When Paul begins to work in a new location, he often visits a local synagogue first. But when Paul arrives in Philippi he visits worshipers by a river because there was no synagogue in the city. Access to water was an important factor for Diaspora Jews, so it is not unusual to find a group worshiping at a river. Since Luke calls this “a place of prayer,” Keener suggests this is not a group that would normally constitute a synagogue (3:2387). Since Paul talks to the women at the river, it is possible this is a group of Jewish women gathered to pray on the Sabbath. It is somewhat ironic Paul responds to a vision of a man calling him to preach in Macedonia by visiting a group of women praying on the Sabbath.
Lydia was worshiping with the Jewish women outside of the city near a stream. She is identified as a “worshiper of God” (σεβομένη τὸν θεόν) from Thyatira, implying she was a Greek who was attracted to the practice of Judaism. Gentile women were often attracted to Judaism, so much so that Celsus could complain Christianity spread through women (Keener 3:2391).
It is possible Lydia was a wealthy freedwoman and perhaps a widow. She invites Paul and his travelling companions to her home, which implies a larger than average home. Keener suggests a domus, a Roman house with an atrium with ample space to host a new church (3:2404). While she was probably not among the elite of the city, Luke does include several reports of prominent people accepting the gospel in the book. Since her husband is not mentioned in Acts 16, it is possible Lydia was widowed, giving her some wealth and independence.
Some have understood her job as a “seller of purple” is sometimes taken to imply a higher-than-average status. She ran an export business moving purple-dyed goods from Thyatira to Philippi. Purple goods were costly, so there is an implication that Lydia was wealthy. Sellers of purple are sometimes included in “Caesar’s household” (NewDocs, 2:26). Since Lydia is a Greek woman worshiping the God of Israel, she is a close parallel to Cornelius in status. This is another intentional parallel between Peter and Paul: both preach the gospel to a prominent God-fearer.
Luke says “the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to believe.” This is similar to Luke 24:45; Jesus opens the hearts of his disciples so that they could understand the scripture. Lydia believes because the Lord enables her to understand and accept the Gospel as Paul preached it. A similar usage appears in 2 Macc 1:4, may the Lord “open your hearts” (διανοίξαι τὴν καρδίαν ὑμῶν) to understand his commandments.
As a result of Lydia’s faith, her household comes to faith in Jesus and she offers hospitality to Paul and his ministry team. Keener considers this a potentially “scandalous hospitality” since teachers who attracted too many female followers were suspicious. But in the context of Luke 16, a male prison guard will also offer hospitality to Paul (16:34). Like the members of the Jerusalem church selling property to support community, Lydia opens her home and (apparently) hosts the growing church at Philippi.
There are several reasons the story of Lydia is important in Acts, but also as a point of application when reading the book of Acts. What does Paul reaching out to this particular woman say for “doing church” today? How can this story be a model for ministry?
45 thoughts on “Acts 16:13-15 – Lydia of Thyatira”
Acts 16:14 tells us that she was a “dealer of purple”. In this blog it mentions how a dealer of purple at that time meant that you had been blessed with wealth. In Acts 16:15 it says Lydia welcomed Paul and his companions into her home to minister to others.
Matthew 25:35 Jesus us that we are to minister to each other with food, water, and shelter. I think Lydia demonstrated Christ’s character in her hospitality. It says in Acts 16:14 that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart. I believe that through Paul’s message to Lydia the Holy Spirit was not only open her heart but also many of those connected with her.
It was not the actions of Paul that saved Lydia. In verse 13 it says that they went to the location where the women were because they assumed there would be a synagogue. In verse 14 it explains that the Lord softened her heart toward the gospel. Both of these things were things that the Lord did using Paul’s obedience. I think that one thing we can see from this text is that obedience to God results in God using you to reach people with the gospel. Another is that it is the Lord that orchestrated that encounter. Paul did what he was told but ultimately is was the Lord who set up the encounter and opened Lydia’s heart to the gospel. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Paul understood that it was not his ministry that was doing the work of salvation.
I believe that this story in Acts can have many applications for our lives today. The story of Lydia in Acts 16 can help us see that we should keep an open heart and mind when sharing the gospel with others. We should not put a limit on what God is able to do. The fear of what others may think about you should not hinder you from sharing the gospel. Paul spoke to the women who were gathered at the stream. He could have disobeyed God and not go to talk to the women at the stream in fear of what people would think about him. If God calls you to do something, you should be obedient just as Paul was. There may be people who know of God but have not accepted Him as their Savior. If we are obedient to God and trust in His guidance, good things can come out of it. As Mary mentioned, it was not because of Paul that Lydia came to faith in Jesus but it was her faith that resulted in the Lord opening her heart to believe. Her household came to know Jesus and she offered hospitality to Paul and his ministry team (Acts 16:15).
Being that I did my major paper on this topic, I obviously think that this story is important for church today. In my paper, I said that I thought it was important to point out that the ministry of Paul is set up in Acts to mirror the ministry of Christ. You stated in your post, “Luke says “the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to believe.” This is similar to Luke 24:45; Jesus opens the hearts of his disciples so that they could understand the scripture.” I think that your statement and the way that Luke words what he says in this Scripture prove that point. Because I think that Luke is trying to highlight the similarities between Jesus and Paul, I feel the need to point out that I think Luke is trying to show that Jesus ministered to unlikely people and tried to see their potential. I think that this story is set to show that and encourage us as the church today to try to do the same.
