This statue of Alexander the Great stands in Thessaloniki, Greece. Alexander the Great, from Macedonia, conquered a vast empire. (AP/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

This statue of Alexander the Great stands in Thessaloniki, Greece. Alexander the Great, from Macedonia, conquered a vast empire. (AP/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

A North Macedonia soccer team supporter holds a national flag at the Euro 2020 soccer championship match between North Macedonia and the Netherlands on June 21, 2021. (Koen van Weel/Pool via AP)

A North Macedonia soccer team supporter holds a national flag at the Euro 2020 soccer championship match between North Macedonia and the Netherlands on June 21, 2021. (Koen van Weel/Pool via AP)

A woman prepares a traditional meal near Shar Mountain in the northwest of North Macedonia. (AP/Boris Grdanoski)

A woman prepares a traditional meal near Shar Mountain in the northwest of North Macedonia. (AP/Boris Grdanoski)

A table with traditional food is set at a farm restaurant that caters to Shar Mountain tourists. (AP/Boris Grdanoski)

A table with traditional food is set at a farm restaurant that caters to Shar Mountain tourists. (AP/Boris Grdanoski)

In 2018, Greece and Macedonia agreed that the country would be renamed “Republic of North Macedonia.” This picture shows protesters who were against that name change. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)

In 2018, Greece and Macedonia agreed that the country would be renamed “Republic of North Macedonia.” This picture shows protesters who were against that name change. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Macedonia Then and Now

Posted: September 1, 2021

Macedonia is an old, old place. Macedonians are still very proud of its history. Today, that region includes portions of six countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Kosovo.

A lot of different people groups have lived in the region of Macedonia through the years. In early times, ancient Macedonians, Paeonians, Illyrians, and Thracians made Macedonia their home. King Philip II of Macedon turned Macedonia into a powerful kingdom in the mid-300s B.C. His son, Alexander the Great, followed in his footsteps. In 145 B.C., Macedonia became part of the Roman Empire.

It would take a long time to talk about everything that has happened to Macedonia since then. Here’s a short version: The region of Macedonia has been part of the Bulgarian Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The country called the Republic of North Macedonia has existed for only 30 years. Two major groups of people live there: Macedonians and Albanians. Ethnic Macedonians are usually Eastern Orthodox Christians. Ethnic Albanians are usually Muslims. Sometimes these two groups fight.

What is life like in North Macedonia? People take it slow. Macedonians are relaxed. They’re hospitable. They’re also self-reliant. (If something breaks, they tend to fix it themselves!) Many have lived in the same neighborhoods for generations. Neighborliness matters to them a lot.

There is also an area in Greece called Macedonia. Greeks and Macedonians disagree on who gets to claim that name and history.

You may have read about Macedonia in the Bible. In New Testament times, a Roman official called a proconsul ruled this land. Back then, most people in Macedonia didn’t know God . . . yet.

Enter, Paul. God sent this apostle to preach the gospel in Macedonia. He passed through Macedonia more than once. He met a woman named Lydia. She lived in Philippi, a Macedonian city. She was the first person in Europe to believe in Jesus because of Paul’s message.

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. — Acts 16:14