10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
11 And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"
12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "The will of the Lord be done!" NAU
From Tyre Paul and his group sailed to Ptolemais. After greeting the brethren and staying for a day, they went on down the coast to Caesarea. They stayed in the home of Philip the evangelist. Philip was one of the seven men chosen to serve the church (Acts 6:5) in Jerusalem. Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (present participle). The travelers stayed there for several days.
A prophet from Judea named Agabus came down to them with a prophecy from the Holy Spirit. As the word "down" suggests, he was probably from somewhere near Jerusalem. In Acts 11:27-28 Luke says that Agabus came down from Jerusalem to Antioch with some other prophets and foretold a famine.
Agabus took Paul's belt and bound his own hands and feet. He offered a much more specific prophecy than has been mentioned before, saying: "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" NAU According to Bruce (p. 425), "the action was as much part of the prophecy as the spoken words; both together communicated the powerful and self-fulfilling word of God."
Unlike the disciples at Tyre, Agabus did not say that Paul should not go up to Jerusalem. When Agabus spoke, the companions of Paul as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. The desire of their hearts was that Paul would not suffer.
Paul's response to the prophecy was consistent with his position all along. He asked (verse 13), "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." This was similar to what he had said (Acts 20:23-24) to the Ephesian elders.
The Spirit had repeatedly warned that there would be trouble in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, Paul was intent on going. The disciples were intense in their urging him not to go. At this point the tension between the views of Paul and the disciples was resolved. Luke states (verse 14) "And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "The will of the Lord be done!" NAU The disciples, including Luke, recognized that it was God's will, no matter what the cost, for Paul to go to Jerusalem.
Paul went on to Jerusalem. When he was in the temple, the Jews stirred up (Acts 21:27-36) a multitude against him. The Jews dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors of the temple were shut. They beat Paul and sought to kill him. Whether or not the Jews bound Paul as Agabus had indicated, we do not know. It very well could have happened. We do know that the commander of the Roman cohort, along with soldiers and centurions, came and rescued Paul. The commander ordered Paul to be bound with two chains and began to question him about who he was and what he had done.
George M. Flattery
Bruce, F. F. The Book of Acts. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1975.
Fernando, Ajith. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
Gangel, Kenneth O. Acts: Holman New Testament Commentary. General Editor: Anders, Max. Nashville: Holman Reference, 1998.
Horton, Stanley M. The Book of Acts. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1981.
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