There is very little written about Lydia. However, from the little we do know in the book of acts proves that she was a faith driven women. First we notices that she was a women who worshipped God. Secondly she mentioned that the Lord opened her heart to hear Paul’s message. Because she loved the Lord she opened to what Paul had to say. This is exactly what Jesus asked us to do in Mathew. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’ Matt 22:37-38. Lydia is a perfect example we should consider when starting our ministry. Lydia listened to God and followed God’s plan. In ministry we must also listen to Gods plan and follow all his plans. Sometimes as humans we want to be in control and take over. Lydia submitted to God with all her heart. This is a perfect example for us to consider not only in ministry but throughout our lives.
I think that Paul reaching out to Lydia was important because of where she was at. From what I have learned regarding Lydia, like P. Long said is that she was decently wealthy and a widow. This gave her time to create garments with purple in them, worn mostly among the wealthy. Through this, Lydia has an impact on the other women in the area, some other widows maybe who were working under Lydia in her “business”. Because of her social status among the women, through Paul reaching out to her there was a greater impact in more people’s lives than just that of Lydia’s. I believe that in todays churches, we forget that one person can have a GREATER impact on those we might never come in contact with.
Paul’s practice when going to any new place was to find the Jews in the synagogue. It seems this is what he is doing in Philippi, looking for the Jews. This circumstance was clearly different since there don’t seem to be any men or Jewish leaders and it doesn’t appear to be a synagogue in place. Nevertheless Paul was so committed to the gospel of Jesus and telling the Jews first and then the Gentiles they way to really be saved he went to the Jews he could find. There is something to be said about his persistence and conviction in knowing that he could not simply know the truth but needed to share it with others. I think often times we make excuses about why we weren’t able to do what was asked of us when in reality it wasn’t enough of a priority to follow through. Paul is a good example of being convicted of one’s calling enough to deny excuses and reach anyone and everyone for the sake and name of Jesus.
I think the reason why Paul reached out to Lydia was because of two things. Frist, that in Acts 16:15 she seems to be a bold type of woman. My guess is that she was one of the leading examples to be baptized first which mean in my opinion that would make her a leader among the women of Philippi. Helping Paul to eventually bring more people into the folder of Christ. Second, the other item that makes her a leader in the community (sort of) is that she is wealthy, so my guess is if she follows Judaism and is a “worshiper of God” she gives to the needy and the women stop and take note of this. Also, that she invited the church into her home for a meal. That’s why I think that Paul reaches out to her.
Lydia reminds me of a single woman in the U.S. and I think is the perfect example of how single Christian women should do hospitality. Being able to have the freedom to have people over and fellowship with them with food is an excellent way to do hospitality. There are always pros and cons to everything and single women also need to be smart when letting people through their door in this day and age. At the same time, it is an exciting opportunity to have when the means and opportunity are presented and one is able to bless others.
This is such an awesome story of Lydia, a Greek woman who is possibly a widow who practices Judaism due to a probable attraction to the love that the Lord brings to the hearts of those who believe. 1 Timothy 5:3 says to “honor widows who are truly widows” and I can’t help but to think the Jews in the area treated her with honor and respect that drew her in and “opened her heart” (Acts 16:14). The fact that Paul reached out to Lydia shows that the Gospel has no boundaries. With Lydia being able to worship “The God of Israel” as the article mentions, it gives Paul something to relate to and find common ground with when he presents the gospel. Similar to today with trying to witness to a Jewish person or even a Muslim person, there is common ground with being an Abrahamic religion that us Christians can learn to do.
Troy, you are so right. Her story is able to show that the gospel has no boundaries in who it can touch. I think that during the time period that this story occurred, that was probably a foreign thing to them. Paul was able to reach out to her though and was able to fill her heart with the gospel. It also shows the power of God. His divine hand was throughout that entire story. He allowed Paul to be there the same time that Lydia was and he even opened the heart of Lydia so that she would be able to listen and pay attention to what Paul was teaching. This is the perfect story to show the greatness of God.
Lydia the purple people eater! Not really but she does sell purple goods, which we also know would make her well off. Thyatira is known for its expensive purple dyes (Polhill, 2118). Paul being directed to Macedonia because of a vision he received, makes his way to the main river because that is where worshiping, and prayer typically takes place. It truly is interesting that Paul’s vision was a man, but he ends up with a group of women instead. Lydia invites Paul and his companions, back to her house. We see this as a sign of wealth having a larger than a typical home. I appreciate the extended knowledge on what selling purple means, in which I now know it would be an export business and moving the expensive purple-dyed goods from Thyatira to Philippi (Long). The Bible tells us “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (16:14). I think this relates to the idea of praying for individuals today to receive the gospel, something I constantly strive to do while working in youth ministry. I think it also shows the power of the Lord and not the speaker, which is a reminder that it is not the speaker but truly the work of the Lord. Lydia’s heart opened, and she believed, not only this but she was on fire for the Lord and wanted everyone in her household to believe as well. She showed this heart change in opening up her house and being hospitable to Paul and his companions. She does not stop there either, as her house becomes a new gathering place for Christians (Polhill, 2118). Dr. Phil Long leaves us a question of how this story can be a model for ministry, I think it shows us a few things. The first relates more to their journey to reaching Macedonia. We may think we have plans of where we are going and our ideas or vision for a ministry, but God says, no you can’t go there and directs our paths elsewhere. We may not have expected it, but we need to obey. The second is that in ministry if we are the point person, it is easy to think of ourselves doing the work, but really it is the Lord and he has the power, we do not. Thirdly, new believers like Lydia have that child-like faith and on fire for the Lord, sharing it and serving the Lord. It is good that we are becoming mature Christians, but don’t forget the roots, don’t forget to relight the fire.
