Tuesday, May 11, 2021
“But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented” (Matthew 11:16,17 KJV).
Let us look at verses to glimpse into the A.D. first century market!
The ancient town squares in Palestine were particularly unsafe because they were major population centers. Since Israel’s apostate religious leaders craved the praise of men, they strove to spend as much time in these “markets” as possible. The longer they tarried, the more pedestrians and visitors to pay attention to them!
Christ therefore warned: “And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces [agora],…” (Mark 12:38). “And [they love] greetings in the markets [agora], and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Matthew 23:7). “Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets [agora]” (Luke 11:43). “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets [agora], and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;…” (Luke 20:46). By having people focus on them—their religiosity or piety—these Jewish religious leaders encouraged self-righteousness. While they feigned to be God’s servants, they were nothing more than slaves to unbelief. Such hypocrisy was not easily detected, so they “won” many to their hellish vain religious system (Matthew 23:15)!
The Apostle Paul deliberately visited such markets to preach to people and win them to Christ: “Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market [agora] daily with them that met with him” (Acts 17:17). Unfortunately, that was also where Roman public trials were held! “And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace [agora] unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,…” (Acts 16:19,20). As subsequent verses show, physical perils abounded in the markets too, including unlawful beatings!
Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is ‘Cainan’ in Luke 3:36 a ‘scribal error?’”