One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
Acts 16:14 NIV
More than forty years ago, we visited the ruins of the old city of Philippi. I will never forget walking on stones where Paul and Silas might have walked, and seeing a building that could have been their prison. But for me, Philippi is especially interesting because of Lydia, who lived and worked there. A prosperous businesswoman, she sold purple fabrics. She was originally from Asia Minor, where woven wool and linen fabrics were dyed purple.
I would have loved to visit Lydia’s fashion shop, although I would probably not have been able to afford anything in her classy boutique. Her luxurious fabrics were very expensive, but it would have been wonderful just to touch and feel them between my fingers.
Lydia was not a Jew, but she was a believer and met with other women on the banks of the river to pray on the Sabbath. Paul and his comrades joined them and told them about Jesus. Lydia’s heart was touched, and she was baptized. Paul met Lydia in a women’s prayer group, and he shared the gospel with them. Is it significant that Paul was happy to meet with women? He was convinced that Lydia had a strong and genuine faith in Christ and was ready to be baptized. She was the first person baptized on the European continent. The first church in Europe was founded in her home! After Paul and Silas were released from imprisonment days later, they again met with believers at Lydia’s house before leaving town. In a subsequent letter to the Philippian church, Paul mentions the special financial help they provided – Lydia was likely one of the contributors. A founding member of the congregation, she might even have been its first elder.
Lydia was a successful businesswoman, but she had a tender heart and a hospitable home. She probably had a large family, and she wanted all of them to accept Jesus as their Savior. We are told that her whole family was baptized with her. This rich and respected woman became a faithful disciple of Jesus. The truth she discovered in Jesus determined the course of her future life. This is something we can all learn from her.
Notes of Joy ©2017 by Pacific Press Publishing Association