Lastly, God can use anyone, particularly, Lydia is one that changes the idea of women’s role in ministry. Jesus’ whole ministry was about the people who were broken and criminals. God has the ultimate plan, we need to trust and obey.
The story of Lydia is actually quite the interesting one, especially since it is one of two females that are named in the book of Acts. Since she was living in a Roman city at the time and was a foreigner who was a business women, it made her more of an outsider. In the Roman culture it was very uncommon for a women to do business type things. The fact that we are aware that she was a “seller of purple goods” is something that would already have a bad look coming from the Roman culture that she was surrounded by (Acts 16:14). Then since she may have been a widow and was making religious decisions for her as well as her household was against the culture that she lived in, but she was not scared to do any of those things. Instead she opens up her house for Paul to stay at and allows it to be a safe place for Christians. Jipp states that “Paul’s acceptance of Lydia’s hospitality has significant social ramifications” but they both were willing to make those sacrifices (Jipp 90). I think that this story can be a model for doing ministry today in that we have to be willing to make sacrifices for the spreading of the gospel. Today the culture has become lazy and not really willing to make the sacrifices that are asked for us. But if we look at this story, Lydia was able to make sacrifices as well as Paul. God has things in control, we just have to trust in his plan, and part of that is giving up some of our comforts for the good of the gospel.
The story of Lydia really interests me. Your question about Paul reaching out to Lydia really got me thinking. I think that reaching out is a major part of ministry. So, this is a story of any great ministry. Everyone needs to be witnessed to and we all need to share the gospel.
I think that this was a stepping stone for women in ministry. I also believe that it shows an example that anyone can be a witness no matter who you are.
Lydia is a significant to Paul’s ministry, but also the spreading of the Christian church. Lydia’s heart was opened by God to the life, ministry, and salvation of Jesus, and she believed in Him (Acts 16:14). This is important for many reasons. One reason is that it seems Lydia was a prominent character in her town, so reaching her probably reached many other, specifically the women. Which brings another important detail about this story. Lydia was a woman, who in biblical times were not regularly valued. However, Paul was led to speak to a group of women, and we see that some, notably Lydia, believed the message that was shared. After the sharing of the gospel and Lydia’s acceptance of it, she opened her home (Long). This was important because it was symbolic of her openness to the message and to the people sharing it with her, Paul and his crew. She opened her home, due to the openness in her heart. Going beyond the initial opening of her home, the readers of Acts can see that she continually opened her home to new believers. This is important for two reasons. One, is that we can see that more people in her town believed, which is amazing and shows the success of Paul’s ministry as well. The second, and perhaps more important, reason is that Lydia’s home became a place for these believers to meet outside of the synagogue (Jipp 90). Lydia became very fundamental to the mission of the church in Thyatira due to her openness. Perhaps the modern mission should keep in mind that sometimes openness is the best way to spread the mission, and in addition to that, sometimes it is the lesser valued people who can bring the most change.
Lydia is a character which demonstrates the movement of the gospel. We meet Cornelius who was a God fearing gentile, and we also come across a God fearing gentile woman. Society was different in those times and women did not always have the same status as men in the ancient culture. Thus, Lydia coming to faith continues to show that the gospel is for all people. Also, as for the possibility of Lydia being scandalous in showing hospitality to Paul’s ministry team, I think it is important to understand that the gospel in radical. There are many times when Jesus went against the gain of society in order to love those who were the outcast. I think Lydia is simply seeing that she has resources to be an excellent host, thus she invites them to her home. Applying this in today’s world, we need to understand that God is the one who moves people. We need to continually remind ourselves that we are the ones to carry and deliver the message, it is not up to us to turn their life around. If we are not thinking this way, it is easy for discouragement to creep in. Furthermore, Lydia was in the upper class of society, lets not forget that the people we often find ourselves frustrated with on the news, are souls in need of a savior. Just because they have it all in the world’s perspective, does not mean their soul isn’t still searching
I think the fact that the Lord opened her heart is a testament to the power of the Gospel. And it shows us that no one comes to Christ unless the Father leads them (John 6:44). As far as the application of this passage I think the first thing to pull away is that God has to do the work of softening the hearts of those we speak to. We should never cease preaching the Gospel, but understand it is the work of God that brings people to know Him. Another thing that we could use in ministry today is the hospitality response that Lydia has to her new friends. There is nothing like being invited over to someone’s house for a meal and good conversation. Food and a place to commune together is something that has transcended many many years. Although our time of hospitality looks different then what Lydia did, it is still an incredible tool to spread the Gospel and grow spiritually.
