Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) was founded around 315 B.C. by Macedon's King Cassander, on or near the ancient site of Therma. The king named the city after his wife Thessalonike, who was Alexander the Great's half-sister. The city was an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Macedon until 168 B.C. when it became a city of the Roman Republic. It grew to be an important trading hub by facilitating the exchange of goods between Europe and Asia. Thessalonica eventually became the capital city of the Roman district it was located in. The city contained a amphitheater where entertainment in the form of gladiatorial shows were held for the local citizens and also a circus were exhibited for the amusement of the citizens, and a circus where games for the public took place.
As part of his second missionary journey the Apostle Paul visits Thessalonica with Timothy and Silas. He visits one of the chief Jewish synagogues in the area and for three consecutive Sabbaths explains why Jesus is the Old Testament prophesied Savior (Acts 17:2 - 4). Although many believe what he says certain Jews, envious of the Gospel's success, form a mob and start a riot (Acts 17:4 - 5). The riotous crowd go to the house of Jason (where he was staying) seeking him and Silas. When they are not found the crowd drags Jason and some brethren to the local civil magistrate and accuses them of wrongdoing. In a short time, however, Jason and the brethren are let go (Acts 17:1 - 9).
Paul and Silas are soon sent by the brethren out of the city and to Berea.
Paul wrote, from the city of Corinth, his first letter to the church residing in Thessalonica in 50 A.D. He wrote a second letter to the area in 51 A.D. These two epistles are the first ones written by the apostle that are included in the New Testament. It is also interesting to note that the prevalence of Gentiles in the city was such that Paul's two letters do not use ANY quotations from the Old Testament.