And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Note 2 at Ac 11:28: Agabus was a prophet who came to Antioch during the time that Saul and Barnabas were there teaching the disciples. He prophesied that there would be a worldwide famine; this came to pass in the days of Claudius I. History records a great famine in the fourth year of Claudius, about A.D. 45 (see note 3 at this verse). This would place Agabus' prophecy, recorded here, sometime shortly prior to then. This same Agabus met Paul in Caesarea many years later and prophesied that Paul would be bound and turned over to the Gentiles (Ac 21:10-12). This also came to pass (Ac 21:33).
Note 3 at Ac 11:28: Four Roman emperors were referred to as Caesar in the New Testament. Caesar was a family name of the Julian clan in Rome and can be traced back to 501 B.C. The name did not gain prominence until Julius Caesar became one of the greatest generals of all time and dictator of Rome. Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C., and his will requested that his grandnephew Octavius, or Augustus, use his name of Caesar.
At first Caesar Augustus shared the throne of Rome with Mark Antony and Lepidus. Augustus eventually became sole ruler of Rome and was given the title of emperor. Caesar Augustus issued a decree for all the world to be taxed, and that decree caused Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem where Jesus was born (Lu 2:1-7). Augustus allowed daily sacrifices in the temple at his expense. Caesarea by the Sea was built in his honor by Herod (see note 3 at Lu 3:1). He died at seventy-seven years of age in A.D. 14.
The second Caesar mentioned in Scripture is Tiberius. He was the adopted son of Augustus and was referred to in Mt 22:17; Mr 12:14; Lu 3:1, 20:22; and Joh 19:12. The city of Tiberias, on the sea of Galilee, was built by Herod Antipas (see note 3 at Lu 3:1) for him. Tiberius died in A.D. 37 at seventy-nine years of age.
The third Caesar in Scripture, mentioned in this reference, was Claudius. He succeeded Caligula in A.D. 41 to become Rome's fourth Caesar and died in A.D. 54 at sixty-four years of age, after his wife, Agrippina, supposedly had him poisoned.
The fourth Caesar mentioned in Scripture is Nero. Nero is referred to in Ac 17:7, 25:8, 10-12, 21, 26:32, 27:24, 28:19; and Php 4:22. He was the adopted son of Claudius. He was known for his cruelty, including poisoning his stepbrother, Britannicus, to obtain the throne and blaming the Christians for the burning of Rome, which led to their mass slaughter. He was deserted by his troops and committed suicide in A.D. 68 at thirty years of age.
Seven other Roman emperors, who are not mentioned in Scripture and had no relation to the original Julius Caesar, were called by the name Caesar, so that it came to symbolize the Roman civil power in general.
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