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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 11 - Verse 28

Verse 28. Named Agabus. This man is mentioned but in one other place in the New Testament. In Ac 21:10,11, he is mentioned as having foretold that Paul would be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. It is not expressly said that he was a Christian, but the connexion seems to imply that he was.

And signified. See Joh 12:33. The word usually denotes, to indicate by signs, or with a degree of obscurity and uncertainty, not to declare in explicit language. But here it seems to denote simply to foretell, to predict.

By the Spirit. Under the influence of the Spirit. He was inspired.

A great dearth. A great famine.

Throughout all the world. The word here used, oikoumenhn, usually denotes the inhabitable world, the parts of the earth which are cultivated and occupied. It is sometimes limited, however, to denote an entire land or country, in contradistinction from the parts of it; thus, to denote the whole of the land of Palestine in distinction from its parts, or to denote that an event would have reference to all the land, and not be confined to one or more parts, as Galilee, Samaria, etc. See Barnes "Lu 2:1".

The meaning of this prophecy evidently is, that the famine would be extensive; that it would not be confined to a single province or region, but that it would extend so far as that it might be called general. In fact, though the famine was particularly severe in Judea, yet it extended much farther. This prediction was uttered not long after the conversion of Saul, and probably, therefore, about the year A.D. 38, or A.D. 40. Dr. Lardner has attempted to show that the prophecy had reference only to the land of Judea, though in fact there were famines in other places.— (Lardner's Works, vol. i. pp. 253, 254. Ed. Lond., 1829.)

Which came to pass, etc. This is one of the few instances in which the sacred writers in the New Testament affirm the fulfillment of a prophecy. The history having been written after the event, it was natural to give a passing notice of the fulfillment.

In the days of Claudius Caesar. The Roman emperor. He began his reign A.D. 41, and reigned thirteen years. He was at last poisoned by one of his wives, Agrippina, who wished to raise her son Nero to the throne. During his reign no less than four different famines are mentioned by ancient writers, one of which was particularly severe in Judea, and was the one doubtless to which the sacred writer here refers.

(1.) The first happened at Rome, and occurred in the first or second year of the reign of Claudius. It arose from the difficulties of importing provisions from abroad. It is mentioned by Dio, whose words are these: "There being a great famine, he (Claudius) not only took care for a present supply, but provided also for the time to come." He then proceeds to state the great expense which Claudius was at in making a good port at the mouth of the Tiber, and a convenient passage from thence up to the city.—Dio, lib. Ix. pp. 671, 672. See also Suetonius, Claud. cap. 20.

(2.) A second famine is mentioned as having been particularly severe in Greece. Of this famine Eusebius speaks in his Chronicon, p. 204: "There was a great famine in Greece, in which a modius of wheat (about half a bushel) was sold for six drachms." This famine is said by Eusebius to have occurred in the ninth year of the reign of Claudius.

(3.) In the latter part of his reign, A. D. 151, there was another famine at Rome, mentioned by Suetonius, (Claud. cap. 18,) and by Tacitus, (Ann. xii. 43.) Of this Tacitus says, that "it was so severe, that it was deemed to be a Divine judgment."

(4.) A fourth famine is mentioned as having occurred particularly in Judea. This is described by Josephus, (Ant. b. xx. chap. 2, § 5.) "A famine," says he, "did oppress them at the time, (in the time of Claudius;) and many people died for the want of what was necessary to procure food withal. Queen Helena sent some of her servants to Alexandria with money to buy a great quantity of corn, and others of them to Cyprus to bring a cargo of dried figs." This famine is described as having continued under the two procurators of Judea—Tiberius Alexander, and Cassius Fadus. Fadus was sent into Judea on the death of Agrippa, about the fourth year of the reign of Claudius; and the famine, therefore, continued probably during the fifth, sixth, and seventh years of the reign of Claudius. See Note in Whiston's Josephus, Ant. b. xx. chap. 2, § 5; also Lardner as quoted above. Of this famine, or the want consequent on the famine, repeated mention is made in the New Testament.

{c} "Agabus" Ac 21:10 {*} "dearth" "A great famine"

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