From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The word prouincia, the derivation of which is unknown, has originally no territorial application. Prouincia is in fact ‘a sphere of duty,’ whether that be in an office or court, like that of the urban praetor at Rome, or that of a governor of a vast district. It is only because it came to be generally associated with the rule of large districts out of Italy, that it ultimately obtained the territorial sense of ‘subjugated territory out of Italy under Roman government’ (R. Ogilvie, Horae Latinae, 1901, p. 229). The original wide sense of the word had not, however, died out in the classical period.

The Roman Empire grew by that inevitable process of expansion which is the lot of all great Empires. For the first two and a half centuries of the Republic expansion had been confined to Italy (see Roman Empire). With the conclusion of the First Punic War (241 b.c.) a new situation had arisen. Having worsted a foreign people in a long-continued contest (264-241 b.c.), they found it necessary to maintain a stand beyond the bounds of Italy. The war itself had led to the construction of the earliest Roman fleet, and now the problem of governing overseas dominions faced them. One of the conditions of peace between Rome and Carthage was that Carthage should evacuate Sicily. This condition having been complied with, all of Sicily except Syracuse and its territory, which remained in the possession of King Hiero, the ally of Rome, became the first Roman province, Prouincia Sicilia, governed by an annual praetor, elected for the purpose, over and above the regular establishment of two praetors, who remained in the city of Rome.

During the Republic at least, the same method was always carried out in taking over a province. The Senate appointed commissioners (legati), usually (if not always) ten in number, who left Rome together for the country in question, and studied its circumstances on the spot. The normal Greek-speaking country of that time consisted of a number of πόλεις (ciuitates, ‘city-States’) with their territory surrounding them. Such of these States as had especially favoured Rome during the preceding war might receive preferential treatment. Individual States, e.g., might be allowed to enter into a special, individual foedus (treaty) with Rome, and thus join the class of ciuitates foederatae. Such a reciprocal treaty presupposed that the two parties to the treaty were in a sense on an equality. Subject States prized this position very highly. But the majority of the communities were treated as subjects in the fullest sense. After the commissioners, in consultation with the victorious general, had studied the conditions fully, they made a report to the Senate, which thereupon drafted a lex prouinciCE, which remained for the future the statute regulating the conditions under which that province was to be governed, the taxes to be paid, etc. For each Roman province there was in existence a special statute of this nature. The text of none is extant.

Our chief knowledge of provincial government during the Republic concerns Sicily and Cilicia. In the speeches of Cicero against Verres (70 b.c.) there is much information about the government and administration of Sicily, in which Cicero himself had been quaestor. From Cicero’s letters we learn much of the details of his own government of the province Cilicia, where he was governor in the year 51-50 b.c. For the Imperial period we have the correspondence between Pliny, governor of Bithynia-Pontus, and the Emperor Trajan (c._ a.d. 113). The experience of the Republic was invaluable to the Empire. For the most part, no doubt, the conditions in the provinces were the same in both periods, with the exception that in the later period extortion by governors was for various reasons much less frequent. In this article we must confine ourselves as far as possible to the Empire, under which the Apostolic Church came into existence.

