Summary: Background On the History of Paul as he move about preaching the gospel.
A. Paul comes to Macedonia Acts 16: 6-10
There was something driving him relentlessly on the Aegean Sea. So he came to Alexandrian Troas, still uncertain where he ought to go; and then there came to him a vision in the night of a man who cried, "Come over into Macedonia and help us."Paul set sail, and for the first time the gospel came to Europe. W.B.
Paul left Alexandrian Troas which was called after Alexander the Great; he came to Macedonia which was Alexander's original kingdom; he worked at Philippi which was called after Philip, Alexander's father (Paul, Silas, Luke, and Timothy first arrived in Philippi where they led Lydia and her household to Christ and there established a church. Paul and Silas were arrested on false charges, beaten, and put into jail. But God delivered them and they were able to lead the jailer and his household to faith in Christ.); he went on to Thessalonica (100 miles from Philippi) which was called after Alexander's half-sister. (Cassander had rebuilt the city and renamed it Thessalonica, the name of his wife, who was a daughter of Philip of Macedon and a half-sister of Alexander the Great. The whole territory was saturated with memories of Alexander; and Paul must surely have thought, not of a country nor of a continent, but of a world for Christ. W.B.
B. Background on Thessalonica
Thessalonica used to be known as Salonika. Today it is known as Thessaloniki. It is an important industrial and commercial city in modern Greece and is second to Athens in population. It served as an important Allied base during WW I. In WW II, it was captured by the German army, and the Jewish population of about 60,000 persons was deported and exterminated.
It is an ancient city, originally named Therma from the many hot springs adjacent to it. In 315 B.C. it was renamed Thessalonica after the half sister of Alexander the Great. When Rome conquered Macedonia in 168 B. C., the city was made the capital of that entire province. In Paul's day 200,000 people lived there, most of them Greeks, but also many Romans and a strong Jewish minority. Today, it has a population of 300,000, and is one of the few cities that has survived from the NT era of apostolic ministry. W.W.
The supreme importance of Thessalonica lay in this--it straddled the Via Egnatia, the Egnation Road, which stretch from Dyrrachium on the Adriatic to Constantinople on the Bosphorus and thence away to Asian Minor and the East. Its main street was part of the very road which linked Rome with the East. East and West converged on Thessalonica; it was said to be "in the lap of the Roman Empire." Trade poured into her from East and West, so that it was said, "So long as nature does not change, Thessalonica will remain wealthy and prosperous." W.B.
It is impossible to overstress the importance of the arrival of Christianity to Thessalonica. If Christianity was settled there, it was bound to spread East along the Egnation Road until all Asia was conquered and West until it stormed even the city of Rome. The coming of Christianity to Thessalonica was crucial in the making of it into a world religion. W.B.
C. Paul's stay at Thessalonica
The story of Paul's stay at Thessalonica is in Acts 17:1-10. He preached in the synagogue for three Sabbaths (Acts 17:2) which means that his stay there could not have been more than three weeks in length. W.B.
Does the statement "three Sabbath days" mean three weeks only, or that he preached in the synagogue only three weeks but continued in another place? We know that Paul was there long enough to receive two "home missions offerings" from the Church in Philippi (Phil 4:16). Also, Paul worked at his tentmaking trade to support himself ( 1 Thes. 2:9; 2 Thes. 3:6-15). W.W.
Paul had such tremendous success that the Jews were enraged and raised so much trouble that Paul had to be smuggled out, in peril of his life to Berea (40 miles from Thessalonica). The same thing happened in Berea (Acts 17:10-12) and Paul had to leave Timothy and Silas behind and make his escape to Athens. When Paul left for Athens, He told Timothy and Silas to remain there and help the new church and then to join him later. When they did meet again, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to encourage the Christians and assure them of his love and concern. From Athens, Paul traveled to Corinth. It was when Timothy rejoined Paul at Corinth and gave him the report on the new church that Paul wrote 1 Thes. He wrote 2 Thes. just a short time later. The letter to the Thessalonians was written either from Athens or Corinth.