I really like how you described the power of the Gospel here with this particular situation. I like the verse you referenced from the book of John and how no one in this world ever comes to Christ unless they are lead to him by the Father. Lydia was just simply doing something that she knew God would do in this situation, which this also, like you said, something that we as Christians should think more like.
I think this story was more significant to the people at the time it was written than to us today, or, rather, there is a different significance to it. From what I understand of the culture during the time of the early church, one common problem is that Jewish Christians had a difficult adapting to and accepting Gentiles. One thing mentioned in class was how the Jews didn’t eat food touched by Gentiles. This shows how significant the separation between these two groups was. One purpose of the book of Acts was to show that salvation was not only for the Jews, but also to the Greeks (or to everyone), and I think this passage may further push this mindset. (Correct me if I am wrong, but) Lydia was likely deemed not as important, but because Paul went directly to her and her group with the Gospel, this further shows how anyone can be saved.
Another application for this passage is how, when doing ministry, one great place to start with sharing the Gospel is with people who are already receptive to it. Going to religious people who already believe in the same God as we do and sharing the Gospel with them will likely bring more to salvation than the alternative. Though ministry isn’t necessarily about numbers, it still is something to consider.
One more application for how to do ministry is actually from Lydia’s perspective. Through reading some other comments a great point was made, that ministry should be done by every believer, not just those with the title of missionary. As soon as Lydia received salvation she was helping. This is an example of how we all should act. Even if we aren’t backed by many different churches to preach the Gospel overseas (or something similar) we can still be a benefit like Lydia was.
The story of Lydia is a great step forward for the Gospel, the implication that there are not that many Jewish people in Phillipi, means that Paul has to minister to mostly pagan people. Yet Phillipi is one of the more successful churches that Paul writes to later on in his life. So I think that the people that are mentioned here are key pieces to the success of the church in Phillipi. As for the ministry done here Lydia is someone that is wealthy enough to house a ministry team in her house and later house a small church. There are people that suggest that Lydia herself becomes the head of the in Phillipi and leads them. Using Lydia as an example of God using women in the “church” and in ministry in general.
The story of Lydia was very important to the church at Philippi and can be used as a model for ministry as well. The lesson to take away from this story is that it is important to reach out to everyone and try to tell them about God. Paul couldn’t just not preach to the group of people that were near the stream because he didn’t feel like it that day. And it would be a mistake for him to look at a group of people and assume that they wouldn’t receive his message well and it would be worthless. Instead he does the right thing and preach to everyone he comes into contact with because you never know the result of telling people about God. If all that it does is get someone curious about God and wanting to know more, then it was worth it.
In the case of Lydia, Paul preached to a group of people and “the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to believe”. As a result, her whole household comes to faith in Jesus and she opens up her home to Paul and his team, and her home becomes the home of the growing church at Philippi. This implies that her house was rather large and was big enough to host a decent amount of additional people which was a perfect situation for them.
It never occurred to me to take the vision that Paul had of a man asking him to come to Macedonia, and the first group that he goes to is a group of women. Lydia is one of the women there that he meets with. Lydia is a woman who is called a worshiper of God and this meant that she was a Gentile that was attracted to the Jewish practices. In this time period, it was not uncommon for women to be attracted to the Jewish traditions because of the high moral standings, and the ideas behind it. It has even been said that because women were so attracted to these practices that Christianity actually spread through women. Lydia is considered to be a wealthier woman due to the fact that she was a seller of purple cloth, and she was able to host Paul and those traveling with him. When Paul speaks to the group, Lydia’s heart is opened to the Spirit of the Lord, and because of this both she and all of her household was baptized. The reason that she offers to host Paul and his traveling companions is because this is her way of responding to her new-found belief. Her asking Paul to say with her, and Paul actually accepting is a really key point in the story of Acts. It is of great significance because Paul stayed in the house of a Gentile, he is proclaiming through action that his mission is to be a witness to the Gentiles.
I notice both Paul and Lydia appear to be remembering to keep the Sabbath; as was Paul’s custom (Acts 17), Most of Christiandom today does not keep His Holy Sabbaths Which is not really a Jewish thing but made holy on the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3 ) Jews are just reminded to remember it, It was made for mankind. Both Jew and Gentile were willing to to keep His commandments and show their love for God by being baptized for remission of their sins; we all have sinned. Then Lydia shows her love for Bro, Paul and his companion. May we all be willing to go into homes of those unlike ourselves and teach Christ.
In chapel this year we learned how we can learn a lot from the stories of the people in the margins of the Bible. Lydia is one of the people that was brought up, as she was a woman in ministry whom Paul visits immediately when he visits Philippi. Like you mentioned he did not have a synagogue to visit, but it is interesting that the group he visited was all females, including Lydia who must have been their leader of sorts. I think it is interesting the point that you bring up in this blog about Lydia being Greek and still attracted to Judaism. I thought this would be against the normal flow of things, but you mentioned this is actually quite common for women during this time to be attracted to Christianity and Judaism; so much so that there were people that believed that women aided the spread of Christianity. I wonder if women really did have as much of an impact on the spread of modern-day Christianity as some of the more known apostles like Paul or any of the disciples. The fact that women were not seen as reliable witnesses during Bible times is probably a big reason that we don’t see as many of their stories in the Bible and other historical texts; this doesn’t mean that they weren’t just as helpful in growing the church, leading, and spreading the gospel then, and it surely shouldn’t impact how we see women in the church today.
