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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
1. Philip and Alexander
2. Roman Intervention
3. Roman Conquest
4. Macedonia a Roman Province
5. Later History
1. Paul's First Visit
2. Paul's Second Visit
3. Paul's Third Visit
4. Paul's Later Visits
1. Prominence of Women
2. Marked Characteristics
3. Its Members
A country lying to the North of Greece, afterward enlarged and formed into a Roman province; it is to the latter that the term always refers when used in the New Testament.
I. The Macedonian People and Land.
Ethnologists differ about the origin of the Macedonian race and the degree of its affinity to the Hellenes. But we find a well-marked tradition in ancient times that the race comprised a Hellenic element and a non-Hellenic, though Aryan, element, closely akin to the Phrygian and other Thracian stocks. The dominant race, the Macedonians in the narrower sense of the term, including the royal family, which was acknowledged to be Greek and traced its descent through the Temenids of Argos back to Heracles (Herodotus v. 22), settled in the fertile plains about the lower Haliacmon ( Karasu or Vistritza ) and Axius ( Vardar ), to the North and Northwest of the Thermaic Gulf. Their capital, which was originally at Edessa or Aegae ( Vodhena ), was afterward transferred to Pella by Philip II. The other and older element - the Lyncestians, Orestians, Pelagonians and other tribes - were pushed back northward and westward into the highlands, where they struggled for generations to maintain their independence and weakened the Macedonian state by constant risings and by making common cause with the wild hordes of Illyrians and Thracians, with whom we find the Macedonian kings in frequent conflict. In order to maintain their position they entered into a good understanding from time to time with the states of Greece or acknowledged temporarily Persian suzerainty, and thus gradually extended the sphere of their power.
II. History of Macedonia.
Herodotus (viii. 137-39) traces the royal line from Perdiccas I through Argaeus, Philip I, Aeropus, Alcetas and Amyntas I to Alexander I, who was king at the time of the Persian invasions of Greece. He and his son and grandson, Perdiccas 2 and Archelaus, did much to consolidate Macedonian power, but the death of Archelaus (399 BC) was followed by 40 years of disunion and weakness.
1. Philip and Alexander:
With the accession of Philip II, son of Amyntas II, in 359 BC, Macedonia came under the rule of a man powerful alike in body and in mind, an able general and an astute diplomatist, one, moreover, who started out with a clear perception of the end at which he must aim, the creation of a great national army and a nation-state, and worked consistently and untiringly throughout his reign of 23 years to gain that object. He welded the Macedonian tribes into a single nation, won by force and fraud the important positions of Amphipolis, Pydna, Potidaea, Olynthus, Abdera and Maronea, and secured a plentiful supply of gold by founding Philippi on the site of Crenides. Gradually extending his rule over barbarians and Greeks alike, he finally, after the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), secured his recognition by the Greeks themselves as captain-general of the Hellenic states and leader of a Greco-Macedonian crusade against Persia. On the eve of this projected eastern expedition, however, he was assassinated by order of his dishonored wife Olympias (336 BC), whose son, Alexander the Great, succeeded to the throne. After securing his hold on Thrace, Illyria and Greece, Alexander turned eastward and, in a series of brilliant campaigns, overthrew the Persian empire. The battle of the Granicus (334 BC) was followed by the submission or subjugation of most of Asia Minor. By the battle of Issus (333), in which Darius himself was defeated, Alexander's way was opened to Phoenicia and Egypt; Darius' second defeat, at Arbela (331), sealed the fate of the Persian power. Babylon, Susa, Persepolis and Ecbatana were taken in turn, and Alexander then pressed eastward through Hyrcania, Aria, Arachosia, Bactria and Sogdiana to India, which he conquered as far as the Hyphasis (
2. Roman Intervention:
Alexander died in June 323 BC, and his empire fell a prey to the rivalries of his chief generals (1 Maccabees 1:9 ); after a period of struggle and chaos, three powerful kingdoms were formed, taking their names from Macedonia, Syria and Egypt. Even in Syria, however, Macedonian influences remained strong, and we find Macedonian troops in the service of the Seleucid monarchs (2 Maccabees 8:20 ). In 215 King Philip V, son of Demetrius 2 and successor of Antigonus Doson (229-220 BC), formed an alliance with Hannibal, who had defeated the Roman forces at Lake Trasimene (217) and at Cannae (216), and set about trying to recover Illyria. After some years of desultory and indecisive warfare, peace was concluded in 205, Philip binding himself to abstain from attacking the Roman possessions on the East of the Adriatic. The Second Macedonian War, caused by a combined attack of Antiochus 3 of Syria and Philip of Macedon on Egypt, broke out in 200 and ended 3 years later in the crushing defeat of Philip's forces by T. Quinctius Flamininus at Cynoscephalae in Thessaly (compare 1 Maccabees 8:5 ). By the treaty which followed this battle, Philip surrendered his conquests in Greece, Illyria, Thrace, Asia Minor and the Aegean, gave up his fleet, reduced his army to 5,000 men, and undertook to declare no war and conclude no alliance without Roman consent.
