Priscilla's Page By
Marilyn LaStrape *Editor's Note*
Lydia: Eager to Serve
Lydia was a
business woman whose vocation brought her
to the town of Philippi. Her hometown of Thyatira was 250 miles away.
of purple” is an indication that Lydia was a wealthy woman whose
thriving. The color of purple was reserved for those who were in places
authority or rich. Lydia must have been an outstanding woman who had
dealings with the rich and famous.
located 42 miles from the Aegean Sea, 37
miles north of Sardis and 47 miles northwest of Pergamum along the
(“Thyatira”). These three cities are mentioned in address to the seven
in Asia by John in the Book of Revelation (1:11). Thyatira was known
great trade guilds (unions) to which every crafter must belong in order
successful. These guilds included bakers, potters, tanners, weavers,
makers, coppersmiths and dyers. The International Standard Bible
Encyclopaedia makes the following observation about the city of
specially noted for the trade guilds which were
probably more completely organized there than in any other ancient
artisan belonged to a guild, and every guild, which was an incorporated
organization, possessed property in its own name, made contracts for
constructions, and wielded a wide influence. Powerful among them was
of coppersmiths; another was the guild of the dyers…
purple is a bright, deep reddish-blue and is
sometimes called Turkish Red. The dye was gleaned from one of two
most common source was from shellfish; the other source was from the
root. The shellfish secretes a slimy substance from its gland, which
exposed to sunlight passes through shades of yellow and green before
into the purple color (New Unger’s). Nelson’s Illustrated
Dictionary makes this observation: “A total of 250,000 mollusks was
required to make one ounce of the dye, which partly accounts for its
price.” The second source for the purple dye is from the root of the
plant. “Madder is a perennial herb with
leaves in whorls of 4-5 or more at the nodes…” (“Thyatira”).
the source for the purple dye, Thyatira
was famous for its outstanding purple cloth. “The waters of Thyatira
to be so well adapted for dyeing that in no place can the scarlet cloth
which fezes [cone shaped hats, BSR] are made be so brilliantly or so
dyed as here” (New Unger’s).
The city of
Philippi was one of the cities located
along the main route between Asia and the west, nestled among the
miles from the Aegean Sea in the country of Macedonia (New Unger’s).
was a Roman colony, and as such “made up largely of Roman citizens and
at strategic points throughout the empire, which enjoyed special
such as self-government, freedom from imperial taxation, and the same
citizens in Italy. Such a city was a little Rome far from the
Apparently, the city of Philippi
had very few Jewish males living within its gates as it did not have a
synagogue; ten, adult Jewish males were necessary to form a synagogue.
reason the apostle Paul found women gathered at the riverside to pray.
It was a
common practice to have a designated place for Jews to gather, usually
side of a river, when a synagogue was not available. A simple enclosure
built of stone, with seats and no roof, often built in a grove of trees
suitable place for worship (Barnes’)
Lydia was not
a Jew by birth, but had at sometime
accepted the Jewish faith by becoming a proselyte. (Commentaries
ascribe Gentile ancestry to Lydia owing to the choice of words in Greek
identifying her as a ‘worshipper of God.’) Thus, on the Sabbath day
gathered with the other Jews of Philippi to worship God. She is the
individual named of those gathered on that Sabbath day to worship.
There is no
indication that any male Jews were present.
of the citizens in Philippi were
Gentiles, none worshippers of the one true God. The Sabbath day was not
of rest to the Gentile world. Work went on as normal; shops were open
their merchandise. Lydia choose to close her business to worship God on
Sabbath day, possibly losing sales for that day.
As was Paul’s
custom, on the Sabbath day he went to
the place of worship in search of honest hearts willing to listen to
of Christ. Paul found such a woman in Lydia. The Scriptures state she
us…” (Acts 16:14). The “hearing” was not simply listening to an audible
Lydia’s hearing consisted of her listening to the words spoken,
understanding what was taught and applying the teaching to her life.
goes on to say “whose heart the Lord
opened…” God did not miraculously open Lydia’s heart to the words of
some suppose. Rather, the preaching of the Gospel opened her heart to
the Gospel just as the Jews on the day of Pentecost were pricked in the
when they heard Peter preach the first recorded Gospel sermon (Acts
2:37). As a
proselyte Jew, Lydia knew the teachings of the Old Testament and was
of the prophecies concerning Christ and his church. Thus, with her
the Old Law, she readily accepted Paul’s teachings on the church.
records in Acts 16:14 “that she attended
unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” After hearing the words of
understanding what he was teaching, Lydia took the next step by
truths being taught. Lydia’s actions on that Sabbath day followed the
course of any honest and sincere heart. She heard the words, she
words and she acted accordingly.
is outlined in verse 15. “And when she
was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have
to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And
constrained us.” Although the words Paul spoke are not recorded for us,
that a part of Paul’s teachings included baptism. The Scriptures record
and her household were baptized. Thus, Lydia became the first Christian
Lydia did not
sit back and relax once she accepted the
Gospel. She put her newfound faith to work. Remember the last part of
says, “If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my
abide there. And she constrained us.” Lydia was so thankful for Paul
companions that she offered them a place to stay while in Philippi. The
hospitality offered by Lydia included a place to sleep, meals and the
necessity one would need when traveling far from home. Notice this was
mild offer, but a begging plea to be of service to God in her newfound
religion. Not only did Lydia persuade Paul and his three companions to
with her while in Philippi, she opened her home to those that were
Acts 16:40 states that when Paul and Silas “…went out of the prison,
entered into the house of Lydia and when they had seen the brethren,
comforted them, and departed.” Christians were gathered at Lydia’s
probably praying for Paul and Silas’s safety.
