise the street lamps which protect them from robbery and assault, but they praise the municipal administration which furnishes the lamps.]

[FFG 234-235]

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