Matthew 11:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 11:21, NIV: Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Matthew 11:21, ESV: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Matthew 11:21, KJV: 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.

Matthew 11:21, NASB: 'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if themiracles that occurred in you had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago insackcloth and ashes.

Matthew 11:21, NLT: 'What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse.

Matthew 11:21, CSB: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago.

What does Matthew 11:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus is calling out cities in the region of Galilee by name. These are towns where the people saw His powerful miracles of healing and casting out demons with their own eyes. However, they refused to repent by turning from sin and accepting Him as the Messiah (Matthew 11:20).

Jesus uses the Greek word ouai, which is translated into English as "woe," or more archaically as "alas!" The word is used in the New Testament to combine ideas of "doom" and "pity." Jesus proclaims "woe" upon Chorazin and Bethsaida.

Chorazin—spelled Korazin in some translations—is only mentioned in the New Testament in this statement by Jesus. Scholars suggest its ruins may be found northwest of the city of Capernaum, Jesus' adopted hometown on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida is likely the place mentioned as the hometown of Andrew, Peter, and Philip (John 1:44). It was on the west side of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus condemns both towns for not turning from sin and to faith in Him after seeing His mighty works. Repentance in the Old Testament was often marked by acts of great humility and mourning, including wearing the coarsest of materials and covering one's head and body in ash. Christ says if the people in the towns of Tyre and Sidon had seen Him do the same miracles, they would have long ago repented from their sin in sackcloth and ashes.

Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast. They were often condemned by prophets in the Old Testament because of the pagan worship of the false god Baal. The pair became famous as living symbols of God's wrath in the judgment (Joel 3:4), as well as places where unlikely-seeming repentance and recognition of God might occur (1 Kings 17:9, 24).

How worthy of judgment are these two Jewish towns if they refuse to repent in response to the same evidence that would have brought the most wicked Gentile cities to their knees?