Woes to the unrepentant cities

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The three unrepentant cities lay just north of the Sea of Galilee.

Woes to the unrepentant cities are preached by Jesus in Matthew and Luke against three cities of Galilee.[1]

Matthew says:

Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

"Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum,

which art exalted unto heaven,
shalt be brought down to hell:[2]

for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."

The three cities mentioned lay just north of the Sea of Galilee. Chorazin is not otherwise mentioned in the Gospels. Bethsaida is where Philip, Andrew, and Peter were from,[3] and where Jesus healed a blind man.[4] Capernaum, however, is mentioned many times in the Gospels and was the site of many of Jesus' healings and miracles, serving for a time as the center of his public ministry.

Tyre and Sidon were cities that the Prophets had pronounced God's judgment against.[5] Sodom, of course, was infamous as the city that God had spectacularly destroyed for its wickedness in the time of Abraham.[6]

In essence, then, Jesus is contrasting three cities where he has performed many signs with three Gentile cities known for such extraordinary wickedness as to deserve God's destruction, saying that on the Day of Judgment, the former will be judged more harshly, because of their far greater unwillingness to repent.[7]

These cities are associated with the Antichrist in medieval sources. The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, commenting on the above Gospel passage, states that the Antichrist "will be conceived in Chorazin, be born in Bethsaida, and begin to rule in Capernaum."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matthew 11:20–24; Luke 10:12–16
  2. ^ cf. Isaiah 14:13–15
  3. ^ John 1:44, 12:21
  4. ^ Mark 8:22–26
  5. ^ Ezekiel 26–28 etc.
  6. ^ Genesis 18:16–19:292 Peter 2:6
  7. ^ John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Matthew 11:20 ff.
  8. ^ Alexander, Paul Julius (1985). The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition. pp. 195–196. ISBN 0520049985.