The small and short story of Lydia has more of a importance than acknowledged. The interaction between Lydia and Paul can be a great model for the Church of today. Paul displays great obedience when he follows the leading of the Holy Spirit in the beginning of chapter 16. As he follows the guidance of the Holy Spirit he is led to this group of women on the riverside in Macedonia. Here he is used by God to speak to Lydia of God as her heart was softened by God (vs.14). The Church of today we need to open our hearts to the Lord’s direction like Paul did. He allowed the Lord to lead him even when he may have not seen the importance at the moment. Although in the end it is evident that the Lord’s will is done. We should be inspired by the sovereignty of the Lord here. We may not experience the same immediate outcome that Paul did we should strive to live our lives in complete surrender and obedience like him.
When reading about Lydia, it would be almost impossible to know that she was wealthy without having the knowledge that a “seller of purple” typically was well off in this time period. While reading this, I assumed Lydia was a widow because she was able to invite Paul into her home, but I would not have thought of her house size indicating wealth (as well as being a seller of purple). With that being said, I appreciate the context given in this blog post because it gives me more insight into the personality and lifestyle of Lydia. I think that though the story of Lydia is small in size within the Bible, her generosity and hospitality are what stand out in Acts 16. How often is being a Christian, or going to church, something that is merely a “routine” for believers, rather than something that is meaningful and intentional? Lydia, based on her story, was someone who was intentionally hospitable to a stranger like Paul. Lydia did not appear to care that her hospitality would be seen as “scandalous,” she appeared to want to serve others, and serve them well, despite what the people around her would think. Lydia also was very quick to hear Paul’s words and teachings and was baptized in what seemed to be soon after Paul’s message. Polhill also notes that “Her house became the gathering place for Christians” (p.2118). So, not only did Lydia serve Paul and his men, but she also continued the ministry long after Paul had departed from her household. Is Lydia’s transformation not a wonderful example of what a generous and hospitable Christian should be doing?
The importance of Lydia showing hospitality to Paul and his mission team is that we must live our lives with an open heart. The impact that the teachings of Paul had on Lydia could have been spread out into the community as well because from what we know she might have had some sort of status in the community. The reason I say this is because she was a seller of purple which means she had wealth and was a lover of the Lord. Although we know very little about Lydia you could assume that with her love for the Lord, she would always being talking about Him to people such as widows like herself, people that might have worked for her, and the people that had a higher status buying her purple garments. With a relation to ministry Lydia is a perfect example for us to follow. She listens to God and follows the plan that God has out there for her. She listens to the signs that He has given her and will stick to it because she knows that it is the way. I think we fail to do that and do what we desire even though it might not be what God has in store for us. We must give up our entire heart to God and follow what He gives us just as Lydia did.
I have always loved the story of Lydia, and the model she set for many Christian women. One thing I had never considered before were the parallels in her story. According to Long, “Since Lydia is a Greek woman worshiping the God of Israel, she is a close parallel to Cornelius in status. This is another intentional parallel between Peter and Paul: both preach the gospel to a prominent God-fearer” (2019). This makes since considering Lydia’s status and position within the community. Lydia is a Greek woman, but is a “God-fearer”, meaning she is somewhat attracted to Judaism. Polhill shares, “As a seller of purple goods, she would have some wealth” (2118). Lydia’s household parallels Cornelius’ in many ways. I also love how this passage shows discipleship and community among believers. Paul approaches Lydia, and most likely a group of other women at the river. They are baptized and immediately opens her home to these believers. She is being the church. Lydia’s hospitality can be a great model for ministry. She gives what she has open heartedly, she is immersed herself in the church and is ‘all in’ so to speak, right away. She uses her talent and resources to better the kingdom of God. She uses her independence, business, and resources as an asset to help those she can and fulfill a need. Her house becomes a gathering place for believers, a church of sorts I would imagine. This model reminds me of modern church small groups, emphasizing the importance of believer communion.
As I initially read over the encounter with Lydia, I made the immediate assumption that she was just some widowed Gentile woman, who sold clothes to earn a living. This blog post further dove into even just the fact that Lydia was a “seller of purple”. Knowing that this job provided her with money and a higher status than most Gentile women, allows for a greater respect for Lydia. I think that it is interesting to think of Gentile women as the greater statistic in Jewish conversion (Long). On the other hand, Lydia’s hospitality is truly admirable. We see this when Luke tells us that “her heart was opened” to serve God (v.14) With her genuine curiosity and desire to learn more about Judaism, Lydia opens up her home to Paul and his ministry team. While Paul reached out to Lydia, I noticed that Lydia embodied leadership and is a great example of a new convert desiring to fully commit themselves immediately. Lydia’s immediate leadership and desire to share her home for the growth of the Philippi church provides an example of ministry. In the modern church, people open up their homes to fellow Christians for the purpose of worshiping God together in community. Lydia’s generosity and hospitality is a great example of how Christians should care for people in and outside of the church. This authentic openness that Lydia experiences may demonstrate the love Christians should show for their neighbors.
