BiblicalTraining's mission is to lead disciples toward spiritual growth through deep biblical understanding and practice. We offer a comprehensive education covering all the basic fields of biblical and theological content at different academic levels.
Read More


MACEDONIA (măs'ē-dō'nĭ-a, Gr. Makedōnia). The term is of varied import. Lying geographically between the Balkan highlands and the Greek peninsula, Macedonia was both a Greek kingdom and a Roman province. The kingdom, in its early centuries, occupied a quadrangle of territory that formed only the eastern half of the Roman provincial unit. The province extended from the Aegean to the Adriatic, with Illyricum to the NW, Thrace to the NE, and Achaia to the south. Culturally, Macedonia came under strong Athenian influence in the latter years of the fifth century before Christ and in the first half of the fourth century, the period between Euripides, who emigrated to Macedonia in 408 or 407 b.c., and Aristotle, who came to Macedonia as tutor to Alexander in 343 or 342 after the death of Plato. The population was Indo-European but of mixed tribal elements, of which the Dorian stock was probably a strong ingredient.

The history of the early kingdom is confused, and the tradition that Perdiccas I conquered the Macedonian plain in 640 b.c. probably marks the emergence of one dominant clan among an agglomeration of mountain tribes striving for the mastery of a significant area on an ancient invasion route. Until the reign of Philip II (359 to 336), the kingdom was insignificant in Aegean history and was preoccupied with the continual tension of tribal war. By consolidation, conquest, pacification, and an enlightened policy of Hellenization, carried out with the speed, precision, ruthlessness, and clear-headed determination that marked the man, Philip unified Macedonia and finally conquered all Greece. The orations of Demosthenes, directed against the Macedonian menace, are poignant documents of this day of the democratic decadence of Athens and the upsurge of Macedonian power that was to extend Greek rule to the east. It was the army created by Philip that followed Alexander, his son, to the Ganges and overthrew the Persian Empire.

MACEDONIA măs ə dō’ nĭ ə (Μακεδονία, G3423). In NT times a Rom. senatorial province encompassing much of northern Greece.


A land of high mountains, broad rivers and fertile valleys in the center of the Balkan peninsula, it was bounded in antiquity by Illyria on the W, Moesia to the N and Thrace to the E. It was separated from Thessaly to the S by the Pindus mountains. Four important river basins mark the terrain, the Haliacmon, Axius, Strymon and Nestus. The three-pronged Chalcidice peninsula, which projects into the northern Aegean Sea, is one of the significant geographic features. The region boasted of rich farm land and timber, extensive deposits of silver and gold, a long seacoast of good harbors and a hardy population of mixed non-Indo-European, Thracian, Illyrian and Macedonian origin.


The kingdom of Macedonia was established in the 7th cent. b.c., but the first two hundred years of its history are almost unknown. It was founded by Perdikkas I. His successors, known only by name, include Philip I, Alexander I, Perdikkas II and Archelaus (c. 413-399). Thucydides (2:100) remarks that Archelaus did more than his predecessors to build up the military might of the nation. Under Philip II (359-336) the power of Macedonia began to influence both Greece and the E. At this time the Pers. threat to the Gr. city-states was great. Philip by bribery, persuasion and force managed to rally Greece against the Persians. After the battle of Chaeronea, he was named στρατηγὸς αὐτοκράτωρ at the synod of Corinth. However, he was assassinated by a Macedonian noble in 336 before he could embark upon his long-planned campaign against Persia.

Philip’s successor was his son, Alexander III (the Great). Though only a young man of eighteen, he embarked upon a campaign of conquest such as the world has seldom seen. In twelve years he conquered Egypt, the Near E., Persia, Babylonia and parts of India, only to die of a fever at the age of thirty-three.

The success of the small kingdom of Macedonia can be accounted for in the military genius of Philip and Alexander. Philip, while a hostage at Thebes, had opportunity to study the tactics of the Gr. military genius Epaminondas. The latter had begun to use a flexible mode of attack rather than the rigid phalanx of four to eight men deep. He employed an oblique order of attack which used the central phalanx to stabilize the line. Because each man was individually less protected on the right side, Gr. armies tended to bear to the right when they attacked. This left them open to attack on the exposed flank. Epaminondas grasped this and successfully used cavalry on one flank to concentrate the attack. Philip also learned at Thebes the importance of patriotism which too often was lacking in the mercenary soldiers customarily employed by the Gr. city-states.

