Dr. Dan Hayden •
Climbing to the top of the Areopagus is a challenge. Centuries ago steps had been chiseled into the massive rock, but weathering and incessant tourist traffic have worn the steps so that they are slippery and slant forward, making the climb a precarious adventure. Only the brave and the foolish venture the climb.
Nevertheless, there I stood in the very place where Paul had made his defense of the Gospel to the Athenians (Acts 17:22-34). The panoramic view of suburban Athens from the Aereopagus plateau was spectacular. Just to the south was the majestic Acropolis, crowned with the ruins of the great Temple of Diana. Looking over the ledge to the east, however, down into the sprawling city, was another ruins of ancient Greece. Resembling a miniature architect’s model, I could just make out the numerous remnants of pillars and tumbled rock projecting from a large rectangle area. I was looking at remains of the old Athens’ Agora — the market place.
That’s what the Greeks called their market place — “the Agora.” To this day, we refer to a person who is fearful of venturing into public places as having “agoraphobia.” Actually, the word agora is used 11 times in the Gospels and the Acts to refer to the market area where people would do their shopping. When people bought things in the agora, the Greek verb used for that activity was agorazo. They used the very word for market place to describe the action that went on in the market place — much like when we refer to what we do in the “shops” as “shopping”.
Although the verb agorazo is commonly used in the New Testament to refer to the idea of buying something in the market place (twenty-five times), the word is also used by God to describe what He did when He saved us — He “bought” us (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). In fact, John uses this word three times in the Book of Revelation, when he talks about those who have been “purchased” (or, redeemed) by the blood of Christ (Revelation 5:9; 14:3-4).
The Apostle Paul took this word to another level, however, when twice in the Book of Galatians he described our redemption in Christ as being exagorazo. He added the preposition ek– (or ex–) meaning “out, or out of” to the front of the verb agorazo to express the idea that we were being redeemed from something. In Galatians 3:13, for instance, he says that we have been redeemed (exagorazo) “from the curse of the law.” Then again in Galatians 4:5 he refers to those who have been redeemed (exagorazo) out “from under the law”.
Exagorazo means “to buy out or from” and in those verses tells us that we have been purchased by Christ out from under the crushing weight of a condemning law. It is as though the law was about to destroy us, but Christ purchased us out from that horrible situation, so that we are no longer in danger of being hurt.
Years ago one of our cars was totaled in an accident and was hauled away to a junk yard. It was completely ruined and was destined for the crusher to be sold for scrap metal. As the car lay in the junk yard awaiting its demise, a local mechanic who had come to buy a used part from the junk dealer, spotted the condemned car. He had a body shop and was an expert at repairing wrecks. For some time he had been looking for a salvage vehicle that he could fix up as a gift for his teenage daughter, and our wrecked Fairlane Ford was exactly what he had in mind. So he bought the car for the price of scrap metal and proceeded to transform it into a beautiful present for his daughter. He purchased that car (exagorazo) out from the junk yard and from the curse of the crusher.
That is what Jesus Christ has done for us. He found a condemned sinner in the junk yard of humanity and purchased us out from under the curse of the law for the purpose of transforming us into a new creation. Paul put it this way, Christ redeemed (exagorazo) us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
Praise the Lord! We have been purchased by Christ for His glory (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Have you placed your faith in Christ to be your Savior? Are you redeemed — purchased out from under the crushing effects of the law? ■
For further study, read Hung on a Tree.