Who was Agabus in the Bible?Agabus was a prophet who spoke the word of the Lord both early in Paul's ministry and again near the end of Paul's ministry.
At the beginning of Paul's ministry, he and Barnabas preached and taught together for a year in Antioch where the gospel was shared with both Jews and Gentiles. At some point during that year, several prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch, one of whom was Agabus (Acts 11:27–28). Through the influence of the Holy Spirit, he prophesied a severe famine coming to the Roman Empire (Acts 11:28). In response to this prophecy, the Christians in Antioch sent monetary support to the believers in Judea by sending Paul and Barnabas with a gift to the elders in Jerusalem (Acts 11:29–30). This generosity was an important show of unity between the Gentile believers in Antioch and the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Agabus's prophecy came true during the reign of Claudius, proving him to be a true prophet of God (Acts 11:28; Deuteronomy 18:21–22).
After Paul's missionary journeys, when he felt "constrained by the Spirit" to return to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22), he stopped in Caesarea at Philip's house on his way there. Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9), but it was Agabus who once again traveled from Judea to where Paul was in order to speak the word of the Lord (Acts 21:10). "And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, 'Thus says the Holy Spirit, "This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles"'" (Acts 21:11). Earlier Paul had said, "And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me" (Acts 20:22–23). With this prophecy from Agabus, Paul could now prepare for what he would face in Jerusalem; he now knew what would happen to him there. Indeed, about a week after Paul's arrival in Jerusalem, he was attacked by unbelieving Jews in a city-wide uproar and the Roman soldiers who stopped the riot arrested Paul and bound him with two chains (Acts 21:27–33). So once again Agabus's prophecy proved to be an accurate one.
Both prophecies from Agabus brought Paul to Jerusalem—once at the beginning of his ministry to share provisions with fellow believers, and once at the end of his ministry to enter custody where he would eventually share the gospel with Roman rulers. Agabus was a true prophet who faithfully shared the word of God, even when that message predicted future suffering. In both cases, his prophecy helped Paul prepare for the realities that lay ahead. Biblically, prophets have a responsibility to speak what the Lord commands and the people have a responsibility to heed those messages (Deuteronomy 18:18–19). Agabus and Paul both carried out those responsibilities in their relationship to hearing and receiving words from the Lord.
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