Philip continued scientific analysis in military maneuvers. He developed a sophisticated attack force which consisted of the phalanx at the center, now equipped with much longer poles and cavalry on both flanks. The light cavalry on the left was merely defensive. The heavy cavalry was on the right, protected on its left by heavily armed but mobile infantry, and on the right by light cavalry. When the enemy was confronted, the phalanx held the center while the cavalry on the right attacked in echelon. This basic style of attack was successful in encircling and routing the enemy on every occasion it was employed by Philip and Alexander.

Alexander’s premature death in 323 introduced a tremendous struggle for power throughout the empire. In Greece proper his regent, Antipater, ruled for a short time and selected Polyperchon as his successor. However, Antipater’s son Cassander soon gained control. He and his son Alexander were then recognized as kings of Macedonia until 294. Thereafter the Antigonids, descendants of one of Alexander’s generals, assumed control of the Gr. mainland until the Rom. intervention. The period from 294-197 was marked by internal disorders and an invasion of migrating Gauls.

In other parts of the empire two dynasties were established by Alexander’s generals, the Seleucid empire in Syria and the Ptolemaic in Egypt. A fourth kingdom, Thrace, disappeared when Lysimachus, one of Alexander’s generals, died childless.

All of the Gr. mainland came under Rom. rule in the middle of the 2nd cent. b.c. After the Romans under L. Aemilius Paulus defeated its forces in 168 at Pydna, Macedonia was organized as a semi-independent republican federation which was modeled on the Achaean and Aetolian Leagues. It was divided into four districts: (1) the region between the Strymon and Nestus Rivers; (2) the region between the Strymon and Axius Rivers including the Chalcidice; (3) the region from the Axius River to the Peneius River in Thessaly; (4) the mountainous lands to the NW. The capitals of these regions were respectively Amphipolis, Thessalonica, Pella and Pelagonia. However, the independent status was short lived. Andriscus, who claimed to be the son of Perseus, tried to reconstitute the Macedonian monarchy in 149. A Rom. army under Q. Caecilius Metellus put down the revolt and in 146 Macedonia was reorganized as a Rom. province. The new province included portions of Illyria and Thessaly. Thessalonica became the seat of the Rom. government, although the four capital districts were still recognized.

The senatorial province was administered by a propraetor with the title of proconsul. The province of Achaia, which comprised central Greece and the Peloponnesus, was associated with it. It was usually administered by a legate from Macedonia. Several times the two are mentioned together in the NT, but Macedonia always was given priority (Acts 19:21; Rom 15:26; 2 Cor 9:2; 1 Thess 1:7). From a.d. 15-44 Macedonia was combined with Achaia and Moesia into a large, imperial province. Macedonia was then ruled by a legate from Moesia. In a.d 44 it reverted back to its original status as a senatorial province.

The province was strategically and commercially important because of the famous Via Egnatia which extended across its territory from the Adriatic to Thrace. The highway started at the seaports of Dyrracium and Apollonia, which were opposite southern Italy; extended across the mountains to the port of Thessalonica; and from there to a second Apollonia on the N Aegean, Amphipolis, Philippi and Neapolis. According to the geographer Strabo, it terminated beyond the Hebrus River at Kypsela in Thrace. In all it was 535 Rom. m. long. The Apostle Paul no doubt traveled on it from Neapolis to Philippi and Thessalonica (Acts 16:11, 12; 17:1).

Biblical and extra-Biblical references.

Macedonia is mentioned in 1 and 2 Maccabees and in the Book of Daniel. First Maccabees begins with a description of the exploits of Alexander and the division of the empire upon his death (1:1-9). In 1:1 he is said to have come from the land of Chittim (Kittim) (Χαττιείμ). In 8:2 an account is given of the way in which the Romans overcame Philip V and Perseus, who was called the king of Chittim. In 2 Maccabees 8:20 the name Macedonians is applied to mercenary soldiers in the service of the Seleucid kings.