I enjoy reading the story of Lydia and the apostle Paul. It intrigues me that she was a ‘seller of purple’ thus a great businesswoman with some wealth. I love her heart and interest in God. She seems to know there is something more and that something is found in relationship with God. What a cool entrance Paul has made in the Phillipi church. He was not afraid to meet with women and to share the gospel with them. We also see how God works through him sharing the gospel to bring Lydia and her household to the faith.
Being a young businesswoman myself, I have watched women in the Bible time and time again bless others with their wealth. Lydia seems like a smart lady. She also seems very genuine. It is important to her to bless others and to offer Paul her home. This is the type of church we need today. People who are willing to offer their home, share a meal, and give to others freely what God has blessed them with. Lydia does not hold anything back and offers wonderful hospitality.
God can use anyone to share the gospel. We are just instruments of his to use. God used Paul to speak to this woman, but ultimately it was Him who opened her heart to believe. I think sometimes the church nowadays can get so carried away with trying to be what everybody wants rather than just preaching the gospel and letting the Lord penetrate their hearts. We can sometimes think that it’s only a certain type of music or only a certain type of sermon that can be preached to save people, but that is definitely NOT the case. God is the one who moves peoples’ hearts. It is the work of the Holy Spirit.
The passage about Lydia shows how God has a plan and how God works in other people’s lives. Earlier in the chapter we see that Paul receives a vision to go to Macedonia. Paul was obedient to this calling and goes to Macedonia to the riverside. There he spoke and Lydia was one to hear his message. Because of Paul’s obedience, Lydia’s heart was opened to what Paul had to say about Christianity. God used Paul and his speaking to move in Lydia and prompt her to want to be baptized. I also thought it was ironic that a man was in the vision telling Paul to speak and he ended up speaking to a group of women (Long 2019). Not only was she saved, but she showed hospitality to Paul and Silas and invited them to stay. At first when I read this, I assumed that Lydia was of a lower status. But after reading seller of purple goods, that made me think she was a more known figure because of the connotation of purple. The fact that she invited Paul and Silas into her home also alludes to her being more wealthy (Long 2019). The story of Lydia can be an example of what a willing heart looks like, and how God can use people who are obedient to his callings.
This blog post points out that Lydia was most likely a wealthy widow. She was a “seller of purple” meaning that she sold goods that were dyed purple which were very expensive. She also invited Paul and his missionary team to stay in her house. This implies two things; she had a bigger home if she was able to host Paul and his missionary team which probably meant that she was wealthy; It also implies that she was a widow as she would not have as much freedom to do so if she was married. She also opens her home and hosts the church at Philippi (Long). God opened her heart and most likely other women’s as well to listen and understand what was being said by Paul. Reaching Lydia meant reaching her household and most likely others within her class and other women. The story of Lydia is a powerful one that can be applied to the modern church. It shows that women have a place in the church and in ministry.
I wonder if there is some larger point about Paul’s mission is being made here, because there is certainly a contrast between Lydia, a wealthy, freeborn businesswoman, and the slave girl who had a spirit of divination on her being forced to make money for her masters. Could it be the intention of Luke, who seemed to have a propensity towards not just the spiritual side of the message of God’s kingdom, but a socio-economic one as well, to set the two stories against each other? I feel like this might be the case, but I can’t see it. There is a clear difference between them; Lydia is free to act, and offers hospitality. It doesn’t even say what becomes of the slave-girl now that she is rendered useless to her owners. Does she take up with Paul? End up at Lydia’s? Or suffer the fate of many female slaves–now that her usefulness as an oracle is gone, she’ll be prostituted? Her owners, however, are the first to get Paul arrested, and here we discover that Paul is a Roman citizen, as well as a Jew. Anybody got any ideas about this?
A little background on who Lydia was is that she was a Greek women who followed the ideology of Jaudism, and she was a God worshiper. She was surrounded by many women down on the river praying during the time of the Sabbath, which was not uncommon because it was said that there was no synagogue in Thyatira so the river was a common place to gather for prayer and worship. Lydia was said to be a “seller of purple goods” (Long, 2019), which implies that she had some type of wealth because the color purple symbolizes royalty and wealth. The color purple is seen as wealthy and having some type of royalty and the fact that she has wealth and is still working to follow the gospel of the Lord shows that she is truly a good women. It was said that she transported those purple goods from Thyatira to Phillipi. The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to hear and believe the gospel that Paul was preaching therefore, the Lord opened her heart to understand “his commandments” (Long, 2019). It is of important that Lydia offered her hospitality to Paul because of the work he was accomplishing, but Paul and his men were suspicious but there was implication that a prison gruard has also offered his hospitality to Paul so it is just implying that there are individuals who truly believe on what Paul is doing and they are doing a great act in the Lord eyes. It is caring and kind to take care of one another and simply just offering someone a place to stay is completing this act.
The reason that Lydia was reached out to by Paul and the others was because she was a wealthy widow. It is mentioned that she is a seller of purple goods which means a few things (16:14). Lydia was a widower because she was out doing the work. The color purple was mentioned which represents royalty and money. Lydia was rich enough to house Paul and the others in her home which means her home was large enough to house them but also that she had extra money to show hospitality in a biblical way. They reached out to Lydia on the Sabbath because that is when they saw her out on the river during the time of prayer. The way this story can be a model for ministry can be looked at in a few ways. The first being that even though she is a wealthy woman she still needs to hear the good news. A lot of time, even in today’s world, people think that ministry should only be done to the poor like all rich people have it figured out which is absolutely not true. She also is a widow which for some can be daunting to minister too because people are judgmental and look at her as less than because of that. There is a reason that God speaks about the orphans and widows a lot grouped together when sharing love towards one another. This story models that no matter who the person is, ministry can be shown and love for other people can be done. Everyone needs Jesus no matter who they are, what their past is, or what they already know.
