A Christian prophet who, together with other prophets, came down from Jerusalem to Antioch of Syria during the year of Paul’s stay there. Agabus foretold through the spirit “that a great famine was about to come upon the entire inhabited earth [Gr., oi·kou·meʹnen].” (Acts 11:27, 28) Concerning the use of the word oi·kou·meʹne in this text, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (p. 451) states: “The word here used . . . 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.”—Compare Luke 2:1.
It appears that the brothers in Antioch understood this prophecy as applying to the land of Palestine, since the next verse (Acts 11:29) states that they determined “to send a relief ministration to the brothers dwelling in Judea.” As the account states the prophecy was fulfilled during the reign of Emperor Claudius I (41-54 C.E.). The Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XX, chap. II, par. 5; chap. V, par. 2) refers to this “great famine” and indicates that it lasted for three or more years.
Toward the close of Paul’s last missionary tour (about 56 C.E.), he was met in Caesarea by Agabus, who illustrated a prophecy of Paul’s future arrest in Jerusalem by binding his own hands and feet with Paul’s girdle.—Acts 21:8-11.