Saturday, November 16, 2013


I love the books of Acts and Philippians. Therefore, Acts chapter 16 is one of my favorites in the entire bible. Near the beginning of the chapter we read about Paul's vision of the Macedonian man calling to him. Toward the conclusion of the chapter we see the fascinating account of the Philippian jailer's conversion.

Sandwiched in between the above two passages we meet Lydia. Although we don't have much information, we see that she was an impressive lady:

"So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.' And she prevailed upon us." (Acts 16:11-15)

Paul usually visited a synagogue on the Sabbath. It appears that Philippi lacked one. Therefore, Paul and his traveling team went down to the river (Luke was present at this time; thus the "we" statements). The men began talking with the women they found there. Lydia, one of these women, is described as "a worshiper of God." This indicates that although she was likely a Gentile, she knew and followed the God revealed in the Old Testament. She was, therefore, ready to hear and understand the gospel proclaimed by Paul. In one of my favorite statements in all of scripture, Luke tells us that "The Lord opened her heart." It appears that Lydia immediately accepted what Paul said as true. She showed obedience by being baptized, along with others, and then invited the group to stay at her home.

Shortly after the above account, Paul and Silas were tossed in prison. God caused an earthquake, the jail doors flew open, and the Philippian jailer almost committed harikari. However, Paul shouted out in time, and shortly afterward the jailer came to Christ. Later in the passage Paul and Silas revisited Lydia. The final verse in the chapter tells us:

"So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed." (Acts 16:40)

Something interesting is happening here. It appears that the very new church in Philippi is meeting, at least on this occasion, in Lydia's house. Notice that the "brothers" are mentioned. This is a typical way of referring to the church. It's also significant that the purpose of the meeting was encouragement.

As we look at Lydia in this passage, we see a woman of faith, of obedience, and of service. This should not surprise us. Most of the ladies highlighted in the pages of the New Testament can be described in this way. Like our Christian sisters today, they are of deep importance to the church.

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