🔼The name Macedonia: Summary
- Extended Land, Land Of The Tall
- From the adjective μακεδος (makedos), tall or slender.
🔼The name Macedonia in the Bible
In the Bible the name Macedonia belongs to what was an ancient kingdom, situated directly north of ancient Greece. It became independent around the time of Israel's middle kingdom years, but was subdued by Persia in the fifth century BC. King Alexander I freed Macedonia in the famous Peloponnesian war (431-404 BC). Philip II of Macedon (359-336 BC; brother of Alexander II) expanded the kingdom until it stretched from almost the Adriatic sea on its west to the Bosporus on its east.
Philip's famous son Alexander III (356-323 BC), later known as the Great and who was tutored by the philosopher Aristotle, began a campaign that resulted in the largest empire ever. After Alexander's death, Macedonia remained under Macedon rule until 168 BC when the Roman general Lucius Aemilius Paullus defeated king Perseus of Macedon in the Third Macedonian War, and Macedonia became a Roman province.
The linga franca of the region remained Greek, however, and that is why the New Testament was written in Greek. The Greek translation (expansion and rearrangement) of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint was started probably as early as the 3rd century BC and wasn't completed until 132 BC.
The apostles Paul and Silas went to Macedonia after Paul had received a vision of a Macedonian (Μακεδων, Makedon), who implored him to come and help them (Acts 16:9). They went and landed first in Neapolis (16:11) and then travelled to in Philippi, a Roman colony, and stayed there for some days (16:12). They met Lydia of Thyatira there (19:14), but were imprisoned when Paul expelled a demon from a slave girl (16:18). After they were freed they stayed with Lydia and then continued to other Macedonian cities: Amphipolis, Apollonia and Thessalonica (17:1), and Berea (17:10).
While in Asia Minor, Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem and then Rome, and sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia (19:22). Later Paul wanted to return to Macedonia (20:1) and arrived again in Philippi (20:6), and it appears he went at least once more to Macedonia (Philippians 2:24, 1 Timothy 1:3).
Altogether, the name Macedonia occurs 27 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Macedonia
The name Macedonia comes from the Greek adjective μακεδος (makedos), meaning tall or slender, and which is a variant spelling of the word μηκεδανος (mekedanos), meaning long. Both words are closely related to the familiar adjective μακρος (makros), meaning long or distant:
The adjective μακρος (makros) means long or distant. It may describe length in both space and time.
It's not directly clear whether Macedonia was named after the adjective for far-off, or else long because of the shape of the land or of its inhabitants. For a meaning of the name Macedonia, Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary from 1992) reads Extended Land, but Nigel Guy Wilson (Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece from 2009) states "The latest archaeological findings have confirmed that Macedonia took its name from a tribe of tall, Greek-speaking people, the Makednoi". That would make the meaning of Macedonia The Land Of The Tall