The life of Jesus Christ continues to fascinate people more than 2,000 years after he walked the earth. The places where he called his disciples, preached about the Kingdom of God, and performed miracles are identified clearly in the Gospels, and their locations are well-known today. Bible readers today are often curious about where Jesus lived on earth and the setting for his extraordinary life.
Jesus Christ spent most of his life in the region of Galilee in the northern part of the Promised Land. Galilee lay in the northeast corner of modern-day Israel, directly south of Lebanon and west of Syria and Jordan. The eastern border of Galilee was the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee.
What Galilean town was Jesus from? Did the Old Testament foretell Jesus’ Galilean ministry? Where did Jesus go when he left Galilee? Did Jesus travel to Galilee after he rose from the dead? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
What Galilean town was Jesus from?
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the region of Judea. Judea was south of the regions of Galilee and Samaria (Matt. 2:1). However, when he was an infant, Herod, the ruler of Judea, decreed that all males under the age of two should die, so Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Egypt (Matt. 2:13-15).
Jesus of Nazareth
Matthew reports that when the family returned from Egypt and settled in Nazareth in the southern part of Galilee. This detour was the name Jesus of Nazareth originated.
“When [Joseph] heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene” (Matt. 2:22-23).
Galilee was the center of Jesus’ ministry
The Gospels include general statements about Jesus’ Galilean ministry. For example, Matthew 4:23 reads, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” Jesus’ ministry in Galilee also fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy from the prophet Isaiah (more below).
Even when tensions increased following the murder of John the Baptist, Jesus left Nazareth, but not Galilee. Matthew reports that he lived in Capernaum for a time, a town in eastern Galilee beside the Jordan River. “Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea.” (Matt. 4:12-13a).
Jesus also performed his first miracle in Galilee, in the town of Cana, not far from Nazareth. To start the story, John wrote, “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there” (2:1). To end the story, he wrote, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (2:11, emphases added).
Did Isaiah foretell Jesus’ Galilean ministry?
Matthew saw the fulfillment of prophecy when Jesus went to Capernaum. He writes, “And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled” (Matt. 4:13-14).
Then Matthew quotes from the ninth chapter of Isaiah, which reads, “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” (9:1).
The prophet continues, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (9:2).
A New Testament scholar explains: “Matthew was probably not the first to see in this the fulfillment of the OT prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-2… Jesus himself performed by this kind of geographical concentration a kind of sign as a covert reference to his messianic claim. Some Jewish circles expected the inbreaking of the end times to take place in the northern reaches of the promised land.” 
Did Jesus spend time outside of Galilee?
Jesus’ spent most of his time in Galilee, but not all of it. He visited Jerusalem to the south and other towns in other regions beyond Galilee. One scholar explains that Jesus’ “main scene of ministry was Galilee, punctuated by visits to Jerusalem recorded by John in connection with festivals, until the Passover visit.” 
Jesus traveled outside of Galillee on different occasions. John records that he traveled to Jerusalem, south of Galilee and Samaria, in the region of Judea (7:1-24). John reports that authorities in Judea wanted to kill Jesus (7:1), and after he finished teaching in the temple, people accused him of having a demon (7:20), and also wanted him dead (7:30). Yet others put their faith in him (7:31).
Jesus also rebuked cities in Galilee for their lack of faith and contrasted them with towns outside the region, saying, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Matt. 11:20-21).
Jesus continued, “But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 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. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matt. 11:22-24).
Because of the tensions in Galilee, Jesus took his disciples outside of the region to minister . Mark mentions some of the places Jesus went outside of Galilee.
- Mark 7:24, “And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden.” Tyre and Sidon were northwest of Galilee.
- Mark 7:31, “Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.” The Decapolis was southeast of Galilee.
- Mark 8:27, “And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, Who do people say that I am?” Caesarea Philippi was northeast of Galilee.
Jesus also spent the last week of his life in Jerusalem. All four Gospels include stories from the time, and the climax of each one is Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jesus appears in Galilee after his resurrection
Though Jesus died and rose again in Jerusalem, he appeared to people in Galilee. Mark records Jesus telling the disciples that he would be going to Galilee. “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (Mark 14:28). Matthew adds that the disciples met Jesus there: “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them” (28:16).
 “Galilee” in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. p. 298.
 “Galilee” in the New Bible Dictionary, p. 565.
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