Lydia, A New Testament Business Woman

Reference:  Acts 16:11-15

Heart of the Story:  A business woman, Lydia accepted Christ as her Savior and convinced the male missionaries to stay in her home.

Back Story: Lydia was from a small city in Thyatira in Asia Minor. Archeological evidence verified that Thyatira had guilds of wool workers, linen workers, dyers, leather workers, tanners, potters, slave dealers, etc. Thyatira was the home of Lydia, a “dealer in purple cloth,” who must have been sufficiently successful that she took her skill and business to Philippi.

Story Line: Soon after Paul and the other missionaries arrived in Philippi, they went to the river to pray on a Sabbath morning. Lydia was there. We are not told if Lydia was a Jew or Gentile but more than likely a Jew. In towns where there was no synagogue, it was  customary for Jew to gather beside a river for prayer. Lydia listened to the missionaries’ testimony and accepted Jesus as the Savior of the world and as her Savior. Lydia and her entire household were baptized.

Then, Lydia invited the missionaries to stay at her home. Her exact words were, “If you consider me to be a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house” (Acts 16:15). The New International Version (NIV) Study Bible recorded that Lydia “persuaded” the missionaries to stay with her, while the Amplified Version (AMP) recorded that Lydia “induced” the missionaries to stay with her.

Pondering Relationships:  Lydia must have had a sterling reputation. There was no question of sexual impropriety when the missionaries, most of whom were male, stayed in her home. I am surmising that their presence in her home did not diminish her business. But, perhaps her association with this new religion meant traditional Philippi society turned to another vendor for purple dyed cloth. It appears that Lydia was willing to accept this possibility.

I am concerned when I read in the Bible that when a head of a household converted to Christianity, so did their entire household. I asked myself, did everyone in the household believe in Christ or were they coerced into worship him and being baptized because the head of the household did so. Today, Christianity teaches us that we, as individuals, are responsible for believing in and accepting Christ. That a believing parent of spouse, will not get us to heaven. We must make a personal decision to accept Christ.

Reflection:  Would you declare your faith in Christ if it meant your income would be jeopardized?

Copyright: July 30, 2017; Carolyn A. Roth

My newest book if titles Out of the Shadows, Exposing the power of Bible women.

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