Places of Interest
1. Capernaum is located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee.
2. Capernaum was located on the Via Maris, which was the main international highway of the known world during the time of Christ.
The Via Maris linked the three continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Travelers were forced to use this route as there were few other options for traveling to and from each continent.
The north shore of the Sea of Galilee was even more traveled than the roads and routes leading through Jerusalem.
It might appear that Christ set up His ministry base in a remote place. However, just the opposite was true. He chose the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (and Capernaum was located at a key place along the Via Maris) as a center stage so His message would reach as many as possible in the world.
By spending most of His ministry time in the northern Galilee area, Christ’s miracles traveled by word of mouth to the ends of the earth. This laid the groundwork and sowed the seeds of the gospel to the rest of the known world. As a result, evangelism done later on by the apostles would be easier and more acceptable.
3. Today, Capernaum is shared between two sites. The Franciscan site receives around 90% of visitors as it possesses the synagogue, Peter’s home, village ruins, ancient artifacts, and nice access to the beach. The Greek Orthodox site has chosen to remain basically unexcavated and serene.
1. The name Capernaum is derived from two words, Caper, which means "village," and Naum, which means "rest," and is also from the title, Nahum. Therefore, some believe that the town was named after the Prophet Nahum, and some believe it was simply a place of rest.
2. Capernaum was a fishing village with a population of around 1,000 during the time of Christ. It encompassed what is today both the Franciscan and Greek Orthodox sites.
3. Capernaum became the hometown of Jesus after He moved
from his boyhood home of Nazareth. It also became the ministry headquarters of Christ during His ministry on earth.
Matthew 4:13–17: And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Why was the Galilee area called "Galilee of the Gentiles?" Because after the Assyrian conquest in around 722 BC, the Assyrians removed much of the Jewish population and then imported people from other places they had conquered into the area. Later, after the Babylonian conquest, the Jews once again populated the area. However, many of these foreigners remained in the area, so it was called Galilee of the Gentiles.
4. Capernaum is mentioned more than any other town around the Sea of Galilee.
5. Capernaum was also the home of Peter, James, Andrew, John, and Matthew.
6. The Synagogue in Capernaum was built by a Roman Centurion of whom Jesus healed his servant.
Luke 7:5 says regarding this centurion, “For he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”
7. The synagogue that existed during Christ’s time is made from black basalt stone, and its foundations are under the current synagogue, built out of limestone.
8. The current synagogue was built in the 4th century and was quite luxurious and impressive. This happened because Capernaum became a venerated site due to its role as the ministry base and home of Jesus and other apostles.
9. The home of the Apostle Peter has been identified and now has a large modern church built over it. The location of Peter’s home is certain and has been verified by many substantial archaeological excavations.
10. Greek Orthodox site of Capernaum. This church was built in 1931 and dedicated to the twelve apostles.
Places of Interest
1. Peter's Home
It has been clearly identified and verified by five layers of archaeological excavations.
It has also been identified as the home of Jesus as well. This makes sense as single people didn't live alone but with family or close friends. This is verified by the 1st century AD graffiti with the name of Jesus and Peter found here.
It contained the central kitchen and living quarters and then individual bedrooms connected to it. The original home's floor and some walls can still be seen today in the very center of the buildings.
Layers of Evidence
Layer 1: 50-75 AD ~ Early Christian believers marked out this site and began venerating and protecting it soon after the return of Christ to heaven.
Layer 2: 375 AD ~ Christians built a wall around the home of Peter to protect and set it apart from the other homes of Capernaum. This wall would be outside the octagon church walls built around 450 AD. It's likely this building was used as a church as well.
Layer 3: 475 AD ~ An octagon-shaped church with a small apse was built over the earlier church. The apse points east. A Pilgrim of Placenza who visited this site at this time period verifies this as well. This church seems to have been destroyed during Muslim reign in around 650 AD. It would lay abandoned for some time.
Layer 4: 1100 AD ~ During the Crusader period, several structures were built in the area of the abandoned earlier church.
Layer 5: 1990 AD ~ In 1990, the current church was built over Peter’s house’s previous ruins. You can walk inside it and look down at the ruins through a glass floor in the church.
2. Village Houses
All homes were somewhat similar.
The people seem to have been similar in income status.
3. The Synagogue
The lower synagogue made out of basalt rock, is from the time of Jesus.
The current synagogue made out of limestone is from the latter part of the fourth century (375 AD).
A bema altar was found that reveals the synagogue faced toward Jerusalem.
The synagogue has an adjacent building that was likely used for study of the Scriptures, a schoolroom for children, and a meeting area.