In the middle of the 1st cent. a.d. the Roman provinces encircled the Mediterranean. The senatorial provinces, those belonging to the Senate and people by the arrangement of January, 27 b.c., were eleven in number-Asia, Africa, Hispania Baetica, Gallia Narbonensis, Sardinia et Corsica, Sicilia, Macedonia, Achaea, Creta et Cyrenae, Cyprus, Bithynia et Pontus. These were in a peaceful state, and, with the exception of Africa, had no army. Asia and Africa were governed only by ex-consuls with three legati each, and were in a class by themselves. The others could be governed by expraetors, but all were entitled proconsuls (see Proconsul); each had one legatus. Asia comprised roughly the western third of the country we call Asia Minor, Africa corresponded roughly to the territory of modern Tunis, Hispania Baetica to Andalusia, and Gallia Narbonensis to the south-eastern quarter of France. The important Imperial provinces, which required the presence of an army, were twenty-one in number: Suria (Syria), Hispania Tarraconensis, Germania Superior, Germania Inferior, Britannia, Pannonia Superior, Pannonia Inferior, Mcesia Superior, Mcesia Inferior, Dalmatia, Lusitania, Gallia Aquitanica, Gallia Lugudunensis, Gallia Belgica, Galatia, Pamphylia, Lycia, Cilicia et Syria et PhCEnice, Numidia, Cappadocia,_ each governed by a legatus Augusti pro praetore, and Egypt, governed by an equestrian praefectus aegypti, acting for his master the Emperor, who reigned as king of Egypt. Some further Imperial provinces of less importance were governed by procuratores (see under Government, Procurator). It is inexact to speak of Judaea as a province at this period. It remained from the beginning down to the time of Vespasian a client-State, whether ruled by one king or by a number of princes, or by a Roman procurator in company with an ἀρχιερεὺς καὶ ἐθνάρχης. The king was subordinate to the governor of the province Syria. The procurator’s position, however, was like that of the praefectus aegypti. He took the place of the highest ruler (the Emperor), but neither Judaea nor Egypt was part of the Roman Empire in the strict sense of the term (T. Mommsen, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. iii.: ‘Juristische Schriften,’ 1907, p. 431, n._ 1, contradicting his earlier work, The Provinces of the Roman Empire, Eng. tr._, vol. ii. p. 185).

During the Empire all the provinces were subject to taxation, even those ciuitates which had formerly been and were still liberae being now compelled to contribute. This change is traced to Pompey. Immunity of cities was an exceptional privilege in the Empire, belonging exclusively, or almost exclusively, to coloniae, in virtue of the fact that they, like the inhabitants of Italy, owned their soil. Augustus first grappled with the task of numbering the subjects of the Empire, and apportioning the fiscal burdens among the provinces and individuals in them. The census of Egypt occurred every fourteen years (a.d. 19-20 the earliest attested date), and the same or a similar arrangement was doubtless current in other provinces, though it must be remembered that the situation in Egypt was peculiar. The census-papers were the basis for the levy of the poll-tax, as well as for the fixing of the proportion of other public burdens due from each householder. The taxes were either land-taxes or imposts on the person. The land-tax in a few cases was paid in kind. The poll-tax pure and simple was rare; generally the basis of taxation was the profession, the income, or the value of the movable property. In the public provinces the stipendium (as it was called) was perhaps collected by the States themselves and by them handed over to the quaestor, while in the Imperial provinces the tributum (‘war-tax,’ properly) was paid direct to the procurator. But it must not be forgotten that the Emperor had his procuratores even in senatorial provinces: these, however, may have been specially concerned with the management of his private estates. The publicani, however, the middlemen farmers of taxes, still had their place in Nero’s time, for measures had to be taken to repress their exactions. A definite allowance (salarium) was now given to governors of provinces, and this must have lessened extortion somewhat. The legati of proconsuls had more definite jurisdiction. The legions in the Imperial provinces had their own military commanders (legatus legionis) apart from the governors. While the proconsuls held office for one year only, the Emperor’s legates were retained in office during his pleasure.

The Romanization of the provinces was a gradual process. To begin with, it was against Roman practice to give a provincial constitution to a district until it had been civilized to a sufficient extent by its own ruler (or rulers), and so was ready for the further process. Romanization itself took place through the channels of social and trade intercourse, but in the West more conscious efforts were made towards it. We can see how proud the inhabitants of South Galatia were of their Roman connexion. One of the secrets of Rome’s success was that her governors were always content to let well alone. No attempt was made to unify the type of administration throughout the Empire. In most cases slight adjustments and the gradual purifying of municipal life were sufficient to bring all the local machinery into harmony with the central government.

