Lydia | Women in the Bible

We find Lydia in Acts 16:11-15, 40

Originally from Thyatira Lydia is living in Philippi, presumably for her work, when we learn about her in this passage. Thyatira was known for its many guilds, one of which was that of dyers. No other place could produce the same quality of scarlet-dyed cloth and Lydia was well-known and successful as a businesswoman in this industry.

Although successful in business, Lydia is also known as a worshipper of God who practiced Judaism. She gathered at the riverside with others to pray together daily and it is here that Paul and those traveling with him encounter Lydia as they began to teach the group. Lydia ‘s “heart was opened” and she put her faith in Jesus as Messiah and was baptized.

The fact that where Paul expected to find a place of worship, he found a group of women, suggests that there were not enough Jewish men in Philippi to establish a synagogue (as women would not have been allowed in Judaism to establish one themselves).

However, as the first known European convert to Christianity, she was baptized along with her household and became a founding member of the Christian community in Philippi, which met in her home (16:40). Her household became the home base for Paul’s ministry in Philippi (Acts 16:15, 40).

Some scholars believe that Lydia brought the gospel back to her hometown of Thyatira and established a church there, as there is no record of Paul or any other apostle going there and Revelation mentions a church in Thyatira (Rev. 2:18).

It would have been against Jewish custom to speak to Paul in public, let alone invite him and those with him to stay in her home.

Lydia was free to do all of these things, not because she was deemed so by men, but because of the liberating effect of the gospel.

The gospel frees all of humanity from cultural and societal restraints and limitations.

The story of Lydia shows us an example of a woman involved in church ministry as well as the marketplace, and points us to God by declaring that in Christ there is liberation.

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