Acts 11:28

28 One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius.

Acts 11:28 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 11:28

And there stood up one of them named Agabus
] The same name with Hagaba in ( Nehemiah 7:48 ) and with Hagabah, or Hagab in ( Ezra 2:45 Ezra 2:46 ) and which the Septuagint there call Agaba and Agab. The name signifies a "grasshopper", ( Leviticus 11:22 ) or "a locust", ( 2 Chronicles 7:13 ) . In a book that goes under the name of Jerom F18, it is interpreted, "a messenger of tribulation"; respecting, it may be, not the true signification of the word, as the things which Agabus predicted, as the general dearth here, and the binding of the Apostle Paul, ( Acts 21:10 ) . And the same writer observes, that this interpretation is a violent, or a forced one. Some take it to be the same with (bge) , "Agab", which signifies "to love"; and so may be the same with the Greek name "Agapetus", which may be interpreted "beloved". This Agabus is said to be one of the seventy disciples that Christ sent forth: he seems to have been an itinerant prophet, who went from place to place delivering out his prophecies; we hear of him again at Caesarea, in ( Acts 21:10 ) . Some say he was a native of Antioch; but this does not follow from his being here, any more than that he was a native of Caesarea from his being there also; it seems most likely that he was a native of Judea, and perhaps of Jerusalem, since in both places he is said to come from thence: it is reported that he died at Antioch; and he is placed in the Roman martyrology on the third of February.

And signified by the Spirit;
not by the position of the stars, or by any natural causes, or by mere conjecture, but by the Spirit of God:

that there should be great dearth throughout all the world;
not only throughout all the land of Judea, but at least throughout the whole Roman empire; see ( Luke 2:1 ) since other writers speak of it in other parts: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar; in the second year of his reign, as Dion Cassius F19, the Roman historian, says: and F20 Eusebius seems to speak of it, as in the beginning of his reign; for he says, Caius, who scarce reigned four years, Claudius the emperor succeeded, in whose time a famine afflicted the whole world; for this some writers, different from our religion, have made mention of in their histories: though he elsewhere affirms {u}, that it was in the fourth year of his reign; both may be true, it might last so long: and indeed, according to what this writer F23 cites from Josephus, it must be after this time that the famine raged in Judea; for having observed the defeat of Theudas by Cuspius Fadus, the Roman governor, he observes, that at the same time a very great famine happened in Judea: now Fadus was sent into Judea, after the death of king Agrippa, towards the end of the fourth year of Claudius; so that it must be in the fifth or sixth year of Claudius that this famine was F24. The Magdeburgensian Centuriators say F25, it was about the ninth and tenth years of Claudius that this famine raged in Greece, Rome, and other parts of the world. Suetonius F26 makes mention of it, and ascribes it to a constant sterility or barrenness: and that it particularly affected Judea appears from hence, that Helena, queen of the Adiabeni, was at this time at Jerusalem, who sent for, and brought corn out of Egypt, and distributed it to the poor F1; of which Josephus F2 gives this account:

``her coming was very seasonable to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for a famine at that time much afflicted their city, and many perished through want of food. Helena, the queen, sent of her own people some to Alexandria, who bought a great quantity of corn, and some to Cyprus, who brought loads of dry figs; who, as soon they came back, distributed the food to the needy.--And her son Izates, hearing of the famine, sent much money to the chief men of Jerusalem.''

The Misnic doctors F3 speak of various gifts which Helena, and her son Monbaz, as they call him, gave to the Jews for the use of the temple, but make no mention of this bounty; though they represent the son as very liberal to the poor, and giving all his goods unto them F4.


F18 De nominibus Hebraicis, fol. 101. H.
F19 L. 60.
F20 Eccl. Hist. 1. 2. c. 8.
F21 In Chronicon.
F23 Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 11, 12.
F24 Vales. not. in Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 11, 12.
F25 Cent. 1. l. 2. c. 13. p. 501.
F26 In Vit. Claud. c. 18. & Victor. Aurel. de Caesaribus in Claud.
F1 Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 12.
F2 Antiqu. l. 20. c. 2. sect. 6.
F3 Misn. Yoma, c. 3. sect. 10.
F4 T. Hieros. Peah, fol. 15. 2.

Acts 11:28 In-Context

26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called "Christians."
27 At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
28 One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius.
29 The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea;
30 this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.