In the Old Testament, is put for the Hebrew word Javan, which is equivalent to Ionia, and seems to include not only Greece but western Asia Minor, and the intervening isles, all settled by the Ionian race, Genesis 10:2. Greece proper, however, is chiefly intended. It is not often mentioned in the Old Testament, Daniel 8:21 10:20 11:2 Joel 3:6 Zechariah 9:13. See JAVAN.
In the New Testament, Greece is called Hellas, a name supposed to have belonged first to a single city, but at length applied to the whole country south of Macedonia. About B. C. 146, the Romans conquered Greece, and afterwards organized two great provinces, namely, Macedonia, including Macedonia proper, Thessaly, Epirus, and Illyricum; and Achaia, including all the country, which lies south of the former province. (See ACHAIA.) In Acts 20:3, Greece is probably to be taken in its widest acceptation, as including the whole of Greece proper and the Peloponnesus. This country was bounded north by Macedonia and Illyricum, from which it was separated by mountains, south by the Mediterranean sea, east by the Aegean sea, and west by the Ionian sea. It was generally known under the three great divisions of Peloponnesus, Hellas, and Northern Greece.
Peloponnesus, more anciently called Pelasgia, and Argos, and now the Morea, was the southern peninsula; it included the famous cities, Sparta, Messene, Elis, Corinth, Argos, etc. The division of Hellas, which now constitutes a great part of Livadia, included Thessaly and Epirus, with the cities Larissa, Nicopolis, etc. The large islands of Crete and Euboea belonged to Greece, as well as most of those in the Archipelago and on the west.
The Jews and the Greeks appear to have had little intercourse with each other, until after Alexander the Great overran Egypt, Syria, and the East. They then began to come in contact everywhere, for both races were widely dispersed. The Jews extended the name of Greeks to include the people conquered and ruled by Greeks; and the word is thus nearly synonymous in the New Testament with Gentiles, Mark 7:26 Acts 20:21 Romans 1:16. The term "Grecian" or Hellenists, on the contrary, denotes a Jew by birth or religion, who spoke Greek. It is used chiefly of foreign Jews and proselytes, in contrast with the Hebrews, that is, those speaking the vernacular Hebrew, or Aramaean, Acts 6:1 9:29. The Greeks were a vivacious, acute, and polished, but superficial people, compared with the Jews. They excelled in all the arts of war and peace; but were worshippers of beauty, not of duty. Their pride of intellect, and their corruption of morals, were almost insurmountable obstacles to their reception of Christianity. Yet it was among the Greek cities and people that chiefly labored, and with great success. Many flourishing churches were, in early times, established among them; and there can be no doubt that they, for a long time, preserved the apostolic customs with much care. At length, however, opinions fluctuated considerably on points of doctrine; schisms and heresies divided the church; and rancor, violence, and even persecution followed in their train. To check these evils, councils were called and various creeds composed. The removal of the seat of government from Rome to Constantinople, gave a preponderance to the Grecian districts of the empire, and the ecclesiastical determinations of the Greek Church were extensively received. In the middle of the eighth century disputes arose, which terminated in a permanent schism between the Greek and Latin churches. The Greek Church has a general resemblance to the Roman-catholic, and embraces a population of not far from fifty millions of souls, in Russia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, etc.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'GREECE'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".