39. Travel Greece with a Bible in Your Suitcase | Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece | Acts 19:29 | 2 Corinthians 9:2,4 | Daniel 8:20-21 | Acts 27:9-44 | 2 Corinthians 11:25-26

The Macedonian language that some people claim that they speak today has nothing to do with Macedonian inscriptions. The language that the Macedonians used in antiquity, was not Slavic, but definitely, without any doubt, was Greek.

Slavic Macedonians cannot name themselves as “The Macedonians.” Rather, they are “Slavic Macedonians.” Macedonians preexisted Slavic Macedonians. Clear? Because there is a debate today. And unfortunately, in that debate, President Bush recognized the little state with the name Macedonia without another identification. He said, “The Bible speaks about the Macedonians.” President Bush disappointed Greece, even the Christians of Greece, with his proclamation because the Macedonians in Scripture are not Slavic Macedonians. The Macedonians in Scripture were Greek Macedonians.

Imagine with me, Greeks who are coming to the United States, keeping their Greek language, and one day saying to the Americans, “Look, all the others are not Americans, we are the only Americans, and you are the occupiers of our country here.” Imagine how strange it would sound in the ears of all the other American people. This is what some so-called Macedonians do today.

The Bible definitely speaks about the Macedonians, (Acts 19:29, 2 Corinthians 9:2,4) but does not support the argument of Mr. Bush. The letters in the Bible, sent to the Macedonians, were all written in Greek, not Slavic. The letter written to the Philippians is in Greek. The two letters written to the Thessalonians are in Greek. When Daniel speaks about the King of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, he calls him the King of Greeks (Daniel 8:20-21).

Next is a column from the Via Ignatia. This column served as a distance marker on the Via Ignatian Road, and it was found in Macedonia, the area of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Distance marker along the Via Ignatia in Macedonia

Of the 1000’s of these milestones, today only 35 have survived and here we have one. The Apostle Paul saw these milestones and these milestones helped him to know how far he had yet to go while walking to the next city. Every Roman mile was marked by a milestone, marking the distance from the stone to the closest city.

The Apostle Paul travelled on foot and by ship, and we know that he shipwrecked (Acts 27:9-44, 2 Corinthians 11:25-26.)

Imagine how difficult and expensive it was to use a ship to travel during the time of the Apostle Paul. Travelers paid for an expensive ticket, but travelers had to stuff themselves among the jars and containers of goods on the ship. There were no cruise ships! All ships were cargo ships. So, to travel (if there was room) cargo ships took passengers with them.

Travel by Ship in Ancient Macedonia

You are familiar with the word symposium. Imagine dining among furnishings, on a couch reclining and having conversations, eating and drinking. This is in the Greek Symposium and it was very common for the young members of the family, especially the male members.

Symposium today has as an equivalent – the party. The Symposium was divided into two parts, the dinner or supper and the drink afterwards. The supper, or the dinner, was short and the drink afterwards lasted longer, sometimes overnight.

The Greek Symposium

In the description of the Last Supper in John’s Gospel, John described the Last Supper as a symposium.  We read, “after the supper” and then we have three chapters after the supper. And so you see how the people participated at the symposium. All the time, when we see Jesus invited to such a meal, he reclined. He reclined, not sat down. This is how the people reclined at that time, to eat and to drink.

In Simon’s house, Jesus reclined.

And this is how John came to the chest of Jesus. For example, sometimes today we are two people on the same recliner. Reclining… and so, John came a little bit farther back, and John says he was at the chest of Jesus, very close to face to face.

This is how we can explain what happened with a lady who came to the area where Jesus’ feet were. She broke the alabaster and washed his feet. Jesus was not sitting. He was reclining.

What was she doing in the men’s symposium? This lady was very familiar with the men’s escort.  And so, seeing her in the Pharisee’s home where supposedly the theologians of Jerusalem were gathered, they were surprised, and the owner was even more surprised when he saw her touching the feet of Jesus. If he was a prophet, he should know who she was.

Remember that Socrates used this way to teach his disciples. He was invited to symposiums. Symposium means to drink together. While drinking together they discussed very serious things.

