Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun αγορα (agora) comes from the verb αγειρω (ageiro), which isn't used in the Bible but which means to gather or collect. The derived noun αγορα (agora) hence denotes a place, a street or square where people gather or cluster for whatever reason (Matthew 11:16, Mark 6:56, Luke 7:32).
Our noun also specifically came to denote a market place (hence our English word "agoraphobia") where goods were exchanged, concerns were vented and civil trials were conducted — in other words: a society's designated communal area (Mark 7:4, Acts 16:19).
Our noun comes with the following derivations:
- The verb αγοραζω (agorazo), is usually translated with to buy or purchase, but note the important nuance that is suggested by the root of this word, namely that its essential meaning lies not so much in the solitary act of acquiring (by means of money), but rather in the collective activity of a gathering of people that give, take and interact, and collectively progresses. In the Bible this verb is used to describe actual economic traffic (Matthew 13:44, Mark 6:36, John 4:8), but also to explain the redemptive work of Christ, who has "bought" us with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20, Galatians 3:13, Revelation 5:9). This redemptive purchase, therefore, is not so much an isolated act of acquisition, but rather the result of continued economic activity. From this verb in turn comes:
- Together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out: the magnificent verb εξαγοραζω (exagorazo), which literally means to out-buy — it's the verb that describes the freeing of a slave by purchasing him or her (Galatians 3:13, Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5). Slavery was very common in the Roman empire, but it had more in common with the modern idea of employment (work for a salary or starve) than with the brutal form of slavery that built the American colonies. That means that if someone wanted to "buy" someone "out", he wouldn't simply pay the slave's price, but wholly extract that person from the rat race. The redeemer would thus give that person enough to stay free without having to go back into slavery to make ends meet. Our verb εξαγοραζω (exagorazo) describes the complete release from bondage by paying a price that is far more than the market value of the person.
- The adjective αγοραιος (agoraios), literally meaning belonging to the market place (Acts 17:5). When this word is applied to a person (a marketeer), it's usually meant derogatorily, mostly denoting slaves whose job it was to buy or sell their master's goods, but who (as many modern CEO will still attest) commonly prefer laziness over diligence (see Matthew 20:3). Since civil courts were held on markets, lawyers and such were, fittingly, also referred to as marketeers (Acts 19:38). Likewise Jesus frees His people from the bondage of the Law (Romans 8:2).
- The verb αγορευω (agoreuo), meaning to speak publically. This verb isn't used by itself in the Bible, but it forms:
- Together with the noun δημος (demos), denoting either a country or its people: the verb δημηγορεω (demegoreo), meaning to address a group of people or make a public oration (Acts 12:21 only).
- Together with the adjective αλλος (allos), meaning an other: the verb αλληγορεω (allegoreo), meaning to say the same thing in another way (Galatians 4:24 only). This verb is the source of our word "allegory".
- The noun αγυρις (aguris), meaning assembly. This noun also doesn't occur in the Bible, but it forms:
- Together with the preposition πας (pas), meaning all or whole: the noun πανηγυρις (paneguris), obviously denoting a massive gathering. This word occurs in Hebrews 12:23 only, but and it appears to denote the whole of human economic activity; the global congregation or world-wide market place.