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thessalonica Summary and Overview

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thessalonica in Easton's Bible Dictionary

a large and populous city on the Thermaic bay. It was the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia, and was ruled by a praetor. It was named after Thessalonica, the wife of Cassander, who built the city. She was so called by her father, Philip, because he first heard of her birth on the day of his gaining a victory over the Thessalians. On his second missionary journey, Paul preached in the synagogue here, the chief synagogue of the Jews in that part of Macedonia, and laid the foundations of a church (Acts 17:1-4; 1 Thes. 1:9). The violence of the Jews drove him from the city, when he fled to Berea (Acts 17:5-10). The "rulers of the city" before whom the Jews "drew Jason," with whom Paul and Silas lodged, are in the original called politarchai, an unusual word, which was found, however, inscribed on an arch in Thessalonica. This discovery confirms the accuracy of the historian. Paul visited the church here on a subsequent occasion (20:1-3). This city long retained its importance. It is the most important town of European Turkey, under the name of Saloniki, with a mixed population of about 85,000.

thessalonica in Smith's Bible Dictionary

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. The first scene of the apostle's work at Thessalonica was the synagogue. #Ac 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. 1. 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. 2. 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. 3. The circumstance noted in #Ac 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.

thessalonica in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

THESSALONI'CA , a city of Macedonia. It was anciently called Thermae ("hot baths"), but Cassander, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, rebuilt the city, and called it, after his wife, Alexander's sister, Thessalonica. The city was situated at the north-east corner of the Thermaic Gulf. It was in Paul's time a free city of the Romans, the most populous city in Macedonia, and the capital of one of the four Roman divisions of Macedonia, which extended from the river Strymon on the east to the Axius on the west. Scripture History. - Paul and Silas, in a.d. 58, came to Thessalonica from Philippi, which was 100 miles northeast, on the Via Egnatia. There was the synagogue of the Jews. For at least three Sabbaths the apostles preached to their countrymen. A church was gathered, principally composed of Gentiles. At length the persecution became so violent as to drive the apostle away. He desired to revisit the church there, and sent Timothy to minister to them. Among his converts were Caius, Aristarchus, Secundus, and perhaps Jason. Acts 17:1-13; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; comp. Phil 4:16; 2 Tim 4:10. Paul wrote two Epistles to the Thessalonian church from Corinth. 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1. Thessalonica. The "rulers" of the city. Acts 17:6, 1 Kgs 15:8, are called, in the original, "politarchs." This is a peculiar term, not elsewhere found in the N.T., but this very word appears in the inscription on a triumphal arch believed to have been erected after the battle of Philippi. The names of seven politarchs are given. During several centuries Thessalonica was an important centre of Christianity in the Oriental Church, and from it the Bulgarians and Slavonians were reached. Present Condition. - Thessalonica still survives as a Turkish town, under the name of Salonika. It has a conspicuous and beautiful situation on a hill sloping back from the gulf, and its palaces and mosques present a fine appearance. Its walls are some 5 miles in circumference. The streets are narrow and irregular. Many of the mosques were formerly Christian churches. It is also the seat of a Greek metropolitan, and contains numerous churches and schools of different denominations. Its commerce is extensive; some four thousand vessels visit its harbor every year, representing the trade of France, Austria, Italy, England, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, the United States, etc. The population is about 80,000, of whom 30,000 are Jews and 10,000 Greeks. Among the most important of the ancient monuments are a hippodrome, a colonnade built under Nero, the triumphal arch commemorating the battle of Philippi, and another triumphal arch, of the time of Constantine.

thessalonica in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

A town of Macedonia on the Thermaic gulf, now the gulf of Saloniki. Therma was its original name, which Cossander changed into Thessalonica in honour of his wife, Philip's daughter. It rises from the end of the basin at the head of the gulf up the declivity behind, presenting a striking appearance from the sea. After the battle of Pydna Thessalonica fell under Rome and was made capital of the second region of Macedonia. Afterward, when the four regions or governments were united in one province, Thessalonica became virtually the metropolis. Situated on the Via Ignatia which traversed the S. coast of Macedonia and Thrace, connecting thereby those regions with Rome, Thessalonica, with its harbour on the other hand connecting it commercially with Asia Minor, naturally took the leading place among the cities in that quarter. Paul was on the Via Ignatia at Neapolis and Philippi, Amphipolis and Apollonia (Acts 16:11-40; Acts 17:1), as well as at Thessalonica. The population of Saloniki is even now 60,000, of whom 10,000 are Jews. Trade in all ages attracted the latter to Thessalonica, and their synagogue here was the starting point of Paul's evangelizing. Octavius Augustus rewarded its adhesion to his cause in the second civil war by making it "a free city" with a popular assembly ("the people") and "rulers of the city" (politarchs: Acts 17:1; Acts 17:5; Acts 17:8); this political term is to be read still on an arch spanning the main street, from it we learn there were seven politarchs. Its commercial intercourse with the inland plains of Macedonia on the N., and on the S. with Greece by sea, adapted it admirably as a center from whence the gospel word "sounded out not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place" (1 Thessalonians 1:8). Paul visited T. on his second missionary tour. frontPAUL and JASON on this visit.) Other Thessalonian Christians were Demas perhaps, Gaius (Acts 19:29), Secundus, and Aristarchus (Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; Acts 19:29). On the same night that the Jewish assault on Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas his guests took place, the latter two set out for Berea. Again Paul visited Thessalonica (Acts 20:1-3), probably also after his first imprisonment at Rome (1 Timothy 1:3, in accordance with his hope, Philemon 1:25-26; Philemon 2:24). Thessalonica was the mainstay of Eastern Christianity in the Gothic invasion in the third century. To Thessalonica the Sclaves and the Bulgarians owed their conversion; from whence it was called "the orthodox city." It was taken by the Saracens in 904 A.D., by the Crusaders in 1185 A.D., and by the Turks in 1430; and the murder of the foreign consuls in 1876 had much to do with the last war of 1876-1877, between Russia and Turkey. Eustathius, the critic of the 12th century, belonged to Thessalonica. The main street still standing is the old Via Ignatia, running E. and W., as is shown by the two arches which span it, one at the E. the other at the W. end; on that at the E. end are figures in low relief representing the triumphs of a Roman emperor.