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Christ In The Marketplace

The Greek word (pronounced) agorah means a place of public assembly. It is found less than a dozen times in the New Testament, most often translated as market or marketplace - an accurate word in the modern sense, but it was actually much more. The "market" served as a central area where the public could meet for business, recreation or exchange of information. Jesus Christ was often in the marketplace, not to sell anything, but to preach The Gospel of The Kingdom of God.

"It is like children sitting in the market places"

Christ preached and healed in the marketplaces.


"And wherever He came, in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the market places, and besought Him that they might touch even the fringe of His garment; and as many as touched it were made well." (Mark 6:56 RSV)

A number of Christ's teachings were presented in the marketplace, sometimes even using the marketplace as an analogy for a world that often ignores the Word of God.

"But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, 'We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.'" (Matthew 11:16-17 RSV)

The markets were also a place where workers would go to seek employment. One of Christ's parables was based upon "workers of the vineyard" (see The Parable of The Labourers).

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.'" (Matthew 20:1-7 RSV)

The market was also the place where the religious hypocrites went for their "salutations in the market places."

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries [see Frontlets and Phylacteries] broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ." (Matthew 23:2-10 RSV)

Christ rebuked the arrogance and hypocrisy of the Pharisees (the unrepentant ones among them, that is - Nicodemus and the apostle Paul, among others, were Pharisees who became fine Christians) who would "purify" themselves after being out in a public place. Note that what is being described here is not normal handwashing; it's referring to a man-made, self-righteous ritual - see Commandments of Men.

"Now when the Pharisees gathered together to Him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of His disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze. And the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?"

And He said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." (Mark 7:1-8 RSV)

Fact Finder: What did Jesus Christ do when He saw people turning the Temple of God into a buy and sell market?
John 2:14-16

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