From Amphipolis to Thessalonica
Acts 17:1-9
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:…

The beautiful town of Amphipolis lies to the south of a splendid lake under sheltering hills, three miles from the sea, and thirty three from Philippi, and on the edge of a plain of boundless fertility. The strength of its natural position, nearly encircled by a great bend of a river, the mines which were near it, and the neighbouring forests, made it position of high importance. If St. Paul had ever read Herodotus, he may have thought with horror of the sacrifice of Xerxes — the burial alive at this place of nine youths and nine maidens; and if he had read Thucydides, he would have gazed with peculiar interest on the sepulchral mound of Brasidas, and the hollowing of the stones in the wayworn city street, which showed the feet of men and horses under the gate, and warned Kleon that a sally was intended. If he could read Livy, he would recall the fact that in this town Paulus AEmilius — one of the family from which his own may have derived its name — had here proclaimed that Macedonia should be free. But all this was little or nothing to the Jewish missionaries. At Amphipolis there was no synagogue, and therefore no means of addressing Jews or Gentiles. They therefore proceeded the next day thirty miles further, through scenery of surpassing loveliness, along the Strymonic Gulf, through the wooded pass of Aulon, when St. Paul may have looked at the tomb of Euripides, and along the shores of Lake Bolbe to Apollonia. From thence they proceeded forty miles further to the far-famed Thessalonica, the capital of all Macedonia, whose position on the Egnatian road, commanding the entrance to two great inland districts, and at the head of the Thermaic Gulf, made it an important seat of commerce. Since the days when Cassander had refounded it, and changed its name from Therma to Thessalonica, in honour of his wife, the sister of Alexander, it had always been a flourishing city, with many historic associations. Here Cicero had spent his days of melancholy exile. Here a triumphal arch, still standing, commemorates the victory of Octavianus and Antony at Philippi. From hence, as with the blast of a trumpet, not only in St. Paul's day (1 Thessalonians 1:8), but for centuries afterwards, the Word of God sounded forth among the neighbouring tribes. Here was guilty of that cruel massacre for which , with heroic faithfulness, kept him for eight months from the cathedral of Milan. Here its good and learned Bishop Eustathius wrote those scolia on Homer which place him in the front rank of ancient commentators. It received the title of "the orthodox city," because it was for centuries a bulwark of Christendom; but it was taken by Amurath II in 1430. Saloniki is still a great commercial port of seventy thousand inhabitants, of whom nearly one-third are Jews. At this city, blighted now by the curse of Islam, but still beautiful on the slopes of its vine-clad hills, with Pelia and Olympus full in view, the missionaries rested; for here was the one Jewish synagogue which sufficed for the entire district.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

WEB: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.

A Tale of Two Cities
Top of Page
Top of Page