Literature.-The standard work for the individual provinces is T. Mommsen, Römische Geschichte, v.2 [Berlin, 1885], tr._ W. P. Dickson, The Provinces of the Roman Empire from Caesar to Diocletian, 2 vols., London, 1886: improved and cheaper edition by F. Haverfield, one of the leading authorities on this subject, do., 1909. Otto Hirschfeld’s Die kaiserlichen Verwaltungsbeamten bis auf Diocletian2, Berlin, 1905, is invaluable. Principles of administration of the provinces in general are summarized in A. H. J. Greenidge, Roman Public Life, London, 1901, chs. viii. and xi. Students will find it helpful to concentrate on one province, and Galatia is suggested on account of the masterly treatment by W. M. Ramsay, A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, London, 1899. On the fourteen years’ census in Egypt, cf. W. M. Ramsay, Was Christ born in Bethlehem?, London, 1898, and G. Milligan, Selections from the Greek Papyri, Cambridge, 1910, pp. 44 ff., 72 f.; both provide texts and mention other relevant literature.

A. Souter.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

PROVINCE . This word, of unknown derivation, originally meant simply ‘a sphere of (magisterial) duty,’ and was applied, for example, to the duty of the prætor urbanus , who was never permitted to leave Rome. With the extension of the Roman Empire, and the consequently much increased number of spheres of duty outside Rome and Italy, the word came gradually to have a territorial application also. It is in this derived sense that the word is taken here. It was part of the Roman policy throughout to be in no unnecessary hurry to acquire territory and the responsibility connected with it, and it was not till the year b.c. 227 hundreds of years after the foundation of the Roman State that the first province was taken over. In that year Sardinia and Corsica became one province, Western Sicily another, and each, after the details of government had been settled by special commissioners, was put under an additional prætor elected for the purpose. Behind this step, as behind the annexation of most Roman provinces, there lay long years of warfare. Province after province was annexed, until in the time of Christ the Romans were in possession of the whole of Europe (except the British Isles, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Russia), all Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and the north-west of Africa. Most of this vast territory had been acquired during the Republic, but certain portions had not been annexed till the time of the first Emperor, Augustus. During the Republic the governors of these provinces were appointed by the Roman senate from among their own number, generally after a period of service as prætor or consul, as the case might be. They were unpaid, and had heavy expenses to bear. Few resisted the temptation to recoup themselves at the expense of the long-suffering provincials, and the vast sums acquired by an extortionate governor in his one year’s governorship may be estimated from the fact that Cicero, a just and honest man, acquired £18,000 during his tenure of the province Cilicia.

During the Empire the provinces were treated according to a notable settlement made between the Senate and the Emperor Augustus on January 1, b.c. 27. On that day it was arranged that those provinces which were peaceful and did not require the presence of an army should be under the control of the senate, who would appoint their governors; while the disturbed provinces that did require the presence of an army were to be under the Emperor himself, who was generalissimo of all the forces of the State. At the same time the Emperor retained financial interests even in senatorial provinces. The following thus became senatorial (or public) provinces: Asia ( i.e. roughly the western third of Asia Minor), Africa ( i.e. practically Tunis), Gallia Narbonensis, Hispania Bætica, Achaia, Cyprus, Creta et Cyrenaica, Macedonia, Sicilia, Bithynia, Illyricum, Sardinia et Corsica. The first two were senatorial provinces of the first rank, and were governed each by an ex-consul with the title of proconsul, and three legati under him. The others were senatorial provinces of the second rank, and were governed each by an exprætor, also with the title proconsul . All the rest of the Roman world outside Italy, namely, three-fourths of the whole, was made up of Imperial provinces, including the following: Egypt (where the Emperors, as successors of the Ptolemys, ruled as kings), Judæa, Syria-Cilicia-PhÅ“nice, Galatia (established b.c. 25), Thracia, Pamphylia (established b.c. 25), Galliæ tres (Aquitania, Lugudunensis, Belgica), Britannia (established a.d. 43). Every new province naturally came under the Emperor’s authority. He governed his more important provinces ( e.g. Syria, Galatia) through a legatus pro prætore in each a man of consular or prætorian rank, who was paid a fixed salary in and after the time of Tiberius and his less important provinces through a procurator ( e.g. Judæa) or præfectus ( e.g. Egypt). The period of senatorial governorships was one year, that of Imperial indefinite. Each province was governed according to a definite statute, which determined the administrative procedure and defined the privileges of individual cities in it. The inhabitants were disarmed and taxed. The oppressive and unjust rule of the Republic was exchanged for a much better during the Empire; and the provinces, at least during the first three centuries of our era, were prosperous and contented.