When reading about Lydia in Acts 16, there are quite a few we can apply this in our churches today. In the blog post by Mr. Phillip Long, he shares that Lydia is most likely a Greek and felt the want to practice Judaism, as well as she was fairly wealthy. Lydia was someone who was a “seller of purple”. This was seen as a symbol of royalty and wealth. She also invited Paul and his accomplices into her home which shares she had a large enough space than probably a typical home would. I don’t think Paul necessarily reaches out to Lydia because of her wealth, but more because of her spiritual openness. This shows that the gospel is for everyone, regardless of their gender, age, or social status. In a world where there are still unfortunate inequal and prejudice circumstances, the gospel is still for everyone. Lydias conversion was not just personal, but it also influenced those around her. In Acts 16, it states that those in her household were also baptized. This story shares that the gospel is not just to be shared with individuals but also with families and communities. Paul wasn’t preaching at the synagogue but at a river. We don’t have to be at a church to share the gospel, but we can go out and share it to all. As a model for ministry, it is essential to remember that actions and words can have a profound impact on the people around us. We may never know who is overhearing a conversation we may be having with someone. Lydia’s hospitality to Paul and his associates demonstrates the importance of hospitality and community in the Church. Church can also be seen as a community of believers who care for one another. This can even happen outside of our church community. Recently, the people of my church have been working on inviting their neighbors over for dinner. A time where everyone can meet and greet. A way we can show how we care for those around us and take interest in their lives.
Lydia was a leader, that much was clear. Whatever life circumstances may have been for her, widowed yet wealthy, it is obvious that she’s included in Acts for a reason. She plays a significant role in the church that is built in her home (Polhill, 2008). I find the question that Long proposes at the end of the blog post interesting. How does Acts 16 and Paul’s interaction with Lydia model ministry today? Lydia, just as a character, demonstrates a few important things. First, she’s open to the message she hears from Paul. Acts 16:14 says that the “Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Polhill (2008) makes it clear that it was the supernatural work of God, not Paul’s ability to teach, that drew Lydia to accept the message of Christ. Her openness, in mind and heart, led to her salvation and ultimately, led her to open her home to people that she didn’t know. Once she was baptized, she invited them to her home, the place that would ultimately become a gathering place for Christians. If Lydia really was a widow, then she was also the leader of her household. In v. 15, Lydia is baptized along with the rest of her household. Polhill (2008) explains that her household likely included servants. This means that Lydia’s faith was enough to compel her entire household to follow her footsteps and be baptized, pointing to the power of God’s message and the credibility of Lydia as a person.
The role that Lydia played in this chapter was truly inspiring. Based on the scripture we can tell that Lydia was well-off due to her trade, so much so that she probably had servants (Polhill, 2118). However, despite her wealth she still worshiped God that God opened her heart (v. 14). She then went on to host Paul and the others in her home because of how big it was. Her willing and serving heart prompted her to also hold the church in her home as well, despite the side-eyes that she might’ve received because she was a woman. Regardless, this just goes to show that women too can play a crucial role for the growth of the church. Even throughout the Bible we see women like Rahab, Ester, and Mary who were essential in fulfilling God’s will and overall plan for the redemption of all humanity. Not only that, but however small a woman’s responsibilities within the church may seem, their work is not in vain in the Lord’s eyes (1 Corin. 15:58), and in this case, the sole of act of Lydia serving Paul and the other ministers would not go without notice in God’s eyes. It’s interesting because women or men, we often think that our small acts or words go unnoticed, or we may forget about the bigger picture, but we have to remind ourselves of our purpose on this Earth and the eternity with Christ that is to come.
The story of Lydia is a very important story in the book of Acts. The reason why this is important is because it shows the readers that the love of Christ can be shown through anyone. One part of this story that is important to know is that Women didn’t have much power back then so when Lydia opened her house to Pual and the people, he was traveling with was a big deal. Another interesting thing about this story is how in Roman culture people can tell how rich a person is based on the layout and size of their houses and what social structure they are in. Lydia had a larger house and room, so this meant that she was rich. Like what is said in this blog, “It is possible Lydia was a wealthy freedwoman and perhaps a widow” (P.Long, 2019). In the stories about Lydia, it talks about how she opens her house to many people. I see this as a selfless act because your house is kind of private and letting people you don’t know come into that place is very hard to do for some people. For Lydia it was how she showed the love of Christ. One possible purpose for the story of Lydia could be that all of God’s people have a purpose in this world and it showed that Lydias purpose was to show hospitality to those around her who needed help and possible shelter.
