A region of SE Europe occupying the central part of what is now known as the Balkan Peninsula. It extended from the Adriatic Sea on the W to the Aegean Sea on the E, and lay N of Achaia. Although having numerous fertile plains, this is chiefly a mountainous area. Anciently, Macedonia served as a vital link between the east and the west. The Roman-built Via Egnatia ran from Dyrrachium and Apollonia on the W coast of the peninsula to Neapolis on the E coast, and beyond.
The Macedonians were descendants of Japheth, perhaps through Kittim the son of Javan. (Ge 10:2, 4, 5) Although primarily associated with the island of Cyprus, the name Kittim was anciently also used to refer to other areas. The historian Josephus writes that the Hebrews called the islands and most of the seacoasts (apparently those in the Mediterranean area) “Chethim.” (Jewish Antiquities, I, 128 [vi, 1]) This may account for Macedonia’s being called “Cethim” in the Apocryphal book of First Maccabees (1:1 Dy; Kx) and provides a possible basis for considering the Macedonians to have been descendants of Kittim.
History. Macedonia attained prominence under the rule of Philip II. He was able to consolidate Macedonia and neighboring regions, and as a result of his victory in the Battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.E.), Macedonia emerged supreme in relation to the majority of the Greek states. Subsequent to Philip’s assassination, his son Alexander (the Great) ascended the throne. Two years later, Alexander commenced his extensive campaign of conquest. By the time of his death at Babylon (323 B.C.E.), Alexander, through his military victories, had built up an empire that extended as far E as India and included Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece.—See Da 2:31-33, 39; 7:6; 8:1-7, 20, 21; ALEXANDER No. 1; BEASTS, SYMBOLIC; IMAGE.
When the empire was divided following Alexander’s death, Antipater, who had been the regent of Macedonia while Alexander was warring in the east, retained his position. Before his death, Antipater entrusted the regency to Polyperchon instead of to his own son Cassander. Then followed political struggles that finally culminated in Cassander’s being recognized as king of Macedonia. His son Alexander succeeded him but not long thereafter was killed by Demetrius Poliorcetes (son of Antigonus Cyclops, one of the generals of Alexander the Great). Again confusion set in. Finally, Antigonus Gonatas, son of Demetrius Poliorcetes, gained possession of the throne. Though driven from his kingdom twice, Antigonus recovered it each time, and Macedonia continued to be ruled by the Antigonids until coming under Roman administration. In the middle of the second century B.C.E., Macedonia became a Roman province. For a time during the first century C.E., it was joined with Achaia, to the S, and Moesia, to the N, to form an imperial province under the legate of Moesia. However, in 44 C.E. Macedonia again became a senatorial province under the jurisdiction of a Roman governor.—See GREECE, GREEKS.
Paul’s Ministry. Macedonia was the first area in Europe to be visited by the apostle Paul on his second missionary journey. While at Troas in NW Asia Minor, Paul had a vision. “A certain Macedonian man was standing and entreating him and saying: ‘Step over into Macedonia and help us.’” (Ac 16:8, 9) Paul responded to that vision and, with Luke, Timothy, and Silas (if not also other companions), left for Macedonia. After arriving at Neapolis (the port of Philippi in NE Macedonia), Paul went to Philippi and there declared the good news. (Ac 16:11-40) Luke, it appears, remained at Philippi when Paul, Silas, and Timothy journeyed through the Macedonian cities of Amphipolis (about 50 km [30 mi] WSW of Philippi) and Apollonia (about 35 km [22 mi] SW of Amphipolis). Next Paul witnessed in the Macedonian cities of Thessalonica (about 45 km [28 mi] WNW of Apollonia) and Beroea (about 65 km [40 mi] WSW of Thessalonica) respectively. (Ac 17:1-12) On account of threatened mob violence at Beroea, Paul was forced to depart from Macedonia. But he left Silas and Timothy at Beroea so that they might care for the new group of believers there. Silas and Timothy were to join him later. (Ac 17:13-15) Paul, concerned about the welfare of the newly formed congregation at Thessalonica, sent Timothy to encourage the brothers there. (1Th 3:1, 2) Perhaps Timothy joined Paul at Athens, in Achaia, and then was sent back to Thessalonica. But it seems more likely that Paul notified him at Beroea to make the trip to Thessalonica. The good report Timothy brought, upon returning, prompted Paul to write his first letter to the Thessalonians (1Th 3:6; Ac 18:5). His second letter to the Thessalonians followed not long thereafter.
During the course of his third missionary tour, Paul made plans to return to Macedonia. (1Co 16:5-8; 2Co 1:15, 16) Although Paul remained a while longer at Ephesus, he sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia in advance. (Ac 19:21, 22) It was after this that the Ephesian silversmith Demetrius stirred up a riot against Paul. The city was thrown into confusion, and as the Ephesians rushed into the theater, they seized and took along “Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, traveling companions of Paul.” (Ac 19:23-29) After the uproar subsided, Paul set out for Macedonia. (Ac 20:1) He apparently stopped at Troas. There he was disappointed at not meeting Titus, who had been sent to Corinth, in Achaia, to assist in the collection for the holy ones in Judea. (2Co 2:12, 13) Paul then proceeded to Macedonia, where he was joined by Titus and received word about the way the Corinthians had reacted to the apostle’s first letter. (2Co 7:5-7) Subsequently Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians and later went south to Greece. He had intended to sail from Greece to Syria, but a plot against him by the Jews caused him to change his plans and to return to Macedonia instead. (Ac 20:2, 3) His traveling companions included three Macedonians, Sopater, Aristarchus, and Secundus.—Ac 20:4.
Although poor themselves, the Macedonian Christians were very generous. They expended themselves beyond their actual ability in making contributions for the needy brothers in Judea. (2Co 8:1-7; compare Ro 15:26, 27; 2Co 9:1-7.) Especially were the Philippians outstanding in supporting Paul’s ministry. (2Co 11:8, 9; Php 4:15-17) Even while the apostle was imprisoned at Rome for the first time, the congregation at Philippi sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul’s needs. (Php 2:25-30; 4:18) And the Thessalonians manifested great faith and endurance and, therefore, came to be an example for “all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”—1Th 1:1-8; 4:9, 10.
It appears that Paul, after being released from imprisonment at Rome, revisited Macedonia and from there wrote the letter known as First Timothy. (1Ti 1:3) The letter to Titus may also have been written from Macedonia.