Acts 11:27
And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch.
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(27) Came prophets from Jerusalem.—The mission thus described was obviously a further sanction given by the Church at Jerusalem to the work that Saul and Barnabas were carrying on at Antioch. If we adopt the view suggested in the Note on Luke 10:1, that the Seventy were the representatives of the prophetic order, and were symbolically significant of the conversion of the Gentiles, it will seem probable that those who now came to Antioch belonged to that body, and rejoiced in what they found there as fulfilling the idea of their own commission.

Acts 11:27-28. In these days — While Barnabas and Saul were at Antioch; came prophets thither from Jerusalem — Persons who were divinely inspired to foretel future events. And there stood up — In the congregation; one of them named Agabus, and signified — By the immediate direction of the Spirit; that there should be a great dearth — Or famine; throughout all the world — The expression generally signifies all the Roman empire; but here many learned men suppose it only denotes the land of Judea, which is its meaning in several other places; Which came to pass in the days of Claudius Cesar — The Roman emperor then reigning. It began, it seems, in the fourth, but raged chiefly in the fifth and sixth years of his reign. It is mentioned by Josephus, (Antiq., Acts 20:2,) who speaks of it as “a very great famine, in which many died for want of food.” “Then Helena, queen of Adiabene, who had embraced the Jewish religion sent some of her servants to Alexandria, to buy a great quantity of corn; and others of them to Cyprus, to buy a cargo of dried fish, which she distributed to those who were in want.” And in cap. 5, Josephus further observes, that this famine took place when Tiberius Alexander succeeded Cuspius Fadus as procurator.11:25-30 Hitherto the followers of Christ were called disciples, that is, learners, scholars; but from that time they were called Christians. The proper meaning of this name is, a follower of Christ; it denotes one who, from serious thought, embraces the religion of Christ, believes his promises, and makes it his chief care to shape his life by Christ's precepts and example. Hence it is plain that multitudes take the name of Christian to whom it does not rightly belong. But the name without the reality will only add to our guilt. While the bare profession will bestow neither profit nor delight, the possession of it will give both the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Grant, Lord, that Christians may forget other names and distinctions, and love one another as the followers of Christ ought to do. True Christians will feel for their brethren under afflictions. Thus will fruit be brought forth to the praise and glory of God. If all mankind were true Christians, how cheerfully would they help one another! The whole earth would be like one large family, every member of which would strive to be dutiful and kind.And in these days - While Barnabas and Saul were at Antioch.

Came prophets - The word "prophet" denotes properly "one who foretells future events." See the notes on Matthew 7:15. It is sometimes used in the New Testament to denote simply "religious teachers, instructors sent from God, without particular reference to future events." To teach the people in the doctrines of religion was a part of the prophetic office, and this idea was only sometimes denoted by the use of the word. See Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 13:2, 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 14:3, 1 Corinthians 14:5,1 Corinthians 14:24. These prophets seem to have been endowed in a remarkable manner with the knowledge of future events; with the power of explaining mysteries; and in some cases with the power of speaking foreign languages. In this case, it seems that one of them at least had the power of foretelling future events.

Ac 11:27-30. By Occasion of a Famine Barnabas and Saul Return to Jerusalem with a Contribution for the Relief of Their Suffering Brethren.

27. came prophets from Jerusalem—inspired teachers, a class we shall afterwards frequently meet with, who sometimes, but not necessarily, foretold future events. They are classed next to apostles (1Co 12:28, 29; Eph 4:11).

These here meant were enabled to foretell things to come; a gift which God did furnish some of his church with on such an extraordinary occasion, Ephesians 4:11, whereby they did beforehand signify future things for the good for the church, as here. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch., That is, some time in that year that Saul and Barnabas were at Antioch, there came from Jerusalem thither some Christian prophets; for such there were in the Christian church, who had not only a gift of expounding the more mysterious prophecies of the Old Testament, but also of foretelling things to come; see Acts 13:1. {7} And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

(7) God punishes his Church when he punishes the wicked, in his scourges and plagues which he sends upon the earth, in such a way that he nonetheless conveniently provides for it.

Acts 11:27-28. Κατῆλθον] whether of their own impulse, or as sent by the church in Jerusalem, or as refugees from Jerusalem (Ewald), is not evident.

προφῆται] inspired teachers, who delivered their discourses, not, indeed, in the ecstatic state, yet in exalted language, on the basis of an ἀποκάλυψις received. Their working was entirely analogous to that of the O. T. prophets. Revelation, incitement, and inspiration on the part of God gave them their qualification; the unveiling of what was hidden in respect of the divine counsel for the exercise of a psychological and moral influence on given circumstances, but always in reference to Christ and His work, was the tenor of what these interpreters of God spoke. The prediction of what was future was, as with the old, so also with the new prophets, no permanent characteristic feature; but naturally and necessarily the divinely-illuminated glance ranged very often into the future development of the divine counsel and kingdom, and saw what was to come. In respect to the degree of the inspired seizure, the προφῆται are related to the γλώσσις λαλοῦντες (see on Acts 10:46) in such a way that the intellectual consciousness was not thrown into the background with the former as with the latter, and so the mental excitement was not raised to the extent of its becoming ecstatic, nor did their speaking stand in need of interpretation. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

ἀναστάς] he came forward in the church-assembly.

Ἄγαβος] Whether the name (comp. Ezra 2:46) is to be derived from חָגָב, a locust (with Drasius), or from עגב, to love (with Grotius, Witsius, Drusius, Wolf), remains undecided. The same prophet as in Acts 21:10.

διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος] This characterizes the announcement (ἐσήμανε) of the famine as something imparted to the prophet by the Holy Spirit; hence Eichhorn’s opinion (comp. Heinrichs), that the famine was already present in its beginnings, does great violence to the representation of the text, which, moreover, by ὅστιςΚλαυδίου states the fulfillment as having occurred afterwards, and consequently makes the event to appear at that time still as future, which also μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι definitely affirms.

λιμὸνοἰκουμένην] that a great famine was appointed (by God) to set in over the whole inhabited earth. Thus generally is τὴν οἰκουμ. to be understood in the original sense of the prophet, who sees no local limits drawn for the famine beheld in prophetic vision, and therefore represents it not as a partial, but as an unrestricted one. Just because the utterance is a prediction, according to its genuine prophetic character, there is no ground for giving to the general and usual meaning of τὴν οἰκουμ.—which is, moreover, designedly brought into relief by ὅλην—any geographical limitation at all (to the land of Judaea or the Roman empire; see on Luke 2:1). This very unlimited character of the vision, on the one hand, warranted the hyperbolical form of the expression, as given by Agabus, while yet, on the other hand, the famine extending itself far and wide, but yet limited, which afterwards historically occurred, might be regarded as the event corresponding to the entirely general prophetic vision, and be described by Luke as its fulfilment. History pointed out the limits, within which what was seen and predicted without limitation found its fulfilment, inasmuch, namely, as this famine, which set in in the fourth year of the reign of Claudius (A.D. 44), extended only to Judaea and the neighbouring countries, and particularly fell on Jerusalem itself, which was supported by the Syrian queen Helena of Adiabene with corn and figs. See Joseph. Antt. xx. 2. 6, xx. 5. 2; Eus. H. E. ii. 11. The view which includes as part of the fulfilment a yet later famine (Baumgarten), which occurred in the eleventh year of Claudius, especially at Rome (Suet. Claud. 18; Tacit. Ann. xii. 43), offends against the words (λιμὸνἣτις) as well as against the connection of the history (Acts 11:29-30). It is altogether inadmissible to bring in here the different famines, which successively occurred under Claudius in different parts of the empire (Ewald), since, by the famine here meant, according to Acts 11:29-30, Judaea was affected, and the others were not synchronous with this. Lastly, very arbitrary is the assertion of Baumgarten, that the famine was predicted as a sign and herald of the Parousia, and that the fulfilment under Claudius was therefore merely a preliminary one, which pointed to a future and final fulfilment.

On λιμός as feminine (Doric), as in Luke 15:14, see on Luke 4:26, and Bornemann on our passage.Acts 11:27. Antioch sends relief to Jerusalem.—ἐν ταύταις δὲ ταῖς ἡ., cf. Acts 1:15, Acts 6:1. ταύταις emphatic, by its position and also by its significance, days full of importance for Barnabas and Saul, who were still at Antioch (Weiss).—προφῆται: the coming of the prophets gave an additional sanction to the work at Antioch. There is no reason in the uncertainty of the dates to suppose that they had been driven from Jerusalem by persecution. For the position of the Christian prophets in the N.T. cf. Acts 13:1, where Barnabas and Saul are spoken of as prophets and teachers; afterwards as Apostles, Acts 14:4; Acts 15:32, where Judas and Silas are described as prophets, having been previously spoken of, Acts 11:22, as ἡγούμενοι amongst the brethren at Jerusalem (while Silas later bears the name of Apostle); cf., further, 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 14:29-33; 1 Corinthians 14:39, Ephesians 4:11, where in each case the Prophet is placed next to Apostles (although in 1 Cor. he may have been merely a member of a local community), perhaps because “he belonged to the same family as the great prophets of the Old Testament,” for whilst foreknowledge of events was not necessarily implied by the word either in the O.T. or in the N.T., the case of Agabus, both here and in Acts 21:10-11, shows that predictiveness was by no means excluded. The Christian prophets, moreover, as we see them in Acts, combine the duty of “ministering to the Lord” with that of preaching the word; they are not only foretellers, but forth-tellers of God’s will, as in the case of a Samuel or an Elijah, Gore, Church and the Ministry, pp. 240, 261, 393, etc.; Moberly, Ministerial Priesthood, p. 160 ff.; and for Sub-Apostolic Age, p. 179 ff.; Bigg, Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles, p. 28 (1898); Harnack, “Apostellehre” in Real-Encyclopädie für Protestant. Theol. (Hauck), p. 716, and see, further, on Acts 13:1.27–30. Agabus at Antioch foretells a famine, and in consequence the Church at Antioch sends relief to Jerusalem

27. And in these days] i.e. while the Church at Antioch was being increased with a great multitude of Gentile converts, during the year’s residence there of Barnabas and Saul.

came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch] That there should be prophets in the Church was but the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel which Peter had quoted in his Pentecostal sermon (Acts 2:17). We cannot gather from the N. T. records any clear description of what office is to be understood by the word “prophet.” The men to whom it is applied are sometimes occupied in preaching and explaining the Word of God, and sometimes have the power of foretelling future events, as Agabus did here. See Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; Acts 19:6; Acts 21:9-10; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 14:6; 1 Corinthians 14:29-37.Verse 27. - Now for and, A.V.; there came down for came, A.V. (see Acts 18:22). Prophets; a recognized order in the Church at that time (Acts 2:17, 18`13:1; 20:23; 21:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 12:28, 29; Ephesians 4:11). The news of the accession of the Gentiles to the Church of Antioch would naturally lead to such prophets being either sent by the Church of Jerusalem or coming of their own accord. Prophets

See on Luke 7:26.

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