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“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Bible

“woe.” The Greek word is ouai (#3759 οὐαί; pronounced ooh-eye’). Ouai can be an interjection or a noun, and depending on the context, it can be an expression of grief because of extreme hardship or distress due to a calamity that has happened (Rev. 18:10, 16, 19); or an expression of grief because of a calamity or divine retribution that is coming in the future (1 Cor. 9:16; Rev. 9:12); or it can be a call for, or warning about, a coming calamity or divine retribution (Matt. 11:21; Mark 14:21; Luke 6:24-26. A triple “woe” like in Rev. 8:13 is a warning about horrible and unavoidable calamity coming in the future). In this context, ouai is primarily a warning about divine retribution that is coming to Chorazin and Bethsaida (here the city names are put by metonymy for the people who live in those cities) because they failed to repent at the teaching and rebuke of Jesus Christ. God is our creator, and He created us for His purposes, and expects something from us. When we ignore and defy Him, there are very serious consequences. Today both Chorazin and Bethsaida are just rock ruins, and in fact there is some disagreement among archaeologists as to which ruin north-east of the Sea of Galilee is Bethsaida.


Commentary for: Matthew 11:21