Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj is no Agabus


Abdul's comment is just one of the many this blog received a few hours after ABS-CBN's late night news program Bandila aired that shameful hoax. Though I have already posted about my general feeling about these comments, I decided to write a separate post on this one.

Abdul asserts that if I were present in the early church, I would brand Agabus as a false teacher just as I have done to Selvaraj. He claims that Agabus uttered two prophecies that did not came to pass:
i. that there would be a famine in the Roman world (Acts 11:28)
ii. that Paul would be bound and turned over to the Gentiles (Acts 21:10-11)

But is Abdul correct?

I. The Predicted Famine
"One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius." (Acts 11:28 NASB)

There are records written by ancient historians of a series of bad harvests during the reign of Claudius that resulted in famine conditions:
  • Suetonius (Vita Claudius)
  • Tacitus (Annales)
  • Dio Cassius (History of Rome)
  • Orosius (History)

In addition to the historians mentioned above, there is a reference to a famine in Josephus' account of Queen Helena's conversion to Judaism. Josephus records that Helena's pilgrimage to Jerusalem at around 46 A.D. was advantageous to the people because:
"at that time the city was hard pressed by famine and many were perishing from want of money to purchase what they needed. Queen Helena sent some of her attendants to Alexandria to buy grain for large sums and others to Cyprus to bring back a cargo of dried figs. Her attendants speedily returned with these provisions, which she thereupon distributed among the needy. She has thus left a very great name that will be famous forever among our whole people for her benefaction." (Antiq. XX, 51-52 [ii.5]).
II. The Predicted Arrest of Paul
"As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 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.'" (Acts 21:10-11 NASB)

This one makes me scratch my head. How could Abdul miss this? Unlike the first prophecy, one does not need to consult extra-bibical sources on this one. The fulfillment of the prophecy is indicated clearly in the text itself! (see verses 27-33)

Conclusion:
Agabus and Sevaraj belong to two different categories. The former is a genuine prophet affirmed by Luke's account and secular historians while the former is a false prophet by the standards of Deuteronomy 18:20-22 for serious blemishes in his recent track record (click HERE)

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Works consulted:
1. John Macarthur, The Macarthur Study Bible
2. Richard Longenecker, Acts in the Expositor's Bible Commentary (1st edition)

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