Today, metaphorically, we use the term symposium for seminaries and scientific announcements.

38. Travel Greece with a Bible in Your Suitcase | Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece | Daniel 8 | Acts 19:29 | 2 Corinthians 9:2,4 | Acts 17: 5-9

In the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, we can find a 1 A.D. Greek inscription, ΟΙ ΠΟΛΙΤΑΡΧΑΙ, important for Christian apologetics. ΟΙ ΠΟΛΙΤΑΡΧΑΙ means “The City Authorities.” Prior to 1887 this very specific term for The City Authorities had never been found inscribed anywhere. This caused doubt.


The Rationalists of the 19th century said, “We have an issue against the authenticity of the New Testament, a big issue, because Thessaloniki was a capital city at the time of the Apostle Paul. If The City Authorities of Thessaloniki were called politarches (πολιτάρχης) then we should see this in other sources as well, but we don’t. This very specific term, πολιτάρχης is not mentioned in any inscriptions. So, the rationalists reasoned that, this term, politarches πολιτάρχης, was made up by Christians much later than 1 AD. However, the story doesn’t end there.

Here’s what happened:

In 1885, Ottoman authorities decided to demolish the walls, as well as the Royal Gate of Thessaloniki, in order to expand the road and the city. While demolishing the Royal Gate, the workers arrived at the foundations and there they found a stone with some letters on it. And because they were not able to read Greek, they called the British counsellor of the city. He knew all about this issue of the politarches (πολιτάρχης) and he was a Greek scholar and a Christian. This man saw the stone. He was thrilled! For the first time, he found this term, πολιτάρχης, used outside of the Bible.

The Ottoman workers were semi-drunk and the counsellor asked them, “How much would you like to sell this stone for?” As the story says, they looked to each other and asked the counsellor, “Five kilos wine? Is that too expensive for you?” For five kilos of wine, this stone became a property of the British Museum and the inscription disproved the Rationalists of the 19th century.

In the city of Thessaloniki alone, 30 more inscriptions have been found with this specific, technical term, πολιτάρχης, meaning “City Authorities.” And not only that, in all of Macedonia from Berea to Philippi, we have found even more inscriptions in Asia Minor, Middle East and even Egypt. These inscriptions, found from Thessaloniki to Egypt, cover a time distance between fourth century BC to fourth century AD. Without a doubt, these inscriptions verify the book of Acts, and its author, Luke.

Costas points at these Greek letters, ΟΙ ΠΟΛΙΤΑΡΧΑΙ. New Testament author, Luke, used the very same term, politarches (πολιτάρχης) in the book of Acts.

Costas Tsevas points to ΟΙ ΠΟΛΙΤΑΡΧΑΙ 

Acts 17:5-9  But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the πολιτάρχης (The City Authorities) shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus!” 8 The Jews stirred up the crowd and the πολιτάρχης (The City Authorities) who heard these things. 9 So taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.

The word πολιτάρχης (noun, accusative, plural, masculine) is mentioned two times in Acts, chapter 17, verse six. and verse eight, and this very same specific, technical term was inscribed on the stone of 1 AD.

The inscription is dated 1 AD.

Now, look here, you know how to read Greek. ΟΙ ΠΟΛΙΤΑΡΧΑΙ. Οι is the plural masculine article, “The” and πολιταρχαι is “City Authorities.” For those of you who know Greek grammar, you will recognize that ΠΟΛΙΤΑΡΧΑΙ and πολιτάρχης are exactly the same word, in the same number, both first plurals, both dating 1 AD.

The importance of the inscription on the stone is its dating of 1 AD. Paul was not in Thessalonik before 1 AD and he was not there after 1 AD. But he was there in 1 AD, and the City Authorities were too.

1 AD Inscription of ΟΙ ΠΟΛΙΤΑΡΧΑΙ

Costas Tsevas showed us other stones at the Archeological Museum of Thessalonkik. This one, an offering pedestal, also includes the inscription of City Authorities on the last line.

Status pedastal with the inscription of City Authorities