Lydia was a worshipper of God.
Lydia was a Gentile by birth. At
sometime in her life she
became acquainted with the one true God. With this knowledge, she
proselyte Jew serving and worshipping God under the Old Law. When she
taught the Gospel, she became a Christian and worshipped God according
Christians of the first century
gathered daily for
prayer, fellowship and teaching (Acts 2:42-47; 5:42). At Troas, Paul
until midnight to the Christians gathered there (Acts 20:7). The writer
Hebrews admonished Christians to not forsake the assembly of the saints
(Hebrews 10:24-31). God commands that we worship him on the first day
week. To be like Lydia, a true worshipper of God (John 4:23-24), one
desire to worship God at every opportunity.
Are you like Lydia? Are you a
worshipper of God? Do
you seize every opportunity to worship God? Do you long to spend time
Christians or do you prefer to spend time with worldly individuals? Do
worship God with a desire to learn more or because it is a command?
Let us follow the example of Lydia and
worship God with an honest and sincere heart at every opportunity.
Lydia had an honest heart.
Lydia readily listened to the words of
Paul. Paul did
not have to convince Lydia to believe in God. She was a worshipper of
Lydia worshipped God under the Old Law. Now there is a better law, the
of Christ (Hebrews 10:1-10). Lydia “attended unto the things which were
(Acts 16:14). She reasoned within her heart to verify the truth. Once
realized the truthfulness of the words spoken, she acted accordingly.
Are you like Lydia? Do you have an
honest heart? Do
you readily listen to the Words of God, then “attend to them”? Do you
concentrate on the lesson you hear? Do you apply those lessons to your
Let us follow the example of Lydia by
listening to lessons from God’s Word then apply those lessons to our
Lydia immediately corrected her life to conform to God’s will.
From the Scriptures we learn of at
least two occasions
on which Lydia made course corrections to better serve God. The time of
first is unknown; however, we know that she became a proselyte Jew
before her encounter with the apostle Paul in Philippi. The second
outlined for us in Acts 16:14-15. Here we learn that as soon as Lydia
the words of Paul she corrected her life to conform to God’s will. She
immersed (baptism is immersion, Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12) in water
away her sins. From all indication, Lydia was an honest person. She
God, but being an honest person and worshipping God was not enough.
to submit her will to God’s will in baptism. Lydia did this as soon as
understood the necessity to do so.
Are you like Lydia? Do you immediately
make changes in
your life when you understand that your actions are contrary to God’s
Have you washed your sins away through baptism? If yes, do you make
your life as soon as you understand the necessity to do so?
Let us follow the example of Lydia by
corrections in our lives without hesitation.
God was more important to Lydia than her business.
The Sabbath day was a normal business
day in Philippi.
Lydia chose to close her business to worship God on the Sabbath. She
lost sales on the Sabbath. Furthermore, once she obeyed the Gospel, she
herself at odds with the guild for dyers. This would hinder her
with various individuals, possibly limiting her sales as well.
Are you like Lydia? Do you forgo the
extra hours at
work so that you can worship God at the appointed times? Do you “go
get along” so that you can get that promotion or do you let others know
you do not appreciate their crude language, inappropriate jokes and
behavior? Can the people with whom you work know that you are a
the way you talk and act at work?
Let us follow the example of Lydia and
put God before
Lydia was the kind of person that could influence others for
Acts 16:15 states that Lydia and her
baptized. One of the requirements for baptism is to understand why one
baptized. Lydia’s household was baptized because each individual
or she was lost in sin and that baptism into Christ washed away that
Lydia’s character was such that those who knew her understood she would
encourage them to do something inappropriate or unnecessary. She always
their best interest at heart.
Are you like Lydia? Do you have a good
others? Can your actions lead others to Christ or will it lead them
ways of the world? We must remember we are being watched by our peers
younger individuals looking for role models. What kind of role model
Let us follow the example of Lydia and
be a role model
for Christ, leading lost souls to heaven (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Upon obeying the Gospel, Lydia immediately began to serve God.
Lydia began to serve God immediately
baptism. She offered Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy a place to live
Philippi. This was not a polite offer, hoping they would decline. She
them to lodge with her, which gave Paul and his companions a base of
while preaching Christ in Philippi. This also afforded Lydia
learn more about Christ and his church. As more individuals were
Lydia opened her home as a gathering place for Christians. The church
Philippi may have used Lydia’s home as its place of worship.
Are you a Lydia? Do you offer
hospitality? Do you open
your home to others for Bible study and prayer?
us follow the example of Lydia and use our
homes to glorify God by reaching out with hospitality.
Barnes’ Notes. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft,
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia.
Seattle: Biblesoft, 1996.
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM.
Chicago: Moody P.,
“Thyatira” Holy Land Photos. 28 Mar. 2007
CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody P., 1962.