Athens, capital of modern Greece, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It was also considered the most celebrated destination in the ancient world. It was the focal point of Greek art and writing during the golden age of Grecian history. Although eventually conquered by Rome, its culture and learning spread throughout the Roman world.
One of the characteristics that made the inhabitants of this city in Greece unique was their obsession with worshipping deities. One Roman satirist is noted as stating it was "easier to find a god at Athens than a man." Their zealousness was so acute that Scripture states the city was "wholly given to idolatry" (Acts 17:16) and that they had altars dedicated "to the unknown god" (verse 23) to appease those deities they were not aware of!
The Holman Bible Dictionary says no Biblical record exists of a church formed in the city. That said, the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia states that a Christian community, albeit small, was formed soon after Paul visited and preached in the city (article entitled "Christian Athens"). Acts tells us that that a man named Dionysius (a prominent citizen and member of the Athenian Supreme Court), a woman named Damaris, and others became believers (Acts 17:34).
Berea, located in the Roman province of Macedonia in Greece, means a "place of many waters."
The Apostle Paul visited the city during his second (49 to 52 A.D.) and third (53 to 58 A.D.) missionary journeys. His first visit in 50 A.D. happened abruptly, when he and Silas fled to Berea after they were chased out of Thessalonica by zealous Jews (Acts 17:5 - 10). Arriving in the city, they were impressed that the people, unlike those of Thessalonica, had a sincere interest in understanding God's truth and were willing to verify what Paul taught through studying the Scriptures (verses 11 - 12). One of Paul's traveling companions during the last half of his third journey was a man named Sopater from Berea (Acts 20:4).
Cenchrea, a port city on the isthmus that connects the Peloponnesus to the Greek mainland, was located about nine miles (14.5 kilometers) east of Corinth. Its access to the Mediterranean allowed Corinthian trade to travel by water to Asia and other eastern sections of the Roman Empire.
Paul's well-known epistle to the Romans was written in Macedonia and taken to Rome by Phoebe, a deaconess in a home church that met in Cenchrea. Paul not only commends her character and charity in serving God's people but also instructs brethren in Rome to give her whatever she needs when she arrives (Romans 16:1 - 2).
In relation to Cenchrea, Corinth was located on the opposite side of the isthmus that connected the Peloponnesus to the Greek mainland. Ironically, although the city was ancient in the first century A.D., it was quite new. In 146 B.C., the Romans burned the city to the ground, killed all the city's males and sold both women and children into slavery. A century later, Julius Caesar completely rebuilt the city. It subsequently grew so rapidly that it quickly became an important economic area in the Empire and the seat of government for the province of Achaia (see Acts 18:12 - 16).
Corinth, along with Jerusalem, Syrian Antioch and Ephesus, was one of the few prominent centers of early Christianity. It also one of the few cities Paul stayed in for an extended period (the others being Caesarea and Rome (as a prisoner), Syrian Antioch, Ephesus and Tarsus).
Corinth boasted several house churches. A group of Christians met in the home of Justus, whose residence was right next to a local Jewish synagogue (Acts 18:7). Those who also hosted brethren in their home were Chloe (1Corinthians 1:11) and Gaius (Romans 16:23), who was one of only a very few people personally baptized by Paul (1Corinthians 1:14). A home fellowship may have also been hosted by a man named Crispus (1Corinthians 1:14).
Philippi, anciently, was the site of a rich gold mine. King Philip II of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great) seized the mines in the area, fortified the city, and named it after himself. Later Philippi became a Roman colony (Acts 16:12) and, at the time of the New Testament, was more a military town than a hub of major commerce.
Paul visited Philippi on his second and third evangelistic journeys. It is the place where he made his first convert on the European continent, a woman named Lydia, who traveled extensively due to her business of selling purple dyed fabrics (Acts 16:13 - 15). It is also the location where the first European Christian church started. The believers in the area were special to Paul, as they were the only ones who supported him financially, even as he ministered in other areas (2Corinthians 11:7 - 9, Philippians 4:15 - 18).
Thessalonica was Macedonia's most populous city, maintained the province's largest port, and was its capital city. It was founded in 315 B.C. by Cassander, a relative of Alexander the Great who also was one of his generals. It was located on the Thermaic Gulf and at the end of a major trade route that started at the Danube. Thessalonica (along with Corinth) was the two most important economic centers of all of Greece.
As a designated "free city" in the Roman Empire, Thessalonica had no army garrison within its walls and benefitted from the privilege of striking its own coins.
The Apostle Paul evangelized the city during his second and third journeys. A man named Jason, a Jewish Christian who was likely a blood relative of Paul (Romans 16:21), hosted believers in his home at Thessalonica (Acts 17:5 - 9). The books of 1 and 2Thessalonians, penned by Paul from Corinth between 50 - 51 A.D., are noteworthy in that they are the first ones written by the apostle that are included in the Bible.