Herod Agrippa and Revelation 13

28 Apr

Before leaving Acts 12, I feel compelled to share what I believe concerning Herod Agrippa and his place in Biblical history. Most folks today who believe in Christ follow after the prophetic view that many things in the Bible have yet to be fulfilled, and this is especially so for the book of Revelation. So many Christians today try to understand who the “beast” of Revelation 13 is or what his mark might be etc. While this chapter does, indeed, have something to say to us today, it says it in the backdrop of church history within the 1st century CE.

Did you know that Jerusalem was conquered by a foreign power only 7 times in its history? These are the 7 heads of the beast of Revelation 13. These kings are:

1. Shishak – King of Egypt – who was the first to take Jerusalem after the death of Solomon. He plundered the Temple, leaving nothing precious behind. He did this without having to fight to gain access to Jerusalem (1Kings 14:25-27); compare Josephus: “Antiquities of the Jews,” Book VIII, chapter 10, paragraph 3

2. Neubchadnezzar – King of Babylon – who plundered and destroyed both the city and the Temple (2Chronicles 36:5-20), leveling everything to the ground in the month of Ab on the 10th day (Josephus: “Antiquities of the Jews;” Book X, chapter 8, paragraph 5).

3. Ptolemy I (Soter-“savior”– the Great) – took Jerusalem by deceit, pretending to desire to make a sacrifice to God. Thus, he entered in peace and plundered the Temple (the King of the South of Daniel 11:5); see Josephus: “Antiquities of the Jews;” Book XII, chapter 1, paragraph 1

4. Antiochus IV (Epiphanes – “god manifest”; the King of the North in Daniel 11:21-35); took Jerusalem without a fight by pretending peace, then pillaged and desecrated the Temple; Josephus: “Antiquities of the Jews;” Book XII, chapter 5, paragraph 4

5. Pompey the Great (representing and later the leader of the Republic of Rome) fought very little and gained access to the Temple trough treachery, plundered it and took much from the treasury. He noted the devotion of the Jews to God and set up a priesthood friendly to Rome, thus taking away its (i.e. the priesthood’s) former dignity and gave it away for a price. – Josephus; “Antiquities of the Jews;” Book XIV, chapter 4, paragraphs 1 through 5.

6. Herod the Great besieged Jerusalem and took it but did not allow the Temple to be plundered. Josephus; “Antiquities of the Jews;” Book XV, chapter 1, paragraphs 1 & 2; “Wars of the Jews;” Book I, chapter 18, paragraphs 1 through 3.

7. Titus (general and son of the Emperor of Rome) took Jerusalem and though he tried to stop it, could not keep the soldiers from destroying the Temple on the 10th day of the month of Ab, 70 CE, two days after taking the lower city.— Josephus: “Wars of the Jews;” Book VI, chapter 4, paragraphs 1 through 8; & chapter x, paragraph 1.

These are the mysterious 7 heads of the ‘beast’ of Revelation 13. It also should be noted that one of the heads of the “beast” had 10 horns. This head symbolized the Empire of Rome. Since the time of Christ 10 Roman procurators ruled Jerusalem they are:

  1. Pontius Pilate – 26-36 CE (Luke 3:1; 23:1)
  2. Marcellus – 36-38 CE
  3. Marullus – 38-41 CE
  4. Cuspius Fadus – 44-46 CE
  5. Tiberius Alexander – 46-48 CE
  6. Ventidius Cumanus – 48-52 CE
  7. M. Antonius Felix – 52-59 CE (Acts 23 & 24)
  8. Porcius Festus – 59-61 CE (Acts 25)
  9. Albinus – 61-65 CE
  10. Gessius Florus – 65-70 CE

There is a 3 ½ year space of time between the procurators, Marullus and Fadus (numbers 3 & 4 above). This is where Herod Agrippa the Great of Acts 12 belongs. He ruled Jerusalem from the winter of 41 CE to late summer of 44 CE.