A. Souter.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: Ἐπαρχεία (Strong'S #1885 — Noun Feminine — eparcheia[-ia] — ep-ar-khee'-ah )

was a technical term for the administrative divisions of the Roman Empire. The original meaning was the district within which a magistrate, whether consul or pretor, exercised supreme authority. The word provincia acquired its later meaning when Sardinia and Sicily were added to the Roman territories, 227 B.C. On the establishment of the empire the proconsular power over all "provinces" was vested in the emperor. Two "provinces," Asia and Africa, were consular, i.e., held by ex-consuls; the rest were praetorian. Certain small "provinces," e.g. Judea and Cappadocia, were governed by procurators. They were usually districts recently added to the empire and not thoroughly Romanized. Judea was so governed in the intervals between the rule of native kings; ultimately it was incorporated in the "province" of Syria. The "province" mentioned in  Acts 23:34;  25:1 was assigned to the jurisdiction of an eparchos, "a prefect or governor" (cp. Governor, Poconsul ) In the Sept.,   Esther 4:11 .

2: Κανών (Strong'S #2583 — Noun Masculine — kanon — kan-ohn' )

originally denoted "a straight rod," used as a ruler or measuring instrument, or, in rare instances, "the beam of a balance," the secondary notion being either (a) of keeping anything straight, as of a rod used in weaving, or (b) of testing straightness, as a carpenter's rule; hence its metaphorical use to express what serves "to measure or determine" anything. By a common transition in the meaning of words, "that which measures," was used for "what was measured;" thus a certain space at Olympia was called a kanon. So in music, a canon is a composition in which a given melody is the model for the formation of all the parts. In general the word thus came to serve for anything regulating the actions of men, as a standard or principle. In  Galatians 6:16 , those who "walk by this rule (kanon)" are those who make what is stated in  Galatians 6:14,15 their guiding line in the matter of salvation through faith in Christ alone, apart from works, whether following the principle themselves or teaching it to others. In   2—Corinthians 10:13,15,16 , it is translated "province," RV (AV, "rule" and "line of things;" marg., "line;" RV marg., "limit" or "measuring rod.") Here it signifies the limits of the responsibility in gospel service as measured and appointed by God.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]


1. In the Old Testament, this word appears in connection with the wars between Ahab and Ben-hadad.  1 Kings 20:14-15;  1 Kings 20:19. The victory of the former is gained chiefly, "by the young," probably men of the princes of the provinces the chiefs: of tribes in the Gilead country.

2. More commonly, the word is used of the divisions of the Chaldean kingdom.  Daniel 2:49;  Daniel 3:1;  Daniel 3:30, and the Persian kingdom.  Ezra 2:1;  Nehemiah 7:6;  Esther 1:1;  Esther 1:22;  Esther 2:3; etc. In the New Testament, we are brought into contact with the administration of the provinces of the Roman empire. The classification of provinces supposed to need military control, and therefore, placed under the immediate government of the Caesar, and those still belonging, theoretically, to the republic, and administered by the senate, and of the latter, again, into proconsular and praetorian, is recognized, more or less distinctly, in the Gospels and the Acts. See Proconsul; Procurator .

