The original name of this city was Therma; and that part of the Macedonian shore on which it was situated retained through the Roman period the designation of the Thermaic Gulf. Cassander the son of Antipater rebuilt and enlarged Therma, and named it after his wife Thessalonica, the sister of Alexander the Great. The name ever since, under various slight modifications, has been continuous, and the city itself has never ceased to be eminent. Saloniki is still the most important town of European Turkey, next after Constantinople. Strabo in the first century speaks of Thessalonica as the most populous city in Macedonia. Visit of Paul: St. Paul visited Thessalonica (with Silas and Timothy) during his second missionary journey, and introduced Christianity there, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The first scene of the apostle's work at Thessalonica was the synagogue. (Acts 17:2,3) It is stated that the ministrations among the Jews continued for three weeks. ver. 2. Not that we are obliged to limit to this time the whole stay of the apostle at Thessalonica. A flourishing church was certainly formed there; and the epistles show that its elements were more Gentile than Jewish. [For persecution and further history see Paul] Circumstances which led Paul to Thessalonica: Three circumstances must here be mentioned which illustrate in an important manner this visit and this journey as well as the two Epistles to the Thessalonians.
This was the chief station on the great Roman road called the Via Egnatia, which connected Rome with the whole region to the north of the AEgean Sea.
Placed as if was on this great road, and in connection with other important Roman ways. Thessalonica was an invaluable centre for the spread of the gospel. In fact it was nearly if not quite on a level with Corinth and Ephesus in its share of the commerce of the Levant.
The circumstance noted in (Acts 17:1) that here was the synagogue of the Jews in this part of Macedonia, had evidently much to do with the apostle's plans,and also doubtless with his success. Trade would inevitably bring Jews to Thessalonica; and it is remarkable that they have ever since had a prominent place in the annals of the city. Later ecclesiastical history: During several centuries this city was the bulwark not simply of the later Greek empire, but of Oriental Christendom, and was largely instrumental in the conversion of the Slavonians and Bulgarians. Thus it received the designation of "the orthodox city;" and its struggles are very prominent in the writings of the Byzantine historians.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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