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Lydia's Ministry

by Bobby Bruno  
3/24/2014 / Christian Apologetics

"So we took a ship from Troas and sailed straight to the island of Samothrace. The next day we sailed to the city of Neapolis, and from there we went to the city of Philippi. Philippi is a leading city in that part of Macedonia, and it is a Roman colony. We were in this city for a number of days. On the day of worship we went out of the city to a place along the river where we thought Jewish people gathered for prayer. We sat down and began talking to the women who had gathered there. A woman named Lydia was present. She was a convert to Judaism from the city of Thyatira and sold purple dye for a living. She was listening because the Lord made her willing to pay attention to what Paul said. When Lydia and her family were baptized, she invited us to stay at her home. She said, "If you're convinced that I believe in the Lord, then stay at my home." She insisted. So we did."
Acts 16:11-15 (GW)

"The guards reported to the officials what Paul had said. When the Roman officials heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid. So the officials went to the jail and apologized to Paul and Silas. As the officials escorted Paul and Silas out of the jail, they asked them to leave the city. After Paul and Silas left the jail, they went to Lydia's house. They met with the believers, encouraged them, and then left."
Acts 16:38-40 (GW)

Lydia was Gentile business woman from Thyatira who had one day converted to Judaism for reasons we aren't told in scripture. Did she convert to Judaism because she was told that she had to if she wanted to be a follower of Jesus, as others had been told they had to do in other cities around the area that Paul preached in, or did she herself believe that she had to? Or was the Holy Spirit moving in her life to lead her to her conversion to Judaism and then to salvation in Jesus Christ? Whatever the reason, Lydia must have seen or heard about Jesus' teaching on salvation and the Kingdom of God because it seems from scripture that she was willing and seeking to know more about this Jesus. That is why she joined the crowd of women that day. Her business, being situated on the main street for those who wanted to buy her dyes, made it possible for her to hear the buzz about Jesus coming from the Israeli territories.

Lydia's zeal for wanting to know Jesus, based on what the apostle told her about Him, wouldn't let her just sit still in her new-found Judaism because she and her household were saved and baptized that same day. Still excited from all that had happened to her she invited Paul and his entourage to stay at her house, if they believed that she believed in the Lord. Since we know that the entourage did stay at Lydia's house we can surmise that the Holy Spirit confirmed for them Lydia's true belief in Jesus Christ. After this, all we know is that when Paul and Silas were sprung from prison they went straight to Lydia's house. They must have trusted her completely to want to go there first. We don't know much else about Lydia from scripture, but from what scripture does tell us, we can see that her conversion was for real and that her zeal for the Lord was great. Great enough to risk everything she owned, her business and family property, to help Paul and Silas without blinking an eye. For we know that the Romans still weren't happy about Christianity and its supposed King and could have thrown her in jail as easily as they did Paul and Silas. But, from Acts 16:40, we see a woman so secure in her faith that Jesus would protect her that allowed believers to be encouraged by Paul and Silas, again in her home, before they left to resume their journey further into Gentile territory. We may not know much about her, but what we do know shows us a woman of great faith and courage in proclaiming that Jesus is Lord over her life.

Question: "not only was her faith strong and bold, but her whole family converted as well and that makes their family unit that much stronger."

Author Response: It almost seems that everytime a disciple goes to a house to preach the Gospel the entire household and all who are in it gets saved. It happened to Cornelius' and Lydia's families on the day they learned the full truth about who Jesus Christ really was. Why doesn't that happen today? We never hear that an entire family got saved because one member went home and began to tell of the new-found faith. At least I know that it didn't happen in my family. Over time my two children and my younger, now deceased, sister found Jesus through my exposing Him to them by the new way that I began to live after my conversion. I guess Jesus summed it up Himself when He said that He had come to pit mother against daughter and father against son (Mt 10:35). Look at how many Jewish children are kicked out of their families simply because they found the true Messiah in Jesus Christ and how blind their families are to the Word of God and its prophecies that they, as Jews, should know better than anyone else on earth. I know of a daughter who accepted Jesus and now her Catholic mother wants very little contact with her even though there is a grandchild in the family. It seems that the bolder we are in our faith in front of our families the further away they move from us spiritually and sometimes physically as well. It's a shame really that our families who have known us all of our lives can believe that we have somehow betrayed them by accepting Jesus Christ into our lives and that we know want to now follow the Bible instead of our family's traditions and rules. My father, brother and sister all need to know Christ. It's a shame that my new, calmer and peaceful life can't persuade them that I have found real love in Jesus Christ.

Question: "This means to me that somewhere in time she had accepted the practices and belief in the one true God of the Hebrews, but never converted completely to Judaism."

Author Response: I like to compare Lydia with the Ethiopian that Phillip spoke to. It seems that both of them were being prepared to receive the Gospel before anyone had spoken to them in person about Jesus Christ and salvation. The Ethiopian was reading the scriptures, presumably guided by the Holy Spirit, to begin learning about God and His wanting a relationship with everyone. It took someone like Phillip to explain to him what he was reading meant for salvation and in knowing God intimately. Reading the scriptures became the doorway in which the Ethiopian entered to become a full-fledged believer in Jesus Christ. As for Lydia, we don't know who brought her into Judaism, who she heard about it from. Again we can presume the Holy Spirit. But, like the Ethiopian, it took someone who knew God to take her through the rest of the journey into salvation through Christ. This goes to show me that unless we begin to tell others about Jesus, we just may be letting some of these people hanging, when all it will take is a few words about what we believe and why. As the Word says, who will tell them if no one goes to them to tell them?

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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