The strategoi of  Acts 16:22, ( "Magistrates", Authorized Version), on the other hand, were the duumviri or praetors of a Roman colony. The right of any Roman citizen to appeal, from a provincial governor, to the emperor meets us as asserted by St. Paul.  Acts 25:11. In the council of  Acts 25:12, we recognize the assessors, who were appointed to take part in the judicial functions of the governor.

King James Dictionary [5]

PROV'INCE, n. L. provincia usually supposed to be formed from pro and vinco, to conquer. This is very doubtful, as provinco was not used by the Romans.

1. Among the Romans, a country of considerable extent, which being reduced under their dominion, was new-modeled, subjected to the command of an annual governor sent from Rome, and to such taxes and contributions as the Romans saw fit to impose. That part of France next to the Alps, was a Roman province, and still bears the name Provence. 2. Among the moderns, a country belonging to a kingdom or state, either by conquest or colonization, usually situated at a distance from the kingdom or state, but more or less dependent on it or subject to it. Thus formerly, the English colonies in North America were provinces of Great Britain, as Nova Scotia and Canada still are. The provinces of the Netherlands formerly belonged to the house of Austria and to Spain. 3. A division of a kingdom or state, of considerable extent. In England, a division of the ecclesiastical state under the jurisdiction of an archbishop, of which there are two, the province of Canterbury and that of York. 4. A region of country in a general sense a tract a large extent.

Over many a tract

Of heaven they march'd, and many a province wide.

They never look abroad into the provinces of the intellectual world.

5. The proper office or business of a person. It is the province of the judge to decide causes between individuals.

The woman's province is to be careful in her economy, and chaste in her affection.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [6]

(See Procurator ; Proconsul for the distinction of imperial and senatorial provinces under Rome, accurately observed in New Testament.) Ahab's "young men of the princes of the province" are probably young warriors of Gileadite chiefs recognizing his supremacy, but distinct from "the children of Israel" ( 1 Kings 20:14-15;  1 Kings 20:19). Provinces existed under Solomon in his wide empire ( Ecclesiastes 2:8;  Ecclesiastes 5:8). Under the Persian king were 127, each having its own system of finance and its treasurer ( Esther 1:1;  Esther 8:9;  Ezra 2:1;  Ezra 2:4;  Ezra 5:7;  Ezra 6:6;  Ezra 7:22;  Ezra 7:24; Herodotus iii. 89). The satrapies were only 20. The Jews had their "governor" ( Tirsbatha' ), of their own race ( Ezra 2:63;  Nehemiah 5:14;  Nehemiah 8:9), subject to the "satrap" ( Pathath ) of the provinces W. of Euphrates.

Webster's Dictionary [7]

(1): ( n.) The proper or appropriate business or duty of a person or body; office; charge; jurisdiction; sphere.

(2): ( n.) A country or region dependent on a distant authority; a portion of an empire or state, esp. one remote from the capital.

(3): ( n.) A country or region, more or less remote from the city of Rome, brought under the Roman government; a conquered country beyond the limits of Italy.

(4): ( n.) Specif.: Any political division of the Dominion of Canada, having a governor, a local legislature, and representation in the Dominion parliament. Hence, colloquially, The Provinces, the Dominion of Canada.

(5): ( n.) A region under the supervision or direction of any special person; the district or division of a country, especially an ecclesiastical division, over which one has jurisdiction; as, the province of Canterbury, or that in which the archbishop of Canterbury exercises ecclesiastical authority.

(6): ( n.) A region of country; a tract; a district.

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

Israel practiced a type of provincial system during Ahab's reign ( 1 Kings 20:14-15 ). Later, the Babylonians and Persians used such districts in Palestine ( Esther 4:11 ). The Romans refined the system dramatically and used it to maintain control over their vast empire. See Government; Rome.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

properly an outlying portion of an extended empire, such as the Persian or Roman. It is not intended here to do more than indicate the points of contact which this word presents with Biblical history and literature.