3. Roman Conquest:
In 179 Philip was succeeded by his son Perseus, who at once renewed the Roman alliance, but set to work to consolidate and extend his power. In 172 war again broke out, and after several Roman reverses the consul Lucius Aemilius Paulus decisively defeated the Macedonians at Pydna in 168
4. Macedonia a Roman Province:
But this compromise between freedom and subjection could not be of long duration, and after the revolt of Andriscus, the pseudo-Philip, was quelled (148 BC), Macedonia was constituted a Roman province and enlarged by the addition of parts of Illyria, Epirus, the Ionian islands and Thessaly. Each year a governor was dispatched from Rome with supreme military and judicial powers; the partition fell into abeyance and communication within the province was improved by the construction of the Via Egnatia from Dyrrhachium to Thessalonica, whence it was afterward continued eastward to the Nestus and the Hellespont. In 146 the Acheans, who had declared war on Rome, were crushed by Q. Caecilius Metellus and L. Mummius, Corinth was sacked and destroyed, the Achean league was dissolved, and Greece, under the name of Achea, was made a province and placed under the control of the governor of Macedonia. In 27 BC, when the administration of the provinces was divided between Augustus and the Senate, Macedonia and Achea fell to the share of the latter (Strabo, p. 840; Dio Cassius liii. 12) and were governed separately by ex-praetors sent out annually with the title of proconsul. In 15 AD, however, senatorial mismanagement had brought the provinces to the verge of ruin, and they were transferred to Tiberius (Tacitus, Annals , i. 76), who united them under the government of a legatus Augusti pro praetore until, in 44 AD, Claudius restored them to the Senate (Suetonius, Claudius 25; Dio Cassius 60 .24). It is owing to this close historical and geographical connection that we find Macedonia and Achia frequently mentioned together in the New Testament, Macedonia being always placed first ( Acts 19:21; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:7 , 1 Thessalonians 1:8 ).
5. Later History:
Diocletian (284-305 AD) detached from Macedonia Thessaly and the Illyrian coast lands and formed them into two provinces, the latter under the name of Epirus Nova. Toward the end of the 4th century what remained of Macedonia was broken up into two provinces, Macedonia prima and Macedonia secunda or salutaris , and when in 395 the Roman world was divided into the western and eastern empires, Macedonia was included in the latter. During the next few years it was overrun and plundered by the Goths under Alaric, and later, in the latter half of the 6th century, immense numbers of Slavonians settled there. In the 10th century a large part of it was under Bulgarian rule, and afterward colonies of various Asiatic tribes were settled there by the Byzantine emperors. In 1204 it became a Latin kingdom under Boniface, marquis of Monferrat, but 20 years later Theodore, the Greek despot of Epirus, founded a Greek empire of Thessalonica. During the 2nd half of the 14th century the greater part of it was part of the Servian dominions, but in 1430 Thessalonica fell before the Ottoman Turks, and from that time down to the year 1913 Macedonia has formed part of the Turkish empire. Its history thus accounts for the very mixed character of its population, which consists chiefly of Turks, Albanians, Greeks and Bulgarians, but has in it a considerable element of Jews, Gypsies, Vlachs, Servians and other races.
