Today's podcast (11 minutes) highlights two of the minor (though important) characters in the book of Acts, Agabus and Rhoda.
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Agabus (Acts 11:27-29)
- A Jerusalem prophet, like Judas and Silas (Acts 15)
- Hagabos means "locust"—which is interesting, given the connection of locusts with famines.
- The famine prediction was made 43/44 AD.
- The "whole world" is the Roman world, as in Luke 2:1.
- Claudius was emperor 41-54 AD.
- Suetonius and Tacitus, Roman historians, refer to this famine.
- The apostle Paul organized the famine relief collection (2 Cor 8-9) to enable Gentile Christians to share material with the Jewish-background Christians in Judea, where the famine would be especially severe.
- In the NT, merciful charity is esp. to be given to the family of believers (Gal 6; Matt 25).
- The Christians took Agabus seriously.
- The prophecies and the resulting collection led to unity among Christian of different backgrounds.
- And, like nearly all the prophecies of the OT, this one pointed to the near future (not the distance future).
- Agabus’s prophecy is highly practical.
- Agabus makes another prediction.
- He does not tell Paul it’s God’s will for him not to go to Jerusalem.
- Luke and others beg Paul not to go (v.12), breaking the apostle's heart (v.13.), although eventually they conclude this must be God’s will (v.14). See indicated in 1 Cor 14:29; 1 Thess 5:20-21. Note: this Jerusalem visit isn't the same as the famine relief visit. It takes place many years later.
Rhoda (Acts 12:12-16)
- Rhoda = rose. Roses from the island of Rhodes.
- She was a slave girl. Many slaves became Christians in the time of early church.
- Rhoda correctly identifies Peter by voice. (We assume there was no peephole in the door.)
- Yet she fails to open the door!
- She is overjoyed—not neutral or nonchalant. She really cared.
- Rhoda relays the message.
- Yet she is not believed—why?
- Was it because of her low status?
- Or her being a woman?
- Or from a failure of the others to back their prayers with genuine faith?
- Rhoda keeps insisting—she does not back down. She knew the truth, and it was important.
- And she is vindicated—eventually.
- Both Rhoda and Agabus had correctly glimpsed the truth—and made sure that people heard it.
- One was listened to (and respected), the other doubted.
- Do we listen? Do we pick up on the things the Lord may be trying to show us?
- And when we understand, do we make sure others receive the message, or do we easily back down?
- Rhoda was instrumental in Peter being rejoined to the assembly. Agabus was instrumental in tightening the bond between Jewish and Gentile Christians.
- May we all have the insight of Agabus, and the faithful persistence of Rhoda!
Further: Listen to a podcast on another servant girl who recognized Peter—as a follower of Christ. Compare these two situations, both of which turn on issues of recognition / non-recognition.