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 Athens 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 the Bible 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 Athens. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, however, states that a Christian community, albeit small, was formed in this Greek soon after Paul visited and preached in it (article "Christian Athens").
Paul evangelized Athens, while waiting for his fellow evangelists Timothy and Silas to arrive, during his second missionary journey. The book of Acts informs us that a man named Dionysius (a prominent citizen and member of the Athenian Supreme Court), a woman named Damaris, and others became believers in Christ (Acts 17:34).
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).
After Paul and Silas arrived in Berea 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 mainland of Greece, 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).