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Acts 16:12-15 – Paul and His Companions Meet Lydia

Summary

Paul and others visit Philippi, where they meet Lydia. God brings her to faith, and a small gathering of believers takes shape in her house.

Analysis

In Philippi, Paul and his companions go to find a place of prayer on the Sabbath. On the way they come across a number of women on the riverbank. Among them is Lydia, herself a sojourner in Philippi. Lydia is characterized as a "dealer in purple cloth." This designation puts Lydia among those first-century women who ran a household and a business. It is she who speaks a brief line that encapsulates the social rearrangements that are part of faith in Jesus as God's Christ: "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home." Lydia is a woman, probably not of Jewish descent. She is therefore not the ideal hostess for Jewish men who have recently come to town. But she knows that among those faithful to the Lord, those old distinctions cannot prevail. Hospitality, not least at meals, is a primary value of those who assemble in the Lord's name; it is not optional or a matter of convenience. Such shared space is part of shared faith. Paul and the others do go to stay with her. At the end of the chapter they return to her house to say farewell and offer encouragement to the gathering there (16:40).

Acts 16:12-15

12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district* of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.

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10 February 2011

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