THESSALONICA (ACTS 17:1). What sounds like a pleasant stroll was 100 Roman miles: to Amphipolis (33 miles), to Apollonia (30 miles) to Thessalonica (37 miles). Travel weary and still sore from flogging and stocks, they arrived at Thessalonica (modern Salonika), which was strategically located on the Thermatic Gulf. The great Roman road from the Adriatic Sea to the Middle East was called the Egnatian Way; and the main street of Thessalonica was actually part of that road. If Christianity was firmly founded in Thessalonica, it could spread both east and west along that road. Cicero described it as “situated in the bosom of our domain.”
To the south is Mt. Olympus, legendary home of the gods whom Christ had come to supplant. Few Greeks now believed that gods resided on Olympus but their existence seemed nonetheless real to those who worshiped them.
The city was probably founded by Cassander in 315 B.C., and named for his wife, the daughter of Philip II. When Rome conquered Macedonia in 167 B.C., Thessalonica became the capital of the second of four administrative districts of the province. Then with the reorganization of Macedonia into one province in 142 B.C., Thessalonica became its capital. It was declared a free city in 42 B.C. Thessalonica naturally attracted diverse groups of people, including a substantial Jewish population. True to their policy of “to the Jews first but also to the Gentiles” the missionaries started to evangelize the city at the synagogue.
At Thessalonica, Paul became a tentmaker again. It is the first place in which he or Luke mentions his earning a living. In two or three weeks, or more, he taught a consider amount of doctrine according to his two letters to the church of the Thessalonians.