By: Kaufmann Kohler
A Jew of Jerusalem; one of the prophets who, after the dispersion of the early followers of Jesus, came to the city of Antioch (Acts, xi. 19-28, xxi. 10). He represents some of the spiritual forces that helped to shape the new faith. "By the power of the Spirit he predicted the great famine which afterward visited Judea under Claudius" between the years 44 and 48. This was the famine in which Queen Helena of Adiabene proved a great benefactress of the Jews (see Josephus, "Ant." xx. 2, § 5), and in which Barnabas and Paul were sent from Antioch with contributions for the relief of the Christians in Jerusalem. On another occasion Agabus had come from Judea to Cæsarea into the house of Philip, the preacher of the new tidings, whose four virgin daughters were prophetesses. There he took the girdle of Paul, and, having bound his own hands and feet therewith, said: "Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles" (Acts, xxi. 8-11). Paul insisted upon going, in spite of all entreaties, and met with the fate predicted. Prophesying—which by Pharisaic Judaism had been regarded as suspended (see I Macc. iv. 46, xiv. 41; Ezra, ii. 63; Neh. vii. 65; Ps. lxxiv. 9)—was a conspicuous phenomenon among the early Christians (see Matt. xxi. 26; I Cor. xii. 10, 28; "Didache," x. xi. etc.), but was not unknown to those circles of the Jewish people who believed in the working of the Holy Spirit (see Book of Wisdom, vii. 27, and Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 12, § 1; xiv. 16, § 2; xvii. 13, § 3, 4; "B. J." i. 3, § 5).