City of Capernaum

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City of Capernaum Synagogue Ruins
The city's synagogue is one of the oldest in the world

Capernaum, the name of which means "city of comfort," was located near the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee (also known as Sea of Tiberias or Lake of Gennesaret), near the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali (the promised land given by God to these Israelite tribes as inheritance after Egyptian slavery). The city was on the great highway from Damascus to Acco and Tyre. It was the metropolis of Galilee and one of the most prosperous and crowded districts in all Palestine. The city itself, however, is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament and can only be found in the four gospel accounts in the New Testament.

Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, left his boyhood home in Nazareth and took up residence in Capernaum. This move was a fulfillment of prophecy

13. And after leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is on the seaside, on the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim; 14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, saying, 15. "The land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16. The people who were sitting in darkness have seen a great light; and to those who were sitting in the realm and shadow of death, light has sprung up" (Matthew 4:13 - 16, HBFV).

Capernaum was the backdrop of many of Christ's mighty miracles. For example, it was in the city's Synagogue, on the Sabbath, that Jesus commanded a demon to leave the person it possessed. The miracle was so amazing that those who saw it said the following.

'What kind of words are these? With authority and power this man gives orders to the evil spirits, and they come out!' (Luke 4:36)

The Sabbath on which this miracle took place was shortly after the day of Pentecost (Harmony of the Gospels in Modern English, page 69) and caused Christ's fame to be spread throughout the entire region (verse 37).

New Testament Timeline

Jesus' Saturday Miracles

Why were the disciples told to buy swords?

On another occasion word spread that Jesus was teaching in a certain Capernaum home. The building was soon packed with people. Four men carrying a paraplegic wanted to have him heal their friend but could not get to him due to the crowd of people. They decided to go on top of the house and dig their way through the roof. Once they had opened a sufficiently large enough hole they slowly lowered their friend's pallet in front of where Christ was sitting. Seeing their great faith, he immediately healed their friend and said his sins were forgiven.

Some self-righteous religious leaders, who heard Jesus say the paraplegic's sins were forgiven, thought he was blaspheming God. Christ quickly chastised the men for their evil thoughts and boldly asserted he had the authority to forgive sin (Mark 2:3 - 12, Luke 5:17 - 25).

It was also in the city that, because of the great faith of a Roman Centurion, Jesus did not need to visit the man's servant who had palsy but simply commanded he be healed (Matthew 8: 5 - 13). Other miracles which occurred in the city included the healing of the nobleman's son (John 4:46 - 54), Peter's mother-in-law made well (Matthew 8:14 - 15), and the synagogue ruler's daughter brought back to life (Matthew 9:23 - 25).

At least five of the twelve apostles Jesus called to follow him lived in Capernaum - James and John (brothers), Andrew and Peter (brothers) and Matthew.

Additional Study Materials
Jesus' Synagogue Miracles
Was there a Christian church in Capernaum?
Who exactly were the twelve apostles?
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