This synagogue had two levels. The lower level for men and the upper for women.
The Torah Scroll Cart would be rolled into the center of the synagogue for reading the Scriptures. The people would sit around the edges of the synagogue.
The synagogue also functioned as a community meeting place and school.
The synagogue has inscriptions on the two front pillars. One is in Greek, and the other in Aramaic. They recognize those that helped in the construction of the building.
Jesus preached in this synagogue.
Mark 1:21–22: And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
4. Ancient Artifacts
Stairs that led up to the second story of the synagogue during Jesus' time.
Olive Press and a Gethsemane (press for crushing olives). The first press of olives is called "virgin oil" and was sent to the temple in Jerusalem. The second press was used for cooking and eating, and the press was used for lubrication, ointment, medicinal, and oil lamp use.
Via Maris Roman Road Post Marker ~ This verifies that Capernaum was located on the Via Mares.
Pillar inscribed with a family name (Alphaeus) mentioned in the Bible. The marker says: "Alphaeus, the son of Zebedee, the son of John, made this column. May it be for him a blessing." So, this column was made and donated by a family member of Matthew several generations later. Mark 2:13-14: As He passed by, He saw Levi [Matthew] the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. Alphaeus was a family last name.
A Frieze with a Star ~ Some misunderstand this star and think it refers to the Star of David. Actually, it refers to a verse in the Bible found in Numbers 24:17: "I see him, but not now; I look at him, but not near; a star shall appear from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel." So, it doesn't refer to the star of David, a six-pointed star that came into existence in the 17th century AD and was the official seal of many Jewish communities and a general sign of Judaism, but to Jesus.
Torah Scroll Cart Stone Carving ~ This carving shows the Torah Scroll Cart, which would have scrolls inside. It would be rolled in and out of the synagogue when needed.
Winepress ~ Grapes were crushed by foot to avoid crushing the seeds, which would make the wine bitter.
5. Capernaum Greek Orthodox Site
6. Capernaum National Park
It has a peer, which is a great place to walk out onto the Sea of Galilee.
Capernaum in the Bible
1. Christ left Nazareth to live and set up His ministry base in Capernaum.
Matthew 4:13-16: And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.
This happened so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned.”
This quotation from Isaiah 9:1–2 emphasizes that in this region where the Assyrians decimated and scattered the northern tribes of Israel, which brought darkness and death, would be the first to receive the light brought by the preaching of the Messiah.
2. Jesus frequently taught in the Synagogue in Capernaum.
Mark 1:21–28: And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God." 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
3. Jesus healed Peter’s mother and many others here in Capernaum.
Mark 1:29–34: And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
4. In Capernaum, Jesus forgave and healed a paralyzed man. This likely happened right at the home where Jesus lived.
Mark 2:1–5: And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven.”
5. Christ marveled at the great faith of a centurion in Capernaum.
Luke 7:1–10: After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.
6. The Parables of the Kingdom were preached close to Capernaum.
Matthew 13:1–3: That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 And He spoke many things to them in parables.
7. The miracle of Peter getting money out of a fish's mouth to pay the temple tax for himself and Jesus happened in Capernaum.
Matthew 17:24-27: When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the tax?" 25 He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?" 26 And when he said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.
8. Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector, close to Capernaum.
Matthew 9:9: As Jesus passed on from there [Capernaum], he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
9. Capernaum was one of the three towns Christ cursed because of their unbelief in Him.
Matthew 11:23–24: And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.
Faith Lesson from Capernaum
1. Christ astonished the large crowds who followed him because He taught with authority. He was completely different from all other teachers because He was God in the flesh. Are we astonished today as we read Christ’s teachings in His Word?
2. Christ healed multitudes of people in and around Capernaum. He also showed He was God as He forgave their sins. Forgiving sins is something only God can do. Do we believe Christ was God in the flesh and full deity?
3. Christ marveled at the great faith of a Roman Centurion. Do we trust God in such a way that He would marvel at our faith?
4. Unfortunately, Christ cursed the town of Capernaum because of their unbelief in Him. After all they had seen, and after many of them had been healed by Jesus, they still were filled with unbelief. Unbelief is, therefore, a sin. Do we have unbelief in Christ and who He claimed to be? Do we also have unbelief in trusting Him in our daily lives when things don’t seem to make sense?
Travel Guide Book
Bible Companion Book
Sea of Galilee Sites
Northern Israel Sites
Central Israel Sites
Southern Israel Sites
Other Biblical Sites
Other Biblical Videos