The Matthean account of Jesus pronouncing judgment on the cities of Choarzin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum may be found in Matthew 11.20-24. This passage of Scripture contains a historical context of six particular cities that were condemned for their depravity. The following contains a grammatico-historical examination of the text, which is an example of the doctrine of revelatory judgment applied, a verse often used to support the soteriological problem of evil, and is a problem passage for the doctrine of transworld damnation. The purpose of Jesus’ pronouncement of judgment on these cities was to convey the depravity of man.
Before any critical examination of the text can be made a conclusion on the genre must be established. The book of Matthew is a Gospel, which is a genre in and of itself. Many studies performed in modern scholarship of the Gospel literature link the Gospels with Hellenistic biography. Hellenistic biographers did not feel compelled to include all periods of an individual’s life or to narrate in chronological order. The selected events were carefully ordered to promote a particular ideology. In slight contrast to Hellenistic biographies, Robert Guelich proposes formal and particular genera for the Gospels:
Formally, a gospel is a narrative account concerning the public life and teaching of a significant person that is composed of discreet [sic] traditional units placed in the context of Scriptures… Materially, the genre consists of the message that God was at work in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection effecting His promises found in the Scriptures.read more »