Daniel described the kingdom of Macedonia as a kingdom of bronze (Dan 2:39) and as a rough he-goat (8:5). The goat has one horn between his eyes which was broken and from which came four horns. From one of the four horns came a king who became very powerful and troubled the people of God. This is interpreted as referring to Alexander who was succeeded by his four generals. A descendant of one of them was the notorious Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163), who laid waste the sanctuary of the Jews at Jerusalem.

In Daniel 11 a description is given of the conflicts between the Ptolemies and Seleucids. Prediction was made of the marriage of Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, to Antiochus Theos, which brought a temporary respite in their struggle for power. Further prophecies were made regarding conflicts between the two houses which lasted until the Rom. intervention.

In epistles addressed to the churches at Thessalonica and Philippi, Paul warmly commended them for their faith and love.


S. Casson, Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria (1926); U. Wilcken, Alexander the Great (1932); W. A. Heurtley, Prehistoric Macedonia (1939); Geyer and Hoffman in Pauly Wissowa, RE, s.v. “Makedonia.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Makedonia, ethnic Makedon,):



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 II 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 (Sutlej): thence he returned through Gedrosia, Carmania and Persis to Babylon, to make preparations for the conquest of Arabia. A sketch of his career is given in 1 Macc 1:1-7, where he is spoken of as "Alexander the Macedonian, the son of Philip, who came out of the land of Chittim" (1:1): his invasion of Persia is also referred to in 1 Macc 6:2, where he is described as "the Macedonian king, who reigned first among the Greeks," i.e. the first who united in a single empire all the Greek states, except those which lay to the West of the Adriatic. It is the conception of the Macedonian power as the deadly foe of Persia which is responsible for the description of Haman in Additions to Esther 16:10 as a Macedonian, "an alien in truth from the Persian blood," and for the attribution to him of a plot to transfer the Persian empire to the Macedonians (verse 14), and this same thought appears in the Septuagint’s rendering of the Hebrew Agagite (`aghaghi) in Es 9:24 as Macedonian (Makedon).

2. Roman Intervention:

Alexander died in June 323 BC, and his empire fell a prey to the rivalries of his chief generals (1 Macc 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 Macc 8:20). In 215 King Philip V, son of Demetrius II 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 III 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 Macc 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 BC (compare 1 Macc 8:5, where Perseus is called "king of Chittim "). The kingship was abolished and Perseus was banished to Italy. The Macedonians were declared free and autonomous; their land was divided into four regions, with their capitals at Amphipolis, Thessalonica, Pella and Pelagonia respectively, and each of them was governed by its own council; commercium and connubium were forbidden between them and the gold and silver mines were closed. A tribute was to be paid annually to the Roman treasury, amounting to half the land tax hitherto exacted by the Macedonian kings.

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 lx .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 (Ac 19:21; Ro 15:26; 2Co 9:2; 1Th 1:7,8).

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 Ac 13-28 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:

2. Paul’s Second Visit:

3. Paul’s Third Visit:

The 3rd visit 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 (2Co 1:16; Ac 20:3). He returned to Macedonia accompanied as far as Asia by 3 Macedonian Christians--Sopater, Aristarchus and Secundus--and by 4 from Asia Minor. Probably Paul took the familiar route by the Via Egnatia, and reached Philippi immediately before the days of unleavened bread; his companions preceded him to Troas (Ac 20:5), while he himself remained at Philippi until after the Passover (Thursday, April 7, 57 AD, according to Ramsay’s chronology), when he sailed from Neapolis together with Luke, and joined his friends in Troas (Ac 20:6).

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 (Php 1:26; 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 1Ti 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 (2Ti 4:13).

IV. The Macedonian Church.

1. Prominence of Women:

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 and 2 Thessalonians; Philippians; 2Co 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:


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: CIG, numbers 1951-2010; CIL, III, 1 and III, Suppl.; Dimitsas,`H ... Athens, 1896.

M. N. Tod