1. ( מְדַינָה , Medinah ; Sept. Χώρα ; Vulg. Provincia. ) In the Old Test. this term first appears in connection with the wars between Ahab and Ben- hadad ( 1 Kings 20:14-15;  1 Kings 20:19). The victory of the former was gained chiefly "by the young men of the princes of the provinces," i.e. probably of the chiefs of tribes in the Gilead country, recognising the supremacy of Ahab, and having a common interest with the Israelites in resisting the attacks of Syria. They are specially distinguished in  1 Kings 20:15 from "the children of Israel." Not the hosts of Ahab. but the younglest warriors ("armor-bearers," Keil, Ad Loc. ) of the land of Jephthah and Elijah, fighting with a fearless faith, were to carry off the glory of the battle (comp. Ewald, Gesch. 3, 492).

More commonly the word is used of the divisions of the Chaldaean ( Daniel 2:49;  Daniel 3:1;  Daniel 3:30) and the Persian kingdom ( Ezra 2:1;  Nehemiah 7:6;  Esther 1:1;  Esther 1:22;  Esther 2:3, etc.). The occurrence of the word in  Ecclesiastes 2:8;  Ecclesiastes 5:8, has been noted as an indication of the later date now frequently ascribed to that book. The facts as to the administration of the Persian provinces which come within our view in these passages are chiefly these: Each province had its own governor, who communicated more or less regularly with the central authority for instructions (Ezra 4, 5). Thus Tatnai, governor of the provinces on the right bank of the Euphrates, applied to Darius to know how he was to act as to the conflicting claims of the Apharsachites and the Jews (Ezra 5). Each province had its own system of finance, subject to the king's direction (Herodotus 3, 89). The "treasurer" was ordered to spend a given amount upon the Israelites ( Ezra 7:22), and to exempt them from all taxes ( Ezra 7:24). (See Tax).

The total number of the provinces is given at 127 ( Esther 1:1;  Esther 8:9). Through the whole extent of the kingdom there was carried something like a postal system. The king's couriers ( Βιβλιόφοροι , the Ἄγγαροι of Herod. 8:98) conveyed his letters or decrees ( Esther 1:22;  Esther 3:13). From all provinces concubines were collected for his harem ( Esther 2:3). Horses, mules, or dromedaries were employed on this service ( Esther 8:10). (Comp. Herod. 8:98; Xenoph. Cyrop. 8:6; Heeren's Persians, ch. 2.) The word is used, it must be remembered, of the smaller sections of a satrapy rather than of the satrapy itself. While the provinces are 127, the satrapies are only 20 (Herod. iii, 89). The Jews who returned from Babylon are described as "children of the province" ( Ezra 2:1;  Nehemiah 7:6), and had a separate governor [(See Tirshatha)] of their own race ( Ezra 2:63;  Nehemiah 5:14;  Nehemiah 8:9); while they were subject to the satrap ( פִּחִת ) of the whole province west of the Euphrates ( Ezra 5:7;  Ezra 6:6).

2. ( Ε᾿Παρχία ) In the New Test. we are brought into contact with the administration of the provinces of the Roman empire. The classification given by Strabo (17, p. 840) of provinces ( Ἐπαρχίαι ) supposed to need military control, and therefore placed under the immediate government of the Caesar, and those still belonging theoretically to the republic, and administered by the senate, and of the latter again into proconsular ( Ὑπατικαί ) and praetorian ( Στρατηγικαί ) , is recognised, more or less distinctly, in the Gospels and the Acts. (See Procurator).

