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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 11 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And thou, Capernaum. See Barnes "Mt 4:13".

 

Which art exalted to heaven. This is an expression used to denote great privileges. He meant, that they were peculiarly favoured with instruction. The city was prosperous. It was successful in commerce. It was signally favoured by its wealth. Most of all, it was signally favoured by the presence, the preaching, and the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here he spent a large part of his time in the early part of his ministry; and in Capernaum and its neighbourhood he performed his chief miracles.

Shalt be brought down to hell. This does not mean that all the people should go to hell; but that the city which had flourished so prosperously, should lose its prosperity, and occupy the lowest place among cities. The word hell is used here, not to denote a place of punishment in the future world, but a state of desolation and destruction as a city. It stands in contrast with the word heaven. As their being exalted to heaven did not mean that the people would all be saved, or dwell in heaven, so their being brought down to hell refers to the desolation of the city. Their privileges, honours, wealth, etc., should be taken away, and they should sink as low among cities as they had been before exalted. This has been strictly fulfilled. In the wars between the Jews and the Romans, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, etc., were so completely desolated that it is difficult to determine their former situation. It is not to be denied, also, that he threatened future punishment on those who rejected him. The truth inculcated is, that those who are peculiarly favoured must be punished accordingly if they abuse their privileges.

If the mighty works—had been done in Sodom. See Barnes "Mt 10:15".

Sodom was destroyed on account of its great wickedness. Christ says, if his miracles had been done there, they would have repented, and consequently the city would not have been destroyed. As it was, it would be better for Sodom in the day of judgment than for Capernaum, for its inhabitants would not be called to answer for the abuse of so great privileges.

{w} "exalted" Isa 14:13-15; La 2:1

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