Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) was founded around 315 B.C. by King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma. The king named the city after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great. 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. The city eventually became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia. The city boasted a celebrated amphitheater, where gladiatorial shows were exhibited for the amusement of the citizens, and a circus for public games.
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:
"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.' And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
"But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, 'These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king - Jesus.'
"And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go." (Acts 17:1-9, NKJV)
Paul and Silas are soon sent by the brethren out of the city and to Berea.
It is interesting to note that the prevalence of Gentiles in the church was such that in Paul's two Epistles to them (1Thessalonians, 2Thessalonians) he does not use ANY quotations from the Old Testament.