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Tiberias, a city located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, was constructed around 20 AD by King Herod Antipas. He named it in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Tiberias became the capital of Galilee and was renowned for its seventeen natural mineral hot springs, which were believed to possess healing properties and attracted many visitors.

Initially, conservative Jews were reluctant to settle in Tiberias due to the presence of a cemetery, which would render them and their priests ritually unclean. Consequently, Herod Antipas populated the city primarily with Gentiles. Over time, however, Jews began to inhabit the city as well. Due to the city’s prominence, the Sea of Galilee also became known as the Sea of Tiberias, a name used by John in his Gospel to make the location more recognizable to Gentile readers.

The Sea of Tiberias

The Sea of Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee, is a freshwater lake rather than a sea. John the Apostle refers to it by both names in his Gospel (Jn 6:1). Other names for this body of water include the Lake of Gennesaret and Lake Kinneret. The Sea of Galilee measures approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) from north to south and 8.1 miles (13 kilometers) at its widest point, with a circumference of about 33 miles (53 kilometers) and a maximum depth of 141 feet (43 meters).

The lake is fed by the Jordan River from the north and supplemented by underground springs. The Jordan River continues its journey from the southern end of the lake to the Dead Sea. Notably, the Sea of Galilee is the lowest freshwater lake on earth and the second lowest lake in the world after the Dead Sea, which is a saltwater lake.

Biblical Significance

The Sea of Galilee holds great significance in the ministry of Jesus. Many of Jesus’ miracles and teachings occurred in the region surrounding this lake. It was here that Jesus called His first disciples, performed the miracle of walking on water, calmed the storm, and fed the multitude with loaves and fish. The towns and villages around the Sea of Galilee, such as Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Magdala, were central to Jesus’ earthly ministry.


When we compare the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, we see a profound spiritual lesson. Both bodies of water are fed by the Jordan River, yet they have vastly different characteristics. The Sea of Galilee receives water and generously gives it out, supporting life and vegetation. In contrast, the Dead Sea receives water but does not give it out, resulting in a lifeless, saline environment.

This contrast serves as a metaphor for the Christian life. Just as the Sea of Galilee receives and shares its waters, Christians are called to receive God’s blessings and share them with others. This principle of generosity and outward focus is fundamental to the Christian faith. Jesus, who utilized the Sea of Galilee for His preaching and travel, dwells among those who emulate this generosity.

In Matthew 10:8, Jesus said, “Freely you have received; freely give.” This directive reminds us that the blessings and gifts we receive from God are not meant to be hoarded but shared. When we give of our time, resources, and love, we reflect the nature of Christ and bring His presence into our communities.

Let us strive to be like the Sea of Galilee, continually receiving and generously giving, so that we may bring life and blessing to those around us. In doing so, we honor God and fulfill His purpose for our lives.

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