Matthew 11:21-25

Mat 11:21 (KJB)
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.

Chorazin was situated at the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida was a fishing village located east of the Jordan but on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Peter, Andrew, and Philip were from Bethsaida. (John 1:44 KJV) Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Jesus is not pronouncing a curse upon these cities but He is stating an expression of sadness over their unbelief in the face of the many mighty works done in their presence. Tyre and Sidon were two cities of Phoenicia and were centers of pagan worship. Jesus was stating that if the works He did in Northern Galilee was done in these two cities, they would have repented of their sins and turned to Him. The pagans had accepted the Gospel faster than those who had the Hebrew Scriptures and even the Samaritan Pentateuch. When the Gospel was preached in Gentile lands, it was more accepted than those who had the Scriptures and were waiting for the Messiah.

Mat 11:22 (KJB)
But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

The inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon would be punished for their sins but their punishment will be much milder in comparison to the fact that Bethsaida and Chorazin and the surrounding communities had rejected the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The mighty miracles and works that Jesus did in Galilee was done right in front of them yet there was opposition and rejection to the ministry of Jesus. The Gospel was preached to them and they rejected it in favor of the law and this will have led to their eternal doom. (Luke 12:47-48 KJV) And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. {48} But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. The more a person has, the more he is responsible for and Northern Galilee saw the miracles of Christ and heard Him teach the Gospel and yet rejected Him.

Mat 11:23 (KJB)
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Capernaum was possibly the town of Nahum and was 80 miles (129 KM) north of Jerusalem northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was a flourishing community and was a prosperous commercial center plus it was a toll station on the important caravan routes. There was a Roman military post commanded by a centurion who built the people a synagogue. It was also one of the most privileged cities in the world since Jesus had made it His home during the year of the Galilean ministry. He had performed many miracles and did much teaching there. Jesus states that as big and important as this city was, it was destined to be destroyed. He then compares it to Sodom. He states that if the mighty works which were done here would have been performed in Sodom, then Sodom would have repented and it would still be a thriving city at that time. Jesus is also saying that the acceptance of the Gospel is like a preserver of life. When the Gospel flourishes, it brings the blessings of God. The destruction of Capernaum would happen in the rule of Vespasian (69-79 A.D.) during the war between the Jews and Rome. It was in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple razed.

Mat 11:24 (KJB)
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 judgment of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha will be milder than the judgment of the inhabitants of Capernaum. This is because Sodom did not have the light of the Gospel preached to it in comparison to the Gospel being preached in Capernaum and it was accompanied by the mighty works which confirmed that the Gospel was of God. Since they directly rejected the Gospel, they would be judged more harshly than Sodom who did not have a Gospel witness. Comparing those in the world who have never heard the Gospel preached and those unbelievers who attend church for 20, 30, 40, or 50 years and still are hardened, their punishment will be greater because they had much light for many years and rejected it.

Mat 11:25 (KJB)
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

Jesus then thanks His heavenly Father that these things have been hidden from the wise and those with understanding. This is not speaking of wisdom and understanding in the good sense but is speaking of the worldly wisdom and understanding. Those in this world who are unsaved believe they have all wisdom in the world and therefore condemn or reject the Gospel as foolishness. Yet God is going to destroy the wise and prudent of this world. (1 Cor 1:19 KJV) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Jesus is not reveling in the fact that the well-educated are remaining in darkness but He rejoices in the fact that those who are babes or are simple people have received the Gospel with great joy. (Acts 13:48 KJV) And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. We see this principle today as many with a Ph.D. think they know more than God and write Him off as a myth and yet the humblest person receives the Gospel and is living in joy.