Cyrenius (Quirinus) was the Ἡγεμών of Syria ( Luke 2:2), the word being in this case used for prteses or proconsul. Pilate was the Ἡγεμών of the sub- province of Judsea ( Luke 3:1;  Matthew 27:2, etc.), as procurator with the power of a legatus; and the same title is given to his successors, Felix and Festus ( Acts 23:24;  Acts 25:1;  Acts 26:30). The governors of the senatorial provinces of Cyprus, Achaia, and Asia, on the other hand, are rightly described as Ἀνθύπατοι , proconsuls ( Acts 13:7;  Acts 18:12;  Acts 19:38). In the two former cases the province had been originally an imperial one, but had been transferred-Cyprus by Augustus (Dio Cass. liv, 4), Achaia by Claudius (Sueton. Claud. 25)-to the senate. The Στρατηγοί of  Acts 16:22 (A.V. "magistrates"), on the other hand, were the duumviri, or praetors, of a Roman colony. The duty of the legati and other provincial governors to report special cases to the emperor is recognised in  Acts 25:26, and furnished the groundwork for the spurious Acta Pilati. (See Pilate).

The right of any Roman citizen to appeal from a provincial governor to the emperor meets us as asserted by Paul ( Acts 25:11). In the council ( Συμβούλιον ) of  Acts 25:12 we recognise the assessors who were appointed to take part in the judicial functions of the governor. The authority of the legatus, proconsul, or procurator, extended, it need hardly be said, to capital punishment (subject, in the case of Roman citizens, to the right of appeal), and, in most cases, the power of inflicting it belonged to him exclusively. It was necessary for the Sanhedrim to gain Pilate's consent to the execution of our Lord ( John 18:31). The strict letter of the law forbade governors of provinces to take their wives with them, but the cases of Pilate's wife ( Matthew 27:19) and Drusilla ( Acts 24:24) show that it had fallen into disuse. Tacitus ( Ann. 3, 33, 34) records an unsuccessful attempt to revive the old practice. (See Proconsul).

PROVINCE is, in ecclesiastical language, the jurisdiction of an archbishop. (See Diocese).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

prov´ins ( מדינה , medhı̄nāh , "jurisdiction"; ἐπαρχία , eparchı́a (English Versions of the Bible, province ) ( Acts 23:34;  Acts 25:1 )):

1. Meaning of the Term

2. Roman Provincial Administration

(1) First Period

(2) Second Period

(3) Third Period

3. Division of Provinces

4. Province of Judea

5. Revenue


1. Meaning of the Term:

Province ( provincia ) did not originally denote a territorial circumscription in Roman usage, since the employment of the word was much more ancient than any of the conquests of the Romans outside of Italy. In the most comprehensive official sense it signified a magistrate's sphere of administrative action, which in one instance might be the direction of jurisdiction at Rome, in another the management of military operations against a particular hostile community. When the imperium was conferred upon two consuls at the beginning of the Republic, and upon a praetor in 367 BC, and finally upon a second praetor in 241 BC, it became necessary in practice to define their individual competence which was unlimited in theory. When the Romans extended their control over lands situated outside of Italy, it became expedient to fix territorial limits to the exercise of authority by the magistrates who were regularly sent abroad, so that provincia signified henceforth in an abstract sense the rule of the governor, and in a concrete sense the specified region entrusted to his care; and with the development and consolidation of the Roman system of administration, the geographical meaning of the word became more and more significant.

2. Roman Provincial Administration:

The history of Roman provincial administration in the more definite sense commences in 227 BC, when four praetors were elected for the first time, of whom two were assigned to the government of the provinces. Three periods may be distinguished in the history of the system of provincial administration: (1) from 227 Bc to Sulla, (2) from Sulla to Augustus, and (3) the Empire.

(1) First Period.

During the first period, provision was made for the government of the provinces by means of special praetors, or, in exceptional circumstances, by consuls, during their term of office. Accordingly, the number of praetors was increased from four in 227 Bc to eight at the time of Sulla.

(2) Second Period.

In accordance with the reforms of Sulla all the consuls and praetors remained at Rome during their year of office, and were entrusted with the administration of provinces a subsequent year with the title proconsul ( pro consule ) or propraetor ( pro praetore ). The proconsuls were sent to the more important provinces. The senate determined the distinction between consular and praetorian provinces and generally controlled the assignment of the provinces to the ex-magistrates. Julius Caesar increased the praetors to sixteen, but Augustus reduced them to twelve.

