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


Acts 16:12-15


Paul and others visit Philippi, where they meet Lydia. God brings her to faith in Christ, and she hosts the missionaries and a developing group of believers in her house (16:40).


In Philippi, Paul and his companions find a place of prayer outside the city gate on the Sabbath. This deviates from Paul’s normal practice in Acts of first preaching in a synagogue within the city. The missionaries encounter a group of women on the riverbank, presumably part of the praying assembly. Among them is Lydia, a sojourner in Philippi, characterized as a “dealer in purple cloth.” This designation puts Lydia among those first-century women who ran a household and a business. She speaks a succinct line that encapsulates the social inclusiveness of Christ-centered faith and practice: “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” Lydia is a God-worshipping woman, but 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 faithful 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.  Shared space is part of shared faith. Paul and the others accept Lydia’s invitation; at the end of the chapter, after the imprisonment of Paul and Silas, they return to her house to encourage the congregation gathered there (16:40).