Politarch | Free Online Biblical Library

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Politarch

POLITARCH pŏl’ ə tärk (πολιτάρχος, ruler of city). The Gr. word politarchos means literally “city-ruler.” Its use in connection with the magistrates of Thessalonica was once dismissed as a mistake of the writer of Acts (Acts 17:6, 8), because the term did not appear in any other context. Seventeen examples from inscrs. now are listed (American Journal of Theology [July 1898], 598-632). The examples cover a cent. and a half, from the beginning of the 1st cent. to the middle of the second. One is housed in the British Museum and came from an archway in Salonika. The same inscr., curiously enough, contains names that occur among those listed as members of the Thessalonian church. It is obviously a Macedonian term, and its use conforms to Luke’s consistent practice of employing the correct official terminology commonly accepted. In similar fashion he called the petty officials of the Rom. colony of Philippi “praetors.”