(3) Third Period.

In 27 BC, Augustus as commander-in-chief of the Roman army definitely assumed the administration of all provinces which required the presence of military forces and left the other provinces to the control of the senate. There were then twelve imperial and ten senatorial provinces, but all provinces added after 27 Bc came under imperial administration. The emperor administered his provinces through the agency of personal delegates, legati Augusti of senatorial, and praefecti or procuratores of equestrian, rank. The term of their service was not uniform, but continued usually for more than a single year. The senatorial administration was essentially a continuation of the post-Sullan, republican regime. The senatorial governors were called proconsuls generally, whether they were of consular or praetorian rank; but Africa and Asia alone were reserved for exconsuls, the eight remaining senatorial provinces being attributed to ex-praetors. The financial administration of each imperial province was entrusted to a procurator, that of each senatorial province to a quaestor.

3. Division of Provinces:

The provinces were divided into smaller circumscriptions ( civitates ) for the purposes of local government. In the older provinces these districts corresponded generally with the urban communities which had been the units of sovereignty before the advent of the Romans. Under Roman rule they were divided into different classes on the basis of their dignity and prerogatives, as follows:

(1) Coloniae:

Roman or Latin colonies established after the model of the Italian commonwealths.

(2) Civitates Foederatae:

Communities whose independence had been guaranteed by a formal treaty with Rome.

(3) Civitates Liberae:

Communities whose independence the Romans respected, although not bound to do so by a formal obligation.

(4) Civitates Stipendiariae:

Communities which had surrendered to the discretion of the Romans and to which limited powers of local government were granted by the conquerors as a matter of convenience.

The civitates stipendiariae , and in some cases the colonies, paid taxes to the Roman government, the greater part of which was in the form either of a certain proportion of the annual products of the soil, such as a fifth or tenth, or a fixed annual payment in money or kind.

4. Province of Judea:

Judaea became a part of the province of Syria in 63 BC, but was assigned in 40 Bc as a kingdom to Herod the Great, whose sovereignty became effective three years later. The provincial regime was reestablished in 6 AD, and was broken only during the years 41-44 AD, when Herod Agrippa was granted royal authority over the land (Josephus, Josephus, Antiquities Xix , viii, 2). The Roman administration was in the hands of the procurators (see Procurators ) who resided at Caesarea (Josephus, Bj , II, xv, 6;  Acts 23:23 ,  Acts 23:33;  Acts 25:1 ) in the palace of Herod the Great (Acts 23 through 35). The procurators of Judea were subject to the authority of the imperial governors of Syria, as is evident from the deposition of Pontius Pilate by Vitellius (Josephus, Ant. , Xviii , iv, 2; Tacitus, Annals vi. 32). The procurator was competent to exercise criminal jurisdiction over the provincials in cases involving a capital sentence (Josephus, BJ , II, viii, 1), but he was bound to grant an appeal by Roman citizens for trial at Rome ( Acts 25:11 ). A death sentence by the Sanhedrin required the sanction of the procurator, as appears in the process against the Saviour. Under Roman rule cities like Caesarea, Sebaste, and Jerusalem became organs for local government, like the urban communities in other parts of the Empire.

5. Revenue:

The revenue of Palestine under Claudius is said to have been 12,000,000 denarii (about ,400,000, or 500,000 British pounds (in 1915); compare Josephus, Ant. Xix , viii, 2). In addition to the ground tax, the amount of which is not known, a variety of indirect contributions were collected on auctions, salt, highways, bridges, etc., which constituted, no doubt, the field of activity in which the publicans gained their unenviable reputation.


The reader may be directed to Marquardt, Romische Staatsverwaltung , I, 497-502,517-57, for a general discussion of the Roman system of provincial administration, and to the same volume, pp. 405-12, for the provincial government of Palestine.