When Paul and Silas reached out on the Sabbath to pray and tell Lydia and other women of the Lord, it shows Paul and Silas have the gift of evangelism, but also that Paul and Silas were being leaders in these times. Women were always oppressed and seemed to have been counted as only slaves, so women would seldom get anything spoken directly to them of any kind of teaching because women simply were not allowed to go to school, however, Paul and Silas made a way to Lydia. Paul was a leader because he spoke to women about the Lord whereas most men might have just gone to another man to teach them about the Lord. So, to answer the question from Long’s blog “What does Paul reaching out to this particular woman say for “doing church” today? [And] how can this story be a model for ministry? So, with Paul reaching out to Lydia, it should mean in order to be good people of the church, we should follow what Paul and Silas did. We should go out of our way, even when we have other plans. Paul was going to go somewhere else if the Holy Spirit did not give him the vision to guide him here. It was also out of Paul and Silas’ way because on the Sabbath day, one is not allowed to walk very much at all, yet they did and “went outside the gate to the riverside” (Acts 16:13). It also shows that we should talk to all types of people because all can come to be believers of God. So, in this story of Lydia, it can be a model for ministry because in ministry we will face going out of our way to others and preaching to all sorts of people.
The Lord also “opened [Lydia’s] heart” which is “the supernatural work of God, not the wisdom or persuasiveness of the preacher, that ultimately draws people to Christ” (Polhill, 2008, p. 2118). In ministry, we must realize that it is ultimately up to God to allow that person to see the Truth and not the preacher. “Lydia believes because the Lord enables her to understand [is the reason why she] accepts the Gospel as Paul preached it” (Long, para. 5). It seems that Paul realized that, and from this story of Lydia turning to the Lord, we can and should realize that in our own acts of ministry today too.
As a woman who is pursuing full-time ministry, obviously I perk up when I hear about Lydia. Her story is so interesting in Scripture, especially how it could be applied to our knowledge today of how the Gospel has and continues to spread through women.
I think theologically, it’s interesting how Luke writes that God opened up Lydia’s heart. As someone who literally can’t make up my mind on where I land in the Calvinist versus Armenian scale, it’s beautiful to know that Paul’s words were a tool that God used to speak to her and allow her to understand the salvation God had for her.
Then, to take it up a notch, it’s amazing that Lydia was led to open her home and humble herself enough to host the church in Philippi. That says a lot about her character and leadership, that she was willing to use the money that she had to serve God and his people.
I think as far as ‘doing church’ today goes, Paul’s reaching-out to Lydia means that leaders in the church today need to also reach out to people who might not seem like they will be an outstanding minister of the Gospel. Everyone, regardless of gender or status, is a child of God and needs the Gospel. It’s cool how God uniquely uses each of us and our own set of skills and gifts to further his Kingdom, hence the example of Lydia and her wealth and kindness being used to further reach the people in Philippi.
I really enjoyed reading the story of Lydia, as I had never heard it before. It is interesting to me that even though Lydia was already intrigued by God, and a “God-fearer” (Long, 2019), she is not said to have a relationship with God until Paul and Silas enter the scene. Acts 16:14 mentions the Lord, “opening her heart,” to what Paul is teaching. Although the content of the message is not mentioned, we can assume he was sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with her. Polhill recognizes that the experience Lydia had with God was nothing Paul or Silas did (2008, p. 2306). Instead, it was the supernatural work of God that impeded Lydia’s heart, leading her to get baptized (Polhill, p. 2306). This should be highlighted in our current culture because I think we often forget that we cannot be the Holy Spirit to someone else. Our job is simply to share the News, like Paul did in Acts 16, and beyond that we have no authority.
I think it’s interesting that Paul had a vision that led him to witness in Macedonia, and then when he arrived in that area there were women praying by the river during the time of Sabbath. I think it’s really awesome that Paul recognized the importance of stopping and conversing with these women though. It makes me think how every encounter with a believer is important, meaningful, and always carries purpose. God knew that Lydia would be open to hearing Paul’s words and God was able to use Lydia in many awesome ways that helped the church. Even just simply opening her house and being hospitable was a game changer for the disciples and effects the history of the church. Without people who are willing to help out the apostles in their time of need, there would be no way for them to continue their journey with such great encouragement. It’s interesting that most Greek women were accepting of Judaism and were more willing to follow the law than the Greek men were (Long). I heard one time that women have souls that tend to respond, and therefore their hearts can be more open and receptive to God in the sense that it’s easier for them to submit to authority. That’s just a thought I heard before and I’m not saying it’s true. God was very gracious to open her heart because through that she and her household were saved.
I think that story of Lydia is very interesting. It is inspiring to hear a story of a woman being so successful in the Bible. Lydia was a business woman and as a business major it is interesting to read about the things she was doing in Acts. The story of lydia is important in Acts because like mentioned in the blog post the Lord opened her heart to believe. “Luke says “the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to believe.” This is similar to Luke 24:45; Jesus opens the hearts of his disciples so that they could understand the scripture.” (Long) This is showing that God opened Lydias heart so that she could understand Pauls teaching. One thing that I think is a good model for ministry is how it is mentioned that because of Lydias faith her household also comes to faith in Jesus. This is a great model for ministry today because your faith can affect others. I think that thats why it is important especially in todays world where theres so much sin, by having and showing your faith in God it can bring others to Christ. Another thing that stood out to me is that since Lydias faith inspired her household to come to Christ. It makes me think about my parents and how I grew up in a Christian household. I think that Lydias story goes to show that having person with strong faith as a leader in a house can help the people yo love come to Christ as well.