Herod Agrippa and Revelation 13

02 Dec


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 AD.

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 AD, 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 AD (Luke 3:1; 23:1)
2. Marcellus – 36-38 AD
3. Marullus – 38-41 AD

4. Cuspius Fadus – 44-46 AD
5. Tiberius Alexander – 46-48 AD
6. Ventidius Cumanus – 48-52 AD
7. M. Antonius Felix – 52-59 AD (Acts 23 & 24)
8. Porcius Festus – 59-61 AD (Acts 25)
9. Albinus – 61-65 AD
10. Gessius Florus – 65-70 AD

Notice I left a space between procurators 3 and 4 above. There is also a 3 ½ year space of time between these procurators. This is where Herod Agrippa the Great of Acts 12 belongs. King Herod Agrippa was 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 AD) – 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 Revelation 13 in the New Testament we find some similarities with Daniel’s Beasts in chapter 7. The animals which depict each kingdom in Daniel seem to be incorporated into one unique beast in Revelation 13. Here we are shown a beast with 7 heads and upon one head are 10 horns. Daniel had four kingdoms with the fourth kingdom having 10 horns. Daniel shows a little horn rising among the 10 horns, but Revelation 18 expresses this in the continuing influence of the Edomite nation over the Jews.[1] Herod the Great was an Edomite, and that influence was continued under his grandson, Agrippa the Great, from winter of 41 AD to late summer of 44 AD. The time of his authority is 42 months (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 AD 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.

[1] Previously, I had the little horn equal the “mouth” of Revelation 13, but this was an error. This is my revised explanation. See The Seven Headed Beast of Revelation 13.


Posted by on December 2, 2009 in Prophecy, Religion


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5 responses to “Herod Agrippa and Revelation 13

  1. Pastor Glenn

    December 24, 2015 at 14:48

    I’m glad you can use my family tree of Herod the Great , but please give credit where credit is due. I first published it on my blog in May of 2012. It should read from not from Google Images

    Thanks, God bless
    Pastor Glenn Gilpin

    • Eddie

      December 25, 2015 at 07:37

      Good morning, Pastor Glenn, and Merry Christmas. I didn’t mean to give the impression that I either am responsible for the image or that I didn’t want to give proper credit to its original owner. I simply found it in Google Images and placed it in my blog.

      May you and your family be blessed in this wonderful season that reminds us so much of the greatest Gift any of us could ever have.

      • Pastor Glenn

        December 26, 2015 at 12:41

        Thanks Eddie and blessings to you too. I don’t want to sound harsh either. That has been a very popular picture on Google, and I just don’t want anyone selling it who shouldn’t. So I’ve tried to be cautious with it. You are free to use it; just give credit.
        God Bless,

  2. steve

    November 25, 2013 at 01:21

    Was revelation written somewhere between 60 ad and 90 ad? If so, how could John say that he saw 10 horns, 10 kings, who have not yet received a kingdom? Some of those 10 you list had already ruled by the time John wrote that.

    • Eddie

      November 25, 2013 at 08:41

      Hi Steve, and thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. I always appreciate discussing these things with others, whether or not one agrees with me.

      The Greek word translated yet (oupo – Greek 3768) does not always indicate time but also degree. For example, Matthew 24:6 clearly points to time in that the end is not yet come (see also John 3:24). Nevertheless, Hebrews 2:8 clearly points to degree. The text there says all things have already been put under Christ. Jesus even says so of himself in Matthew 28:18. However, we cannot yet see it. That is, our perception is not that clear or spiritually powerful, we have to take it by faith that Jesus is in control of worldly events. He may not be their author, but he controls their outcome.

      John 11:30 shows Jesus as not having come to Bethany but was near there. The text says he was not yet come into the town. That would be true even if he did not later go to Bethany. The word has to do with degree—how far or close to Bethany he had come. Matthew 15:17 & 16:9 have to do with degree of understanding. The time of the disciples’ understanding wasn’t important, but to what degree they understood was.

      Similarly, I take the text in Revelation 17:12 as referring to degree—“they have yet no kingdom…” that is, they don’t have a kingdom of their own (their authority does not attain to that degree), but “they receive power **as** (or like) kings one hour with the beast.” The ten horns of the beast I take to refer to the 10 Roman procurators in the New Testament period–Pilate to Florus or from Jesus to the destruction of Jerusalem. They were not kings, but they ruled the Jews as though they were kings. They had no kingdom, but they ruled with the beast (Rome) for one hour (or for a short time) with him.


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