AGABUS (ăg'a-bŭs). One of the prophets from Jerusalem who came to Antioch and prophesied that there would be “a severe famine...over the entire Roman world.” “This happened during the reign of Claudius.” The prophecy led Christians at Antioch “to provide help for...Judea...by Barnabas and Saul” (
On the third missionary journey, Agabus at Caesarea predicted, with vivid symbolic action, Paul’s fettering and delivery to the Gentiles if he proceeded to Jerusalem (
Late tradition makes Agabus one of the Seventy and a Christian martyr.
K. Lake, Beginnings of Christianity, V (1933), 452-455.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
A Christian prophet of Jerusalem, twice mentioned in Acts.
(a) The gift of prophet’s here takes the form of prediction. The prophet’s chief function was to reveal moral and spiritual truth, to "forth-tell" rather than to "foretell"; but the interpretation of God’s message sometimes took the form of predicting events.
(b) The phrase "over all the world" (practically synonymous with the) must be regarded as a rhetorical exaggeration if strictly interpreted as pointing to a general and simultaneous famine. But there is ample evidence of severe periodical famines in various localities in the reign of Claudius (eg. Suet Claud. 18; Tac. Ann. xii.43), and of a great dearth in Judea under the procurators Cuspius Fadus and Tiberius Alexander, 44-48 AD (Ant., XX, ii, 6; v, 2), which probably reached its climax circa 46 AD.
(3) In late tradition Agabus is included in lists of the seventy disciples of Christ.
D. Miall Edwards