Episode 30 (Saint Paul)


The mentioning of the Macedonians in the Bible is well known, and many works have been written about this fact. However, we will only look at extracts from the Bible strictly from the aspect we are covering. These extract are proofs of the differences between the ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks.

In the world’s science, it is well known that the christening of Europestarted via Macedonia, specifically with the first Christian communities founded by Saint Paul. The first Christians that received the Christianity in Europe were Macedonians. The christening of these Macedonians was the result of the Second missionary journey of Saint Paul (the first Christian missionary journey in Europe actually).

After he started spreading Christianity all over Asia Minor, Saint Paul reached Troada. He had a vision there in which a Macedonian appeared and asked him to come to Macedonia and help the Macedonians. Related to this, in “The acts of the Apostles”, we read:

          “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” (“The Acts of the Apostles”, 16, 9).

It is believed that this journey happened between 50 – 52 AD. This means that the first Macedonians in Macedonia were christened only two and a half decades after Jesus Christ was crucified. All this happened only two centuries after the independent ancient Macedonian state fell apart, when the brave Macedonians still could not accept the Roman occupation.

Let us overlook the rest of the quotes from the Bible by Saint Paul, in which the Macedonians are mentioned.

Regarding his missionary journey to Rome, Saint Paul writes:

          “And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.”(SOURCE: “The Acts of the Apostles”, 27, 2).

About Saint Paul’s stay in Ephesus, we read that the Greeks in those territories revolted against his preaching, not wanting to give up their pagan beliefs.

          “And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.”(SOURCE: “The Acts of the Apostles”, 19, 29).

Saint Paul separately mentions the Greeks on a few occasions. During his journey to the Near East, in “The Acts of the Apostles” we read:        

          “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek.” (SOURCE: “The Acts of the Apostles”, 16, 1).

          About Saint Paul’s stay in Ephesu, in the same book, we read:

          “And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” (SOURCE: “The Acts of the Apostles”, 19,10).

And further on:

          “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”( “The Acts of the Apostles”, 19, 17).

          During his stay in Ephesus, Saint Paul addressed the elders and told them he attested:“… both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (SOURCE: “The Acts of the Apostles”, 20, 21).

But, Saint Paul mentions Greeks as citizens of Thessalonica:

          “And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.”(SOURCE: “The Acts of the Apostles”, 17, 4).

Further on:

          “Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”(SOURCE: “The Acts of the Apostles”, 17, 12).

Still, we cannot conclude that Saint Paul believed that the Macedonians were Greeks based on this, because we see that he mentioned the Macedonians separately from the Greeks. This can especially be seen in “The Acts of the Apostles”, where Saint Paul first mentions some Greek, who was the father of Timotheus, and later mentions Aristarchus as “Macedonian of Thessalonica”. So, we have a clear separation of the Greeks and the Macedonians. Since he mentioned “Greeks” that lived in Thessalonica, he obviously referred to some ethnic Greeks that lived there.

Someone might note that the noun “Macedonian” was referring to a member of the Roman province “Macedonia”, i.e. that in here is used as a geographical term. But, the remaining extracts from Saint Paul’s works clearly deny this. If he determined the people after their administrative origin, then why did he mention Greeks and Jews as citizens of Ephesus? This city (in present-day Turkey) was in a province that was called neither Judea nor Greece. Furthermore, we see that he mentioned “Greeks” as citizens of Thessalonica, so if he were to determine them by their administrative belonging, then he should have called them “Macedonians” as well, because Thessalonica was in the Roman administrative region called “Macedonia”. So, Saint Paul determined people mainly by their ethnic origins, thus clearly separating the Macedonians from the Greeks.