Bible, Teaching
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Did Jesus own a home in Capernaum?


Ruins of the ancient city of Capernaum, the home town of Jesus. Photo: Bon Adrien/Foter/CC-BY

Ruins of the ancient city of Capernaum, the home town of Jesus. Photo: Bon Adrien/Foter/CC-BY

Many have the impression Jesus was an itinerant preacher, traveling from place to place around Galilee preaching the Gospel. However, there is a hint that early on Jesus had His own house.

In Mark 2, we have the account of Jesus being at a house in Capernaum. So many people had gathered that a group of men were forced to cut a hole in the roof to lower their paralytic friend down to Jesus for healing.

But notice what Mark says in verse 1:

When He [Jesus] had come back to Capernaum several days afterward; it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking to them. (NASV)

It talks about this house being Jesus’ home. By the size of the crowd it was obvious Jesus was a bit of a celebrity in the city. This verse also suggests it was not the first time people had gathered at Jesus’ house, as people were waiting for Him to return.

We have a similar mention of Jesus’ home in John 1:38-43. This passage records Jesus visit with John the Baptist where he calls Jesus the Lamb of God. Two of John’s disciples (one being Andrew, Peter’s brother) asked Jesus where He was staying.

In verse 39, Jesus took the two disciples to His house, where they stayed for the rest of the day and perhaps even over night. It was during this visit that Andrew convinced Peter — who was also living in Capernaum (Mark 1:29) — to visit Jesus at His home.

We know from the Gospels that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1) but grew up in Nazareth with His parents (Luke 4:16). Matthew adds this tidbit:

And leaving Nazareth, He [Jesus] came and settled in Capernaum which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtaill. (Matthew 4:13 NASV).

At some point, Jesus moved to Capernaum. He would need a place to live, so he obtained a house or being a carpenter (Mark 6:3) maybe even built His own. We are not told the specifics of Jesus’ living arrangements.

In his commentary, William Barclay has this to say about the Greek word “tekton” translated carpenter:

The word used for “carpenter” is [@tekton], meaning not a mere worker in wood. It means “a craftsman”, more than merely a joiner. In Homer the [@tekton] is said to build ships and houses and temples.

Matthew notes in verse 14 that Jesus’ move to Capernaum fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 9:1-6) about the Messiah coming from this region. Matthew also adds in verse 17, that it was after His move to Capernaum, that Jesus began His ministry.

It appears from a statement made later, that Jesus eventually abandoned His house and traveled around Israel preaching the Gospel:

Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20 NASV)

However, Jesus’ ministry basically started off as a simple home group in Capernaum. It was here that Jesus came in contact  with four of his disciples — Levi (Mathew), Peter,  James and John (Mark 1:29).

Shortly after his decision to follow Christ, Matthew had a party at his home (Mark 2:14-17) where he invited many of his coworkers — fellow tax-collectors — to meet Jesus and His disciples. This was possibly a going away party for Matthew, who Luke said left everything to follow Christ.

This party at Levi’s home may have marked the transition point, when Jesus moved from a house-based ministry to a national one.

But we see several times the group returned to Capernaum, which Matthew describes as “His [Jesus] own city” (Matthew 9:1). It is generally believed they probably stayed at Peter’s house, who we know was married and had his mother-in law staying with him (Matthew 8: 5, 14).

But in the end, Jesus would curse Capernaum because of the amount of time He invested in that community and the inhabitants refusal to repent:

And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. 24 Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:23-24 NASV).

–SP

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2 Comments

  1. Yes- he had a house, remember they called Him the “carpenters ” son. And over half, the 12 apostles also lived next to the sea there job for money /food was “fishermen”. – The messiah “moved” from Nazareth a city, to Capernaum -next to the sea. There food was- loafs of bread,
    Honey and butter and garden crops and there meat- Fish.

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  2. The reason the messiah left Capernaum area, was to spread the teachings too other cities -but in order to do that, he need helpers the apostles , then the apostles need helpers: the deacons or disciples.

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