Besides the two epistles (letters) written by Paul to the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians), Thessalonica is also mentioned in the New Testament in a 7 other occasions:
- When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. (Acts 17:1; NIV)
- Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11; NIV)
- But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. (Acts 17:13; NIV)
- He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. (Acts 20:4; NIV)
- We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. (Acts 27:2; NIV)
- For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. (Philippians 4:16; NIV)
- For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10, NIV)
The fact that the Thessalonica is mentioned on numerous occasions within the New Testament reflects its importance to the early church.
Where is Thessalonica? It is in Greece and is today known as Thessaloniki.
Specifically, with regards to its location, Thessaloniki is in the north of Greece, while Athens is in the south.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2, we read: “So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith” (NIV).
I visited Thessaloniki in November 2011 and it took me a good 50-minute plane ride to reach Thessaloniki from Athens. Considering the length of my plane journey, it is understandable that distance would have been the primary reason that the Apostle Paul could not personally keep in touch with the Thessalonian church as much as he would have liked to.
Today, Thessaloniki resembles any other modern city in the world, as the following photos would attest to:
However, unlike many modern cities such as Singapore, Thessaloniki possesses a rich past dating back to ancient times, and it is just amazing to see how beautiful ancient architecture juxtaposing with the city’s vibrant, modern way of life
Here’s a great video by Alkis Kakaliagos to introduce the city (mixed with Greek music):