Description
Jesus describes varying degrees of severity in regard to eternal judgment and hell.
Commentary
In verses 20 to 24, Jesus speaks of the day of judgment. In other passages he talks about how individuals will be judged, but in these verses he looks at it from the perspective of whole towns and cities.

In verses 21 to 22, he pronounces woe against Chorazin and Bethsaida, two cities in Galilee that had witnessed many of his miracles. He says that the judgment will be worse for them than for Tyre and Sidon, two cities in Lebanon that had been destroyed in history as judgments of God by foreign armies. Jesus says that if these Gentile cities had witnessed his miracles they would have repented long ago, unlike the Jewish towns of Galilee. This implies that God's judgment of unbelievers will be according to a scale of severity.

In verses 23 to 24 he pronounces judgement against Capernaum, another Galilean city that witnessed his miracles. Jesus says that instead of being exalted to heaven, they will be thrown down to Hades, and it will be worse for them than for the sinful people of Sodom who were destroyed by God's judgment in the days of Abraham. Hades is a Greek word for the world of the dead. In Greek mythology it was called Tartarus and was ruled by the god Hades, but Jesus uses the word Hades to refer this realm. In Revelation 20:1 it is called 'the abyss'. It is the equivalent of Sheol in Hebrew, which is pictured as a pit in the depths of the earth in several Old Testament passages (e.g. Isaiah 14:15-19, 24:17-22, Ezekiel 31:14-16, 32:18-32).

Ezekiel 31 and 32 prophesy God's judgment of various nations belonging to Antichrist's end-time empire that will be thrown down into the pit. According to Revelation 20:11-15, at the Great While Throne judgment at the end of the Millennium, the occupants of Hades will be judged and thrown into the lake of fire, which is eternal hell. Hades is the realm in which the wicked dead are held up until that time, although the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire immediately after the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:20). According to Revelation 20 (and Isaiah 14:15-19), Satan will be locked up in this abyss for the thousand year Millennium, after which he will be released for a short time. After being defeated again in his final rebellion, he will be thrown into the lake of fire into which the beast and false prophet had earlier been thrown.

Why does Jesus only speak of Capernaum and Sodom being thrown into Hades, but not Chorazin and Bethsaida? Will they be judged and yet still raised up to heaven? In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, the Apostle Paul talks about the judgment of believers, some of whom will suffer loss but still be saved as though escaping through flames.

In Matthew 12:41-42, Jesus elaborates further on the day of judgment in relation to both Israel and Gentile nations.
Tags
Places: Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, Hades
Symbols:
Tags: Day of Judgment, Pit, Hell
Woes on Unrepentant Cities
20 Then Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which he had done many of his miracles, because they did not repent.
21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you!
23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to Hades! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it would have continued to this day.
24 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for the region of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you!”
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