Acts 17:1

A Short Ministry in Thessalonica

1 Then they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.

Acts 17:1 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 17:1

Now when they had passed through Amphipolls
A city of Macedonia, where it is placed by Pliny F17; according to Ptolomy {r}, it was in that part of Macedonia, which is called Edonis, and was near Philippi, and lay in the way from thence to Thessalonica; Harpocratian F19 says, it was a city of Thrace, formerly called "the Nine Ways"; it was upon the borders of Thrace, and had its name Amphipolis from the river Strymon running on both sides of it, making it a peninsula; it was also called Crademna, and Anadraemum; it is now in the hands of the Turks, and by them called Empoli; this city was originally built by Cimon the Athenian, into which he sent ten thousand Athenians for a colony, as the writer of his life reports F20. The apostle only passed through this place; it does not appear that he at all preached in it, or at any other time, nor do we read of it in ecclesiastical history, nor of the following place:

and Apollonia;
this is also placed by Pliny F21 in Macedonia, and is said by him to have been formerly a colony of the Corinthians, and about seven miles from the sea; and by Ptolomy F23, in that part of Macedonia called Mygdonia, and with him its name is Apollonia of Mygdonia; it was situated by the river Echedorus, and was famous for Augustus Caesar's learning Greek here, and is now called Ceres: there was another of this name in the region of Pentapolis, and was one of the five F24 cities in it; and another in Palestine mentioned by Pliny F25, along with Caesarea; and by Josephus F26, with Joppa, Jamnia, Azotus but this was near Thessalonica; it is said to be about twenty miles from it: here also the apostle did not stay to preach the Gospel, nor is there any mention made of it elsewhere in the Acts of the Apostles, and yet Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, is said to be bishop of Apollonia; (See Gill on Luke 10:1), but whether the same place with this, or whether fact, is not certain;

they came to Thessalonica;
a free city of Macedonia F1; it was formerly called Halis F2, and sometimes Therme; it had its name of Thessalonica from the victory which Philip king of Macedon obtained over the Thessalians; and not from his daughter Thessalonica, the wife of Cassander, who also had her name from the same victory: in this place a sedition being raised, and some magistrates killed, Theodosius the Roman emperor suffered seven thousand men to be slain; and when he came to Milain, Ambrose bishop of that place having heard of it, would not suffer him to enter into the church and receive the Lord's supper, until he repented of his sin, and made public confession of it F3. Thessalonica has been since the head of a new kingdom erected by Boniface marquis of Montferrat; it was for some time in the hands of the Venetians, but was taken from them by Amurath emperor of the Turks F4. The Italians call it now Saloniki; it has been since inhabited by Christians, Turks, and Jews, and chiefly by the latter, their number, according to their own account, is fourteen thousand, and their synagogues fourscore. There always were many Jews in this place, and so there were when the apostle was here, for it follows;

where was a synagogue of the Jews;
it seems as if there was none, neither in Philippi, nor in Amphipolis, nor in Apollonia: why these two last places should be passed through by the apostle, without making any stay at them, cannot be said; it is very likely he had, as in some other instances before, some particular directions from the Spirit of God, there being none of the chosen vessels of salvation to be called there, at least, at this time, when there were many at Thessalonica.


F17 Nat. Hist. l. 4. c. 10.
F18 Geograph. l. 3. c. 13.
F19 Lexic. Decem. Orat. p. 20, 104. Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 8.
F20 Cornelius Nepos in Vita Cimon. c. 2.
F21 Nat. Hist. l. 3. c. 23.
F23 Geograph. l. 8. c. 13. Vid. Plin. l. 4. c. 10.
F24 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 5.
F25 Ib. c. 13.
F26 Antiqu. l. 13. c. 15. sect. 4. & de Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 8, sect. 3.
F1 Plin. l. 4. c. 10.
F2 Ptolom. l. 3. c. 13.
F3 Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 4. c. 3. p. 82.
F4 Petav. Rationar. Temp. par. 1. p. 462, 475.

Acts 17:1 In-Context

1 Then they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.
2 As usual, Paul went to them, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
3 explaining and showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying: "This is the Messiah, Jesus, whom I am proclaiming to you."
4 Then some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.
5 But the Jews became jealous, and when they had brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace and formed a mob, they set the city in an uproar. Attacking Jason's house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly.