What is the significance of the magi?

Commonly, the Magi are thought to be either heathen/pagan worshippers of the Zoroastrian god, or pehaps practisers of black magic. Just because something is considered by many as correct, does not make it so - like the earth is flat. So in keeping with the category, let's refer to the Scriptures for answers.
The earliest mention of 'Magi' occurs in Jeremiah 39:3,13 where the term in the KJV is 'Rab-mag' that was left untranslated as no one knew the meaning. However, it has come to be deciphered to mean 'Chief Magi' who were pagan priests, physicians, and learned men in the company of Babylonians. The stem word comes from 'mag or mog' meaning priest or great one in the Old Persian or 'pahlavi' language. A reliable Bible dictionary will confirm this for the reader. Examples of this definition may be found in the Book of Esther - Harman the Agagite, and Bar-Jesus or Elymas the sorcerer (Magi) in Acts 13. So we have one definition of the term Magi from the Bible. But there is another also.
In Daniel 2:48 we read, "Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler of the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men (Hebrew: Magi) of Babylon. So one of God's prophets and righteous men is in charge of the Babylonian Magi who certainly taught others God's ways as he lived a long time amongst them. As Daniel taught of the Christ and the end of the reign of men, these Magi became aware of this as well.
Their home, as is most commonly suggested is in Persia. Yet, these Persian Magi were priest of the Zoroastrian savior. Ask yourself, would Zoroastrian priests come to see Christ being born King? The 'Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics,' Hastings, Vol VII, p. 244 says, " It is noteworthy, therefore, that Matthew 2...isolates the Magi from Persian religion. Hastings has much to say proving these Magi did not study astronomy and despised dreams. In contrast, the Wise Men of Matthew's account are very learned in astronomy, and certainly considered dreams.
No, the wise men are not Persian, not Zoroastrian Magi. The best identification for them are the Parthian Empire, the land of the Magi, the empire of the East in power from about 250 BC to about 226 AD. These 'peoples' just happened to arise in the southern shores of the Caspian Sea during the time of the House of Israel (not House of Judah) dispersion from their previous Assyrian captivity. The geographer Strabo shows a strong influence of these Magi in the king's council of Parthia - consisting of 2 groups - kinsmen and Wise Men (Magi) both appointed by the kings (Geography, 11.9.3).
The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2 follows the prophecy of Numbers 24:17. If these Magi are actually the 'lost 10 tribesmen' it would account for the Apostle Thomas' work in Parthia with the Magi after Christ's resurrection. As Christ said in Matthew 15:24, 'I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' But we never read of Christ going to them perhaps because the House of Israel came to Christ at His birth via the caravan of Magi (representing the lost sheep of Israel).
The term magi always referred to the priests of the Persian religion, Zoroastrianism. One significance of this is that the Persian Empire was still powerful and important even during the Roman Era, in fact it was the only power really capable of halting the expansion of the Roman Empire. At the time of Jesus, the Persian Empire extended east of the Euphrates River. It is also significant that the Persians had freed the Jews from captivity in the Babylonian Empire and had undoubtedly influenced the culture of the ancient Jews, and arguably the religion as well. For their generosity and support, they were well respected by the Jews. Finally, the Zoroastrians were awaiting the return of the Saoshyant, who would be born of a virgin and lead mankind in the final battle against evil.

Matthew's Gospel portrays the magi, the priests of the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda, as wanting to visit and worship the baby Jesus. Thus, he showed the priests of this great religion as recognising the authority of Jesus over the people of the Persian Empire. Jesus was the baby born of a virgin and implicitly the baby for whom the magi waited, to lead them in the final battle against evil.

In later centuries, the Zoroastrian connection became less important, and the magi now tend to be referred to in English translations simply as wise men, or even 'kings', a description a magus would certainly have rejected.