Question: "What is the significance of Chorazin in the Bible?"
Answer: Chorazin, or Korazim, was a city in the Upper Galilee region sitting upon a hill above the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, close to Capernaum. Along with Bethsaida and Capernaum, Chorazin was part of the “evangelical triangle” of cities where Jesus Christ most commonly walked, taught, and performed miracles during His earthly ministry. Though it was the location of many signs and wonders, Jesus ultimately cursed the city due to the lack of faith and continued sin of its inhabitants.
Jesus’ “Woe” to Chorazin
The Gospel of Matthew provides an account of the lack of repentance of Chorazin: “Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. ‘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. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you’” (Matthew 11:20–22). An additional account of this “woe” is recorded in Luke 10:13–14. Those two passages are the only times Chorazin is mentioned in the Bible.
Though the specific miracles Jesus performed in Chorazin are not specified in the Bible, the people there had a front-row seat for “most” of them. It would seem that the people of Chorazin would have had greater faith and a deeper level of repentance than others, but that was not the case.
Later, Jesus placed a curse on a fig tree near Jerusalem (Mark 11:12–26). The tree, which was barren of fruit, was symbolic of the nation of Israel, who rejected their Messiah. Much the same way, Chorazin failed to heed the teaching of Jesus or respond to His work.
Held to a Higher Standard
Jesus contrasted Chorazin with the pagan Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus says that judgment day will be “more bearable” for Tyre and Sidon than for Chorazin. The reason is simple: if given the same opportunity to witness the Lord’s miracles, those pagan cities would have repented and turned from their sin. Instead, Chorazin failed to repent and effectively rejected the gospel that Jesus was preaching. The people of Chorazin had been given much light, and they were responsible to open their eyes and see.
The same principle is found in Luke 12, where Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (verse 48). Chorazin witnessed the miracles of Jesus firsthand, and they heard the gospel message preached directly from His lips. They had been entrusted with much, and from them much was demanded.
Destruction of Chorazin
The woe that Jesus pronounced on Chorazin was ultimately fulfilled. The town, usually identified as the modern site of the Khirbet Karraza ruins, was deserted by the time of the historian Eusebius in the fourth century (Onomasticon, entry for “Chorazin”). Chorazin serves as evidence of the consequences of continued sin and unrepentance. We are all responsible for the light we have been given. And God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).