Matt. 5:13-16 (Part 1)

5:13ff IGNATIUS: Be salted in Him, lest any one among you should be corrupted, since by your savor you shall be convicted.
Epistle to the Ephesians, 1.63.

IRENAEUS: Lot's wife remained in the territory of Sodom, no longer corruptible flesh, but a pillar of salt which endures forever; and by those natural processes which apply to the human race, indicating that the Church also, which is the salt of the earth, has been left behind within the confines of the earth, and subject to human sufferings; and while entire members are often taken away from it, the pillar of salt still endures, thus typifying the foundation of the faith which makes strong, and sends forward, children to their Father. Against Heresies, 1.505.

TATIAN: To you do I say, you which hear, You are the salt of the earth: if then the salt become tasteless, how shall it be salted? For any purpose it is of no use, but is thrown outside, and men tread upon it. You are the light of the world. It is impossible that a city built on a mountain should be hid. Neither do they light a lamp and place it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. So shall your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. There is nothing secret that shall not be revealed, or hidden that shall not be known. Whoever has ears that hear, let him hear. The Diatessaron, 9.56- 57.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: We are the salt of the earth. The Instructor, 2.291.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “There are,” he says, “many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers.” Therefore it was not said to all, “You are the salt of the earth.” For there are some even of the hearers of the word who are like the fishes of the sea, which, reared from their birth in saltwater, yet need salt to dress them for food. The Stromata, 2.309.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: All the faithful, then, are good and godlike, and worthy of the name by which they are encircled as with a diadem. There are, besides, some, the elect of the elect, and so much more or less distinguished by drawing themselves, like ships to the strand, out of the surge of the world and bringing themselves to safety; not wishing to seem holy, and ashamed if one call them so; hiding in the depth of their mind the ineffable mysteries, and disdaining to let their nobleness be seen in the world; whom the Word calls “the light of the world, and the salt of the earth.” Who is the Rich Man that Shall be Saved?, 2.601.

ORIGEN: If all the Romans . . . embrace the Christian faith, they will, when they pray, overcome their enemies; or rather, they will not war at all, being guarded by that divine power which promised to save five entire cities for the sake of fifty just persons. For men of God are assuredly the salt of the earth: they preserve the order of the world; and society is held together as long as the salt is uncorrupted: for “if the salt has lost its savor, it is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill; but it shall be cast out, and trodden under foot of men. He that has ears, let him hear” the meaning of these words. When God gives to the tempter permission to persecute us, then we suffer persecution; and when God wishes us to be free from suffering, even in the midst of a world that hates us, we enjoy a wonderful peace, trusting in the protection of Him who said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And truly He has overcome the world. Therefore the world prevails only so long as it is the pleasure of Him who received from the Father power to overcome the world; and from His victory we take courage. Should He even wish us again to contend and struggle for our religion, let the enemy come against us, and we will say to them, “I can do all things, through Christ Jesus our Lord, which strengthens me.” For of “two sparrows which are sold for a farthing,” as the Scripture says, “not one of them falls on the ground without our Father in heaven.” And so completely does the Divine Providence embrace all things, that not even the hairs of our head fail to be numbered by Him. Against Celsus, 4.666.

ORIGEN: Salt is useful for so many purposes in human life! What need is there to speak about this? Now is the proper time to say why Jesus’ disciples are compared with salt. Salt preserves meats from decaying into stench and worms. It makes them edible for a longer period. They would not last through time and be found useful without salt. So also Christ’s disciples, standing in the way of the stench that comes from the sins of idolatry and fornication, support and hold together this whole earthly realm. Fragment 91.

ORIGEN: “You,” it is said, “are the salt of the earth,” the rest of mankind being conceived as the earth, and believers are their salt; it is because they believe that the earth is preserved. For the end will come if the salt loses its savor, and ceases to salt and preserve the earth, since it is clear that if iniquity is multiplied and love waxes cold upon the earth, as the Savior Himself uttered an expression of doubt as to those who would witness His coming, saying, “When the Son of man comes, shall He find faith upon the earth?” Then the end of the age will come. Supposing, then, the Church to be called the world, since the Savior’s light shines on it—we have to ask in connection with the text, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world,” whether the world here is to be taken intellectually of the Church, and the taking away of sin is limited to the Church. In that case what are we to make of the saying of the same disciple with regard to the Savior, as the propitiation for sin? “If any man sin,” we read, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world?” Paul’s dictum appears to me to be to the same effect, when he says, “Who is the Savior of all men, especially of the faithful.” Commentary on the Gospel of John, 9.380.

CYPRIAN: And it may be thus understood, beloved brethren, that since the Lord commands and admonishes us even to love our enemies, and to pray even for those who persecute us, we should ask, moreover, for those who are still earth, and have not yet begun to be heavenly, that even in respect of these God’s will should be done, which Christ accomplished in preserving and renewing humanity. For since the disciples are not now called by Him earth, but the salt of the earth, and the apostle designates the first man as being from the dust of the earth, but the second from heaven, we reasonably, who ought to be like God our Father, who makes His sun to rise upon the good and bad, and sends rain upon the just and the unjust, so pray and ask by the admonition of Christ as to make our prayer for the salvation of all men; that as in heaven—that is, in us by our faith—the will of God has been done, so that we might be of heaven; so also in earth—that is, in those who do not believe—God’s will may be done, that they who as yet are by their first birth of earth, may, being born of water and of the Spirit, begin to be of heaven.
The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.452.

METHODIUS: Now the whole spiritual meditation of the Scriptures is given to us as salt which stings in order to benefit, and which disinfects, without which it is impossible for a soul, by means of reason, to be brought to the Almighty; for “you are the salt of the earth,” said the Lord to the apostles. The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, 6.311.

© OTR 2023