12. AGABUS - a gifted prophet
"One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted
that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world" (Acts
Consider the person
There are only a few examples of New Testament prophets in the Acts.
Agabus is the main example. He was a believer in the Jerusalem church,
one of a number of itinerant prophets with a local church base. His
recorded prophecies were predictive, containing prophecy in the sense
of foretelling future events. Read Acts 11:27-30; 21:10-11.
Study the Scriptures
In Acts 11 Agabus arrives at the young church in Antioch with other
prophets. His ministry complemented the ministries of Barnabas (an
exhorter) and Paul (a teacher). Here he predicted a widespread
dearth or famine. The word motivated the local church to create a fund
for the poor believers in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30). In Acts 21 when
Agabus arrived in Caesarea, he predicted Paul's imprisonment by the
Gentiles. The account is interesting as it records a twofold reaction
to the prophetic word. On one hand the disciples advised Paul to avoid
trouble; on the other hand Paul was challenged to submit himself to the
will of God (Acts 21:10-14; cf. 1 Cor.14:29). The ministry of Agabus
may have encouraged the ministry of other prophets in the church at
Antioch. Their ministry also had a practical application – it singled
out Paul and Barnabas for special ministry (Acts 13:1-4).
1. Compare Agabus with other prophets, such as Judas Barsabbas
and Silas Acts 15:22:22,23). Their ministry appears to be more
exhortatory than predictive, more a forthtelling than a foretelling. We
prophesy in proportion to our faith (Rom.12:6). Prophecy may include
words of wisdom or knowledge (see 1 Cor.14:24,25).
2. How does the ministry of Old Testament prophets compare
with that of church-based New Testament prophets?
3. Can you describe this ministry gift given by Christ to his
church (Eph.4:11; 1 Cor.12:28)?
Apply some thoughts
1. Scripture warns us against false prophets (Acts 13:6;
Mk.13:22; 2 Pet.2:1). We should test prophets by the way they live
(Mt.7:15-23), by what they teach (1 Jn.4:1), and by the fulfilment or
non-fulfilment of their predictions (Dt.28:18).
2. All prophecies should be judged (1 Cor.14:29). How can we
3. Are there self-acclaimed prophets promoting themselves
today? We must evaluate so-called 'prophets' who have no local church
base or accountability.