The story of Lydia in the Bible is rich and important, and everyone should spend some time delving into her life.
The world is obsessed with firsts; sometimes, it can be a problem, and other times, it can be a good thing. The story of Lydia in the Bible has many firsts, which is remarkable. It is full of lessons and inspiration for us who came after her.
Who was Lydia in the Bible?
A woman named Lydia was the first Christian convert in the Roman colony of Philippi. It was recorded that Paul was not even going to Asia Minor until God spoke to him and changed his course. Lydia’s story set the history of Christianity in Philippi not only for being the first convert in Philippi but also for the first woman convert there on record.
She is a purple-cloth merchant indicating that she is wealthy and has a considerable place in society. She is a huge part of the early church and is believed to be involved with Christian leadership. Lydia is one of the few Christian women mentioned in the Bible.
What does Lydia mean?
People in biblical times have taken names quite seriously. Whether they are naming things, places, or people, they would give names with meaning and significance. The name Lydia in the Bible means “the beautiful one” or “the noble one.”
Characteristics of Lydia in the Bible
Lydia is a businesswoman who specialized in purple cloth. The purple dye is a luxury item in those days because it was rare, and unlike other dyes, it does not fade when washed. This means that Lydia is not only wealthy but she also has influence in society.
Lydia met Paul, and she heard the word of God from him. The Lord opened her heart through the workings of the Holy Spirit and she accepted the Gospel. Since then, the Lord spoke to her and showed her His servants’ needs which led her to invite Paul to stay at her house. She saw their need while spreading the word of God and volunteered her resources.
Woman of Faith
Even before hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ from Paul, Lydia already worshipped God. According to Luke in the records of Acts, they judged Lydia to be a true believer after Lydia’s conversion. Lydia has remained faithful to God and her faith throughout.
Where does Lydia Appear in the Bible?
There is not much said about Lydia in the Bible, but we can get a lot of inspiration and lessons from her story that can be found in Acts 16:11-15, 40.
Why does the Bible Mention Lydia Specifically?
I believe that Lydia was mentioned specifically in the Bible because she is remarkable in her own right, and God does not think that one gender is greater or lesser than the other. Lydia, a woman, is remarkable in her business, family, and faith.
First, she deserves recognition, and second and more importantly, we can learn a lot from her that we can apply in our Christian lives. John said in John 20:30-31 that there are many other things that Jesus did and said but are not written.
He then went on to say that the things that were written about Jesus were written so that people will believe in Him. I believe the same principle can be applied to the whole Bible. The Holy Bible is there to help us build and strengthen our faith, so each story we encounter is important.
In those days, women are valued little more than objects. But, the Bible still mentioned Lydia specifically because we can learn a lot from her, and her life also provides proof and assurance that no one is lesser or greater in the Kingdom of God.
What is Lydia’s Story in the Bible
The Roman City of Philippi
Philippi was a colonial Roman city in Macedonia, and it receives the highest status given to a provincial town. It was also a center for religious activities for the people. The city is known for worshipping a variety of gods instead of one God but, despite this, a certain woman named Lydia found the one true God.
The Jewish Place of Prayer in Philippi
During the Sabbath, Paul, Timothy, Luke, and Silas found Lydia with other women gathered together a little way outside the city and talked to them. There are differing accounts of the reason why they were meeting outside the city.
Some think that there were no synagogues in the city because there were too few Jewish men in the population, and others say that it is because the leading city of Philippi prohibits bringing unrecognized religion inside the city. No matter the reason for their meeting, we can appreciate God’s providence in their lives. Paul was drawn by God to speak the Gospel to Lydia and her fellow believers.
A woman of status
Being a woman was extremely hard back then because they were viewed as possessions. Lydia rose above the discrimination, injustice, and unfair opportunities and made a name for herself. She was a remarkable woman not only for her faith but also for her success in other aspects of her life.
Lydia was a successful business owner, has a spacious house that could accommodate visitors, and has a place in society. She is a remarkable woman, and her story also assures us that even if Jesus said in Luke 18:24 that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, Lydia showed us that it may be hard but it is not impossible.
When Paul saw Lydia, she was with other women and other believers gathered together in prayer. This shows us that Lydia was already a God-fearer before the fateful meeting. Paul spoke God’s word to them, and with divine intervention, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Lydia believed.
Her entire household believed and got baptized. This shows us how committed Lydia is to the faith and how influential she is. She then invited the missionaries to stay at Lydia’s house throughout their mission. At first, they refused but she insisted, and they relented.
Lydia shows that not every Christian is called to be a missionary like Paul and the other apostles. Sometimes, God uses us and what we have to serve Him and others. But, although she was not called to a life of mission, some scholars believe that she is responsible for establishing at least one of the early churches.
There is no biblical evidence of Lydia being a pastor or a missionary, but she shows that we may not be called to a life of mission, but we are all called to a lifelong mission: serving God and others.
Home and Household
There is not much information to be found about Lydia’s family, especially her marital status. Still, that being said, we can theorize that she might not have had a husband at that time because the common practice in those days is that women are always associated with men in their lives.
We do not know whether Lydia is a widow, a divorcee, or a single woman but it is most likely that Lydia is the head of their household. This testifies to her strength, wealth, and influence.
Why Is Lydia’s Life Significant in the Bible?
Lydia’s story in the New Testament narrative is short and very limited, but it is of great importance. Many biblical scholars believe that Lydia is the first Gentile convert on the European continent. Paul spent his life after his conversion as a missionary, but he was not planning on going to Philippi.
A vision appeared to him telling him to cross the Aegean sea and into Macedonia. There, God allowed many people to hear His radical message, and Lydia was the first person recorded to convert to the faith. Lydia’s life and story are significant because they tell us that everyone is welcome to be a part of God’s family.
It is an assurance to future generations that they will always find grace and welcoming arms when they approach God. It also tells us that God will always point us in the right direction like what He did to Paul. He will always be there to guide us, and we have to obey.
Lessons to Learn from Lydia in the Bible
God will speak when you are ready
Many people have testified about how God has spoken to them and revealed Himself in different ways. Some encountered God through a Bible study, a stranger, a sermon, or a personal quiet time. Paul was not planning on going to Philippi, but God spoke to him because God knew that Lydia was ready to hear the word of God.
Be a good influencer
Lydia was a woman with a good social and economic standing. When writing the book of Acts, Luke considered Lydia important because she used her influence, status, and wealth in serving God and others. Lydia’s home was opened to the missionaries, and her whole household followed her lead in entering the faith.
Proclaim the faith
Baptism was very important and sacred in the early church. It is a public declaration of their starting a relationship with Jesus Christ. It symbolizes being immersed in the Holy Spirit, and most of all, it is done in front of witnesses. Baptism was a proclamation of faith because faith is not supposed to stay a secret between you and God.
Serve God and others with everything you have
Lydia was wealthy because of the popularity of the indigo trade, but I believe that she does not have everything. Still, this did not stop her from using everything she has to serve God. God does not look at what is in our hands. He looks at our willingness to serve whatever we have to serve Him and others.
Discern your calling
Not everyone ends up as a missionary or a pastor, but we are all called to do something. We all have a calling, and Lydia found hers in hospitality. She was not called to travel and proclaim God’s word to different parts of the world, but she saw the need and opened her house to God’s missionaries.
The Bible offers little information about the ministry of the women in those days like Lydia and Mary Magdalene, but they are there, so we know that women were welcome to serve God, and even if we know little about their lives and service, we can gain a lot of inspiration and lessons from them.
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