The important town of Capernaum was on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus seems to have made it the base for his ministry in Galilee, and it became known as his home town (Matt 4:13; 9:1; Mark 2:1; 9:33; John 6:24). Another lakeside town, Bethsaida, was close by (Mark 6:43-45; John 6:13,17; for map see BETHSAIDA). Capernaum was large enough to have its own tax collectors. One of these was Matthew, who later became a disciple of Jesus (Mark 2:1,13-15; cf. Matt 17:24). Among the town’s more important citizens were government officials and at least one Roman centurion (Matt 8:5; 17:24; John 4:46). There was a large Jewish population in Capernaum and the town had several synagogues. Jesus often taught in these synagogues, but the people’s stubborn refusal to believe in him as the Messiah would one day bring God’s judgment upon them (Matt 11:23; Luke 4:31; John 6:59).

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