III. Paul and Macedonia.
In the narrative of Paul's journeys as given us in Acts 13 through 28 and in the Pauline Epistles, Macedonia plays a prominent part. The apostle's relations with the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea will be found discussed under those several headings; here we will merely recount in outline his visits to the province.
1. Paul's First Visit:
On his 2nd missionary journey Paul came to Troas, and from there sailed with Silas, Timothy and Luke to Neapolis, the nearest Macedonian seaport, in obedience to the vision of a Macedonian (whom Ramsay identifies with Luke: see under the word "Philippi") urging him to cross to Macedonia and preach the gospel there (Acts 16:9 ). From Neapolis he journeyed inland to Philippi, which is described as "a city of Macedonia, the first of the district" (Acts 16:12 ). Thence Paul and his two companions (for Luke appears to have remained in Philippi for the next 5 years) traveled along the Ignatian road, passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, to Thessalonica, which, though a "free city," and therefore technically exempt from the jurisdiction of the Roman governor, was practically the provincial capital. Driven thence by the hostility of the Jews, the evangelists preached in Berea, where Silas and Timothy remained for a short time after a renewed outbreak of Jewish animosity had forced Paul to leave Macedonia for the neighboring province of Achaia (Acts 17:14 ). Although he sent a message to his companions to join him with all speed at Athens (Acts 17:15 ), yet so great was his anxiety for the welfare of the newly founded Macedonian churches that he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica almost immediately (1 Thessalonians 3:1 , 1 Thessalonians 3:2 ), and perhaps Silas to some other part of Macedonia, nor did they again join him until after he had settled for some time in Corinth (Acts 18:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:6 ). The rapid extension of the Christian faith in Macedonia at this time may be judged from the phrases used by Paul in his 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians, the earliest of his extant letters, written during this visit to Corinth. He there speaks of the Thessalonian converts as being an example "to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia" (1 Thessalonians 1:7 ), and he commends their love "toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia" (1 Thessalonians 4:10 ). Still more striking are the words, "From you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth" (1 Thessalonians 1:8 ).
2. Paul's Second Visit:
On his 3missionary journey, the apostle paid two further visits to Macedonia. During the course of a long stay at Ephesus he laid plans for a 2nd journey through Macedonia and Achaia, and dispatched two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia to prepare for his visit (Acts 19:21 , Acts 19:22 ). Some time later, after the uproar at Ephesus raised by Demetrius and his fellow-silversmiths (Acts 19:23-41), Paul himself set out for Macedonia (Acts 20:1 ). Of this visit Luke gives us a very summary account, telling us merely that Paul, "when he had gone through those parts, and had given them much exhortation,... came into Greece" (Acts 20:2 ); but from 2 Cor, written from Macedonia (probably from Philippi) during the course of this visit, we learn more of the apostle's movements and feelings. While at Ephesus, Paul had changed his plans. His intention at first had been to travel across the Aegean Sea to Corinth, to pay a visit from there to Macedonia and to return to Corinth, so as to sail direct to Syria (2 Corinthians 1:15 , 2 Corinthians 1:16 ). But by the time at which he wrote the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, probably near the end of his stay at Ephesus, he had made up his mind to go to Corinth by way of Macedonia, as we have seen that he actually did (1 Corinthians 16:5 , 1 Corinthians 16:6 ). From 2 Corinthians 2:13 we learn that he traveled from Ephesus to Troas, where he expected to find Titus. Titus, however, did not yet arrive, and Paul, who "had no relief for (his) spirit," left Troas and sailed to Macedonia. Even here the same restlessness pursued him: "fightings without, fears within" oppressed him, till the presence of Titus brought some relief ( 2 Corinthians 7:5 , 2 Corinthians 7:6 ). The apostle was also cheered by "the grace of God which had been given in the churches of Macedonia" (2 Corinthians 8:1 ); in the midst of severe persecution, they bore their trials with abounding joy, and their deep poverty did not prevent them begging to be allowed to raise a contribution to send to the Christians in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:2-4 ). Liberality was, indeed, from the very outset one of the characteristic virtues of the Macedonian churches. The Philippians had sent money to Paul on two occasions during his first visit to Thessalonica (Philippians 4:16 ), and again when he had left Macedonia and was staying at Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:9; Philippians 4:15 ). On the present occasion, however, the Corinthians seem to have taken the lead and to have prepared their bounty in the previous year, on account of which the apostle boasts of them to the Macedonian Christians (2 Corinthians 9:2 ). He suggests that on his approaching visit to Achaia he may be accompanied by some of these Macedonians (2 Corinthians 9:4 ), but whether this was actually the case we are not told.
