Saint Paul and Macedonia
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 5:39:34 PM
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) 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 Thess 3:1,2), 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 Thess 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 Thess 1:7), and he commends their love "toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia" (1 Thess 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 Thess 1:8).
2. Paul's Second Visit:
On his 3rd missionary 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 19:21,22). 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 Cor 1:15,16). 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 Cor 16:5,6). From 2 Cor 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 Cor 7:5,6). The apostle was also cheered by "the grace of God which had been given in the churches of Macedonia" (2 Cor 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 (Rom 15:26; 2 Cor 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 (Phil 4:16), and again when he had left Macedonia and was staying at Corinth (2 Cor 11:9; Phil 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 Cor 9:2). He suggests that on his approaching visit to Achaia he may be accompanied by some of these Macedonians (2 Cor 9:4), but whether this was actually the case we are not told.
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 (2 Cor 1:16; Acts 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 (Acts 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 (Acts 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 (Phil 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 1 Tim 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 Tim 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 16:14,15); 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 (Phil 4:2,3). 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 Macedonian 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 and 2 Thessalonians; Philippians; 2 Cor 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--Sopater (Acts 20:4) or Sosipater (Rom 16:21: the identification is a probable, though not a certain, one) of Berea; Aristarchus (Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2; Col 4:10; Philem 1:24), Jason (Acts 17:5-9; Rom 16:21?) and Secundus (Acts 20:4) of Thessalonica; Clement (Phil 4:3), Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25; 4:18), Euodia (Phil 4:2; this, not Euodias (the King James Version), is the true form), Syntyche (same place) , Lydia (Acts 16:14,40; a native of Thyatira), and possibly Luke (Ramsay, Paul the Traveler, 201 ff) of Philippi. Gaius is also mentioned as a Macedonian in Acts 19:29, but perhaps the reading of a few manuscripts Makedona is to be preferred to the Textus Receptus of the New Testament Makedonas in which case Aristarchus alone would be a Macedonian, and this Gaius would probably be identical with the Gaius of Derbe mentioned in Acts 20:4 as a companion of Paul (Ramsay, op. cit., 280). The later history of the Macedonian churches, together with lists of all their known bishops, will be found in Le Quien, Oriens Christianus, II, 1 ff; III, 1089 ff 1045 f.
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
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'MACEDONIA'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE; 1915.
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