Revelation 13 has similarities with Daniel 7. In Daniel 7 we find a beast with 10 horns and a “little horn” coming up between the first three and the remaining seven. This “little horn” was King Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great. He was made king over all the lands of his grandfather by Claudius Caesar, Emperor of Rome. Agrippa ruled most of Palestine as king for 7-years, but reigned over Jerusalem for only 3½ years (41-44 CE) – and God killed him. He met his end by the same terrible disease that inflicted his grandfather (Acts 12:21-23; compare Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews,” Book IXX, chapter 8, paragraph 2).

Notice in the book of Daniel that God sat in judgment over the enemies of his people (Daniel 7:9). Fire (streams of fire, lightening etc.) is associated with the presence of God. In Exodus 3:1-6 he appeared to Moses out of the burning bush. In Exodus 19 God gave the people his ‘fiery law’ (Deuteronomy 33:2) and the people trembled (Exodus 19:16-18). The figure of fire is an element used to describe his judgment upon the enemies of his people (Psalms 50:3; 97:2-3).

In Acts 12:21-23 Herod Agrippa I (also called Agrippa the Great) met a premature death at the hand of God, specifically by an angel he sent. Daniel 7:9-11 describes God sitting in judgment over the deeds of the little horn. The little horn is also described as a “beast” in verse-11, just as this word is used to also describe the other horns (cp. Daniel 7:12). The ten horns or “beasts” (Daniel 7:12) had their dominion taken away, but not until they served out their (divinely) allotted season. They were removed from office but lived their lives until their appointed end, i.e. a natural death, or a death at the hand of man, but not at the hand and directive of God as was the case of the little horn or Agrippa I (cp. Acts 12:21-23). In the case of Festus, the Roman procurator of Judea who died in office, he lived out his natural life, and his death coincided with his divinely appointed time as ruler of God’s people. He was not killed by the command of God, as was the case of Herod.

When we look at the book of Revelation in the New Testament we find many similarities with the book of Daniel. Specifically, in Revelation 13 we are shown a beast with 7 heads and upon one head is 10 horns. Instead of a little horn, however, this beast is given a mouth. The mouth and the little horn are the same. The time of his authority is 42 months (Revelation 13:5; cp. Daniel 7:25-26) or 3 ½ years. Such was the reign of Herod Agrippa over Judea and Jerusalem. He received this authority because of a speech he made before the Roman senate where he defended Claudius. It was because of this speech that Claudius was appointed emperor. In gratitude, Claudius gave the province of Judea to Herod Agrippa as part of his realm of authority. This made his kingdom as large as that of his grandfather, Herod the Great, which was also roughly the size of the kingdom of Israel under the reigns of David and Solomon.

Both Daniel and Revelation claim that the ten horns are ten kings (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 17:12). Indeed the governors of Judea and Jerusalem, with the exception of Herod Agrippa, were called proconsuls. However, they had all the power of Herod and perhaps more. The proconsul possessed the authority of imperium. What this means is: they were autonomous in their authority and could govern as they saw fit. They were under no obligation to consult higher authorities, including the emperor, before making decisions within their provincial command. The only condition was that the emperor received his taxes from the province and that the procurator was able enough to put down any insurrection that may develop. In all things he exercised the authority of a king.

You may believe Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 were fulfilled in the 1st century or not. That is entirely your call, but the fact remains the specific details of the prophecies were met in the 1st century CE by the men mentioned above. There is absolutely no authority given in the Bible whereby these things MUST be fulfilled a second time. They may be fulfilled again, of course, but that would be God’s call not ours. The point is we need to humble ourselves before the word of God and stop clinging to the doctrines of men who claim their version of prophecy is the Gospel. It is not. May God quicken his word to the hearts of his people, and may all of us give all our devotion to God alone. This is our reasonable service.


Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Herod Agrippa


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4 responses to “Herod Agrippa and Revelation 13

  1. Greg

    May 12, 2016 at 13:17

    You have the story essentially correct in that most of Revelations is an ancient event. One other possibility might be, “They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is ruling, and the other has still not come. When he does come, he must remain for only a little while.” (Rev 17:10 NIRV). The five kings who have fallen could be: 1. Herod the Great (37 BC – 4 BC), 2. Herod Archelaus (4 BC – 6 AD), 3. Philip the Tetrarch (4 BC – 34 AD), 4. Herod Antipas (4 BC – 39 AD), and 5. Herod Agrippa I (41 AD – 44 AD). If this passage was written between the years 44 AD and 48 AD, then the king who “is ruling” would have been: 6. Herod of Chalcis (also known as Herod V), and the one yet to come would then have been: 7. Herod Agrippa II (48 AD – 93 AD), the last ruler in the Herodian dynasty.

    • Eddie

      May 12, 2016 at 20:07

      Greetings Greg and thanks for reading and for your comment. I always enjoy reading the studies of others, whether or not I agree.

      Concerning the 7 kings, since we are speaking of history, such things are a matter of interpretation as far as the Bible is concerned. However, I don’t see how your interpretation of the Herod family fits Revelation 13. For example, which one of the heads had the deadly wound? Why would the Herod family (most of whom are really unimportant rulers in history) be so important to the Jews? Only three ruled Jerusalem and one was removed by Rome? Where do the 10 “kings” fit in, and how do they give their power (or authority) over to the beast (the Herod family in your understanding)?

      Perhaps I missed your point, and if so, I apologize. Nevertheless, neither is my interpretation good enough to place in stone. However, I am able to show why the seven kings I mentioned are important to Jewish history, and where the ten “kings” fit into the picture. This would be important for the overall interpretation no matter who the beast is or the 10 “kings”.

      Lord bless you Greg as you study God’s word, and thanks for sharing your opinion.

  2. theyenguy

    January 11, 2012 at 08:17

    Bible prophecy provide by the Apostle John in roughly 90 AD foretells that out of sovereign armageddon, that is a credit bust and global financial collapse, Revelation 13:3-4, regional global governance will be established; this having been called for by the 300 elite of Club of Rome in 1974, and foretold long ago as the prophet explained the statue of the progressions of governments to king Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 2:31-33.

    Destiny, not any human action, will bring forth a revived Roman Empire, that is a German led Europe. Fate will open the curtains, and out onto the world’s stage will step the most credible of leaders. This Little Authority, as presented in Daniel 7:25, will work behind the scenes in regional framework agreements to change our times.

    EU’s New Charlemagne will be instrumental in transitioning to the supranational New Europe, where national sovereignty is seen as a relic of a bygone era. The rule of law will be replaced by his word, will and way, as he mandates sweeping economic and political changes. The people will be amazed by this, and place their faith and trust in him; they will give their allegiance to his diktat, Revelation 13:3-4.

    The Sovereign, Revelation 13:5-10, will be accompanied by a European banker, the Seignior, Revelation 13:11-18, who will appoint stakeholders from government, industry and finance to oversee public private partnerships, PPPs, to provide credit, manage infrastructure, and resources, critical to the security and stability of the Euro zone.

    • Ed Bromfield

      January 11, 2012 at 10:29

      Yen guy, hey! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      You are showing that Revelation wasn’t written until cir. 90 CE. Your opinion is shared by a number of scholars, but is probably a more recent opinion. Clement of Alexandria (cir. beginning of 3rd century CE) claimed the entire NT was written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. If this is so, then Revelation would be seen as prophecy showing the Jewish War with Rome and the spread of the Gospel at that time.

      Your opinion is pure conjecture and not related to anything that exists at this time, not so for the Rome/Jewish War opinion. The Bible speaks nothing of Europe in prophecy, but almost completely about the Jews. I am more inclined to trust in what I believe over the idea that all of Revelation points to some future strong man from Europe.

      Have a great day,



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