3. Paul's Third Visit:
The 3visit of Paul to Macedonia took place some 3 months later and was occasioned by a plot against his life laid by the Jews of Corinth, which led him to alter his plan of sailing from Cenchrea, the eastern seaport of Corinth, to Syria (2 Corinthians 1:16; Acts 20:3 ). He returned to Macedonia accompanied as far as Asia by 3 Macedonian Christians
4. Paul's Later Visits:
Toward the close of his 1st imprisonment at Rome Paul planned a fresh visit to Macedonia as soon as he should be released (Philippians 1:26; Philippians 2:24 ), and even before that he intended to send Timothy to visit the Philippian church and doubtless those of Berea and Thessalonica also. Whether Timothy actually went on this mission we cannot say; that Paul himself went back to Macedonia once more we learn from 1 Timothy 1:3 , and we may infer a 5th visit from the reference to the apostle's stay at Troas, which in all probability belongs to a later occasion (2 Timothy 4:13 ).
IV. The Macedonian Church.
1. Prominence of Women:
Of the churches of Macedonia in general, little need be said here. A striking fact is the prominence in them of women, which is probably due to the higher social position held by women in this province than in Asia Minor (Lightfoot, Philippians4,55 ff). We find only two references to women in connection with Paul's previous missionary work; the women proselytes of high social standing take a share in driving him from Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:50 ), and Timothy's mother is mentioned as a Jewess who believed (Acts 16:1 ). But in Macedonia all is changed. To women the gospel was first preached at Philippi (Acts 16:13 ); a woman was the first convert and the hostess of the evangelists (Acts 16:14 , Acts 16:15 ); a slave girl was restored to soundness of mind by the apostle (Acts 16:18 ), and long afterward Paul mentions two women as having "labored with (him) in the gospel" and as endangering the peace of the church by their rivalry (Philippians 4:2 , Philippians 4:3 ). At Thessalonica a considerable number of women of the first rank appear among the earliest converts (Acts 17:4 ), while at Berea also the church included from the outset numerous Greek women of high position (Acts 17:12 ).
2. Marked Characteristics:
The bond uniting Paul and the Macedonian Christians seems to have been a peculiarly close and affectionate one. Their liberality and open-heartedness, their joyousness and patience in trial and persecution, their activity in spreading the Christian faith, their love of the brethren - these are a few of the characteristics which Paul specially commends in them (1,2 Thessalonians; Philippians; 2 Corinthians 8:1-8 ), while they also seem to have been much freer than the churches of Asia Minor from Judaizing tendencies and from the allurements of "philosophy and vain deceit."
3. Its Members:
We know the names of a few of the early members of the Macedonian churches
General: C. Nicolaides, Macedonien , Berlin, 1899; Berard, La Macedoine , Paris, 1897; "Odysseus," Turkey in Europe , London, 1900. Secular History: Hogarth, Philip and Alexander of Macedon , London, 1897, and the histories of the Hellenistic period by Holm, Niese, Droysen and Kaerst. Ethnography and Language: O. Hoffmann, Die Makedonen, ihre Sprache und ihr Volkstum , Gottingen, 1906. Topography and Antiquities: Heuzey and Daumet, Mission archeologique de Macedoine , Paris, 1876; Cousinery, Voyage dans la Macedoine , Paris, 1831; Clarke, Travels 4, VII, VIII, London, 1818; Leake, Travels in Northern Greece , III, London, 1835; Duchesne and Bayet, Memoire sur une mission en Macedoine et au Mont Athos , Paris, 1876; Hahn, Reise von Belgrad nach Saloniki , Vienna, 1861. Coins: Head, Historia Nummorum , 193 f; British Museum Catalogue of Coins: Macedonia, etc ., London, 1879. Inscriptions:
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Macedonia'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​isb/​m/macedonia.html. 1915.