January 13, 2021 – Wednesday
Acts 16:13-15 NIV
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Earlier Paul had received a vision calling him to Macedonia and off to Macedonia they went (v9-10). They ended in Philippi, the leading city of that district of Macedonia where they stayed for several days (v12). Philippi was unusual in that a number of Roman soldiers retired there after Mark Antony and Octavian defeated the armies of Brutus and Cassius in that area in the second Roman civil war in 42 B.C.
Now that we know where Paul and those with him are, let’s look at the verses we have for today. It is the Sabbath, and they went to the river outside the city gate expecting to find a place of prayer. This tells us the city did not have a synagogue, nor were there sufficient Jewish men to support one (a minimum of 10 men was required). If there had been a synagogue, Paul would have been there on the Sabbath. Apparently, there were no men there as Paul and those with him began to speak to the women who had gathered there. The women were thought to be proselytes of the Jewish faith.
One of the women listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. She was a native of Thyatira but had moved to Philippi for the sake of her commerce in purple cloth. And upon hearing Paul’s message, God opened her heart, and she embraced the gospel with great faith and all of her heart. We then read not only her, but also all the members of her household were baptized. They were likely baptized in the river Strymon, the one outside the city gate, where she first heard the gospel of Jesus from Paul.
After the baptisms, Lydia (v15) invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. A sincere invitation, while also asking do you find my confession of belief in Jesus as my Lord genuine? If you do please come and stay in my home as my guests. We know she prevailed in her invitation as the verse says she persuaded us. But it was not persuasion as we generally think of it, but her heartfelt genuineness as a new believer that convinced Paul and Silas, and Timothy and Luke, and others to become guests in her home – an act of great generosity.
From this small beginning a church was established in Philippi. Paul would write a letter to the church there, called Philippians which is part of our New Testament, while the city of Philippi has been long abandoned since the fourteenth century. Thus, a lesson for us not to think a small but real effort is useless as it may have effects felt way beyond our knowledge and understanding when God is involved.
Prayer: Heavenly Father – Please help us stay focused on sharing the gospel and leaving the impact and effect up to You. – In Jesus name. Amen.