By Don Matesz
Does the Bible recommend salt for human consumption? Let's find out!
It has come to my attention that Christians commonly believe that the Bible endorses use of salt in food as a good thing. Many will cite these New Testament passages as evidence that our Lord Jesus the Christ Himself declared salt "good":
"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." Matthew 5:13 KJV
"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." Mark 9:50
Individual Bible verses must be interpreted in light of and consistent with the rest of the Bible, including the Old Testament books, as well as in the context of the time and place of the event. Care must also be taken to understand the original Greek or Hebrew text because, as is well known, meaning can be inadvertently lost or added in translation.
Jesus Himself warned that He spoke in parables to hide His meaning from some people:
"And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand." Luke 8:10 KJV
Therefore no one, least of all a Christian, should assume that anything Jesus said was to be taken strictly literally. He told us that He does not give the sacred – the truth – to dogs; nor does He cast pearls to swine, because He knew that the dogs or swine will trample the the truth under foot, and turn and attack the one speaking truth (Matt 7:6). Thus He warned not to treat His words superficially; you have to have the spirit of truth to understand Him; that is, you have to thoroughly think through His words, to grasp the truth (pearls) found in them. If you don't have the spirit of truth in you, God Himself will send a delusion upon you so you will believe lies! (2 Thess 2:11)
Those who think that in Matt 5:13 and other passages Jesus advocated a salted diet are reading into the passages something not supported by the text itself. The passages plainly make no reference to eating salt.
To know God's Word on salt we must look at all Biblical references to salt, not just a few New Testament passages. To understand the Word of the New Testament, you must understand its foundation, the Old Testament. We have to start at the beginning to understand the ending.
Hence, in this post I will discuss all the references to salt in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. I will discuss the meanings of the New Testament passages mentioned above in part 2.
Strong's Concordance lists 41 instances where the word "salt" appears in the Bible, translated from either the Hebrew melach (in the old Testament) or the Greek halas (in the New Testament). From beginning to end:
Genesis 14:3: "All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea."
Genesis 19:26: "But his [Lot's] wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."
Here, God turned Lot's wife into a pillar of physical salt as a punishment for looking back (longing for its wickedness). Would you consider this evidence that the Bible views physical salt as good for you?
But I digress.
Matthew and Mark
The ancient use of salt for money gave rise to such sayings as "worth his salt" which would be "worth his wages" or "worth his salary." Thus, to say "ye are the salt of the earth" at the time meant "ye are valuable men who do valuable work."
Jesus certainly knew that physical salt will never "lose its saltiness" in the sense of losing its flavor on the tongue. He was speaking of "saltiness" metaphorically; saltiness simply represents the value of salt. As He clearly states, without saltiness, salt would be worthless; similarly, gold would be worthless if it lost its "goldiness," i.e. if it was no longer gold. Further, Jesus understood the laws of economics (they are critical to God's law, and that's why the tax collectors followed Him, Luke 15:1), and knew that if salt lost its "saltiness," or value in the marketplace, due to greatly increased supply, people would dump it under their feet. (Notice He did not say that they would eat it; they would dump it to be trodden under foot.)
To emphasize the point, consider that today, as a matter of fact, salt still tastes salty, but it no longer has "saltiness" or value as money. No one would accept a salary in salt today, because salt is now so abundant and cheap, and in many places with iced roads we now cast it on the walkways and roads to be trodden under foot!
In Matt 5:13 the Greek word translated "lose its savour" is moranthe: "from moros, to become insipid; figuratively, to make as a simpleton."  The English word moron comes from the same Greek root (moros), which means "foolish, dull, sluggish, stupid."  Thus Jesus was playing on words. He was saying to His disciples, in effect, "You currently have some value, but if you act moronic, you'll lose your value, and what will redeem you? for you will become as worthless as dust beneath the feet."
In Mark 9:50 the Greek word translated "good" is kalon which means "valuable or virtuous."  Salt is not "virtuous" therefore the meaning here is valuable; salt was at the time valuable, of course, otherwise people would not have used it as money. Conversely, if salt did lose its "saltiness," i.e. its value, how would you make it salty – valuable – again? Clearly Jesus is not advocating a salted diet, He is urging His people to have value, by having virtue, namely love for God and neighbor, in themselves, as this – not salted food or salty blood and body fluids – is what will enable us to have peace among ourselves.
Here I just have to emphasize that Jesus and His disciples clearly defined what it means to love your neighbor, and it has nothing to do with liking or having affection for your neighbor, nor does it mean tolerating all manner of evil behavior among your neighbors. To love your neighbor is to do no evil to him, which means to follow – fulfill and execute – God's law, as given in the Old Testament:
Jesus Himself declared: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." Matt 5:17
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that liveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any there commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Romans 13:8-10
To conclude, when Jesus called His disciples the salt of the earth, He was doing so because they were doers of the word, i.e. fulfillers of the law:
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgetters what manner of man he was. But whoso locket into the perfect law of liberty, and continuity therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." James 1:22-25
Just realize that "doing the law" doesn't mean doing something to your neighbor, but not-doing harm, by not doing adultery, not killing, not stealing (not taking life, liberty, privacy or property), not bearing false witness, not coveting, and not doing anything else to anyone that you would not have done to yourself.