What does Matthew 11:20 mean?
ESV: Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
NIV: Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.
NASB: Then He began to reprimand the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.
CSB: Then he proceeded to denounce the towns where most of his miracles were done, because they did not repent:
NLT: Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God.
KJV: Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
NKJV: Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verses, Jesus compared the Israelites of His generation with complaining children (Matthew 11:16–19). Instead of hearing and repenting, the people of Israel have mostly accused John the Baptist of having a demon and Jesus Himself of being a glutton and a drunkard.

Jesus will be very specific about who has rejected His central message to "repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near" (Matthew 4:17 NIV). He will call out specific cities in Galilee by name. The people in these cities witnessed Jesus' powerful miracles but still refused to repent.

The word "repent" means to change one's mind. In the Bible, it typically means feeling sorry for sin and choosing to stop and instead, go in a new direction. When Jesus uses the word "repent," He is calling people to stop sinning but likely also to recognize Him as the Messiah, the one who will reign over the kingdom of heaven.
Verse Context:
Matthew 11:20–24 contains Jesus' pronouncement of judgment on the Jewish cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. The people of those cities saw the powerful miracles of Jesus with their own eyes, but they did not repent. Demonstrating godly knowledge of both what is, as well as what could have been, Jesus notes that wicked, pagan Gentile cities such as Tyre and Sidon would have repented in the same circumstances. He quips that these Gentiles will find God's judgment more bearable than Chorazin and Bethsaida will. Sodom would not have been wiped out if they had seen Jesus do what Capernaum saw. Sodom's judgment will be more tolerable than that of Capernaum.
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them a specific answer to use to reassure John and then upholds John to the crowds. John fulfills the prophecy about the one who would prepare the people for the Messiah. This generation, though, refused to hear John or Jesus, deciding John had a demon and Jesus was a glutton and drunkard. Jesus condemns the cities that refuse to repent and thanks the Father for revealing the truth to little children. He offers rest for those who are weary and burdened.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 follows Jesus' instructions to the apostles about taking His message and miracles to the towns of Israel with His own continued ministry of teaching (Matthew 10). Jesus answers a question from John the Baptist's followers, and upholds John's ministry. Jesus condemns several cities in Galilee for rejecting His teaching, despite obvious signs. He thanks His Father for hiding the truth from those who arrogantly think they are wise. He offers rest for those who will take His yoke. This leads to further confrontations with critics, recorded in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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